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GWS v Melbourne: Six things we learned (5 August 2017)

A withering first quarter burst from GWS was enough for them to take the points in a big clash at UNSW Canberra Oval. Real Sport looks at the moments that mattered.

  1. 1 The 'Orange Wave' is a sight to behold

    Kicking with the breeze in the first quarter, things did not get off the way the Giants would have liked with Melbourne claiming an early 16-point lead. It seemed that concerns on their ability to score without their 3 leading goal scorers, John Patton, Jeremy Cameron and Toby Greene, appeared well founded.

    A couple of sharp chances seemed to snap the Giants out of their slumber. Stephen Coniglio scored with a running snap on his left foot that will have put Goal of the Week judges on notice. When a Tom Scully flying shot took a wicked leg-break to score after seeming destined for a minor score the Giants were back in the contest and charging.

    For the remainder of the quarter the Giants, who had opened the contest so lethargic, completed wave after wave on the Melbourne goal. Running in large numbers in and around the contest GWS were simply unstoppable as they kicked the last 8.4 from 16 Inside 50's.

    The eight goal burst was the decisive factor in a game that GWS would go on to win by 35 points. The Giants' pressure was too much for Melbourne to overcome. GWS' defensive work was outstanding, the Giants gave the Demons no time or space in which to work and punished them on the turnover. The defensive stats made for damning reading for Melbourne with the Giants winning the tackle count 113-86, Spoils 49-29 and Intercept Possessions 78-71.  

  2. 2 Melbourne suffer with the wind again

    Despite having experienced similar conditions in Hobart last weekend, the Demons again struggled to adjust to the windy conditions on offer at UNSW Canberra Oval. To Simon Goodwin's displeasure the Demons were too intent to move the ball at pace in the first quarter offering the Giants ample opportunities to take full toll of the wind advantage at their backs.

    GWS took measures in the second quarter not to fall into the same trap that Melbourne did in the first. The Giants spent much of the term successfully trying to turn the game into an ugly scrap prompting Gerard Healy in commentary on FoxFooty to remark,

    "The Rugby match continues here in Canberra" -    Gerard Healy

    With Harrison Himmelberg also moved from the forward half, where he had kicked a first quarter goal for the Giants, GWS set about weathering the Melbourne onslaught. Measures that were helped in large part by the Demons propensity to bomb the ball haphazardly forward. This approach saw Himmelberg caught out once for a Tom McDonald goal, but with the young giants also claiming a handful of intercept marks it was an ill-considered tactic for the Demons.

    This lack of judgement was also on show when Jayden Hunt was penalised as the third man up in a ruck contest. There will be many who would consider Hunt unlucky in this situation, but in Round 20 he should be well aware of the rule and not be giving the umpire an opportunity to enforce it. The free kick resulted in a goal for GWS and helped the Giants break even into the breeze despite the ball having spent most of the quarter in Melbourne's attacking half.

    With the Demons having slipped from Top 4 calculations into a Top 8 dogfight as a result of these two wind affected matches, the AFL might expect to see Melbourne requesting to avoid Hobart and Canberra in next year's fixture.

  3. 3 A couple of first gamers show promise

    For Brett Deledio this match against Melbourne was in fact game 244, but it was his first in the Giants' charcoal and Orange. Recruited to the club in the last off-season it has been a long wait for the former tiger to get back on the park. 

    Getting through the game was perhaps more important than making a major impact on the stat sheet on this day but Deledio was still able to show glimpses of the class he can offer the Giants come finals time. He'll be better for the run but a goal in the last quarter gave his team mates an opportunity to get around him on his return to the big time.

    He also played a small part in one of the more humorous moments of the day in the third quarter. Having been able to get on the end of a chain of possessions he hit team-mate Lachie Whitfield with a precise pass instead of taking a shot at the goals. If he had he may have saved Coach Leon Cameron and a door frame from a little discomfort. After Whitfield missed the easy shot at goal, an incensed Cameron punched a door frame in the coach's box. It was an expression of frustration that he may regret as it appeared that the door frame came out on top in the battle between it and Cameron's knuckles.

    Melbourne welcomed Corey Maynard to AFL Football, the son of former Demon Peter, he was brought to the club as a Class B rookie after spending 2016 playing basketball in Finland. 

    It was a solid debut for the former Basketballer, collecting 10 contested possessions, 3 clearances and laying 7 tackles. In the last quarter he was also able to kick his first League goal offering, despite the fact the game was lost, himself and his team mates a moment to savour on a tough day at the office.

  4. 4 Gawn v Mumford is worth the admission price alone

    In Max Gawn and Shane Mumford, Melbourne and GWS have two of the most influential players in the AFL. As if energised by the challenge of facing another Ruck Heavyweight both players brought their A-games to this contest.

    Gawn showed early the danger he presents as a marking option when he slipped forward in the first quarter to mark and goal. Being such a strong part of his game it is surprising that this was just his 3rd goal from his last 10 games.

    Mumford is never one to shy away from throwing his weight around and he did so again against Melbourne. One of the most punishing tacklers in the competition he laid 13 tackles, each one will be felt by his opponent when they wake up tomorrow.

    His strong attack on the man and ball drew the ire of the men in green on the day and may draw further attention during the week ahead. A strong tackle on Maynard drew a free kick for the debutant, signalling at last that the MRP and men in the middle may be on the same page on dangerous tackles. Then in two separate incidents involving his opposite number Gawn, Mummy was unlucky and then perhaps a little fortunate in the umpires interpretation.

    In the first quarter Mumford made heavy body contact with Gawn in executing a terrific spoil on the Melbourne ruckman but, seemingly swayed by the force of the contact, a free kick was paid incorrectly against Mummy. Then in a moment that will be replayed a few times by the MRP, Mumford somehow managed to avoid match day sanction for a bump that caught Gawn high.

    Both men kicked goals for their team and both were heavily involved in scoring plays at vital stages in the third quarter. At the centre bounce after a goal to Jack Watts, Gawn managed to win the tap and a contest with Callum Ward for the ball, before setting off towards goal. After running his full distance he kicked long to the top of the square, where the fast movement saw Watts win a free kick in the goal square, and a steaming Alex Neale-Bullen swept on the crumbs to snap a goal and breathe a little life into the contest.

    That there was any life at all in the match was in no small part because of the Giants inability to punish the Dees. In the shadows of three-quarter time, GWS had only managed 2.5 in the term and had failed to score a goal in their last 13 forward entries. With a ball-up close to the Giants goal, Mumford muscled the ball down before following up and shovelling it out to a flying Devon Smith, who shrugged a tackle and kicked a settling goal just when GWS needed it. 

  5. 5 Accidental Forward McDonald is some find

    In the wake of Jesse Hogan's absence earlier in the season, the Demons were able to discover the forward capabilities of Tom McDonald. Known as a big and strong defender McDonald had managed to kick 22 goals in the lead up to the clash with the Giants.

    While he was only able to manage 1 goal for the day, he continued to present and offered a big target and brought the ball to ground for the benefit of his team mates all game. This was present a number of times where the Dees' smaller forwards were able to convert from opportunities created by McDonald outpointing multiple opponents. This happened twice in quick succession in the final quarter with Jake Melksham the beneficiary as McDonald was strong in two contests close to goal. His work at ground level was also first rate too, laying a number of hard tackles to prevent the opposition from clearing the Demons' attacking zone.

    Thrown down back in the third quarter, he was instrumental in the Demons' efforts to disrupt the Giants time with the breeze at their back. Time and again he interrupted GWS' forward thrusts with Intercept Marks and was able to relieve the pressure on Melbourne's defenders with four Rebound 50s.

  6. 6 Canberra comes out to support GWS

    A cold and windy winter's day could not prevent a large crowd flocking to UNSW Canberra Oval to watch the Giants take on the Demons. Despite a few obvious empty seats in the grandstands, the game was officially a sell-out.

    Although not a record crowd, Giants and AFL officials would no doubt have been happy with the official crowd figure of 14,274. This figure represents the third highest crowd to watch GWS at the ground. It is also a world away from the dark days of 2013 and 2014 when less than 7000 attended the Giants games against Port Adelaide and Gold Coast. 

  1. Are GWS a serious Premiership contender?

    1. Yes, they are perfectly poised.
    2. No, they aren't quite there yet.
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Matthew Boyle

For Matthew, a childhood spent in the backyard trying match the exploits of Tony Lockett, Dean Jones, and Peter Sterling has led to a lifelong love affair with sport.

A fan of sports of all kinds, Matthew is at his happiest watching, talking or writing about the events on taking place on the sporting fields around the world.

When Matthew isn't sharing his views on AFL and NRL with the RealSport101.com readership, you can read his weekly Parra Post Mortem or Saints Summary on The Sportress (www.sportress.wordpress.com), or you can hear him as one-half of the podcast The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav.

GWS v Melbourne: Six things we learned (5 August 2017)

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