R2 – GWS v West Coast – The Mongrel Review


In a match between the current premiership favourite and last year’s wooden spooners, it was business as usual in the West as the Giants got home by 65 points.

After their impressive start to the season so far, the Giants were expected to make a statement here in a chance to gain a critical percentage boost and while they weren’t as polished as they would have liked, they were still very impressive.

It was all the regular contributors for the Giants that stood up as Tom Green and Stephen Coniglio had plenty of contested footy, while Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly did the damage on the outside.

A strong start from the Eagles saw them kick two goals in the first ten minutes, but that was as competitive as it got for the day as their next goal didn’t come until the start of the fourth quarter.

In such a one-sided contest, it was painful to watch at times, as the Giants were able to lock the Eagles into their defensive 50 for extended periods. The key defensive pair of Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass withstood plenty of pressure in this match, but given the Giants had 67 inside 50s, there is only so much they could stop.

As the Giants continued their premiership chase and the Eagles look to get matches into their inexperienced list, there is plenty to discuss below:


Disappearing pressure from the Eagles

Watching the opening stages of this contest, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Eagles might have improved this season as they went toe-to-toe with the Giants across the board. While it was clear that the Giants are the better side, the Eagles pressure was forcing the Giants to bomb the ball inside 50, playing into the hands of the West Coast defence, that was able to consistently rebound the football.

While the Eagles were unable to replicate the Giants efforts on the ball, one thing they could match was their intent as the tackle count at the end of the first quarter was 20-21 in the visitor’s favour.

However, after the first quarter it was clear that the Eagles were down on confidence as they fell away on the scoreboard. Suddenly the Giants had the extra second to make a decision and they were cleaner moving the ball from end-to-end as their disposal efficiency increased substantially.

In the end, the Giants had 52 more disposals than the Eagles while they also had 19 more tackles, something that is sure to be raised in team meetings this week. With defensive running a key reason why Andrew Gaff was dropped last weekend, it wouldn’t surprise me if more scrutiny fell onto Campbell Chesser and Jack Petruccelle who both failed to lay a tackle.


Is this GWS defence the best in the competition?

For any side coming up against the Giants this season, you have to wonder how you can get through them after they held the Eagles goalless for over two and a half quarters throughout the middle of this match.

Sam Taylor continued his claim as the best key defender in the league as he collected 14 intercept possessions including nine intercept marks – which is just one off the record. He kept Jack Darling completely out of the game while being a critical factor in the Giants’ rebound game.

For many of the game’s best key defenders they are either an interceptor (such as Darcy Moore or Tom Stewart) or a one-on-one defender (such as Jacob Weitering or Harris Andrews), but Taylor is able to do both as he takes the opposition’s best forward while still proving vital in the marking game. Working alongside Jack Buckley, they continue to challenge the best forward lines in the competition and keeping them quiet more often than not.

It was also an excellent performance from Connor Idun, who continues his push as one of the best mid-sized defenders in the competition with a career-high 28 disposals and eight intercept possessions.

As one of the more versatile players, Idun excelled in the air with nine marks, but is also calm when the ball hits the ground combining with Lachie Whitfield and Harry Perryman to get the ball outside 50 and find a teammate rather than bombing it to the opposition.

While the West Coast forward line is far from the challenge of the top sides in the competition, you have to be continually impressed by the Giants’ consistency.


Kieran Briggs making the most of the depleted Eagles tall situation

With the Eagles missing captain Oscar Allen and number one ruckman Matt Flynn, a mix of changes were made to the Eagles in order to cover the situation. After playing as the number one ruck for most of the past two seasons, Bailey Williams was sent down to full-forward, leaving second-gamer Harry Barnett to do the majority of the ruck work in the middle.

As a result, it was Kieran Briggs who asserted himself on the game, with 21 disposals, 34 hit-outs and 12 clearances. Much bigger and more experienced than his opposing ruckman, Briggs seemed to always be in the right position, tapping it directly to teammates and regularly collecting it by himself.

With Flynn and Allen out for the next couple of months, this looks set to be a recurring issue for the Eagles, who scored just one goal from ‘key forward’ Jake Waterman. While Barnett will be better for the experience despite getting subbed off during the third quarter, facing Tim English, Brodie Grundy and Toby Nankervis over the next few weeks could see a few more troubles ahead.


Harley Reid makes his home debut

After months of expectations and filling the back page every single day, the number one draft pick Harley Reid finally played his first match in front of the home crowd. Playing in a mix of roles across the day, Reid impressed without starring for the Eagles, who seem to be placing the expectations of the whole club on his shoulders.

A nice run down the far wing in the first quarter perfectly displayed his attributes as he went 50 metres combining a nice step, a one-two handball and then a fend off, before finding his teammate over the top. He also hit Jake Waterman with a pinpoint kick in the goal square from the boundary to set up one of just two first-half goals for the Eagles.

After a quiet second half finished up with 17 disposals, but his strength in the contest was a standout trait. He’ll continue to improve as he is given a more consistent role but given the way the Eagles are consistently beaten on the scoreboard, it may be a while until we see a game breaking performance from the youngster.


How good is it seeing Elliot Yeo injury-free?

After playing just 37 matches across the last four years and no more than four at a time since 2021, Elliot Yeo continues to build after a solid outing against the Giants.

It was an impressive start to the game from the 30-year-old who had five clearances in the first 10 minutes of the match as the Eagles kept up with the Giants.

He finished with 27 disposals, nine clearances, eight tackles and a goal as he was the most important figure in stopping the star-studded Giants midfield. A critical part of the Eagles campaign this season, without him the Eagles midfield lacks plenty of experience with Harley Reid and Reuben Ginbey expected to spend plenty of time in there.

While he was arguably the Eagles best player, he also has room for improvement. He didn’t touch the ball once in the third quarter and throughout the game he only went at 56% efficiency. But his ability to win the ball is something that’s missing from this West Coast side and it will be crucial in the season ahead.


Is Brent Daniels a roughie for the All-Australian side?

After emerging as a gun small forward during the Giants finals run last year, Brent Daniels has had a stellar start to 2024, averaging career-high numbers in nearly every category. Against the Eagles this continued as he had 17 disposals, eight tackles and two goals, doing everything that a small forward should by providing constant pressure and creating opportunities.

After going the first two rounds without laying a tackle, it was clear that a message has been made as he, alongside other small forwards Toby Bedford and Harvey Thomas led everyone on the ground.

Now averaging 20 disposals and 2 goals a game so far this season, Daniels ranks as elite in nearly every statistical category that matters for small forwards. At just 172cm tall, his skills are excellent with both hand and foot and he has the pace to burn almost any opponent.

While he might not even be the best small forward in his own team, his start to the season can’t be ignored.



Congratulations to GWS youngster Harvey Thomas for kicking his first AFL goal, not that he had realised at the time. After crumbing a contest near the goal line, it appeared that Thomas had missed his own boot on the goal line and the Giants set up to cover a kick-in. But a goal review showed he has caught the ball with his studs and the delayed celebrations followed.

Thomas also had an excellent match with 21 disposals, eight tackles and a goal in just his third match, he’s a good chance of winning the rising star nomination this week.

Tom Green continued his Brownlow charge with 34 disposals, in a match with plenty of contributors, the votes could go either way, but you wouldn’t be surprised if it was Tom Green and Sydney’s Isaac Heeney sitting on top of the table with eight or nine votes after round 2.

As the forgotten former number one pick in this match, Aaron Cadman kicked a career-high three goals continuing his solid start to the season. He also spent some time in the ruck, something to watch going forward as a way to get him into the game.

James Peatling came on as the sub late in the third quarter and was very impressive with eight disposals and a goal as he was thrown straight in the middle for the remainder of the game.


The Giants will be happy with a win in a match where they could’ve won by even more. The inside 50 numbers were heavily skewed in their favour. West Coast supporters shouldn’t have too many complaints about their defensive performance, but there are plenty of problems in the midfield and forward line particularly in key positions.

Now sitting on top of the ladder, the Giants head into a bye next weekend, while the Eagles head to Melbourne to face the Bulldogs on Easter Sunday, where they will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s heroics.