What went right
In a season that had so much promise the Giants left a lot of points out on the field but considering their extensive injury list throughout the year it was very hard to see the Giants accomplishing anymore than they did. Too many times this season the Giants would end up with one or two fit players on the bench and with those limited rotations it is always going to be a tough ask to finish off games the stronger. In saying that, credit needs to go to the Giants players and Leon Cameron. The way that the team culture has grown so that it didn’t matter what 22 they had on the park, they were still able to be more than competitive.
Lachie Whitfield had a personal best season after moving to half back. His silky skills and hard running were the main reason he was selected in the 2018 All Australian. He averaged 26 touches at 78% efficiency, six marks, three rebound 50’s and almost 500 metres gained per game. Without his run and carry off half back, the Giants would have finished in a much worse position.
What went wrong
Their consistent run of injuries meant that not once this season were the Giants able to go into any game unchanged. They used a total of 38 players this season with only 5 able to play every game, and a mere nine players playing more than 20. Now while this may not be their fault it was always going to hurt them in the long run. They had probably the worst run of injuries seen in a season so considering their list, if they are able to keep them all fit, they will feature heavily in the finals next year.
One undisciplined act cost Jeremy Cameron much more than just a potential Coleman. After missing only the round seven game against the Cats, Cameron was in scintillating form booting 35 goals in 12 games. Then came the round 14 clash with Brisbane. It was 13 minutes into the opening term and Cameron burst out of the square on the lead. Harris Andrews was running back with the flight of the ball. Cameron was slightly late to the contest and made a huge mistake and threw out an elbow that collected Andrews and he was out before he hit the deck.
Cameron was later sent straight to the tribunal and received a 5 game suspension. Fast forward to his return in round 20 and Jeremy Cameron looked lost. He kicked only 11 goals in the last 6 games of the season and looked a shadow of his former self. Here’s hoping he can put it behind him and get back to the star we all know he is next season.
With players like Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield, Callan Ward and Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio was never meant to steal the spotlight. But that was the one thing he did this year. A tough in and under midfielder, that adding goal kicking to his bow this year, was a big winner around the contest for the Giants averaging 28 disposals, 5 clearances and 5 tackles a game. In his career best year, I honestly think that he was hard done by to get left out of the 2018 All-Australian team. If he can produce the consistency he showed this year for the rest of his career, I can see him moving into the upper echelon of midfielders in the AFL.
Second Elimination Final
Sydney 4.6.30 def. by GWS 10.19.79
The second Battle of the Bridge Final but the first at the SCG, sixth placed Sydney hosted the seventh placed Giants in the first week of the finals. The script could not have been written any better. The Swans were favourites having beating the Giants both times in 2018 season but it was the Giants who started the better,
And then just got better and better. The Giants pressure around the ball and numbers at the stoppages was impressive and they controlled the game from start to finish. If not for some inaccurate kicking, the contest could have been over at half time but that would concern Giants fans little in the wake of comfortably eliminating their cross town rivals.
Melbourne 15.12.102 def GWS 8.9.57
It had come down to the final round. Win, and they play Melbourne on their home deck. Lose, and they play the experienced Swans at the SCG. It was all on the line and home finals were there for the taking. It was a tough and tight contest and at half time the Demons had an uncomfortable 13 point lead.
But after half time, the Demons took control and kicked five unanswered goals in the third term to kill the contest. It was a disappointing effort in the second half by the Giants who had worked themselves into the ground to get themselves into striking distance of a home final only to tumble at the last hurdle.
What they need to improve on
I think they need a genuine tap ruckman. The Giants stoppage work without a notable ruckman was very impressive but imagine how good they could be with a quality tap ruckman! That is the only thing they desperately need. Through all their injuries they have found some genuine quality all over the park. If they are able to get Jonathon Patton, Tom Scully, Heath Shaw and Aiden Corr fit and firing they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Injuries and suspensions took a toll but a sixth place position is not good enough for a team with Premiership ambitions.