The third part of the six-part series comprises the five players that the Geelong Cats, Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants could least afford to lose in season 2021 plus an honourable mention.
The Giants have been one of the best and most consistent teams over the last four years, and that is despite losing stars Dylan Shiel, Adam Treloar, Nathan Wilson and Rory Lobb.
But after a terrific season last, they’ve been massively up and down this year. And after Tuesday’s loss against Adelaide, I don’t think they deserve to play finals.
Here are two reasons why.
Over that four=-season period between 2016 and 2019 they were reminiscent of the Cats of 2007, 2009 and 2011. They dominated the midfield battle, they scored for fun and they won most of the time by pretty big margins.
When it comes to scoring, they entertained, averaging 92.1 points per game, and they kicked 13.3 goals and 12.1 behinds per game. This season, despite the fact it’s a shortened fixture, they’re averaging only 60.2 points per game and kicking only 8.7 goals and 7.8 behinds per game. They’ve even not scored 50-plus points in a game six times, including against Sydney and Adelaide.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty impressive given the season is shorter, but if you want to be playing finals, you’d have to at least be averaging 65 points a game and kicking it a bit more accurately – and going past 50 every game. It might improve next year when we’re basically back to normal life, but it still won’t be enough to make finals this year.
An infection that has plagued nearly half the teams this season and for nearly every AFL season, Greater Western Sydney are nearly the epitome of an inconsistent team. And this is rare given they were so consistent the previous four seasons.
For example, after defeating the Cats in Round 1 by 32 points at Giants Stadium they got a near two-month break and then lost two in a row against the Bulldogs and Kangaroos. Then, after winning three in a row, including one against Richmond, they lost their next two against Sydney and the Eagles.
And then, after winning against Freo and the Blues, they go out and lose against the Crows. That is just absolutely poor. Yes, they had a few injured, but the previous seasons when players got injured they were still winning. Times have changed for all of us, and clearly so have GWS.
In the end, though, it will all come down to these final two games against two genuine finals contenders in St Kilda and Melbourne. Yes, they’ve been inconsistent and, yes, they’re not scoring as much, but they’re still a chance.
But with both these teams being very challenging, they’re going to have to be on their A game. And if they don’t, it’s goodnight finals for the Giants.