02/03/2024

Emily Pease celebrating one of her two goals against the Blues. (Photo: GWS Giants)

GWS has bounced back after a disappointing loss last week against Adelaide to grind out a 17-point win over Carlton, with the home side opting to focus on honing in on their strengths.

It was a strong opening quarter from the Giants with the home side strong on scoring from re-entries into their forward 50 with two opening quarter goals from Emily Pease.

The Giants’ forwards saw plenty of the football with the ball spending plenty of time in their forward arc, as they maintained possession for most of the match.

Carlton ruck Breann Moody was strong in the ruck allowing the Blues to win the clearance battle, giving them first use but the Giants were able to nullify the Blues’ impact when coming out of the stoppage.

Giants coach Cam Bernasconi was pleased with the performance from his side today after bringing it back to the simple things during the week for the side.

“We came back to just one focus point and that was the contest and just competing,” Bernasconi told the media.

“Coming in we’ve created a game plan which is new and different, and we’ve had some injuries which has made it more difficult, but we don’t want to play the poor me card either.

“We needed to make sure for us to work on our ball movement, we need to win it at its source. We coached that really well during the week and made it really simple for the girls to enjoy competing and win your contest and then also sometimes when things don’t go your way you can start worrying about everything that you can’t do.

“We just came back to focus on their strengths, and I thought the girls responded really well in that sense as well.”

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An inclusion going into the game was Georgia Garnett who proved to be a key inclusion for the Giants. Garnett was among the best for the Giants with 17 disposals and 12 marks.

“I love the way she [Garnett] goes about her footy she’s just no fuss and she’s so coachable. We spoke about it at the start of the year, I asked her where do you want to play and she said forward so I said let’s do it.

“She makes me look good when she plays well as well so we’re in this together Gigi and I. Her ability to read cues and be so competitive play ahead of the ball, behind the ball.

“She’s going to be a player for us going forward and the girls love her and that’s the other thing when you’re such a popular one in the group the girls want to go into battle with those types of players as well.”

Fans watched a thrilling battle with Cora Staunton and Vaomua Laloifi going head-to-head for most of the match. Staunton was a key player for the Giants scoring two goals, including the sealer but Laloifi was clinical in defence for the Blues.

Bernasconi said it wasn’t a match-up that the Giants were expecting but it was a thrilling battle to watch play out.

“That was a bit of a curveball actually, we thought she’d play free behind the ball but when she went to Cora we sat back, grabbed our popcorn and watched the show.

“Fantastic two footballers and I think they went punch for punch today and she [Laloifi] had a really good game and Cora was quite clinical too in her moments, she’s a big game player. We knew Cora would love that challenge and I thought she responded really well.

Laloifi had a strong game and was a rock in defence for the Blues. She was able to cut off many of the Giants’ opportunities going forward, finishing the game with 16 disposals and three marks. Although Carlton coach Daniel Harford wasn’t surprised with Laloifi having a stunning start to the season.

“’Mua’ is having a magnificent season,” Harford said post-match.

“Really proud of her in the way she’s prepared herself for this season after season six earlier in the year.

“She’s a great one-on-one defender, it was a good match up, a good match up to watch.  If I wasn’t coaching, I’d love to watch Staunton and Laloifi go at it, they’ve got great body craft and read the ball really well.

“ I thought ‘Mua’ was brilliant today but that’s not unusual for this season so far, I thought she’s had an outstanding start to the year.”

Missed Opportunity for the Blues

The Blues were expecting the Giants to come out firing after a disappointing loss last week but found themselves playing catch up for most of the match.

“It’s a disappointing loss, no doubt about that,“ Harford explained.

“We were fairly confident that it would be a different showing from the Giants this week than perhaps to what they put out last week, that’s pretty clear I would have thought.

“They certainly showed that from the start, we had plans in place to try and minimise that impact, but we weren’t able to execute and found ourselves chasing most of the game.”

Carlton dominated in the midfield with Moody leading from the front, finishing the game with 22 hit-outs, along with the midfield duo of Mimi Hill (21 disposals and four clearances) and Abbie McKay (23 disposals, eight tackles and seven clearances).

Despite its dominance in the middle, Carlton couldn’t capitalise on it. Harford said that his side played it safe with ball in hand when it needed to be bolder with its ball movement.

“We weren’t able to move the ball. We dominated clearance, we dominated contested possession, all the stuff you base your ability to win territory from,” he said.

“We became really safe and nervous with the ball again. We weren’t really bold, we wanted the players to be really bold with the way we moved the ball today but we didn’t do that. 

“I think at the start of the game where a couple of goals went against us may have played on the mindset a little bit, so we’ve got to learn and grow from those opportunities.

“We had control of the footy at the source, we did the hard work, we didn’t do the work on the outside of that which was really disappointing.”

The Giants will head to Victoria to face the Magpies at Victoria Park on Sunday while the Blues will head to RSEA Park to take on the Saints in a Friday night blockbuster.

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