Basically – GWS can win the flag because they are a very, very talented football team. That being said, nobody gets by on talent alone, and this is especially true in a team sense, but just cop an eyeful of the talent and skill on offer.
Lachie Whitfield is elite. Run and carry, penetration and a knack of knowing where to go to get the pill – he has had a stellar season, AND HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY LAST WEEK.
Toby Greene is elite. He is also a grub, whatever. When he is up and about (you know because he gets up a strut that oozes danger and confidence) he is just about the most mercurial player in the league. Like grubs, Greene will look to eat away at the roots, the momentum and spirit of the Tigers. How does he do this? Goals basically, goals that lift his team at pivotal moments and suppress the Richmond spirit at the same time. Oh right, he ALSO DIDN’T EVEN PLAY LAST WEEK.
Josh Kelly is elite. He is silk, he extracts, he accumulates, he also bobs up for important goals and has a hand in many, being ranked 2nd in score involvements per game, he is the embodiment of an all-round midfield beast. He played last week though, which is unfortunate for the above CAPS shtick I was going for.
Nick Haynes is bordering on elite. Coming off a career high 30 disposal game in last weeks preliminary final against the Pies, and an excellent performance against the Dogs in the elimination final, he looks to be a big game player to boot. He will be marshaling the ultra impressive GWS back 6 on Saturday, which will be made all the more difficult by the Richmond penchant for the “chaos ball” and menacing targets of Lynch and Riewoldt.
The Giants are the number one team for clearances in the league. That’s in part because Mumford is a decent ruckman, but a large part of it is because the Giants’ midfield brigade are adept at reading the ruck contest, and sharking opposition taps – this was especially evident last week, when despite Grundy winning the hitouts 73 – 16 (not a typo), the Giants won the clearances 54-35 (also not a typo). They have a plethora of able midfielders that can play an inside-outside role which enhances their ability to extract the footy at stoppage. Clearance will play a key role this weekend, especially considering Richmond are at the polar opposite of the clearance ranking, sitting in 18th (no typos here, chop).
Match Up Well With the Tigers
It might surprise people but the Giants have a strong record against Richmond in recent times. They have won two of the last three games against their Grand Final opponent, including a 47-point victory in April this year, and have won four of the last seven matches between the two teams.
Momentum, Belief, Something to prove
Make no mistake – GWS know that not many people respect them. They would also be acutely aware that most people see them as the bastard offspring of the AFL and a packet of twisties (tenuous orange connection, sorry.)
I think that knowing all this has given GWS a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Not a Angsty, pimply, teenage-sized chip, but a full-blown I-am-going-to-destroy-all-of-these-preconceptions sized chip. This, coupled with the momentum they have accumulated after their barnstorming win against the Dogs and their gutsy, but close encounter against the Pies looms like the clouds of a football storm, one that they will be hoping will moisten the parade of the Richmond Football Club and hopefully wash away any doubt that the Giants mean business in the AFL.
Who Takes Norm Home?
There will be a few players that will need to be at their best if the Giants are to become just the second team from outside the top four to win the flag. The talisman for the team as always will be Toby Greene, fresh off an unscheduled weeks break he is likely to loom large on the game’s biggest stage and is our pick for the Norm Smith if the Giants take the prize.