In trying conditions at the SCG, GWS produced a dominant performance to eliminate their cross-town rivals the Sydney Swans from the 2018 Finals. After an arm-wrestle in the first quarter, and despite losing Josh Kelly to injury early in the match, the Giants completed blanketed the Swans in the last three quarters to claim a comfortable 49-point victory. Two late goals from the Swans spared them the embarrassment of recording their lowest score in nearly fifty years and their lowest finals score ever.
1. Phil Davis is underrated
Vice-Captain in The Pinch Hitters All-Australian team, we have to say we were surprised at the omission of Phil Davis from the official squad of 40. His performance in shutting down Buddy Franklin once again showed his value to the Giants and highlighted how much he is underappreciated by ‘football experts’.
Davis kept Franklin’s influence to just eight possessions and a behind. As one of the most dangerous players in the competition, Franklin loomed as the man most likely to give the Giants trouble. Unfortunately for the eight-time All-Australian, Davis completely dominated him in the pair’s one on one contests leaving the Swans attack completely impotent.
2. Scoreboard actually flattered the Swans
With the best record in the competition against Top Eight opposition, and victories over three of the Top Four teams, there were many who considered the Swans a team capable of causing some damage from sixth place on the ladder. What they delivered in their most important game of the season made a mockery of these high expectations.
To borrow a phrase that Mick Malthouse despises, the Swans simply didn’t turn up after quarter time. Despite the absence of Josh Kelly and having a one-point lead at the eight-minute mark of the second term, the Swans would not manage another major until the final stages of the match. Despite scoring less than half their opponents’ score, things could have been considerably worse for the Swans had the Giants, who scored 10.19, could have been more accurate with their scoring opportunities.
3. Love him or hate him, Toby Greene is must-watch viewing
Toby Greene is the vaudeville villain all AFL fans need. Despite an interrupted season, the controversial but talented forward with a mongrel streak, Greene was certain to be the Giant most likely to cause the Swans headaches.
As so often is the case with Greene, he was the post-game story but not just for his impact on the scoreboard. While Giants fans will no doubt be in awe of his three goals, including his clutch third quarter effort that settled the result, much of the rest of the football world were talking about his proclivity to raise his boot in marking contests. Just 24 years old and unapologetic about the way he goes about his business, he is set to thrill and outrage football fans for some time to come.
4. Big changes, big results.
Having wrestled with injury all season, the Giants had some tough decisions to make at the selection table when Brett Deledio, Toby Greene, Matt de Boer and Zac Williams were all declared fit to play. Rather than worry about the effects of bringing the quartet in all at once, the Giants threw them all into the cut-throat final against the Swans. Their bold play was rewarded with all four playing important roles in the Giants victory. If they are to progress deep into September, it is this kind of boldness that will take them there.
5. The Swans can’t thrive on defence alone
While the conditions exacerbated their problems against the Giants, the Swans suffered all year from an inability to score consistently. Sydney were 12th for points scored in 2018, ahead of only Carlton, Gold Coast, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Fremantle and Port Adelaide. With Buddy Franklin up forward it seems almost impossible to believe but ranked 11th for Inside 50’s despite playing half their games on the SCG suggests that the problem lies in supply rather than attacking options. Until they can find more consistent avenues to goal it would seem that the Swans are destined to struggle when it matters most.
SECOND ELIMINATION FINAL
SYDNEY 1.4 2.4 2.6 4.6 (30)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 4.7 7.11 10.19 (79)
Sydney: Papley 2, Parker, Ronke
Giants: Greene 3, Cameron 2, Himmelberg 2, Coniglio, de Boer, Ward
Sydney: Kennedy, Parker, Heeny, Cunningham
Giants: Davis, Whitfield, Greene, Coniglio, Himmelberg, Ward, Haynes
Giants: Josh Kelly (knee)
Umpires: Margetts, Stevic, Williamson
Official crowd: 40,350 at the SCG