Greater Western Sydney will record their first victory this week when they take on Gold Coast at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
Clearly both teams will be approaching this match thinking it winnable.
While the Suns have shown they are no easybeats at home, pushing finals-calibre teams like Essendon and Fremantle right to the limit, the Giants have been slowly building their competitiveness, pushing Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, and even troubling Carlton for a half.
The point is that this is one of very few matches that GWS can win, and Kevin Sheedy will know it. He’ll be using every bit of his renowned rat cunning, developed over 641 matches in the coach’s box, as he searches for ways to get his men over the line.
This game will have been isolated a long way out by the Giants coaching staff, and we’ve seen them rotate players through the side over the first six weeks, all in preparation for round seven.
Make no mistake, we will see what Sheedy thinks is his best 22 this week, and each one of them will run out hungry and desperate for success.
Gold Coast have struggled to back up their best efforts on a week-to-week basis, and the hard-fought encounter against Fremantle will have taken it out of a very young side.
This will be especially felt if Michael Rischitelli and Gary Ablett don’t recover from injury in time, and the loss of Nathan Bock is a huge blow. It’s worth noting that the Suns worst two performances this year came when he was on the sidelines.
Expect to see experienced leaders Luke Power and James McDonald play out of their skins, and if Ablett doesn’t come up you can pencil in Callan Ward for best-on-ground honours right now.
There’s no doubt that he is the true leader of this football team, in every possible way – physically, mentally and spiritually.
Just as Ablett has grown since transferring to the Suns, Ward too has relished the responsibility of being the front man, so expect his will to be imposed all match.
GWS will play a physical, contested game of football, making use of the more mature bodied youngsters at their disposal. On top of this, Tom Scully is due to put his stamp on a game and will relish playing against an inexperienced team. He’ll play his best game yet for the Giants.
Of course, the Suns aren’t just going to lie down and let it all happen. David Swallow and Harley Bennell are turning into elite players before our very eyes, and Karmichel Hunt is forcing his detractors to choke, so fast are they eating their words.
Sheedy will identify these three players as the keys to Gold Coast’s chances of winning the game, and they can expect some rough treatment to come their way.
Both teams will have been eyeing this fixture off, and the Suns deserve their favouritism. Although we haven’t seen many surprise results this year, I fancy that this one will mean more to the Giants, and I’m relying on the Suns to be a little flat.
But more than anything, I just sense that the old master Kevin Sheedy is capable of pulling one out of the bag against the odds.