Great power, little responsibility: A Giant malaise

Jay Croucher Columnist

By , Jay Croucher is a Roar Expert

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    For much of Saturday night at Spotless Stadium, the Giants coasted on their talent until they were finally struck with a punishing blow of cruel irony: the most talented player on the field was playing for the other team.

    Lance Franklin’s high-arching dagger from outside 50 on the left boundary was almost cheapened by its rich, breathtaking predictability. Franklin excels at making moments more difficult than they need to be, and then making them look like they were effortless all along.

    He juggled the mark in front of Phil Davis in the fourth quarter, seemingly costing himself the precious few metres that would have made the goal kickable. But then Franklin reminded everyone that every word in his football vernacular ends with ‘able’.

    Franklin’s goal didn’t end the game, but it was a game that always felt over anyway. The Giants, the most talented team in the competition, playing at home against a team whom they have owned in recent history, were only down six points in the final term and not for one second looked like they would win the game.

    Moments of individual brilliance kept GWS in the match, and occasional chains of multiple moments of individual brilliance made things briefly interesting. But the Giants were, ultimately, a little hopeless.

    They won contests, but their victories were made fleeting by the confusion that followed with ball in hand. They spent the night manfully climbing rungs of a ladder that led nowhere.

    They positioned themselves in defence, then gave away mindless free kicks inside 50. They spread with intensity off half-back, but the intensity was dead by half-forward. They delivered the ball inside 50, but delivered it to no one. For stretches they played the game in their forward half, but the ball never felt trapped there – it was not boxed in; it was just being repelled by a small, eminently breakable wall, which finally did break.

    Lance Franklin Sydney Swans AFL Indigenous Round 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    Everything Sydney did, they did with order. Everything made sense. They had numbers behind the ball, and when they regained the ball, they ran forward together in perfect synchrony. They worked harder, impelled by the knowledge that talent is only crushing when it is properly weaponised.

    The Swans were a perfectly drilled military unit – the Giants were a lot of John McClanes all trying their own way to take down Nakatomi Plaza.

    This is not a three-week malaise for GWS. They have been stumbling since the first five weeks of the season, unable to properly punish semi-competitive teams, and making few statements against the best. A team this brilliant should not be losing to Carlton and St Kilda, or failing to win at home against a Geelong side absent Joel Selwood, coming off a six-day break.

    The GWS issue is not manpower. They have injuries, but the team that took the field against Sydney was still arguably the most talent-laden in the league. Their issue is organisation, or motivation, or both. Whispers about poor coaching are growing louder.

    The fact that the Giants are continually being neutered by teams prepared to work hard, track back and cut off the corridor, reflects poorly on Leon Cameron, and suggests an inability to devise a Plan B. His decision to play Rory Lobb behind the ball on Saturday night, shrinking what should have been a decisive height advantage for GWS inside 50, was incomprehensible.

    Cameron said he was pleased with the effort Saturday night. Moderately improved resilience cannot be a benchmark for these Giants – the sky must be the goal, and right now, they are rooted firmly to the ground.

    Jay Croucher
    Jay Croucher

    From MSG in New York to the MCG in Melbourne, Jay has spent his adult life travelling the world, indulging in sport and approaching it from the angle of history and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter @CroucherJD