At the start of 2020 (both the season opener and the re-start), the Giants and Bulldogs were tipped to make the eight and potentially charge towards premiership glory.
Fast forward to now: the teams have won one game between them and have had a fairly lacklustre re-start to their seasons.
So maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what both clubs will need to re-ignite their seasons.
A Friday night game under lights, against their ‘rivals’, bringing some hunger and emotion back to both of these sides.
It’s a modern-day rivalry that dates back to the 2016 preliminary final. While none of their encounters since have really lived up to that day, the narrative that surrounds the two teams adds an edge to their matches.
And with both sides coming off pretty bad losses last week, this match up should give them the extra motivation they’ll be searching for.
(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Unfortunately for the Giants (but fortunately for me and my Roos), their re-start to 2020 was a fizzer.
They lost by 20 points at home to North Melbourne, who managed to keep the game tough and tight in the first half and completely outclassed GWS in the second.
As for where the game was won? It was left in the hands of a few very capable players.
The first in the ruck, with Todd Goldstein dominating not only in the air but around the ground as well. He played 100 per cent of game time and ran rings around Giants ruckman Sam Jacobs. He should be able to bounce back against Bulldog’s Tim English, who had just 10 hitouts against St Kilda’s twin towers Ryder and Marshall last weekend.
Speaking of Tim English, I understand he’s a work in progress and Dogs fans sees potential in him, but when is the time for him to stand up?
While he’s only 22, he has been in the system for a few years now and surely it’s time to start delivering to the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley and Jackson Macrae who would be that much more damaging if they had first use to the ball.
They’re reading the play well and winning plenty of stoppages off the opposition ruckman, so you can just imagine what the trio would be able to do with first use to the ball! After four seasons, there hasn’t been a huge sign of development on his behalf.
On the flip side, you see what St Kilda has done by bringing in Paddy Ryder to help Rowan Marshall develop. Now it is worth noting that Marshall is two years older than English (which is about six years older in ruckman years); however both players are in their fourth seasons and have played roughly the same amount of games.
But the experienced player (Ryder) guiding his apprentice (Marshall) has worked well in St Kilda’s case, regardless. I admit that I was sceptical about the decision at first, but last weekend the pair had 49 hit outs between them. A good start.
Anyway, back to the Giants and their two star forwards in Jeremy Cameron and Toby Greene.
Toby Greene celebrates a goal. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
The pair were comprehensively beaten by Robbie Tarrant and Luke McDonald last weekend; the duo registering just one goal and eight kicks between them.
They’re obviously three players the Giants will demand a lift from and there’s no doubt all of them are capable of responding.
As for the Dogs, well their entire 2020 needs a lift, really.
They could be the most disappointing side so far in this short (but what feels like forever) season.
Two really bad losses and sitting on the bottom of the ladder.
Not quite what we expected following the hype that followed them into the new decade.
When you look at the side on paper, it’s full of talent and potential.
Last season, Bontempelli took yet another step up in his career. He was supported by Dunkley and Macrae. The Dogs re-ignited the career of Sam Lloyd and watched young gun Aaron Naughton continue to develop in front of crowds week in and week out.
Over the trade period they brought in two very handy key position players on Josh Bruce and Alex Keath.
And Champion Data liked their work, rating the Dogs list the second best in the competition behind reigning premiers Richmond (GWS fourth).
But none of the stuff on paper is translating on-field.
There isn’t that synergy the Dogs would’ve hoped for.
So both sides didn’t quite have the restart to 2020 they might have liked, but one of them will get the opportunity to redeem themselves tonight.
The Doggies and the Giants go way back. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
And that’ll come down to the side who makes the most of their chances, particularly inside the forward 50; something neither team did last weekend.
In Round 2, the Dogs had just 40 per cent disposal efficiency (from 40 entries) inside their forward 50. The Giants were going at 50 per cent, however had just the 38 entries for the match.
That’s where the work needs to be done for both sides. That and their disposal efficiency; both sides were outshone by their opponents on the weekend in that department.
So the side that makes the most of its opportunities and claims the four points?
The Giants, for mine.
But I just hope that both sides can show up and perform, for the sake of this “modern day rivalry”.
That’s my Friday forecast.