Another win, another step to a possible finals appearance for the Greater Western Sydney Giants after they defeated a spirited St Kilda team by 25 points on Saturday afternoon at Homebush. With the top eight changing as regularly as the good Dr Jekyll, any win is valuable at the pointy end of the season. The Giants are currently placed 5th on the AFL ladder with 4 games to play and have a strong chance of gaining a double chance if they can win at least three of those games.
The victory wasn’t easily gained as St-Kilda pushed the Giants hard particularly in the first half where if they had kicked straighter then the outcome may have been different. The Saints pummeled the fifty metre area but were unable to cash in on the scoreboard. They had 40 inside fifty metre entries in the first half. They kicked 1-6 in the first quarter and missed several very gettable opportunities.The bad kicking would continue for St-Kilda in the second half and at the main break they were 3-10 to the more accurate Giants 5-2 The Saints having 6 more scoring shots than the GWS and again many could have easily been goals.
On the goal-kicking side, Harry Himmelburg was prominent for the Greater Western Sydney Giants. He top scored with 4 handy goals. The good thing about Himmelburg is he is providing an alternative target up forward with the significant out of Jeremy Cameron, who will have served his five game penance of suspension this week. Up until a few weeks ago Himmelburg hasn’t really shown the type of dominance he displayed in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a preliminary final where he also booted 4 goals. He has struggled for consistency and affect, but now he has strung together a couple of very good games and his timing could not have come at a better time for the Giants.
Youngsters in Zac Langdon and Brent Daniels also contributed to the Giants goal scoring. Langdon again impressed with his accuracy. In particular he kicked a crucial goal in the third term from a tight angle on the far boundary on the Olympic Park train station side of the ground. Langdon, took careful aim and his shot sailed through with the goal umpire not moving. Daniels showed great poise for a player who has only 4 games under his belt and booted 2 goals for the team. His first goal was also his first career goal.
St-Kilda’s Jack Steven and Jarryn Geary were getting plenty of the ball in the midfield and propelling the ball up forward.Another impressive aspect of the Saints game particularly in the first half was the manner in which they were able to shut down the run and carry of the Giants midfield. Seb Ross played an important part of the Giants shut down picking up 30 disposals. From the defensive sector Jake Carlisle made sure his big bodied presence was around the marking and pack contests and was another effective player for St-Kilda.
In the Giants ruck department the Dawson Simpson stabilizing effect continues to work and has ironed out the imbalance and distractions that were happening in the football life of Rory Lobb. Lobb now doesn’t have to worry about the strenuous task of all day ruck work and can now concentrate on taking his characteristic big marks up in the forward area. Whilst he still shared in some of the rucking duties, Rory Lobb had plenty of time to boot two goals. Dawson Simpson was pretty close to equal in the hit out count with the team stat hitting 37-36. Saints ruckman Tom Hickey had 29 individual hit outs and was handy early in the game when the Saints dominated the play. Can’t say it enough but the Simpson inclusion, (which we called for as far back as April) has made a massive difference to the structural composition of this team’s strategy and mindset.
In Tsunami Central, Josh Kelly was as smooth and evasive as ever picking up 32 disposals and took 8 marks. He also made 5 tackles. Lachie Whitfield was the Giants best. His new role this season of playing from half-back to midfield has worked a treat. He has slotted perfectly into the role that the injured Zac Williams normally covers. Lachie picked up 32 touches and really helped set up the win over the Saints, when the Giants lifted in the 3rd quarter. His dynamic delivery led many attacks forward. He was ably assisted by Brett Deledio who is another player who is coming into some handy form. Deledio’s kicks and touches were first class. A deft tap here and a sharp kick there highlighted the high on-field reputation he has. It is with great hope that he remains injury free and if the Giants do make the finals that he can redeem himself from an ordinary 2017 preliminary final effort.
In defense Phil Davis, Heath Shaw and Nick Haynes were absolute rock solid. They worked as a cohesive unit, shutting down many a St-Kilda attack. Even when the heat was on early, they were able to exert enough pressure to keep the Saints contained. Matt Buntine continued his god form and Adam Kennedy goes from strength to strength picking up vital match fitness towards the business end of the season. Sam Reid also helped out by providing good presence around the contest and his on field experience is proving to be invaluable.
Whilst pleased with the competitive effort, post-game St-Kilda coach Alan Richardson rued the Saints wasted opportunities with regards to shots on goal and time spent in the forward area. For the Giants, Leon Cameron was obviously satisfied with the effort, despite the slow first half start. He thought the efforts of his younger players, particularly in front of goal was very good. Sounding like a stuck record, it doesn’t get easier for the Greater Western Sydney Giants (5th, 11 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw). Next Sunday in Melbourne they face a Carlton (Last, 2 wins, 16 losses) team who will be buoyed by their shock win over the Gold Coast Suns (17th, 4 wins 14 losses). The Blues defeated the Giants last year in Melbourne by a solitary point. The Giants cannot afford to go into this game nonchalantly. St-Kilda (14th, 4 wins, 13 losses, 1 draw) return home to play the Western Bulldogs (15th, 5 wins, 13 losses) on Saturday evening.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.0 5.2 11.5 13.8 (86)
ST KILDA 1.6 3.10 6.11 8.13 (61)
Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg 4, Daniels 2, Langdon 2, Lobb 2, Greene 2, Deledio
St Kilda: Gresham 2, Lonie 2, Membrey 2, Steven, Battle
Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Kelly, Himmelberg, Davis, Deledio
St Kilda: Steven, Carlisle, Ross, Geary, Hickey
Greater Western Sydney: –
St Kilda: –
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Nicholas Brown, Craig Fleer
Official crowd: 12,014 at Sydney Showgrounds (Spotless Stadium) Homebush, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia