GWS Giants living up to their name
Kevin Sheedy coach of the Giants. Photographer: James Elsby
Despite the mounting number of lopsided losses, I was very impressed by what I saw from the GWS Giants against Geelong on the weekend.
For three quarters the Giants threatened the upset of the millennium, not only matching the Cats on the scoreboard, but also in statistics such as contested possessions and tackles.
I went to the match hoping to see a Geelong blowout victory, but it almost didn’t happen when GWS kicked the first five goals of the match.
This prompted me to say that “this will be front page headlines if GWS beats Geelong.”
The Giants have proven in their two contests against the Cats to date that they aren’t scared of playing such a well-disciplined team; a team that has enjoyed sustained success since 2007, winning three flags in the past six years.
In their only previous meeting, at the Cattery, the Giants were level with the then-defending premiers at quarter and half-time, before experience shone in the second half, allowing the Cats to pull away to win by 65 points.
But this was some sort of start for the Giants, and after such a brilliant first quarter the new team led by 18 points at half-time.
While I was not close enough to the Geelong huddle to hear what Chris Scott had to say to his troops, it was clear that he was not impressed with what his boys served up in that first quarter.
I was sitting at the southern end of the stadium, right next to the visitors’ tunnel and just to the left of the Giants’ cheer squad which continued to let their voice be heard frequently throughout the match.
Every time the Giants kicked a goal, the crowd would lift their voice and the flags would wave proudly. I was even lucky enough to take several photographs of the cheer squad with the scoreboard in sight when the Giants were leading.
And when the Giants were still in the contest, the crowd were still up on their feet, trying to keep the team in the game when the upset of the millennium was still there for the taking.
The Cats eventually lifted their game in the second quarter, kicking eight goals to four to turn the match in their direction.
It was only an eight-point buffer at half-time, but the Giants were impressing with every piece of play.
I was able to meet Barry Hall during the half-time break. While I did not ask him any questions, what I would have asked, had I been able, was if he had regretted the way he left the Sydney Swans in 2009.
Hall, of course, left the Harbour City in messy circumstances that year following an incident involving Ben Rutten in a Swans loss to Adelaide midway through that year.
It was his last game for the red-and-white, following which he would serve for two years at the Western Bulldogs before retiring at the end of 2011.
Hall has stated that he always wants to be remembered for being a Western Bulldogs player, despite captaining Sydney to its’ 72-year drought-ending premiership in 2005.
He states this because it was the Footscray club who were willing to give him one last chance, and he paid the club back with over 100 goals, making him the only man to kick a ton for three different clubs.
It was the third quarter and the Giants were still in the contest. Even though they were unable to take the lead back from the triple premiers, they showed some fight by levelling the scores twice, entering the final change trailing by 12 points.
But as has become customary this season, the Giants’ notorious fourth-quarter fadeouts crept in again. Against Melbourne at the MCG in Round 4 they led by 19 points at three-quarter-time but lost by 41.
The fourth quarter blues struck again when Geelong restricted them to just one goal in the final quarter, kicking nine themselves.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the ground midway through the final quarter – well, I would have left anyway because it was obvious as to who would win.
Jeremy Cameron was very impressive for the Giants, kicking 4.4 (28). I noted during the match that he had the potential to become “the next Matthew Lloyd or Jonathan Brown.”
As it stands, he is equal third on the Coleman Medal tally, with 31 majors for the season, an impressive return from a forward whose team is still winless approaching the midway mark of the season.
I won’t be surprised if he one day makes it into the All-Australian team, and he could launch a club forward the same way Lance Franklin launched Hawthorn forward almost a decade ago.
When Franklin started at Hawthorn the club was still languishing in the bottom half of the ladder, but he has since become a superstar in his own right and today he is one of the power forwards in a side that is in premiership contention.
Cameron could launch GWS up the ladder if he continues his impressive form throughout his career. The question might need to be asked: who needs Buddy Franklin when you have Jeremy Cameron?
The next match I will attend is the Giants’ Round 17 match against Essendon. Let’s hope that the Giants can once again live up to their name by the time they meet on July 20.