After three successive losses to the Greater Western Giants including a crushing finals defeat in 2017, it’s very clear the West Coast Eagles have worked out what is required to become a force in football. The Eagles were hardly in anyone’s predictions with regards to top four contention. With the departures of Sam Mitchell, Drew Petrie and Brownlow medalist Matt Priddis, it was reasonable to think the Eagles would go through a period of youth development and strategy rebuild. Instead they have fast tracked that process into a potent force of youth and experience.
Not only were West Coast on the road against an alleged contender but they had 3 key players out in Luke Shuey, Nic Naitanui and Jeremy McGovern. Never mind those ruck, midfield and defense issues, the Eagles covered magnificently with Scott Lycett brought into the ruck and competed well against Rory Lobb. In defense Tom Barrass was superb and in the midfield Jack Redden and Andrew Gaff were the side’s major possession gatherers in the Eagles 25 point win over a sorry and sore Giants outfit.
Something is very wrong inside the Giants camp. They are bereft of strategic ideas, they lack excitement and seem to be wandering into games without any clear purpose. Yes, the injuries to key players have severely affected the team’s ability with regards to run and carry, but their list is deep and as the Eagles illustrated on Saturday, you can win difficult football games despite injuries and major outs.
To be fair, Giants skipper Phil Davis copped a nasty accidental knock in the 3rd quarter which saw him concussed and leave the game. Matt de Boer pulled up with a hamstring in the 2nd quarter so that did affect the Giants drive. But games must be played out and the Giants were unable to put together a brand of football that would trouble West Coast. Their entries into the forward 5o weren’t impressive. The efficiency rating was 43% compared to West Coast’s 51%. Jeremy Cameron was a welcome addition, kicking two goals but he didn’t receive the supply and didn’t have any support with regards to scoreboard pressure with the Giants booting only eight goals. It was a disappointing day for Callan Ward who was playing his 200th game. He played his heart out for the team and was easily the Giants best along with Stephen Coniglio.
What impressed me about West Coast was the contribution of some of the newcomers to the team. Not so new in name such as Rioli and Waterman, but Willie Rioli and Jake Waterman were impressive. Waterman up forward combined superbly with Jack Darling and between them they booted 7 goals. Waterman is built tall and strong and the old cliche of he’ll get better with more game time is never truer. Willie Rioli is another who will improve, he showed glimpses of pure brilliance which is synonymous with the Rioli name. Brayden Ainsworth was another. Whilst not spectacular, he played a solid team game with 15 disposals and eight tackles in his debut for the Eagles. Former Port Adelaide player Brendon Ah Chee also made an impressive debut with 21 touches. You have to ask yourself if West Coast can bring in new talent why can’t the Giants perform just as well?
Post game Giants coach Leon Cameron thought his team were better in their attitude with regards to getting to the ball compared to the last week’s heavy loss to Geelong, but was unhappy with the lack of effective disposals. Eagles coach Adam Simpson couldn’t stop grinning at the post match presser and was obviously delighted with the outcome. He described the win as “backs to the wall staff” and described the mood amongst his team as a”collective resolve amongst the group which is pretty high at the moment”.
It was a rather bizarre sight post-game as the Giants & the PCYC, Youth and Crime Prevention Command squad outfit worked towards gaining a Guinness Book by having 1000 people complete a 30-minute Boxercise program. I’m not in any way damning the effort or initiative to positive health outcomes and good on folks for trying to be healthy and achieve, but I thought time and place and maybe a school holiday or bye week scheduling could have been better. Seeing Giants ruck coach Shane Mumford punching a bag in front of thousands of empty seats after a significant loss wasn’t a good look. I know if I was a coach I’d be spare in my appearances and be head down into the tape review. Harsh, but this is AFL pro football and it seems priorities are a little misplaced. Would it have looked better with a win? of course, but I couldn’t help noting the symbolism. There was more more fight in gaining a Guinness Book of Record than gaining four premiership points.
The loss saw the Giants ( 9th, 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw) drop out of the eight and move down to ninth position on the AFL ladder. They have another tough game next week on the road against North Melbourne (10th, 4 wins, 4 losses) in Tasmania on Saturday afternoon. The West Coast Eagles (2nd, 7 wins, 1 loss) play in the match of the round against reigning premiers Richmond (1st, 7 wins, 1 loss) in Perth on Sunday afternoon.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 5.8 8.10 8.13 (61)
WEST COAST 2.5 7.7 10.11 12.14 (86)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 2, Griffen, Langdon, Ward, Lloyd, Taranto, Reid
West Coast: Darling 4, Waterman 3, Kennedy 2, Duggan, Rioli, Cripps
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Coniglio, Taranto
West Coast: Barrass, Gaff, Darling, Lycett
Greater Western Sydney: de Boer (hamstring), Davis (concussion), Whitfield (shin)
West Coast: –
Umpires: Hayden Gavine, Shaun Ryan, Craig Fleer
Official crowd: 9253 at the Sydney Showgrounds, (Spotless Stadium)