Is Toby Greene the difference between contention and pretension for GWS?
He might have just one Best & Fairest Award and one All-Australian jersey, but there is no player more important to their team than Toby Greene is to GWS. With this in mind, it was no surprise that the Giants were a different team against Richmond than they had been in Greene’s absence.
Leon Cameron is in no doubt about his importance to the team. “Clearly he’s ain important player for us. He causes instability for the opposition defensive because of his instinct and competitiveness.He’s a special player but what we do love is he hates getting beaten. He never gives up; that’s his greatest trait and players love playing with him. It was a fantastic performance.
He has an admirer in Damien Hardwick too. “He’s a star; there’s no doubt. We always knew he was a good player; once again he bobs up in the right places. He’s a pleasure to watch and you only have to see how highly-regarded he is in AFL circles. He’s a superstar of the AFL system.
If this isn’t enough to convince you, we have a stat for you. When Greene plays, GWS wins 63% of the time. So what you say, the Giants have spent the last four years in the finals? When Green doesn’t play, they win just 48% of the time. That is genuinely the difference between a double chance or a seat in the grand stand come finals time.
How the Game Was Won
In the end, as has been the case in a number of their wins, it was the Giants efficiency going forward that gave them the edge in this one. Five goals from Toby Greene probably helped too. Both of these factors at their most stark in the second quarter when, despite the game played almost exclusively at Richmond’s end, goals to Greene and Josh Kelly saw GWS extend their quarter time advantage.
This advantage was consolidated when the Giants kicked the first three goals of the third quarter to blow the game open. That man Greene at the centre of almost everything adding two of them. However when they conceded two late ones to Jack Riewoldt and Dustin Martin, it looked as though the Tigers stars might be able to lift their team over the line.
It wasn’t to be though, with the Tigers unable to hit the scoreboard in the final term. Fittingly it would be that man Green to seal it, his fifth goal in the 16th minute the only major of the term. One last reminder from the 26-year-old that the Giants are a better team when he’s around.
What the Coaches Said
Leon Cameron was happy with his team’s response to a week of intense scrutiny. “To beat Richmond anytime is a really good win. Our No.1 focus was our defensive pressure and I thought that was the pleasing part of the game, for longer than we’ve been showing in recent weeks. Our tackle count was better, we hunted the opposition better.”
As happy as he was with those improvements, there were some areas he thought the team could do better. “We turned it over a fair bit so we need to get our skills right. But it’s great to beat Richmond anytime because they’re such a good team and it’s good to win at home again because we’re on the road for the next four or five weeks.”
“Probably after half-time I thought we did it [forward entries] better. The second quarter we lost our way. I think it was 14-5 [inside 50s]; disappointing. But definitely after half-time, we got it down there, we had some repeat entries. But then we went away from hitting the top of the square at times when we needed to, tried to pick of some shorts [kicks] when we didn’t need to. We’ve had a couple of six-day breaks where we haven’t been able to work on parts of our game, which has been frustrating, but we’ve got an eight-day break into Gold Coast.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Damien Hardwick. “I thought our system held up well. We had periods of complete dominance and we failed to execute on the scoreboard. I think we had 12 inside-50s to one (in the second term) and they went forward and scored. We probably lacked polish inside 50. We took some positives out of it. We would have loved to win the game but GWS were too good tonight,” he said
Of particular concern was his teams forward entries. “We just couldn’t capitalise at ground level. At various stages we could have lowered our eyes but the polish was missing tonight. That last kick inside 50 is no doubt the hardest kick in footy; we just didn’t pull it off tonight. You’ve just got to take your chances at stages and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Despite not playing their best footy, he was confident his team can turn their form around. “We’re certainly not playing our best footy; we can play better I think. We’ve just got to hang tough, get some wins on the board and continue to move forward. There’s no doubt the side that’s the hottest (at the end of the year) rolls in and wins. We’re confident that if we’ve got our talent available, if we’ve got our system and game plan executing it well, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
GWS 3.4 5.4 8.6 9. 8 (62)
RICHMOND 2.6 3.9 6.10 6.14 (50)
Greater Western Sydney: Greene 5, Jacobs, Himmelberg, Kelly, Finlayson
Richmond: Martin 2, Castagna, Aarts, Bolton, Riewoldt
Greater Western Sydney: Greene, Kelly, Coniglio, Whitfield, Haynes, Hopper
Richmond: Martin, Bolton, Short, Pickett, McIntosh, Castagna
Greater Western Sydney: Nil