The AFL’s newest rivalry was living up to the hype during the first three quarters before the Dogs overran the inexperienced Giants.
With 10 players under 20 games experience, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Giants. This was only made worse after key defender Nick Haynes was injured early, going off at the end of the first quarter with a hamstring injury.
Young Giant Tanner Bruhn replaced the defender as the injury substitute.
Once again, it was Toby Greene who stood up for the Giants, with four crucial goals on the night. With full-time captain Stephen Coniglio out injured, Greene has brought an enthusiasm to the role that has lifted his own performance.
Lachie Ash was a key performer in keeping the Giants competitive during most of the match.
Ash is playing well beyond his years, the 19-year-old in only his second season was calm and composed in the tight contest. 35 disposals and 15 marks for the youngster who is shaping up as a future star for GWS.
What was vital in the first three quarters for the Giants was their pressure in the back half. The Giants managed to keep the Bulldogs to a low score for most of the game, kicking only 6.11 to three quarter time.
The issue was the inability of the backline to push the ball forward and into scoring positions. The Giants were overrun in the final term; it was apparent the young players did not have the tanks to keep up with the class of the Dogs.
Giants coach Leon Cameron spoke after the match on the loss and disappointing final quarter.
“Our boys are hurting we feel like we let ourselves down in the last 15 minutes, against a side that is number one, that we pushed for three and half quarters,” he said.
“I think some of our forwards had their first down night they’ve had in three or four weeks, but clearly, if you’re trying to score 15 goals a game, you want that spread of four to five forwards hitting the scoreboard, we didn’t have that tonight.”
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Cameron praised Toby Greene for another quality performance kicking 4 goals.
“He (Toby Greene) is always putting himself in great positions he works so hard to get there, so he’s a wonderful player,” he said.
Cameron also questioned whether the rule changes to speed up the match might be responsible for injuries.
“Fatigue is setting in, and tonight, unfortunately, we have another hamstring injury with Nick Haynes,” he said.
“He hasn’t done a hamstring before in his life, and so [with] shorter preseasons is it getting a hold of some players? When Haynes does a hamstring, it’s a concern.”
The Giants only managed four marks inside 50 against the Dogs, a stat that was clearly displeasing to Cameron.
“Clearly, we didn’t do that [mark inside 50],” he said.
“They marked 18 times inside their forward 50. The ultimate aim is to make a mark inside 50 if you can do that, it just helps everyone, but we didn’t do enough of it.
“Clearly, they are a very good defence that sets up to outnumber.”
To combat this, Cameron alluded to bringing in forward Jesse Hogan next week.
“We’re rapt with how he’s (Jesse Hogan) going,” he said.
“We feel as if he needed a third game, we know he’s going to be cherry ripe now.
“He’s putting his hand up, ready to go now and is clearly a massive chance to play next weekend. He’s a smart player, he thinks about his footy a lot.”
The Giants have many exciting young players coming through the system, Ash’s performance particularly of note. Cameron touched on the excitement of seeing young players perform well.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said.
“I think it’s great that they’re getting an opportunity to play; if they keep playing the way they’re going, then they’ll be holding their spot.
“It’s good we’ve got such a young group that are playing together and coming through together, if Lachie Ash, Connor Stone, Issac Cumming and Jack Buckley play together quicker, then we can get to the result quicker.”
The Giants will travel to Adelaide next week to take on an exciting Crows line up. With the possibility of crucial additions to add experience to the lineup, the Giants squad will want to get back to their winning ways.
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