24/04/2024

Image: GWS Giants Twitter

In a workman-like effort, the GWS Giants have started 3-0 for the first time in club history wearing out West Coast by 65 points.

It’s only the Giants second win in 10 attempts at Optus Stadium and their first against the Eagles, having lost the previous four contests.

GWS’ relentless pressure swarmed apart the Eagles’ was highly evident applying tackles, after only 36 and 45 tackles in the first two matches, no doubt pleasing coach Adam Kingsley.

Prime operators Tom Green (34 disposals, seven clearances, 767 metres gained), Lachie Whitfield (36 disposals, 562 metres), Stephen Coniglio (31 disposals, six clearances), Josh Kelly (28 touches, 467 metres gained, two goals) were all prominent in the convincing result.

Number one ruckman Kieren Briggs had a field day (19 disposals, 32 hitouts, a game-high 12 clearances, 441 metres gained) dominating West Coast’s duo ruck in Harry Barnett and Bailey Williams to supply his dynamic midfielders first use.

Star defender Sam Taylor was an impenetrable wall taking nine intercept marks, one shy of a the all-time record.

Eagles Co-Captain Liam Duggan (28 disposals, 542 metres) stood tall despite the barrage of Giants’ foray entries, while Elliot Yeo showed flashes of his stellar best (27 disposals, eight tackles, and 433 metres), and intercept defender Jeremy McGovern (26 disposals, 453 metres) did his best to nullify the Giants dominance.

In an ominous sign, GWS skipper Toby Greene kicked the contest’s first-goal in the opening minute, pouncing on a loose ball after Tom Barrass failed to destroy the ball.

West Coast’s early disposal by foot wasn’t helping their cause in the early minutes, missing easy targets.

The Eagles’ Club Best and Fairest Tim Kelly would get the home side on the board, with a running goal inside 50 after a precision kick back into the corridor from Jack Petrucelle.

West Coast looked to match the Giants Orange Tsunami with their own adventurous ball movement – unlike in recent seasons under Adam Simpson.

Whilst they kept close on the scoreboard, the Giants were gaining the midfield ascendency with ever-improving ruckman Kieran Briggs dominating the ruck duel against second-year player Harry Barnett and Bailey Williams.

You couldn’t fault West Coast’s pressure, applying 20 first-quarter tackles, typified by Brady Hough’s desperate tackle on Callum Brown denying him possession.

But goals in red time to pressure forward Brent Daniels and the dead-eye Jake Riccardi helped establish a 19-point quarter-time lead.

West Coast’s endeavour translated into the second term, dominating forward half territory for the opening seven minutes.

Their dominance though didn’t reflect on the scoreboard, registering only a solitary behind through Jake Waterman’s miss.

As the Giants have done under Adam Kingsley they wrestled the game back on their terms, despite numerous stoppages.

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Classy intercept defender Sam Taylor was everywhere, repelling the Eagles’ attack as the Giants structure behind the ball caused the home side to lose their forward spine.

Former Rising Star Winner, Jesse Hogan, the league’s leading goal kicker would nail his first goal late in the half, having missed his first three shots.

His major led to consecutive goals in a minute from former number one pick Aaron Cadman after a bullet pass from Xavier O’Halloran, then speedster Toby Bedford rammed home a goal to give the visitors a 39-point lead at the main break.

The Giants surge continued into the third with Daniels nailing his second followed by winger Finn Callaghan’s smothering tackle on Eagles co-captain Liam Duggan deep in West Coast’s defensive 50 leading to him making the Eagles pay.

Josh Kelly, already having his usual influence got himself on the scoresheet kicking an exquisite running goal – as he done many times in his 201 games as a Giant.

After nearly 80 minutes, Jayden Hunt broke a run of eight-straight Giants’ goals breaking free from Xavier O’Halloran.

Elliot Yeo gave the home something to smile about, bursting away from the stoppage and nailing a 55-metre goal.

Giants coach Adam Kinsgley said he is pleased about the pressure his side brought to the contest (laying 83 tackles) after applying only 36 and 45 tackles in the opening two rounds, with Bedford, Daniels, and Harvey Thomas all with eight tackles.

“I thought we we set up behind the attack really well,” Kingsley said.

“We wanted to apply that high pressure game and we feel like that’s our identity, our trademark, and we haven’t been doing it to the level we would like.

“Our pressure our tackle, the first two games of the season haven’t been quite where we want it. And so that was a big focus coming in. And I was really pleased with the way we executed that.”

Meanwhile, West Coast coach Adam Simpson says the players are “working hard” on their pressure, after encouraging signs in the opening term (20 tackles).

“I think it was good in patches today,” Simpson said.

“But perhaps we spend a bit too much collapsing in on that contest and they get us on the outside and we look quite vulnerable.

“So we just got to find the balance for that. But we haven’t been able to do it for four quarters.

“So I thought we way we started, the way we finished was pretty good. But we’re still working on that. But the Doggies, they look pretty sharp and watching them today they’re pretty well balanced team, so can’t overcommit.

“But we’ve got to bring the enough heat to not get 67 Inside 50s against.”

GWS goes on a well-deserved break, while West Coast travels to face the Western Bulldogs next Sunday at Marvel Stadium, whom they beat in round 23 last season by seven points.

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