It might be a modest feat for most, but winning a quarter of football is something of a victory for AFL’s newest franchise, Greater Western Sydney.
The Giants took the latest in a series of baby steps on Saturday when they won the opening quarter – their first at AFL level – against a lacklustre Western Bulldogs at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
Sure, by the end of the game, they’d been trounced 15.14 (104) 9.8 (62) for a healthy 42-point defeat, but coach Kevin Sheedy is no man to turn his nose at small victories.
He was adamant the Giants have much to be pleased with after five rounds, which included another standout five-goal performance by young forward Jeremy Cameron, who won a Rising Star nomination in round two.
Along with co-captain Phil Davis and Jack Hombsch in defence, Sheedy said his “bookends” had put in an impressive performance at the Giants’ adopted home ground.
“We’re starting to get the bookends right, which is good for us,” Sheedy told reporters after the game.
“We never had Dean Brogan out there or Chad Cornes, so it was very important, from that point of view, to do well without a couple of experienced players out there.”
After taking a 16-5 lead at the first break, the Giants’ course made a predictable run and they lost the game effectively in the second term after an eight-goal-to-three performance by the Dogs.
In the second half, they were competitive but outscored seven goals to four for what was still their smallest losing margin of the season so far.
Sheedy said simple turnovers had cost his team at least six goals.
“But competitive and contesting the ball, I think we were terrific,” he said.
“I’d like to put a whole game together eventually but, in every area, we’re getting a little bit better.
“I’ve got no doubt by the middle of the year we’ll be OK.”
Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney admitted his players were “agitated” with their own dismal first quarter, but denied the sluggish start had anything to do with their opponents.
“There was no underestimating them – their young players have a lot of talent and, while physically they’re not at the level yet, they will be quite soon,” McCartney said.
The struggling Bulldogs have notched back-to-back victories after losing their first three matches and look forward to regaining Daniel Giansiracusa for next week’s clash against Collingwood.
The Giants, meanwhile, take on Carlton at Etihad Stadium – their first at the ground – meaning they will have played their fair share of top contenders by the end of next weekend.
Along with West Coast, Adelaide and Sydney, they’ll have clashed with four of the top six sides according to the ladder, Sheedy noted for any critics keen to put in the boot.
“But the more we do play, the better we’ll get and, hopefully, our second half (of the season) is going to be pretty good,” he said.