GWS v Carlton – A Different Lens

The final game of the Home and Away season had much riding on it. Not only was it a celebration for Blues fans and their return to finals, there was the prospect of Charlie Curnow securing the Coleman Medal, and the Giants were presented with a straightforward scenario: win at Marvel Stadium, in Sunday night prime time, and they play finals in Adam Kingsley’s debut coaching season.

There are storylines aplenty heading into this blockbuster. Who would take momentum into September? Let’s find out.


Forward-Half Game 

Both sides had opportunities to capitalise on their forward-half intercepts. The Giants and the Blues both, at times, have a high press which allows them to retain possession and get repeat entries inside 50. The half-backs push up the ground to give an extra at stoppages, or have one floating around the oppositions deepest forward.

Both sides generated these turnovers – 25 for the Blues and 24 for the Giants. The Giants were the one’s able to significantly capitalise on these chains, kicking 6.3 to Carlton’s 2.7. While this may not read as huge scores, the ability to win back possession and have repeat entries gives you control of momentum and of the game.

Coming into finals, sides who can control field position, and not give up easy transitions to their opponents, will go a long way to securing victory for their side.


Stoppage Influence

The Giants turned the game on its head in the third quarter, and part of this was generated at the coal face. For all of the first half, the Giants managed 2.1 from clearances. By halfway through the third term, they had doubled this.

In the first half, it was the Blues dominating scores from stoppages – 6.0 from that source after George Hewett kicked the first goal of the third quarter. Teams need multiple outlets to goal at the best of times, and, especially, when you hit finals.

Carlton’s top four clearance winners (Paddy Dow, Adam Cerra, Tom de Koning, and Sam Walsh) had 26 between them, while for the Giants, Kieren Briggs (game high 9 clearances), Tom Green, Callan Ward, and Stephen Coniglio had 27 between them.

Through the ebb’s and flows of this game, clearance wins played a part as to who had momentum. They set up field position, and then went to work on putting the scores on the board. Pressure obviously plays a part, and the ability to win the ball back. Part of what turned the game in the third quarter, and into the last, as the Giants scored seven unanswered goals was their pressure level, forcing the Blues kicking efficiency down to 50%.

Coming into finals both teams will need to be able to bring the heat, while also withstanding what the other sides bring their way.


Missing Links

I’ll admit, when I saw Sam Taylor was a late out for the Giants, I expected Charlie Curnow to go big. And with his kicking two goals early in the first quarter, it looked like the Giants were going to be overcome by the big forward. He looked large as the leading target, and in the contest. How were the Giants going to fill the void? I tip my hat to Jack Buckley and the job he did. He kept Charlie to one goal after quarter time, a valiant effort that significantly shaped the outcome of the game.

For the Blues, they were missing their skipper, Patrick Cripps. Lacking the big bull, and a like-for-like replacement, the Blues took a different look into stoppages. Paddy Dow led the line well, and the load was shared. However, with the size of Cripps missing, Tom Green was able to bully his way through the Blues mids, being the most influential player on the ground.

While both teams were missing other pieces of the puzzle, these two players loom as the biggest missing pieces. Cripps got a chance to rest his injured ribs and will be right for the Blues’ Elimination Final, while Taylor has a bit more uncertainty, with it revealed today that he is nursing a hamstring strain and is touch and go for the Giants Elimination Final.



Finals inevitably have moments where one side has the momentum – the key is how each team capitalises on their momentum. This game was a good precursor to finals in how momentum played out. At times, one team would get a run on, and then the other team would respond, until the Giants were able to bust the game open and run away with it.

And then there’s the momentum both teams brought into this game, and can take into finals. Consider these two as likely front runners for the flag, on current form.


What This All Means

The Giants made the trip down to Victoria, and made a big, big sound as they overran the Blues and secure their place in September action. Adam Kingsley has rejuvenated this side and has them ready, under skipper Toby Greene, to do some damage in September.

Since a mid-season slump, the Blues have been on a seriously good run. While they dropped this match, one of little consequence, Michael Voss has his men ready. For the first time in a decade Carlton are in the finals and there is a buzz on Lygon Street. Has a sleeping giant awoken? They are, at least, beginning to.

Much could be said about a host of players in this one – the class Stephen Coniglio reminded everyone that he possesses in game 200, Toby Greene doing Toby Greene things, Kieren Briggs continuing his development into one of the leading rucks in the competition, the continued rise of the Blues small forwards (Lachie Fogarty, David Cunningham, and Zac Fisher in particular), and the Houdini level escape artistry of Jacob Weitering, who has received the Richmond in finals MRO rub in getting off from an eye gouge – that said, he was very, very good on Jesse Hogan.

With a break this weekend, both these teams can refresh, recharge, and get ready for cut-throat Elimination Finals in two weeks. The Blues will host the Swans in a Friday Night MCG blockbuster, while the Giants return to the MCG to take on the Saints on the Saturday afternoon.


Okay, we’ve reached the pinnacle of the season as we head towards finals. Enjoy this week and a week off from the men’s game, and enjoy the round one launch of AFLW, and tune in for our finals coverage in two weeks.


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