It’s not often that such a delayed review occurs. Alas, circumstances beyond this Mongrel’s control have meant that this Saturday twilight game is being reviewed in the depths of a late Sunday night. We’ve seen the highlights. We know the result, we know the stats, the know the MRO outcomes. What we don’t know is exactly how it all happened, so let’s take a look.
The Lions came into the game in some strong form. They had put on a powerful display in Gather Round as they mercilessly piled on 22 goals on a North Melbourne team that had shown real promise in the early rounds of 2023.
The Giants held off a plucky Hawthorn team thanks to some Harry Himmelberg heroics, but lost their young superstar onballer in Tom Green. A huge blow for any chances they had for this match.
Brisbane were warm favourites for a reason. They were always going to be the classier team, but the Giants had already shown that they could dig in for a scrap. They may not get the results but their effort doesn’t look like being a question under Adam Kingsley.
GWS just didn’t go away in this game. They would hang around and keep the Lions uncomfortable with a lead they just couldn’t rest on. Brisbane looked to have pulled away late in the third quarter as they blew the lead out passed 40 points. This was just after Sam Taylor had gone off with his hamstring injury. The Giants were on the ropes and the Lions threatened to turn this into a big win. Then GWS just dug deep. There’s nothing else to it. They gritted their teeth, put their heads down and worked their backsides off to get back into the contest. It’s admirable stuff. And if you think that’s stupid, or not worth anything, just take a look at the team currently on top of the AFL ladder.
The Lions did what they had to do and got the four points and the Giants’ miserable run at Manuka Oval continues as they develop a form line there almost the exact opposite that the Hawks have established in Launceston, as a second home ground.
Now let’s get into the stuff that mattered.
The Best Stuff
Charlie Cameron’s Day Out
Just a great day out for the Lions’ small forward as pretty much everything he touched turned to goals.
Once that ridiculous goal in the first quarter went through, Cameron would’ve had the moment where he thought “Everything is coming up Milhouse!”. Even when he was turning the ball over and putting the ball on GWS player’s chest, they dropped the mark!
It also seems that the Giants just haven’t been paying attention to Cameron for the last five years as he continually been one of the top three small forwards every year (And still somehow managed to be snubbed by All-Australian selectors or more than one occasion). Just ask quality defenders like Dylan Grimes. You. Never. Let. Cameron. Get. Goal. Side. Yet time after time the Giants’ defence did exactly that. Adam Kingsley would’ve been tearing his hair out. He probably should’ve done his best coach Red Beaulieu impersonation at three-quarter time and said “I don’t care if you have to stab him. Do not let him get away!”.
The only issue was that he didn’t kick his eighth goal in the last quarter to set a new record for most goals kicked by a player at the ground.
Cameron should be featuring in the votes for the Mongrel player of round six for such an outstanding performance and is easily a lock for any pundits rolling All-Australian team after the first six rounds.
Brisbane Halfbacks are Elite
The Lions half back line would just about be the envy of any team in the competition. A lot is made of their midfield and their forward set-ups, but their halfback line is stacked. You have the experienced campaigner in Rich, the unconventional Irishman in McKenna and the explosive talent that is Coleman. Mix in the occasional cameos by the likes of Cam Rayner and you have a great combination of experience and exuberance, and of physicality and pace. This isn’t all one way either, no Nick Daicos or Adam Saad’s here, no thank you. They legitimately defend. Just watch Coleman’s efforts in the second quarter. They don’t give an inch and then they take absolute miles in an instant.
The Good Stuff
Cogs in motion
Not being captain seems to suit Stephen Coniglio. A couple of poor tackling efforts aside, Coniglio was very good for the Giants and looked to be their best on-baller from the eye test. Yes, Kelly had some big numbers as well, but Coniglio was far more impactful on the game. It’s tough to say that a guy who had 40+ disposals didn’t have a huge impact on the contest, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Coniglio did seem to struggle under the weight of the captaincy, but looks to have found his form in 2023.
Time Heals All Wounds
It was a good moment to see the umpire help Toby Greene to his feet after a contest in the last quarter. Now the GWS captain, Greene must’ve become more acquainted with games officiators and cleared some of that misty air between them. It was only two years ago Greene copped a six week suspension for bumping an umpire. It probably also helps that Greene has matured in his footy since that time. The fact he is now captain of the Giants is a testament to that. Were it not for a couple of stray kicks Greene may have got the Giants a sneaky win in this game as well.
Have to love a Dwayne Russell Special “He’s the baby that takes candy from you.” Classic stuff.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
GWS are in a world of trouble without Sam Taylor
Just watch the first quarter. Taylor is an All-Australian defender and he was clearly beating Daniher in this match. Joe had to go up the field to find the footy (which he actually did quite well). Unfortunately, Taylor went down midway through the third quarter and looks set for a few weeks on the sidelines. With the amount of football the Giants allow going into their forward fifty, and how often they allow their defenders to be isolated, Taylor’s absence is going to be felt in a massive way.
The Ward Tackle on Neale
Spare me your “Lachie Neale contributed to this tackle” takes. Neale had already had a couple of efforts in the play before gathering the ball and attempting to get around Ward. Ward then wrapped him up and halted Neale’s momentum causing him to effectively be stationary as Ward turned him. Neale had stopped fighting the tackle and was using his strength to stay on his feet. Ward then threw him to the ground. The one week offered by the MRO is justified.
Kennedy & Coleman late incident
Hard to believe the MRO didn’t even look at the incident between Coleman and Kennedy in the last quarter on the wing. Kennedy runs down the wing and handballs over Coleman as he approaches. Coleman then takes another three steps at Kennedy and collects him over the boundary line. Kennedy then takes no further part in the game and is apparently going to miss some time with a resultant injury. Yes, it’s not directly from the contact with Coleman, but it is well known in the AFL that if you elect to Bump, you’re responsible for all incidental contact. Astounding that the AFL is clamping down on legitimate tackles on players who have possession, which doesn’t cause injury, rather than coming down on a player actively picking another player off, after they have disposed of the football.
The Other Stuff:
Have to mention the return of Daniels. He and Greene could form a very deadly combination up forward.
O’Halloran had a day out to remember. Playing a mix of positions but looked to be rotating mostly through the wing, he had a standout game for the Giants.
It was a classic ruck duel in the middle in this match. If forced to choose the points would’ve gone to McInerney.
Cadman showing some good signs. Giants fans just have to be patient. You only have to look at the games current crop of key forwards and you can see that Cadman has got what it takes. He competed very well in this game.
As stated, they got the job done and emerged largely unscathed. Now sitting comfortably at 4 wins and two losses. Brisbane has settled nicely into the season and looks every bit the team that pushed themselves to a preliminary final last year and are wanting to go a step further. They should be looking at 5-2 with a game against Fremantle next Saturday at the GABBA, which they have developed a Geelong-like record at, over the past five or so seasons.
The Giants are now two wins and four losses. Considering not many tipped them to play finals and with a new coach, it’s not a perilous place to be, but 2-9 is. And that’s where the Giants look headed when investigating their fixture.
They have the battle of the bridge next week against the Sydney Swans. The Swans will be out for blood following their own defeat this weekend. Then it’s back to the Manuka graveyard to face their other main rival in the Western Bulldogs. Then it’s Collingwood at the MCG (ouch). The rampaging Saints at home, all followed by a trek to play the Cats at their fortress in Geelong. They’ll get Tom Green back next week and Taylor will return as well after a few weeks out, so they may be able to pinch one of those games, but it is a bleak run.