As Carlton kicked a couple of late goals and the live ladder showed GWS slipping under the percentage required to secure a home final, I am sure there were many for thinking their September chances were slipping away at the same time.
Those people would be well-served in watching the season a little closer.
With their win over Carlton at Marvel Stadium in Round 24, the GWS Giants secured their seventh interstate win of the season and their eighth win overall away from either of their home venues in Sydney’s west and Canberra.
They were challenged, they stood up, and as most good teams do, they won in hostile territory.
They are worthy winners of The Mongrel’s 2023 Road Warrior title.
We’ve heard it for years – the teams based outside Victoria have it tougher.
I get it, though. I really do. Forced to travel interstate almost every second week, some teams clock up enormous miles as they traverse the country to be part of this sport we love.
Meanwhile, we get some Victorian-based clubs cracking the sads when they have to play at Marvel Stadium instead of the MCG, and vice versa. Or those who get a little nasty when a move away from Kardinia Park is floated.
So, how do the teams fare away from home, and who is travelling best at the moment?
The Mongrel has devised a little ladder to assess who is the best road team in the league. Oh, the Vic teams will still get a look in if they’re good enough, and whilst I fully expect a number of fans to say this system is rigged to favour non-Victorian teams… I really don’t care. Stop your whining.
So, how does it work?
The Road Warrior Ladder is named after one of the best Tag Teams of all time. Don’t come at me with your Demolition garbage, or your Powers of Pain crap… they were Road Warrior rip-offs… who were, in turn, rip-offs of the 1980s movie, Mad Max.
It was called The Road Warrior in the United States because… geez, I’m not a film buff. Do your own homework.
Anyway, you get four points for an interstate win and two points for a win at an away venue that IS NOT played at the venue you consider your home ground. I don’t care if it’s not your home game – you’re still at the ground you play your home games. The Road Warrior Ladder Nazi isn’t concerned with your feelings – just facts.
Tasmania is considered a home game for Hawthorn. You choose to play your home games there – you cop it. Same with GWS and Canberra – if it’s your choice, you wear it.
Now that my belligerence is out of the way, let’s get to the final results.
Moving right along, GWS used their last round win over the Blues to catapult into the top spot after Port Adelaide threw down the challenge in Round 23.
It has been a remarkable renaissance from the Giants in the back half of 2023. I am not sure whether many outside their own supporters will remember, but they looked cooked through the first two months of the season. The only game they won away from their home deck was at the SCG against the Swans, dropping games to West Coast (yep, that happened), Essendon, and Collingwood on the road.
However, their second half of the year saw them rattle off road wins over Geelong, North Melbourne, Melbourne, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, and Carlton, with their only road loss coming at the hands of Port.
As the Saints prepare for a home final, they had best be aware that this Giants team is battle-hardened on the road and well and truly up for the fight. Teams that win the flag from outside Victoria must be great road teams – there is no other way around it, and in 2023, GWS have been the pick of the bunch.
Write them off at your own peril.
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