GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY – 0.1.4 0.4.6 0.7.7 0.11.10 (76)
GOLD COAST – 0.3.2 0.5.5 0.7.9 1.8.6 (63)
It wasn’t a clash of the titans in terms of Australian Rules, but it was a meeting for the Giants in more than one way. The team had something to prove against its one-year older newbie brother in the league and the two NRL converts had something to prove in an instant to each other, rather than somewhere down the line to the doubters.
The Suns started well and took a ten-point buffer into the quarter-time break, but the contest was very even across the park.
The Giants were slightly wasteful with their forward opportunities compared to the Suns but the midfield battle was split 50/50 between the two sides.
In the second term the Giants halved the gap by taking better advantage of their opportunities up forward and a heavy, impressive presence from young ‘poached’ players Callan Ward and Rhys Palmer, along with Anthony Miles who effectively moved the ball both inside 50 and rebounding from 50 with his boot.
The back-line was also well held by the elder Cornes (who finished the game with 100% disposal efficiency) and Phil Davis.
Meanwhile for the Suns, Campbell Brown had been thrown forward with good effect while David Swallow took control of his team’s midfield by the scruff of the neck and was everywhere in the contest.
Karmichael Hunt was used as an extractor to good effect, floating between the half-back line and midfield (he finished with 11 contested possessions and 4 clearances).
After another 50/50 split quarter in the third, the game came alight in the final quarter with only two points in it at the beginning of the fourth.
Highly-rated junior and seemingly already fan-favourite Curtly Hampton collected the Giants’ centre clearance and goaled to give the Giants an 8-point lead – their highest in the game so far.
Toby Greene and Rhys Palmer traded goals with the Suns, but the dominance of the Gold Coast ruckmen (duties shared between Zac Smith, Daniel Gorringe and Tom Hickey, with Dixon doing the work up forward) continued while the influence of David Swallow and Jared Brennan (10 rebound 50s) brought the scores level with minutes to spare.
Caddy kicked a supergoal before another Suns goal as the game was well and truly in the balance.
It was again Curtly Hampton who kicked a chance behind to provide the spark. The Giants kicked two more, with an opportunist turnover goal to Chad Cornes the sealer.
The small but GWS-dominated crowd were on their feet on the siren and although the Giants may still have to read the song lyrics off a sheet at stages, there were definitely signs that pointed to it becoming ingrained in their memories in the next couple of seasons.
Despite being crushed in the ruck, the Giants can be very satisfied with their first win.
With no Scully/Power/Brogan for GWS and no Ablett for the Suns it was at points a scrappy battle of the lesser-lights, but players like Anthony Miles (20 kicks, 4 inside 50s and a goal) and Steve Clifton (17 disposals, 4 clearances and 8 tackles) showing alongside class performances from pick-ups Palmer, Ward and Cornes would have Sheedy sleeping a bit more soundly on Saturday night.
Swallow could also rest well after putting in an amazing performance for the Suns without Ablett marshalling the midfield.
GWS: Sumner 2, Palmer 2, Green 2, Cornes, Miles, Bugg, Cameron, Hampton
GOLD COAST: Caddy (supergoal), Brown 3, Smith 2, Swallow, Hickey, Sexton
GWS: Palmer, Ward, Clifton, Cornes, Miles, Sumner
GOLD COAST: Swallow, Brennan, Hunt, Smith, Bock