GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns rivalry to blossom
The Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants will forever share a unique bond.
Constantly their progress will be compared and consequently an enthralling rivalry will flourish.
Although these two new franchises entered the competition in different seasons, they will always be associated as the expansion clubs who were presented to the league on a silver platter, whom the AFL moved heaven and earth for and gave everything to help them become established football clubs.
The Suns and the Giants were handed draft concessions never before seen in the history of the AFL or VFL.
These concessions were designed to make both expansions clubs competitive quickly.
With unprecedented access to the most talented teenagers in the country, success and premierships would come in a short matter of time according to leading experts and journalists.
However, it seems that draft concessions are the only comparisons these two expansions clubs have, as each team has taken a different path towards their premiership journey.
The Suns, who debuted in the 2011 season, were encouraged by inaugural coach Guy McKenna to take the game on using their pace and agility.
As predicted, the Suns eventually finished last, although not without providing some of the moments of the season, namely their first ever victory against Port Adelaide in their fourth match.
Or Karmichael Hunt’s first goal, a booming 60m kick on the run. A moment you could not help be overwhelmed and consumed with joy for the rugby league convert.
So far the Giants have yet to provide such moments in their brief history, but you get the feeling their first scalp is just around the corner.
These two infant clubs meet for the first time this weekend in what is shaping as an enthralling battle, an exhibition of the crème de la crème of teenagers over the past two years.
As they prepare to fight for their first win of the season it is only fitting to compare their respective journeys so far.
Unlike the Suns, the Giants have been extremely defensive minded so far in their brief history.
Holding the ball up with short kicks across halfback, protecting the mentality of the younger kids ensuring they don’t cop too many thrashings. The tactic has been somewhat successful.
Over the first six rounds of their inaugural season, the Suns averaged a whopping 144.33 points against per game.
This included a 139-point flogging against the Bombers, who scored a mammoth 197.
In comparison, the Giants have fared slightly better in their first six games, keeping opposition to 123.83 points per game.
Delving further into statistical indicators shows the Giants are not only competing better than the foundation Suns but their current sophomore unit also.
The Giants have out-marked, kicked and tackled the Suns so far this season.
Tackles are a significantly concerning indicator for the Suns as they illustrate effort, desire and work ethic.
Whilst match day tactics are slightly different, another interesting comparison is the experienced players the Giants and Suns went after.
Both clubs were allowed specific periods to recruit uncontracted players from opposing teams, in exchange they would receive compensation draft picks based on the currency of the individual.
The Suns obtained Campbell Brown, Gary Ablett jnr, Jared Brennan, Jarrod Harbrow, Josh Fraser, Michael Rischitelli, Nathan Bock and Nathan Krakouer.
The majority of these players were “middle aged”, ranging between 23- and 29-years-old, excluding veteran ruckman Josh Fraser.
The Giants recruiting strategy was significantly different, they acquired Luke Power, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes, James McDonald, Callan Ward, Tom Scully, Setanta O’ hAilpin, Phil Davis, Rhys Palmer and Sam Reid.
These recruits had a variety of experience, from the younger brigade of Davis, Palmer, Reid, Scully and Ward who had only two to three years or 172 combined games of AFL experience.
Similarly, veterans Brogan, Cornes, Power, McDonald and O’ hAilpin had been around the system for years claiming five premierships between them.
These more experienced campaigners had amassed more than 1000 games over their decorated careers.
Single-handedly Brogan, Cornes, Power and McDonald had played more games than the aforementioned “young brigade”.
Effectively the Giants had acquired veterans, young players with little experience and the talented teenagers gained through the draft.
Somewhat different tactics and strategies acquired by two expansion clubs who will forever be linked for the remainder of their history due to the proximity of their debuts in the competition.
Their success and failures will be compared and critiqued against one another’s and from this a unique rivalry will blossom and the strength of the competition will prosper as a result.