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Will the real GWS please stand up?

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Expert
11th August, 2019
46
1019 Reads

Round 4, 2019 featured one of the gutsiest GWS victories in its history.

The Giants faced a red-hot Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and found themselves in a world of pain early, when co-captain Callan Ward went down with an ACL injury.

And the Giants were down on the scoreboard, too.

They trailed the Cats by as much as 22 points in the third quarter.

But it was no excuse for an inspired Giants outfit who fought back and defeated Geelong by four points in a thriller.

Jeremy Cameron

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

A far cry from who turned up in Canberra on Friday night.

Yes, it snowed.

It was a fixturing blunder by the AFL – because honestly, who schedules a game of football in Canberra on a Friday night in the middle of winter?

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But, there were two teams on the field on Friday night.

Hawthorn adapted a lot quicker, a lot better and defeated the Giants by 56 points and held them goalless for the entire second half.

At the end of Round 21, the Giants sit sixth on the ladder and boast a healthy percentage.

More often than not, they’re playing good footy and there’s no question they are still in the best handful of sides in the competition.

And their depth is what makes them so dangerous.

There are two levels to the Giants’ depth.

The first, depth on a week-to-week basis. Navigating through injuries, suspensions and poor form.

The Giants have lost a host of stars this season due to injury – few bigger names than Callan Ward, Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio.

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They also lost tagger Matt de Boer, who up until fracturing his shoulder was a lethal weapon for GWS and arguably their most important player.

It’s less than ideal, but they have navigated through the challenges by digging deep.

Many of their plays are two and three-dimensional, which makes it easier for Leon Cameron to replace those who go missing.

Take Zac Williams as an example.

A defender by “trade”, Williams has spent more time up the ground in recent weeks covering for the losses in the midfield.

And he’s getting a lot of the footy and using it pretty well.

AFL’s Statspro has judged his average disposals and metres gained for 2019 as elite.

Williams is having an impact as a dual position player.

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As are those players that are coming into the side as a result of constant departures from the club.

That’s the second layer to the Giants’ depth.

Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel, Rory Lobb and Devon Smith are just a few big names that departed over the last 12 months.

Never mind the likes of Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Will Hoskin-Elliot, Josh Bruce and Tom Boyd – again, just a few names – who have gone on to play great football at a second club.

The solution?

Blood new stars.

Tim Taranto is the one who comes to mind that the Giants can really build a future around.

He’s energetic, he’s passionate and he is committed to the Giants, earlier this month re-signing until the end of 2022.

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And nurture those already in your midst.

Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Harry Himmelberg, Nick Haynes, Jeremy Cameron, Lachie Whitfield, Adam Tomlinson, Jacob Hopper and Toby Greene (a few more names) are all talented young players doing great things for the Giants.

Add the likes of Heath Shaw, Matt De Boer and co-captains Phil Davis and Callan Ward leading the troops from in front and there is still plenty to like about GWS.

And they’ve had some big wins this year.

They’ve thrashed Richmond, Collingwood and Essendon at home, while they’ve come away winners in big games against Port Adelaide in Adelaide and the Cats in Geelong.

But the downfall? They’re not consistent, and, at times, not up for the fight.

Toby Greene

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

This was most obvious in both games against Hawthorn this season.

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Given where Hawthorn’s 2019 is at compared to GWS, most would’ve had the Giants starting as favourites heading into both Round 8 and Round 21 clashes this year.

In Round 8, in front of less than 15,000 at the MCG the Giants fell by 33 points and barely looked like a threat for the entire afternoon.

The performance was lacklustre – as was their performance in Canberra on Friday night.

The Giants looked lethargic and uninspiring, constantly playing catch up to the Hawks.

The same way they fell away in the second half of the 2017 preliminary final against Richmond.

Or in the 2018 semi-final against Collingwood.

And while they played in one of the best preliminary finals in recent history against the Western Bulldogs in 2016, a good side should’ve won that game at home.

This isn’t to take away from the efforts by the Tigers, Pies or Dogs.

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They showed up and left everything on the field – and all walked away victors.

But here is a team in the Giants, who are clearly good enough to make it deep into September but fall away when they can’t keep up, instead of rising to the challenge and matching the intensity demanded of them.

They just don’t live up to their promise shown during the home-and-away season and early on in the finals.

One minute, the Giants appear up and ready for the fight.

Not so imposing the next.

There are two rounds of the home-and-away season remaining and the Giants have somehow found themselves in the midst of an identity crisis.

Are they a strong, imposing side that is committed to doing battle from siren to siren?

Or are they simply going to put the breaks on when it gets too tough?

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We know they’ve got the talent and the depth to push the best sides to breaking point.

But are they willing to work hard enough to do so?

I suppose that’s for the Giants to decide and the football world to find out.