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Well, that was relatively painless. Greater Western Sydney’s debut is done and dusted, and it was nowhere near the bloodbath the football world was expecting.

Yes, a 10-goal loss, but that’s about the best that could be hoped for a new team against an ultra-professional, battle-hardened side like the Swans.

The story of Saturday night wasn’t the margin or the result, but the performance.

Using the only relevant measuring stick we’ve got – Gold Coast’s debut against Carlton last year – the Giants came away with full marks.

Not that those on the Glitter Strip would be appreciative of that contrast. If anything, the pressure on the shoulders of Guy McKenna and his coaching staff is now greater after GWS’s bright start.

There should be an unspoken rivalry between the two AFL expansion sides. Maybe rivalry isn’t the right word – ‘arms race’ is probably more appropriate. We know they’re both going to be good, and they have the tools, but who will get there first?

Both clubs were born with silver spoons in their mouths. In terms of talent, neither team can really complain with what they’ve been given.

The tough part is putting it into practice – making sure that players like David Swallow and Steven Coniglio become the superstars they can be.

One imagines that they’ll be peering over the fence and having a good look at what the other is doing in terms of development, if they haven’t already.

It’s handy to know there’s someone else in the same boat, dealing with the same challenges. But what’ll be most fascinating is watching two different schools of thought at work.

Gold Coast, led by second-year coach McKenna, are getting there slowly. However, their pre-season has been disappointing and McKenna is no guarantee to be offered a new contract by the club for 2013.

Their expansive, first-option gameplan is good when it works, but they get blown away when it doesn’t. They also can’t run out a full game yet.

Neither can GWS. But it’s clear Kevin Sheedy and Mark Williams are approaching things differently. From what we’ve seen in the NAB Cup and on the weekend, they’re a little more in-your-face.

Against Sydney, the Giants were a lot harder at the ball than the Suns were on debut. Maybe they actually listened to Sheeds’ pre-match address. What he said was what they did.

Of course, they were soundly beaten – but when you consider the depths of Gold Coast’s stage fright in their game against Carlton, they weren’t disgraced. That’s good enough.

Make no mistake – this is still going to be a very tough year for Greater Western Sydney. There’s no way they’ll maintain that level of intensity in every game.

However, there is reason for a little more hope. If we use Gold Coast’s first match as a benchmark, then GWS passed with flying colours.

They dealt with the hype and the build-up of the occasion better and pulled out a mature performance to match. So far, so good.

But the Suns, a year older and a year wiser, would have been watching intently. They know the excuses won’t wash as easily if GWS continue to snap at their heels.

The Giants’ debut caught plenty by surprise, but now Gold Coast must prove that they’re ahead.

Vince Rugari
Vince Rugari

Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard of the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. A Port Adelaide fan by birth, he now is a sports reporter for Australian Associate Press

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The Crowd Says (38)

  • March 27th 2012 @ 10:14am
    Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

    I am getting very tired of this how great were the GWS propoganda.

    Let’s have a look at a couple of things;
    the Suns lost to Carlton a team that went on to narrowly miss the prelim final while missing 3 key players, the GWS lost to the Swans who will be amongst a number of teams who will battle for the last spot in the 8.

    Carlton has a rolls royce midfield with a forward line that had 3 players kick more than 50 goals last year and play a very attacking brand of football, the swans lack the same class and potency and grind out wins.

    Even still the Swans had 71 inside 50’s to 28 and 30 scoring shots to 12, the margin flatters the GWS.

    And finally the GWS may well limit the blow outs by flooding back and playing defensive footy but how many games will they win by doing it? And how long can 18 year old boys play against men in a physical contested footy style before the wear and tear catches up with them?

    And just as a point of interest the Suns lost to the Swans 15.16 106 to 4.12 – 36 last year, a goal worse but with 4 more scoring shots.

    • Columnist

      March 27th 2012 @ 10:21am
      Vince Rugari said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:21am | ! Report

      You say Carlton only narrowly missed the prelim, which means they went as far as the semi-final. So did Sydney in 2011… GWS were without 6 players on the weekend as well, don’t forget. I really hated the AFL Media propaganda line that was followed on the broadcast but I just can’t help but be impressed when I’m on record doubting if they’ll win a game and expecting them to lose by 150+ first up.

      Another tidbit- GWS won the last quarter. Suns had to wait until the third quarter of their third game to get that far.

      • March 27th 2012 @ 10:38am
        Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Vince – Do you really think the Swans are in the same class as the blues? And more importantly how many teams do the swas blow away?

        And yes they were wothout 6 players but who were they, Scully who will be handy, Brogan, Power, Ohailpin who were all dumped from their teams last year and are not going to make a massive difference. And the swans were missing a couple of handy players as well don’t forget, O’keefe & Shaw.

        And the fact you were tipping them to lose by 150 first up is the bigeest issue, last year people were ridiculously tipping the Suns to beat the bllues first up and when they got belted as they were always going to it was all shock horror, this year everyone predicted the Suns to lose by 100 plus, which was never going to happen given the opposition, and when they get done by a generous 10 goals everyone says how fantastic they are. The AFL have better managed expectations and given them an easier game first up simple as that.

        And given what you saw on the weekend and the defensive game plan have you changed you mind about them winning a game? I sure haven’t

      • March 27th 2012 @ 11:05am
        Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        Just to demonstrate the difference between the Blues & the Swans, in 2011 the blues scored 2225 points, the Swans 1897.

        • March 27th 2012 @ 11:39am
          Sports Writer said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Again, maybe we should wait until the end of the season to compare GWS and Suns

      • April 2nd 2012 @ 2:26pm
        whatever said | April 2nd 2012 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        Clueless Adelaide fan with huge bias. Surprised you’re allowed to contribute, surprised you aren’t writing an article about your team.

      • April 10th 2012 @ 8:59am
        Macca said | April 10th 2012 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        What do you make of the North loss VInce?

    • Roar Rookie

      March 27th 2012 @ 11:42am
      Trust Me said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:42am | ! Report

      Irrespective of the Swans or Carlton, I agree Macca people are getting desperate trying to find positives about the Giants.

      Leave it be – they’re in and up and running, lets move on.

      • March 27th 2012 @ 11:46am
        Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

        Yeah if I have to put up with a whole season of “What a great 10 goal loss that was” I think I will go spare. Imagine the articles that will be written if they lose to Port or the Suns by just 5 goals.

      • March 27th 2012 @ 2:55pm
        roarr said | March 27th 2012 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

        haha. You could say the same about the extreme over-analysis of the 2 handballs that Israel Folau made… i think ive seen about 15 different opinions on the one meaningless play.

  • March 27th 2012 @ 10:24am
    Sports Writer said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

    And if Swans go on to win the flag this year what will you be saying? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
    Where were you predicting Carlton to finish after round one last year? Battlie it out for eight?

    • March 27th 2012 @ 10:29am
      Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      I always had the blues finishing 4th or 5th last year and there is no way the swans will go on to win the flag.

  • March 27th 2012 @ 10:36am
    brendan said | March 27th 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

    Fair enough to write an article about this game but one swallow doesnt make a summer or in this case a winter.I do remember the Suns had about 100 points kicked against them by Essendon in i think the first qtr in rd 2 or 3 last year so the Giants not getting blown away is a good thing.It is going to be interesting to watch whether the perceived negative man behind the ball game plan of the Giants or the Suns let them learn approach which produces better long term results.On the Suns i was surprised they didnt recruit more experienced Afl players this year outside of Warnock as i was under the impression that was part of there long term strategy.

  • Roar Rookie

    March 27th 2012 @ 11:39am
    Trust Me said | March 27th 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

    I thought after the 3rd quarter when the Swans kicked 7 unanswered goals the contest was over and the Swans went easy on them in the last quarter not to embarrass them too much. Maybe an order from Demetriou.

    If there was something riding on the result, I’m sure the Giants would have been thrashed by a lot more.

    • March 27th 2012 @ 7:04pm
      stabpass said | March 27th 2012 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

      There actually was something riding on it, 4 points and a good %.

      The Giants were desperate for much of the match, sometimes in any sport that can make up for a lack of speed, skill and strength, and they play a very congested lock up style of footy, but on occassions they were not to bad bringing the ball out of defense.

      They will cop IMO some bigger floggings than this.

      But they are kids and have will bounce back very quickly.

  • March 27th 2012 @ 2:53pm
    Norm said | March 27th 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

    I actually thought the way the Giants went in the last 1/4ter was terrific. If they were really hopeless they would have just given up after the 3rd 1/4ter onslaught.

  • March 27th 2012 @ 3:54pm
    Doc StK said | March 27th 2012 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

    While comparing Suns and Giants debuts maybe apples and oranges, the interesting point Vince raises is the final quarter that the Giants (just) won. Given the belting they had received in the first three and just how tired they must have been playing Swanee veterans and their particular brand of in-close contested footy, the last quarter was a real achievement.

    I didn’t notice the Swans letting their foot off the pedal that much in the last quarter but I did notice that the Giants all lifted, especially after one of Israel Folau’s few touches that eventually resulted in a goal. That said, unlike the Suns last year, I doubt the Giants will win a match (although anythings possible in footy!) but they will win a few quarters, even against better teams if the latter fail to be ruthless and allow the Giants to do what they did in the final quarter against Sydney.

    • March 27th 2012 @ 4:19pm
      Macca said | March 27th 2012 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

      I think the whole “winning a quarter” accomplishment is really overblown and will the GWS be able to keep up their game style for a full year?

      • March 28th 2012 @ 12:37am
        Ian Whitchurch said | March 28th 2012 @ 12:37am | ! Report

        Macca,

        The Giants sucked a lot less than you expected. Just deal with it and move on.

        • March 28th 2012 @ 12:55am
          mattamkII said | March 28th 2012 @ 12:55am | ! Report

          well said.

          Trying to draw some link between two games a year apart, with different team while comparing its result to where those teams finished last year against a crystal ball guess of where the current teams may or may not finish this season is so stupid it laughable. Even saying it is hard/funny.

          They did ok and sightly better than expected.

        • April 10th 2012 @ 8:58am
          Macca said | April 10th 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

          What is your analysis of this week Ian? Another fantastic performance from a young group?

          130 point loss to a team who will struggle to make the 8 with to of the experienced recruits back in the side, should we be lauding that performance as well?

          As for sucking less than I expected, if you look at what I said before the game I said the Swans don’t belt to many teams so they were about 3 goals better than I thought.

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