They might be down but the Giants aren’t out…yet!
There is no getting around the fact that the Giants were insipid against the Bulldogs on Friday night. The games might be shorter but not short enough to make 10 points for the first half and 33 for the match acceptable for a team with premiership ambitions.
Following the script from their Elimination Final victory last year, GWS made a beeline for Marcus Bontempelli at every opportunity. Yet even though this caused a number of spot fires to break out during the game, it has no chance of success if you aren’t prepared to play footy too. Slow, listless, and seemingly disinterested, the Giants had no answer for the Bulldogs intense pressure. Despite desperately wanting to be the aggressor, they wilted in the face of actual old fashioned footballing intent.
We are prepared for now to chalk this up as ‘one of those days’ for the Giants. With Toby Greene and Tim Tarranto already missing from the team and Josh Kelly a late withdrawal the last thing they needed was another injury. Yet that is exactly what came their way when Lachie Whitfield was ruled out with concussion after a heavy knock early in the game. This is no excuse for them turning their toes up but it does suggest they can improve fast. With Collingwood and Hawthorn to come in the next two weeks, the benefit of the doubt we’ve afforded, could run out just as quickly.
How the game was won
It would be lazy of us to suggest that the Giants didn’t try but not nearly as lazy as they looked in comparison the Bulldogs. After a week’s soul-searching following their defeat to St Kilda, Luke Beveridge’s men came ready to fight on Friday night. We would say we meant this figuratively but they were more than prepared to answer fire with fire when GWS attempted to bully them.
To quantify the effort question, the Bulldogs won every statistic that requires endeavour. Well almost, they lost the clearance count by one but given that GWS comprehensively won the ruck contest this almost as good as a win. The Doggies were tougher than the Giants, as was shown in the contested possession figures. They outran them too as was shown in the uncontested possessions and handball receive numbers. Then they outworked them on the defensive side too as they still managed to lay considerably more tackles despite having the ball more often too.
They did have some winners on dark night though. Stephen Coniglio and Henry Perryman were standouts. As was Nick Haynes whose intercept marking was a highlight.
Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel were among the best for the winners with 25 and 23 possessions respectively. With them in the Bulldogs best was Tom Liberatore who had a successful return to the big time. For Marcus Bontempelli, in kicking the sealer, he was able to have the last laugh in his running battle with the Giants. At least for now.
What the coaches said.
Leon Cameron admitted post match that their efforts may have been misdirected with ill-discipline an unwanted result. “The aggression’s there but we need to make sure we do it in the right way,” Cameron said. “Free kick count was -10 again. You’re handing the ball back to the opposition 10 times, you’re giving them 10 free hits. We have to be better at that.”
He also conceded it was a consequence of not being first to the ball. “That means we’re second to the footy. We need to make sure that we’re hunting after the opposition to get the ball back a bit better. We need to hunt the ball a bit better ourselves.”
“The most pleasing thing is that we played a brand of footy that we are proud of,” was Luke Beveridge’s message post game. “This group isnt the group you send out to be enforcers, they are learning to be a contested, competitive side and a team were they are proud of each other as teammates,” he told reporters. While suggesting he “is always complimentary of the opposition post match” he thought the margin could have been bigger this time around.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.5 4.6 7.8 8.9 (57)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.2 1.4 3.5 4.9 (33)
Western Bulldogs: Dunkley, Smith, Keath, Wallis, Richards, Dale, Liberatore, Bontempelli
Greater Western Sydney: Perryman 2, Cameron, Finlayson
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Daniel, Liberatore, Keath, English, McLean, Dunkley
Greater Western Sydney: Perryman, Coniglio, Haynes, Hately, Corr
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly (calf) replaced in selected side by Hately, Whitfield (concussion)