Great power, little responsibility: A Giant malaise

Jay Croucher Columnist

By Jay Croucher, 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

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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Horrie said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Interesting perspective on the Giants. Buddy aside, the pure talent differential between the two teams was vast.

      The Bloods side included Smith, Rampe, Melican, (hello) Newman, Papley, Naismith, Jack, Robinson, Lloyd. All started their AFL careers on the Rooky list. Maybe the inclusion of so many players whose careers commenced in such an unheralded manner has given that side its fundamental blue collar backbone. There is no doubt Buddy has bought into that blue collar ethic. The skipper himself exemplifies that ethic.

      By contrast, the Giants side was replete with high end draft picks and top end talent recruited from other clubs. Has there ever been a match so uneven in terms of the ‘talent’ factor?

      • July 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm
        I ate pies said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        Pretty much every match that GWS plays. You’re implying that Sydney have the least amount of talent in the league, ever, based on the number players they have off the rookie list, which is obvious hyperbole, but also out and out wrong.

        • July 18th 2017 @ 3:16pm
          Mark said | July 18th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          He wasn’t but any chance for you to take a potshot hey?

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2017 @ 8:44am
      sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      As former PM Paul Keating might say, “This was the defeat GWS had to have”.

      Two draws in matches they should have won didn’t seem to wake them up. Losing to arch rivals Sydney might now do the trick.

    • Columnist

      July 17th 2017 @ 8:56am
      Ryan Buckland said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      They were playing caveman football forward of centre.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 10:56am
        Jim said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        A beautiful way to summarise what I saw on Saturday night in terms of GWS Ryan. GWS were awful going forward all night, and its been a feature of their play in recent weeks. Some of the outs might be part of it, but they have lost their way going forward, when they have so many quality players in midfield that should be able to ensure much better service to their forward line.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 9:09am
      Christo the Daddyo said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      A good example of “a champion team will always beat a team of champions”.

    • Editor

      July 17th 2017 @ 9:27am
      Josh Elliott said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      The Giants are finding out what Fremantle already knew – a team playing Tendai Mzungu and Matt de Boer every week is probably not actually a very good team.

      Do the Giants have an A-grade midfielder who isn’t Josh Kelly? They’ve never had an All-Australian midfielder and might lose him just a few weeks after he becomes one.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 11:20am
        Rich_daddy said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        “Do the Giants have an A-grade midfielder who isn’t Josh Kelly?”

        Dylan Shiel for starters

        Callan Ward was judged equal best afield with Franklin and has been very consistent.

        The big Mummy though a ruckman is pretty mobile for a big man in the middle of the park.

        Stephen Coniglio while currently injured is also a pretty handy midfielder.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 11:32am
          Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          Agreed on Shiel, Ward and Coniglio, all definite A graders in my view.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 12:08pm
            I ate pies said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

            They’ve got lots of blokes who like to look good with ball in hand, but Ward is the only one I’d want in the trenches.

        • Editor

          July 17th 2017 @ 3:41pm
          Josh Elliott said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

          Shiel would be the closest if not already over the line. Has not really been in the AA convo at any point though. Ward and Coniglio are great but a bit vanilla to be genuine A-graders I reckon.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 4:03pm
            Birdman said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

            tough marker, Josh but B+ might be on about right.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 17th 2017 @ 6:37pm
            Seano said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

            Isn’t Tom Scully A Grade?

            He is in my book, out and out gun.

            • July 18th 2017 @ 8:05pm
              JD said | July 18th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

              And incredibly hard-working.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm
        GoSwans said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        Mzungu and de Boer were brought in for depth. I didn’t think they’d get a game but then the injuries came. I understand that de Boer has been playing reasonably well and Mzungu has not been making too many mistakes. Every team has weaker players with the cliche about the bottom 6 being more important than the top 6 coming to mind. It certainly crossed my mind how the game might have gone if Cameron and Coniglio replaced those two. Then add Delidio and Griffen. They get those playing together in finals and the flag is theirs.

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm
        Ryan Buckland said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        Joshua Elliott!!!

        Dylan Shiel, Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly.

        • Editor

          July 17th 2017 @ 3:35pm
          Josh Elliott said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          A lot of A-grade midfielders out there if we’re giving it to all three of those. I’d say Shiel is on the verge without having ever really exploded in the way Kelly has. Ward & Coniglio B+.

          Let’s say about 200 midfielder-y types get a gig every week – how many GWS players are in the top 10 per cent?

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 3:40pm
            Paul D said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

            Maybe Shield & Ward fall outside that, but last year Coniglio polled 17 Brownlow votes and was the 14th ranked midfielder. I’d comfortably put him in the top ten percent

          • July 17th 2017 @ 8:47pm
            Darren said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:47pm | ! Report

            But Josh that is 20 midfielders and only 18 teams. Roughly 1 a-grader per team. Is that the going rate?

            • Editor

              July 18th 2017 @ 4:09pm
              Josh Elliott said | July 18th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

              I’d say that’s about right, personally.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 3:06pm
        Adam said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

        Griffen, Cognilio and Hopper are harder, big-bodied inside mids who are sorely missed at the moment.

        • Editor

          July 17th 2017 @ 3:43pm
          Josh Elliott said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          Griffen been so-so for a while, Hopper played 14 games (and might not play another one for GWS). Winning the clearances wasn’t GWS’ problem on Saturday.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 10:04am
      Republican said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      ………Always happy to see the plastic tele GWS side get done……..

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