Giants lose NAB Cup games but win respect

mds1970 Roar Guru

By mds1970, mds1970 is a Roar Guru

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    For AFL newcomers Greater Western Sydney, the pre-season is of particular importance, as they settle their line-up and prepare for their debut regular season appearance.

    With that debut little more than a month away, the pre-season competition got under way this weekend. For all teams involved, it’s an important hit-out, a chance to work on game plans. And for youngsters, fringe players and recent draftees, a chance to showcase their skills and make a claim for senior selection.

    The first round of the pre-season competition is played through a set of triple-headers, with each side playing 20-minute halves against two other teams.

    Drawn to play against Western Bulldogs and Collingwood at the GWS home training venue at Blacktown, Greater Western Sydney’s NAB Cup campaign also presents an opportunity for supporters to have a look at the AFL’s newest club.

    Overcast and threatening afternoon skies may have scared some fans away, but the potential downpour didn’t come. And a crowd of 7,086 turned up to take in the action: not a great number, but the vast majority were in the charcoal and orange of the Giants.

    Many experts had predicted the Giants would be easybeats, with bookmakers offering the relatively short odds of $11 that they would not score a goal in either game.

    Early in the first match against the Bulldogs there were danger signs. Perhaps over-awed by the occasion, the Giants struggled to man up and defend as the Bulldogs started with two quick goals.

    The Giants got on the board though, and those who had taken the bet on the Giants failing to goal would have to rip up their tickets as Curtly Hampton converted a free kick from 40 metres out.

    It would be their only goal in the first half. But the Giants lifted after half time, and with the first goal of the second half got back to be only a goal down, while the crowd began to find their voice.

    Then disaster struck for the home side, with a free kick sending the Bulldogs into attack for Daniel Cross to goal. And worse was to come, with an inexplicable free kick in the teeth of goal gifting Matthew Panos a goal and opening a match-winning lead.

    The free to Panos evoked the wrath of the crowd; and anyone who thought there would no passion in the supporters of the new club would soon have that idea swept away as a tirade of angry abuse was sent over the fence to the men in green.

    The Giants refused to concede, and co-captain Callan Ward, playing against his old club, landed a nine-pointer; with a late goal to Rhys Palmer getting them back to within a kick. But they were unable to conjure up a late winner, going down by just five points; only the controversial free to Panos denying them the upset win.

    The Giants took a breather while the Bulldogs were joined in the middle by Collingwood. A scrappy and low-scoring contest saw only seven goals scored, and a seven-point win for the Magpies.

    And then it was time for the final feature of the night, with the newcomers taking on grand finalists Collingwood.

    Adam Tomlinson got an early goal for the Giants, and a spectacular individual effort by Rhys Cooyou sent the crowd into raptures as the Giants took a shock six-point lead to half time.

    When ruckman Jonathan Giles goaled in the first minute of the final quarter, the chance of an upset was in the air.

    It wasn’t to be, as the Magpies fought back, and an early nomination for goal of the year by Jackson Paine, threading the ball through from a near impossible angle from the boundary, saw them take the lead late.

    The Giants had a chance to steal victory in the final seconds, with Tomlinson having a chance to mark within scoring range, but the Magpie defence held firm and the siren sounded to give the Magpies a narrow three-point win.

    The Giants didn’t win either game. But they may have won something more than points. They may have won some respect from the football world.

    Far from easybeats, they fought out both games. Far from being thrashed, they could have won.

    Ruckman Jonathan Giles showed his value to the new franchise, among the Giants’ best in both games. Former Melbourne captain James McDonald had class against the Bulldogs, while Phil Davis was solid in defence in both matches.

    Cooyou showed plenty of attacking flair and Stephen Conoglio plenty of potential. Most fit players got good of game time, which will be vital preparation for the season ahead.

    And so the crowd filed out of the stadium. For the Collingwood fans, the satisfaction of two wins. Bulldog fans could celebrate one.

    The vast majority, in the colours of the Giants, left with the knowledge that the newcomers were competitive, good enough to match it with their opponents.

    They also left with a greater sense of optimism that their team will be good enough to take their place in the AFL.

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    The Crowd Says (62)

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 8:41am
      The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      There were many positives coming out of the Giants’ first official hit out as an AFL team. As mds said, they looked the part, and blokes like Hampton and Cooyou looked like very exciting prospects. The other interesting thing is that much of the effort in both games was left to the U20 players, most of the senior players didn’t play in the second game, so that’s a positive in itself.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 9:05am
        Ian Whitchurch said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        I actually hadnt realised Sheedy had done that – I kept looking for Cornes as a loose man in defense and so on, but kept just seeing the kids (my footy record saw a lot of work checking jumper numbers).

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 8:47am
      The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      you left out on important bit, that Izzy played all four quarters for 3 touches, and for the most part, couldn’t get anywhere near the ball, the one time I saw him get both hands to the footy in a marking contest, he dropped it, recalling that most of the time his opponent was an inexperienced AFL player.

      This article in the HS is even more critical:

      It’s still early days, and I always thought that he’d be learning the game in his first full season of AFL, as Hunt had to last year, but at least in his first NAB cup games, Hunt got his hands on the footy.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 9:03am
        Ian Whitchurch said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        The Cattery,

        I can see how someone watching the game on TV could see that, but watching from just over the fence in the forward pocket I could see Folau run, make leads and present for the football.

        For example, the Bugg goal was scored because Folau led into space, sucking defnders whith him and allowing space for Bugg to run into and mark.

        In short, Im happy with how he went as a full forward.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2012 @ 9:40am
          Redb said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:40am | ! Report


          I think Folau was also given little chance to receive the ball from any sort of structure or set up play from the midfield. As was the case with the Suns, young kids play at a million miles an hour and just move the ball forward with numbers in any pattern possible.

          Jason Dunstall kicked a lot of his goals because he use to receive the ball laces out on the lead from the midfield.

        • February 20th 2012 @ 9:46am
          Matt F said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          I thought that his effort and defensive pressure was very good. It’s a massive step up from the NEAFL to the AFL so he really is basically a first-year player. He also seemed to have one of those frustrating games where every time he went near the ball it seemed to bounce the other way.

          Sheedy’s initial comments a month or so ago that he would kick 40 goals are way off, especially given GWS won’t be kicking too many big scores this year, but if he can average a goal a game and create good defensive pressure in the foward 50 then he will have had a very good debut season.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 1:15pm
        mds1970 said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        Izzy didn’t make much of an impact. He’s still learning the game. And there’ll be some days when he’s getting delivery, generating leads and finding himself in scoring range, and other days when the best he can expect to do is draw defenders while creating space for team-mates.
        Had he made an impact, it would have created plenty of discussion and would be worthy of a mention in an article such as this. There’ll be days when that happens.

        • February 20th 2012 @ 4:47pm
          dan said | February 20th 2012 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

          Izzy had an impact when he sent Shae McNamara flying.

          • Roar Guru

            February 20th 2012 @ 4:52pm
            The Cattery said | February 20th 2012 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

            heh, heh, true, but Shae did gather and get an effective possession away before getting hit, but good on Izzy, Shae’s a pretty big unit in his own right

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 9:45am
      Redb said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:45am | ! Report


      You’ve commented on the 7,000 crowd at Blacktown which was OK. It seems our NRL friends think this was wrong. They of course, they know all about BS crowd figures, but I guess they didn’t factor in the Grandstand was behind the camera for most of the match and as 3 teams were playing some fans came later (Pies), others left early (Doggies). This was because the matches were in order, GWS v Doggies, Doggies v Pies, GWS v Pies. From first hand I was told the ground was about two thirds full.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 9:58am
        Matt F said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        The other thing to remember is that in Sydney, pre-season games are just simple trial games. There’s no organised pre-season competition with TV coverage in the NRL or Super Rugby (except the all-stars and charity shield one-off games for the NRL) so pre-season has never held any significant for most Sydney sport fans, apart from reading how their team went and who looked good for the season. In that context 7000 is a very decent crowd, on par with many NRL trials.

        We really can’t read too much into their crowd figures until the real season begins, especially towards the end of the season after they’ve copped a fair few beltings.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2012 @ 10:06am
          Redb said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Yep and lets face it everyone has considered them non-competitive for 2012 (which is still true as GC found out in the real season), so there is no success bandwagon to build a fanbase, YET.

          I would expect modest home crowds of 8-10K for all of 2012.

          • February 20th 2012 @ 10:17am
            Matt F said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            I think the average will be a bit higher because the novelty of the new team will bring people through early on and the first match against the Swans will draw well, but if they can still get crowds of 10-12k+ by the end of the season they will be doing extremely well.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2012 @ 1:38pm
        mds1970 said | February 20th 2012 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        I’d agree with that estimate of the ground being about two-thirds full. In an 11,000 capacity stadium, the crowd figure looked about right.
        To put it in perspective, it’s a similar number to the crowd at the Sydney Roosters v Wests Tigers trial at Campbelltown on Saturday night.
        It’s an OK number, but not in the realm of popping champagne corks in celebration. Hopefully those who attended liked what they saw enough to come to the opening round game against the Swans on 24th March.

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 9:48am
      Lachlan said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Definetly won respect and they can only get better and more experienced as the year goes on. They’ll win 2 – 3 games. I was impressed with Giles, Cooyou and no. 2 forget his name.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 10:23am
        Ian Whitchurch said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:23am | ! Report


        That’d be Curtly Hampton – he’s from Alice Springs, and was playing in the under 16s at 14, and in the national under-18s championship at 15.

    • February 20th 2012 @ 9:52am
      Matt F said | February 20th 2012 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      The kids clearly have some talent and they will be a hell of a team in a few years but to put it into perspective, GC actually won a game at this stage last year, against Sydney (actually two if you count their win over GWS as well,) and still received many thrashings once the real season started. They’ll be more competitve then most people have suggested, indeed claims that they won’t win a game all year are over the top, but if they can match Gold Coast’s first season they will have done extremely well. I’m thinking 1-2 wins.

      • February 20th 2012 @ 10:20am
        Ian Whitchurch said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:20am | ! Report


        For me, its not how many GWS lose, but how they lose them.

        If they do like they did against Collingwood, and run, tackle, harass and pressure, then I’ll be happy even with no wins.

        If they show a tendency play like Melbourne, that is to retreat to a disorganised rabble who play bruise-free football when it gets hard, then I’ll be unhappy, even if they manage to scrag a couple of games against other poor sides.

        • February 20th 2012 @ 10:29am
          Matt F said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Very true, though I suspect you will get a mix of both, which won’t be surprising given the age and inexperience that will be in the team.

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2012 @ 10:09am
      Redb said | February 20th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      At least now we know we’ll get a competitive first half at least from GWS in the opening round. Keen to see Hampton & Cooyou again.

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