It was meant to be a given, the Greater Western Sydney Giants were meant to be sitting pretty in the top four without a care in the world, it would be merely a formality to see the Giants yet again fighting for a grand final spot come September. Unfortunately, the script for season 2018 hasn’t turned out that way. Injuries to key players such as Tom Scully, Zac Williams and Toby Greene have limited the Giants start studded firepower. Throw in the controversial 5 game suspension of full forward Jeremy Cameron and the GWS were headed for dark times. But as their club song suggests, they never surrender and do keep on fighting to the end.
The Giants have found a way to get back into a winning formula. It all began in the most unlikely of places at the Adelaide Oval. Despite many key outs, the stirring away win over the Crows was the rallying call from the Giants who told the football world their time at the top tier isn’t done just yet. Since that game, the Giants have won four consecutive games. They added to the season clawback with a controlled win over Hawthorn. The Hawks were at their pesty best. When the Giants thought they had the game done, the Hawks refused to quit and came back a couple of times to nearly snatch a win. However, the Giants prevailed when it mattered and with the win saw them catapult into the top eight and into 6th position.
There have been some forced adjustments made by the GWS coaching staff. The ruck spot has been frustrating to observe from our perspective. We’ve written on several occasions, that Rory Lobb and Jonathan Patton have had their form curtailed by the distraction of playing in the main ruck position. Patton suffered the most, which saw him dropped to the NEAFL league. His form wrongfully judged on his rucking ability. Thankfully, coach Leon Cameron has seen reason and included Dawson Simpson into the ruck. We got a glimpse of what Lobb and Patton are mainly intended for and that is a potent forward attack. Lobb booted 3 goals and Patton 1 when it could have been more. They never looked more at home as Dawson Simpson performed brilliantly against premiership ruckman Ben “Big Boy” McEvoy. Simpson had 32 hit outs to McEvoy 29. The Giants won the clearance count by 13 (51-28) and the stoppages easily by 20 (36-16). Simpson’s big bodied work around the packs did make a difference.
The Giants midfielders were super impressive. Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Dylan Sheil and Jacob Hopper all did their fair share of the work. Hopper in particular continues to grow in stature and becomes another option if the other guys aren’t having a good game in the midfield. Harry Himmelberg played his best game of the season. He had 21 disposals with 13 of those being contested.Nick Haynes was the pick of the Giants defenders. He took 7 marks and repelled 10 inside 5o forays from the Hawks.
We are told the Hawks are in rebuild mode, yet they showed plenty of good form on Saturday to suggest they aren’t too far away from being a finals contender. Tom Mitchell had to be treated for “corium veneficium” after the game. He racked up an incredible 50 disposals that were made up of 18 kicks and 32 handballs. He had 9 marks and made 13 tackles. He surely will reap the 3 Brownlow medal votes for this game and go on to win if he isn’t suspended.
James Sicily continued his good form at the back but also showed versatility by kicking a goal. Isaac Smith was his dependable self and Luke Bruest had plenty of “B-ru-u-u-u-e-e–s-t” chants for the game booting 3 goals.
Giants coach Leon Cameron described the win as one of the best of the season and felt his team was playing their most consistent football at the moment. Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson was disappointed that the Hawks were thereabouts but were unable to take the final step of victory.
The Giants victory saw them dramatically leap into the top eight and land at 6th position (8 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw) They face a massive test against the West Coast Eagles, 3rd (10 wins, 4 losses) when they travel to Perth and play the Eagles on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles will be out to get that winning feeling back after losing the past three games. If the Giants manage to win this one, it surely will help them cement a place in the final eight.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3 6.11 11.15 13.17 (95)
HAWTHORN 1.3 5.4 9.5 13.6 (84)
Greater Western Sydney: Lobb 3, Ward 2, de Boer, Himmelberg, Shiel, Hopper, Coniglio, Griffen, Whitfield, Patton
Hawthorn: Bruest 3, Puopolo 2, Roughead 2, Ceglar 2, McEvoy, Sicily, Henderson, Smith
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Coniglio, Haynes, Hopper, Himmelberg, Simpson
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Sicily, Bruest, Smith
Greater Western Sydney: –
Hawthorn: Will Langford (finger)
Umpires: Nathan Williamson, Craig Fleer, Shane McInerney
Official crowd: 10,866 at the Sydney Showgrounds (Spotless Stadium)