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Whitfield kicks (file photo/AFANA)

It wasn't a giant leap for the Greater Western Sydney Giants, but it was a small step towards their first Premiership flag. For the first time in their history, the Giants have started a season with three wins. Their opponents, the Eagles, have landed with a thud. After a boost in optimism, having drafted the number one draft pick, Harley Reid, the Eagles have been brought back to Earth. The Giants were expected to win this game, they did what they had to, without really breaking stride. For a large part of the match the Eagles impersonated traffic cones as the Giants weaved towards repeated goals. Both teams were evenly matched in terms of games played and player age, but that is where the comparisons end. The Giants are loaded with talent and the Eagles have a few good men who try hard but can't carry a playing list that had been neglected while the club relied on its aging stars.

In the first quarter the Eagles put up a fight. Sure, the Giants got a quick goal courtesy of Toby Greene, but the Eagles made the Giants work for the ball. Jack Petruccelle was doing some good things up forward, and it wasn't long before the class of Tim Kelly rose to the surface, when he put the Eagles in front at the five-minute mark. They didn't hold the lead for long. A midfield turnover resulted in the Giants pushing the ball forward to the 2022 top draft pick, Aaron Cadman, who kicked truly. Five minutes later youngster Harvey Thomas, playing his third game, booted the Giants third goal. The Eagles kept pushing the Giants. Elliot Yeo was strong at stoppages winning five clearances and having eight possessions for the quarter. At the thirteen-minute mark Jake Waterman took a strong contested mark (catch) and kicked truly for the home side. From there it was all Giants. They got serious and won most contested possessions. Ruckman Kieran Briggs, Tom Green, and Stephen Coniglio swamped Yeo and won nine clearances to keep the ball in the Giants half for the majority of the quarter.

AFL West Coast v GWS, 2018 Optus Stadium.
Coniglio handballs (file photo/AFANA)

The second quarter was notable as both teams applied pressure around the ball. It wasn't pretty football to watch as players struggled to find space and time to kick accurately. Sam Taylor led the Giants defense by taking well-judged intercept marks. At the other end Jeremy McGovern tried hard in defense for the Eagles but was mostly overwhelmed in the air. The Giants' big forward Jesse Hogan booted a couple of behinds (worth a point each) before he kicked the Giants first goal for the quarter, at the eighteen-minute mark. The Giants kept the ball in their forward half for most of the last part of the quarter. They added two more goals to have a handy lead by the main break. Lachie Whitfield and Tom Green were instrumental in moving the ball for the Giants, with Briggs dominating in the ruck and Connor Idun and Coniglio touching plenty of leather. Elliot was the leading possession getter for the Eagles, with Liam Duggan and Jeremy McGovern working hard but unable to make an impression.

The Eagles' pressure around the ball dropped off in the third quarter and the Giants capitalised with goals to Brent Daniels, Finn Callaghan, and Josh Kelly. When the Eagles did get the ball, they quickly turned it over and were punished by the Giants as the visitors moved with precision. The Giants tackling was a feature, denying the Eagles space. The Eagles could only manage two points for the quarter and the only interest left in the game was how much the Giants would win by.

The Giants appeared to take the foot off the pedal in the final quarter. The Eagles perhaps responded to a call from coach Adam Simpson to show more effort. Tim Kelly, Reuben Ginbey, Harley Reid, and Jayden Hunt picked up more possessions. Tom Cole stood strong in defense and Tom Barrass continued to keep a tight leash on the Giants' big forward Jesse Hogan.

AFL First Elimination Final West Coast v Essendon, Optus Stadium.
Yeo Kicks (file photo/AFANA)

Early goals to Hunt and Jamie Cripps rewarded the effort of the Eagle midfielders. The Giants responded with successive goals to Josh Kelly and James Peatling. Elliot Yeo found some empty grass to launch a long gaol, but that was it for the Eagles. The Giants added three more 6 pointers with the last goal from a huge mark by Cadman which was kicked after the siren.

The Giants who now sit on top of the table, have a bye next week before meeting the Gold Coast Suns in neutral territory at the Gather Round in South Australia. The Eagles travel next week to meet the Western Bulldogs, who have just found their bite by ripping into the Gold Coast Suns. It will be a long season for the Eagles and their fans.

West Coast Eagles: 2.3 2.5  2.7   5.13  (43)
GWS Giants:        5.4 8.8 11.11 16.12 (108)

West Coast Eagles: Yeo, Duggan, Kelly, McGovern, Hunt
GWS Giants:        Green, Whitfield, Coniglio, Briggs, Thomas

Article last changed on Sunday, March 24, 2024 - 8:09 PM EDT


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