It’s the Giants who are the bosses now
Seventeen editions of “Battle of the Bridge” games and it used to be the Sydney Swans who dominated having won eleven out of the seventeen. It’s interesting to see just what’s happened between these two sides since the awful 129 point belting Sydney dished out to the Giants at the SCG on Round 16, 2013. Kevin Sheedy was coach of the Giants with John Longmire as the reigning premiership coach for Sydney. Four Giants and three Swans players who took to the field on Saturday played in that 2013 game, with Shane Mumford (who played for the Swans that round) now a Giant. I clearly remember bumping into skipper Phil Davis that night, walking out of the Noble Stand exits with teammates well after the game had ended. Phil was obviously down after that tough loss, but he still found the time to say g’day and have a small chat about the game. It was like seeing a person who has a great idea, but a setback or roadblock got in the way. Phil wasn’t happy, but was philosophical and you got the sense he was determined to be part of a successful Giants football team. Sometimes in this business it takes years to improve, something I guess the pundits forget, including myself. Sure, the Giants had bigger wins later against Sydney ie: their incredible debut 2016 finals win and then the Elimination rout of last year. Phil didn’t play in this game, but was in the rooms and in the coaches box during the game adding words of encouragement and the odd back slap or two. This group have exceeded what I thought of them pre-season. The loss of Shiel, Scully and Lobb I thought would dent the effectiveness of this team. Wrong, very wrong. Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto have both stepped up to another level and added to the power midfield punch and run of Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield. Jeremy Cameron is back to his best form, easily leading the Coleman Medal by 7 goals (24, to Tom Lynch, Richmond 17 goals). The return of Shane Mumford continues to astound, it’s been a resounding success. The concern is how do the Giants manage “The Mummy” ? The winter period will soon be here and hamstrings and other injuries tend to turn up. At least they have Dawson Simpson as a very effective plan B. How good were those goals in the last quarter scored at the Randwick end from Josh Kelly, Jeremy Cameron and Toby Greene? Tremendous work.
For the Sydney, they are an absolute shell of themselves. They have a toothless forward strategy, their ruck-work is deplorable (Callum Sinclair currently sits at 24th with hit-out wins at 39.5 %) and are struggling to maintain pressure for a full game. Sure they came close in the second quarter of this game but couldn’t keep it up. Things could get worse before they get any better Buddy or no Buddy. They need a better ruck strategy, a new key forward apart from Lance and just a forward set-up that actually works. Maybe in another 5 years? Such are the cycles of AFL football.
A new ‘Horse”
It was fascinating watching the demeanor and responses of Sydney coach John Longmire post-game. Usually, Longmire is thorny, brooding, angry or downcast after a loss and the post game pressers aren’t a pleasant matter. On Saturday night I saw a “new” version of John Longmire. Whilst disappointed with the loss, he look resigned to the fact his team have fallen from the finals making team of past seasons. It’s hard to see them coming back as in previous years. Longmire knows the winds of change have arrived, he used the word “evolve” with regards to coaching methods ie: being on the bench and getting messages across to players who have just left the ground. Maybe assistant coach Brett Kirk has passed onto Horse the fine art of meditation. There was an almost “eastern” meditative vibe coming from John Longmire. It was like watching George Harrison talking about inner peace amidst adversity. It will be interesting to see how this plays itself out. Does Sydney change coaches? Does it owe Longmire leniency due to his success rate? Tom Harley and his football department will surely be looking at all options…Just on that, Tom was down in Geelong on Sunday as part of the Cats 10 year anniversary celebrations of the 2009 premiership. It was interesting to see him closely link arms with one, Matthew Scarlett, of whom we strongly think should be brought up to the Swans in a coaching role. Wonder if Tom spoke about that during all of the festivities?
Everything is “apples” the return of Aidan Corr
One bloke who made his return to the Giants side apart from Toby Greene, was defender Aidan Corr. Aidan hasn’t played a game for the Giants in defense for close on 10 months after a nagging groin injury. ‘Apples” was pretty chirpy post-game when we spoke to him. He was pretty happy that Lance Franklin had a night off, but was fully prepared when required. He also received a nice little “welcome back to AFL” crunching bump from Isaac Heeney. Corr laughed off Heeney’s greeting and was pretty happy to be back with his beloved Giants on Saturday night. Love Aidan’s cool, laid back interview style. Have a listen to our chat with Aidan, Jeremy Cameron makes a cheeky, fleeting cameo!
Age shall not weary them
Love the ANZAC round. Love seeing the Australian Army band take to the SCG turf. Nothing like a rousing military band marching. The band is only a couple of handy torpedo punts from the SCG at the Paddington Barracks, it would be good to see the band play more often at the SCG. The Ode becomes a shiver up the spine moment now. Everyone is absolutely silent during the observation. You don’t get boneheads yelling out something stupid like some have over past years. Numbers were up around the country at ANZAC Day parades and local events. I went to the Double Bay ceremony and the memorial at Steyne Park was overflowing with folks from all demographics. In a world where many of our institutions are under duress, ANZAC Day offers a sense of stability in that there have been people in this country who are prepared to put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy future freedoms such as the simple act of watching a game of football. Lest We Forget.