18/04/2024

The GWS Giants set off to an ideal start with a 15-point victory in their season opener. (Photo: AFL)

Trailing at half time, the Giants rallied together in the second half, led by new faces, to turn a tense match back around in their favour.

Trailing at the first two changes, Greater Western Sydney’s new additions will be pleased with their second half turnaround in their season opener against the Gold Coast Suns, as their three game road trip off gets off to an ideal start.

Despite coming into the game highly favoured against a Suns side which was winless last season, the home side would put in a spirited effort before fading away in the second half.

The Giants ran away with the game, and despite only scoring two goals in the third and fourth quarter, they’d enjoy the majority of the attacking play, keeping Gold Coast scoreless.

Having overhauled their list and coaching staff during the offseason, the Giants look to have a new identity in 2022, playing an attacking style of football which particularly came to light in the third and fourth quarters of their season opener.

GWS would go on to finish the game with 36 more uncontested possessions, 14 more clearances and registered 15 more inside 50s to cruise to a 36-21 victory.

Coach Alan McConnell after the game touched on what his message to the team was at half time. Feeling his side were were getting outmuscled in the contest, he was concerned how the players were getting around the contest.

“It wasn’t the scoreboard that I was worried about, it was actually our work ethic and our running patterns around the ball that was causing us a little bit of trouble,” he said post-game.

“The opposition were coming out of the front of contests just too easily, we were probably sliding past the ball a bit too much all across the ground and put our backs [defenders] under too much pressure. Equally I thought one-one-one they needed to be a bit stronger.”

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The Giants’ midfield engine of skipper Alicia Eva, Alyce Parker and Haneen Zreika led the way, all amongst the best players, and playing influential roles in the side’s 15-point victory.

Eva finished the game as the equal leading disposal winner, finishing the game with 21 possessions while also impressing defensively with 11 tackles.

Parker too finished the game with 21 touches and eight tackles, and having made the All-Australian side last year, there looks to be no signs of a drop-off in 2022.

Zreika impressed in the middle of the ground in a change of role, influential around the stoppages and finishing the game with 16 disposals.

And after taking out the Giants leading goal scorer last year, veteran Cora Staunton was influential as always up forward. After a quiet first half, she’d goal twice in the second half to help guide the Giants to victory.

Five Giants would be winners in their first appearance for the club, with Ally Dallaway, Ally Morphett, Brid Stack, Chloe Dalton, and Katie Loynes making their Giants debut.

All of them would make solid contributions, with McConnell saying the longer the match played out, the more the five would work their way into the game. He touched on Dalton in particular, who came off with a shoulder injury in the second quarter following a bright start to the game.

“The message to all of our group was to be connected, to look out for one another,” he said.

“I felt the longer the game went, the more our new players found their feet. Bit of a concern on where we go to with Chloe Dalton, time will tell with regards to her injury.

“But I felt that all the girls who played for us for the first time, the longer the game went showed exactly why they’re with us and why they played today.”

Looking ahead to their Round 2 clash against the Crows, McConnell said he was looking forward to the challenge of facing a top side in North Melbourne.

“I haven’t spent too much [time] thinking about next week, I did watch the game but sort of only one eye on it, one off it, because I think you need to look after the ducks in the right order,” he said.

“They’ve obviously had a good win, they’re hard around the ball. Their ball movement is a bit different to what we had to manage here today, so we’ll need to be on our best to get a good result and I look forward to it.

Greater Western Sydney will be on the road for the next two games, playing the Crows in Adelaidebefore playing North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval.

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