GWS v Gold Coast – Practice Match Review

Massive thanks to Hodgey for jumping in and chopping me out with this. I was under the pump this weekend and he took a bit off my plate. Cheers – HB


GWS looked slick in a 45-point win over the Suns at Blacktown on the weekend, and there were a few things to like and dislike from this contest- despite it being a practice match – sometimes you never really know how similar things will stay for Round One. Here are my five takeaways from this contest.


1) The Giants’ Defence Must Be Respected

The addition of Lachie Whitfield to half-back should remain permanent for 2023. Despite his injury history, he is still a skilled ball distributor and a high-IQ player. Whitfield faced little pressure, as he accumulated 25 disposals and combined seamlessly on the rebound with Lachie Ash, Nick Haynes and Isaac Cumming at ground level. Sam Taylor was good in his aerial defence role, however, the returning Ben King did work him up the ground well and showed a knack for taking him out of position in the first half. The Giants may be undersized (especially if they use Himmelberg up forward, yet look to have very exciting options on the counter-attack.


2) Preuss Lets Loose

I’ll be honest, I do not rate the big fella one bit – and I honestly question his desire and drive to want to play at the top level. Going back to his career path for a moment, he was drafted by North Melbourne and sat behind Todd Goldstein to play eight games in three seasons. He then requested a trade to Melbourne to “learn from Max Gawn and ruck coach Greg Stafford” and after two seasons and 10 games he wanted another trade for “greater opportunity”.

After not playing in 2021 he managed another 10 games and three suspensions in 2022 yet was unable to truly separate as the number one ruck from Matt Flynn or Kieran Briggs. In this clash, he was matched with Jarrod Witts, gave away seven free kicks and will face a nervous wait from an awkward “throw” against new Sun Tom Berry. It’s now or never for the big guy, as his contract runs out in 2023 and he has managed a handful of games as a 27-year-old. Preuss lumbered around for most of the afternoon like a shopper five minutes before closing time, and aside from the odd collision, failed to give much. I hope for his sake he is able to show up and give something to the Giants, as their ruck division is the most lacking area on their list.


3) The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall

The Suns tried to play some “big ball” with Ben King, Mabior Chol, Jack Lukosius and Levi Casboult patrolling the forward line. First and foremost, they got ripped apart on the rebound. Ben Ainsworth and Nick Holman were patrolling high half forward, leaving low numbers at the feet. One piece of play summed up the issue perfectly, as Nick Haynes ran off Jack Lukosius, gathered two handball receives in the chain for an easy transition goal. While the idea of aerial domination works hypothetically, it only works with massive amounts of spacing – Gold Coast were not working hard enough to create it.

Nick Holman was outstanding for the Suns, assisting on their first three goals, seemingly differing the lockdown duty to Tom Berry. It’s going to be very difficult to work out who to leave out- as all four forwards bring some vital skills to the table- Casboult bringing unmatched grunt and physical strength, Chol with his unique ground level ability, and creativity, King with his work rate, aerial athleticism and agility, and Lukosius with his elite kicking and vision. Personally, I’d be stationing Lukosius as a very high half-forward/wing- think Matthew Richardson in his near-Brownlow season.


4) Two Breakout Candidates

Sam Flanders and Finn Callaghan were both outstanding in this matchup. Callaghan was silky smooth, clean, and composed. Basically everything that the former number three draft pick was highly coveted for. He seems to have been given the wing role that was shared by Ash and Whitfield at times last season, and that’s just perfect. Callaghan, like most left-footers never wasted a possession and lowered the eyes on multiple occasions with forward forays. 22 possessions and two goals for the youngster in an outstanding performance. Giants fans- enjoy the next decade, you have a gun.

On the flipside, Flanders finished off an outstanding preseason by being the Suns’ best in this contest. Showcasing his skill around the contest as well as reading of the play as a vital link-up option, Flanders had 30 possessions to help aid missing Co-Captain Touk Miller. Perhaps Flanders will take the role earmarked for the recently departed Izak Rankine in that hybrid mid-forward role.


5) Quick Takes

Gold Coast’s defenders had some wins despite the score, Long showing a physical edge as well as a bit of restraint with his bodywork, Constable and Macpherson were rebounding well and the Collins/Ballard tandem controlled the air in the first quarter when the Suns contained the rebound. The one that excites me most is Jy Farrar, he has exceptional reach and closing speed, enabling him to play on a plethora of forward types.

Tom Green and Xavier O’Halloran were outstanding on the inside, with Green showing his normal clean skills and ‘never say die’ attitude, whereas O’Halloran threw his body around with Matt Rowell often, a great battle within a battle. This is a long shot, but Green is my smokey pick for the Brownlow medal- he is that damn good already…


I’m gonna buy Hodgey a coffee for giving me a hand. If you did as well, it’d be greatly appreciated. Hit the link below to do so.