It’s not looking pretty out in the West of Sydney and that’s not referring to the overcrowding and overdevelopment that this city is currently experiencing. The latest AFL tenants, the Greater Western Sydney Giants are struggling to find an effective form of winning football and look very much like the previous sides of circa 2012 and 2013. The Giants posted their fourth loss in a row on Saturday night from a determined, dogged Essendon side that has also struggled in 2018. Whilst the Giants were able to keep pace right up until the 3rd quarter, the Bombers turned on the heat in the final quarter running out convincing winners by 35 points. The game was marred by an unusual weather effect, via a smokey pall that hung over the ground for 3 quarters due to controlled burn-offs in bushland outside of the Sydney metropolitan area.
Coach Leon Cameron is struggling to find answers, his players look lethargic and directionless and the passion and exciting play that propelled this football team to two consecutive preliminary finals has all but disappeared. Rory Lobb and Jonathon Patton are totally distracted as forwards which is what their true role was. Instead they are playing ruck and trying to cover for the departed Shane Mumford. We wrote several weeks ago Dawson Simpson was the answer and are at a loss to understand why the Giants brainstrust won’t play him. He was competitive against Aaron Sandilands yet was dropped a week later after the St-Kilda draw debacle. Drive begins in the centre and the Giants have zero drive at the bounce and stoppages. The Bombers won the hit-out count 60-44. Essendon began with a goal from the first centre bounce in under 15 seconds and earned several more from similar circumstances.
In the midfield / backs area Harry Perryman, Zac Langdon and Dylan Buckley earned a combined total of 25 disposals, which are shocking numbers. Yet there is a young bloke who has been super impressive not just in the NEAFL, but in the summer comp of AFL X. The lad’s name is Aiden Bonar and he should be in the firsts without any hesitation.He’s got a superb physique at 188 cms, At age 19, he’s tough around the contest and makes good disposal decisions. We understand he’s had two knee reconstructions during his junior career, and have been told he’s still needing more condition.Quite simply, it’s time to play Bonar. There is nothing like an opportunity at a higher level to spark a footballer’s career. After observing Langdon, Nick Shipley and Laclan Keeffe, Aidan Bonar has shown in the NEAFL he has the ability to out perform all of those players given the chance.
Essendon’s pressure was amazing. They out-tackled the Giants 85 to 58, they were hard in the contest and nailed their goal scoring chances. Led by David Zaharakis, Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett, the Bomber midfielders stood up when it counted and were able to provide solid supply to their forwards and also kick goals themselves. Zaharakis booted a crucial goal in the final term, when he burst from the centre on the run and kicked from just inside 50.
Up forward Jake Stringer kicked 3 goals and is starting to perform at a similar level that he produced when playing for the Western Bulldogs. He took some excellent pack marks and snapped a super goal late in the 4th quarter on the run just inside the 5o which bounced through. Mark Baguley was another star up forward for the Dons, kicking 3 goals.For the GWS Jeremy Cameron kicked 2 goals as did Dylan Buckley but their was little structure up front. The Giants could only kick 3 goals after the main break. Former Giant Devon Smith had a welcome return against his old club. He picked up 21 disposals and kicked a goal. His pressure in the midfield made a great deal of difference to the Essendon effort and is proving to be a valuable pick-up. The usual Giants workhorses in Stephen Coniglio (1 goal, 32 disposals), Callan Ward and Heath Shaw (both 34 disposals) were the best players for their side.
Coach Cameron could only concede that the Giants had to “fix their issues” as a collective and that the buck stopped with the players and coaches. He was mildly pleased with Josh Kelly’s return to the side and was of the belief that he would improve with more game time. Kelly had 29 disposals and 2 goal assists and showed glimpses of the “Rolls Royce” class that he possesses. Essendon coach John Worsfold was kinder to the media at the post game presser. He was pleased with the way his team stood up to the Giants pressure and put together a 4 quarter effort.
The Greater Western Sydney’s (11th, 4 wins 5 losses 1 draw) footballing life doesn’t get any better. They head to Adelaide (7th, 6 wins 4 losses) who were soundly beaten by a resurgent Melbourne (3rd, 7 wins 3 losses). The Crows will be in no mood to lose another game. Essendon (12th, 4 wins 6 losses) head to the MCG for a block-buster Dreamtime at The G game against Richmond (2nd, 8 wins 2 losses) next Saturday night. A crowd of 90,000 isn’t out of the question in what should be the game of the round.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 5.6 7.9 8.12 (60)
ESSENDON 5.2 7.3 8.8 14.11 (95)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 2, Buckley 2, Coniglio, Patton, Griffen, Langdon
Essendon: Baguley 3, Stringer 3, Zaharakis, Smith, Goddard, McGrath, Langford, Fantasia, McKernan, Stewart
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Ward, Shaw, Kelly
Essendon: Zaharakis, Heppell, Merrett, Baguley, Stringer
Greater Western Sydney: –
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Jeff Dalgleish, Leigh Haussen
Official crowd: 10,789 at Sydney Showgrounds, (Spotless Stadium)