Manuka Oval, Canberra Australia
Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron was clearly frustrated at the post-game press conference after Saturday’s clash against Geelong which saw his team go down by 27 points. Maybe it was the chore of talking to the press in front of a large GWS corporate audience or maybe it was the disappointment of not being able to nail an important win in front of the club’s first sell-out crowd in Canberra. Whatever the reasons, Cameron was seething at the loss and the ramifications it had in terms of the club’s finals aspirations for 2015.
Put simply the GWS Giants could not get their game on and were soundly beaten by a determined Geelong who should have won by more if they had kicked straighter. Played in tricky wind conditions it looked like the Giants would have a memorable day when Toby Greene snapped a brilliant overhead goal to open the Giants account, however it was one of the few highlights as GWS struggled all day to get a foothold in the game.
The Giants lost early in the game goal-sneak in Rhys Palmer who copped a nasty corked leg injury during a marking attempt that should have seen a free kick awarded to him, instead the umpires flagged the game on and Palmer had to leave the field and try as he might to run off the knock on the boundary, his game was over and was substituted off.
Geelong were led up forward by a superb 5 goal effort from Tom Hawkins who not only marked strongly but kicked accurately on some difficult angles. He was unbeatable against GWS opponent in Aidan Corr. In the end his work made all the difference for the win for the Cats. Corr tried to stay with the big man but had no answers, but to Corr’s defense the ball was delivered to Hawkins downfield with little pressure from the GWS midfield.
The Cats led the inside 50 metres count for most of the day and by a large margin in the 2nd and 3rd quarters before the Giants were able to make some positive gains into their forward zone finishing 53-41 behind.
For the Giants Adam Treloar worked tirelessly in the midfield as did Tom Scully and Stephen Coniglio but they couldn’t find support from their fellow team-mates when it mattered. Case in point was Toby Greene’s attempts on goal where he was in a scoring position, yet on a couple of occasions he slewed or shanked his kicks out of bounds on the full when they could have been vital goals. In defense of Greene his disposal efficiency has improved compared to previous seasons, but on Saturday it was back to the bad old days for Toby.
The big men for the GWS in Rory Lobb and Tom Downie weren’t presenting up forward and were slow to provide any options. The presence of spearhead Cam McCarthy was sorely missed. Adam Tomlinson was moved to the forward line and did make a difference in terms of being a viable option. He continually presented, took ten marks and booted 1 goal during his 50th AFL game for the Giants.
Geelong’s other key performers were Steven Motlop and Joel Selwood, whilst “old heads” in James Kelly, Corey Enright, Jimmy Bartel and Steve Johnson all lent a hand in the Cats win. Coach Chris Scott is facing a dilemma at the end of the season in terms of which veterans to cut. It will be a difficult decision considering his experienced group are still delivering some solid football. Scott indicated at the post-match presser that whilst he wished to keep all of his older players the reality was he owed it to his club that the future be seriously considered in terms of younger playing candidates.
The win keeps Geelong’s finals hopes alive, whilst for the Greater Western Sydney Giants they drop out of the eight to ninth and face the mother of all road trips in AFL comp leaders in the Fremantle Dockers in Perth next Sunday. Geelong return to Kardinia Park for successive home games against Brisbane and Sydney and are in the box seat to get into the eight if they can nail those two games.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.1 2.3 4.6 6.6 (42)
GEELONG 3.6 5.10 6.10 9.15 (69)
Greater Western Sydney: Greene, Tomlinson, Kelly, Downie, Lamb, Ward
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Motlop 2, Selwood, Duncan
Greater Western Sydney: Treloar, Coniglio,Tomlinson
Geelong: Motlop, Hawkins, Guthrie
Greater Western Sydney: Rhys Palmer (corked hamstring)
Greater Western Sydney: Jed Lamb replaced Rhys Palmer in the first quarter
Geelong: Billie Smedts replaced Josh Walker in the final quarter
Reports: No reports
Umpires: Donlon, Schmitt, Kamolins
Official crowd: 14,667 at Manuka Oval