The Greater Western Sydney Giants mid-season slump continues with a disappointing effort against Richmond on Sunday afternoon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The 27 point loss was made worse after key midfielder Stephen Coniglio suffered a knee injury minutes into the game. The injury looked pretty serious, as Coniglio hobbled from the ground, unable to place the injured leg to the turf. He did not return for the match and later scans revealed that he had suffered cartilage damage and would undergo surgery. On Monday, Giants football manager Wayne Campbell was quoted on the official GWS website as saying “There’s obviously relief Stephen has avoided injury to his ACL and there does still remain a chance he returns to the field this season which is great news”. The loss is now the 3rd in a row for the Giants and their premiership aspirations are in absolute tatters as the Tigers showed no mercy and controlled the game from start to finish.
Richmond got off to a flying start and posted 4 goals in the first term to the Giants woeful 2 behinds. Sydney Stack kicked the Tigers first followed by Jack Riewoldt who was making his long awaited return from injury. Despite the game being played in drizzly, rainy conditions, there were no excuses for the GWS as they continually bombed the ball high into their forward 50 metre area only to see the ball marked or cleared by a spare Richmond defender. Nick Vlastuin, Nathan Broad, David Astbury and Dylan Grimes shared in 22 marks across the Richmond defensive lines. Those marking numbers clearly illustrated just how badly the Giants were wasting their offensive entries.
The Giants did fightback in the second term when things were looking pretty grim after Richmond’s Jason Castagna and Mabior Chol posted two early goals and the lead ballooned out to a 30+ point deficit. Brent Daniels and Ian “Bobby” Hill slotted home single goals, whilst Jeremy Cameron kicked two and the Giants at the main break had shorted the Tiger lead by 14 points. Special mention has to go out to Bobby Hill who was making his debut for the Giants. He coped with the pressure of playing on the MCG against quality opposition and looked threatening with his pace & elusive play at the ball and the ability to kick goals.
The Giants managed to peg back the lead to 10 points, but were unable to sustain any scoreboard pressure, as Richmond were simply to good in and around the contest. Shai Bolton (29 disposals, 1 goal), Brandon Ellis (29 disposals), Bacher Houli (30 disposals) and Dustin Martin (25 disposals) dominated the midfield. Up forward Tom Lynch (3 goals) easily outplayed GWS co-skipper Phil Davis who has struggled in recent weeks to be the close checking, spoiling defender that he is renowned for. Kane Lambert also chipped in for the yellow and black with 3 goals as the Tigers snuffed out any chance the Giants may have had on winning this game.
It was an extremely disappointing game for the Giants as their season continues to nosedive and yet again, they failed to win a significant victory on the MCG. The Coniglio injury also rubbed salt into the wound of the loss on a very forgettable day for the struggling team. Whilst Tim Taranto (36 disposals), Jacob Hopper (34 disposals), Lachie Whitfield (33 disposals) and Toby Greene (33 disposals) had plenty of the ball, it was the poor ball usage and failure to exert pressure on a running, smooth flowing Richmond side that hurt the Giants the most.
Similar to last week GWS coach Leon Cameron thought post-game there were positives despite the loss. “Clearly you want to be winning rather than losing but I said to our guys our effort was around an eight or a nine out of ten. Confidence comes in different ways and clearly when the siren goes and your’re not in front it dents it a little bit and that’s 3 weeks in row and we understand that but we are going to keep on fronting up. We are not going to play this “poor me” card with injuries, we are going to front up next week against Collingwood”.
The let up doesn’t stop for the Giants 6th, (9 wins, 7 losses) who face a resurgent Collingwood 2nd, (11 wins, 5 losses) next Saturday afternoon in Sydney. The Pies defeated the reigning premiers, the West Coast Eagles in Perth last Friday night and will be in no mood to lose. Following the Collingwood game the Giants face Port Adelaide away and it is not unreasonable to see the Giants lose that match making it an extraordinary 5 losses in a row (if they lose to the Pies & Power). It has been a stunning fall from grace for a team dubbed the ‘Ferrai” of the competition.The Richmond 5th, (10 wins, 6 losses) 2019 campaign got a much needed fillip against the Giants and will move on to face an out of sorts Port Adelaide 9th, (8 wins, 8 losses) next Saturday afternoon at the MCG.
RICHMOND 4.4 6.7 10.13 13.16 (94)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.2 4.5 6.7 9.13 (67)
Richmond: Lambert 3, Lynch 3, Castagna 2, Stack, Riewoldt, Bolton, Chol, Edwards
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 3, Hill 3, Greene 2, Daniels
Richmond: Houli, Bolton, Lambert, Ellis, Vlastuin
Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Hill, Cameron,Taranto
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio (knee)
Umpires: Nick Foot, Brett Rosebury, Hayden Gavine
Official crowd: 38,986 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Jolimont, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.