GWS v Richmond - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Giants welcomed their 2017 Preliminary Final nemesis to Spotless Stadium and made their way back into the top eight with a two point win.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

THE GOOD

Callan Ward

Is there a harder player in the game? Name him.

There was a moment midway through the last quarter that summed Ward up. The ball was loose and Ward was almost a lone hand at half forward for the Giants. He got his hands on the ball travelling at top speed, and cut his way through the three or four Tigers in the vicinity before handing off to Heath Shaw. Yeah, Shaw may have completely botched his own kick, but the effort of Ward should not be discounted.

He had 19 contested disposals among his 33 touches for the game, and did not shirk the issue once – why would he? He’s Callan Ward. He had 11 clearances, eight score involvements and sent the Giants inside 50 on six occasions.

If there is a ball in dispute late in a game, put your money on Ward to win it. He won’t die wondering.

Winning the tough one

If you watched it on TV, you would’ve heard the commentators (they all just blend into one for me) state that these were the kinds of games GWS needed to win; the games they need to tough out and overcome the odds. The intimation is that they can't win them.

Well, they did it. They knocked off the Tigers and in the process exorcised some demons from September last year.

They had plenty of guys stand up late. Himmelberg got involved, Lobb took a nice contested mark against Rance, and Taranto had a couple of moments that belied his young age.

The Tigers came hard, and they tested the Giants, and the Giants stood up.

Heath Shaw

Heath Shaw looks like a pain in the backside. Seriously, he looks like a bloke that just does not shut up. I reckon he’d cheat at Monopoly and then tell you how bad he was beating you. I think that’s the level of competitor he is… a dirty, rotten, fantastic competitor.

His run off half back and ability to deliver by foot (a couple of wayward out of bounds kicks aside) make him an absolute weapon by foot.

Of his 30 touches tonight, he had 27 kicks – that’s almost Kevin Bartlett-like stats. He had 13 rebound 50s and ran forward to send the Giants inside 50 three times.

He was incredibly stiff to be called for an arm chop as he spoiled Jason Castagna in the third quarter. He made up a huge amount of ground to cause the contest and I reckon the umpire guessed at it.

Dylan Grimes and Alex Rance

Grimes doesn’t often get the plaudits Rance does, but here at The Mongrel, we’re unabashed Dylan Grimes fans. It’s because Grimes is so good at what he does, that Rance can be as fantastic as he is. Grimes had nine intercept possessions and six intercept marks for the night.

Rance was beaten twice for the night, I reckon. I readily admit that I thought he was getting a great ride in the media earlier in the year, and that he was probably not the near the best defender in the league for the first half of the year. But the last 4-5 weeks have been excellent for Rance, and he is continuing to be the thorn in the side of many forwards.

He had 17 touches with 12 of them of the intercept variety. He was able to make a couple of huge spoils, but his ability to keep his feet and remain involved in the play is what sets him apart from many.

Tim Taranto

The Giants have star midfielders everywhere – Coniglio, Ward, Shiel, Whitfield, Kelly… maybe it’s time we add Taranto to that conversation as well.

He had 23 touches and a couple of goals to his name tonight, and two direct goal assists as well. His pick up and handball under extreme pressure in the last quarter was as clean as you get. Had he fumbled, or even double grabbed at the ball, he would’ve been absolutely buried and the door would've opened for Richmond.

Taranto kicked the point that looked as though it was the sealer, but we all know never to discount the Tigers.

Never surrender Tigers

You write this team off at your own risk, huh?

Down 19 points at three quarter time, the Tigers had their backs against the wall, but such is their self-belief, with less than a minute left, the game was in the balance.

When Tim Taranto kicked a behind, giving the Giants a seven point lead, the game looked well and truly over, but the irrepressible Tigers pushed hard forward, and the stars came to the fore. Martin,. Rioli and Lambert were all involved as the Tigers willed the ball forward.

It ended with a Jack Riewoldt snap for goal that made it one point the difference, and I’ll readily admit that, after moments before thinking the game was over, I started to wonder whether Richmond could do the unthinkable and pull this one out of the fire. It all came down to the last centre bounce.

The last ruck contest

And it was Dawson Simpson who stood up at that last stoppage and got a clean hand on the ball, dropping it down to Dylan Shiel for a clearance.

I am a bit wrap for Toby Nankervis, but in the ruck today, I reckon Simpson had his number – the last contest of the day just confirmed it. Nankervis lifted in the last quarter after being very quiet for the first three quarters but Simpson played a real old school ruck game.

Of his 36 hit outs, 17 of Simpson’s went to his team’s advantage. Whilst he doesn’t have the impact around the ground other ruckmen have, Simpson’s tap work tonight was first class. It was only fitting that he got his hands on the most important tap of the night. It topped a good night’s work for him.

Lachie Whitfield

His third quarter was beastly. He just covered the ground like no one else on the park, and unlike so many of the elite runners, he got his hands on the ball over a dozen times in the term – 15 to be exact. Only someone like Andrew Gaff does that kind of thing.

It was Whitfield's run and carry, his ability to make space, and his willingness to continue to work hard to make position and provide an option for teammates that were a huge factor in the Giants’ excellent third term.

He finished with  a game-high 35 touches, 12 marks and six tackles in what was an excellent night’s work.

Jack Riewoldt

I'm becoming more and more...hmmm... respectful of Riewoldt. His game tonight was excellent.

Even though he finished with just two goals, he had two direct goal assists and provided a contest at every opportunity. His desperation and will to keep the ball in play created a goal for his team in the fourth quarter. It set the Tigers alight and paved the way for them to roar back into the game.

In terms of their forward set up, Riewoldt is their most important player., and he continues to add to his game.

THE BAD

Richmond's road record

This is a bit harsh, as the Giants, in spite of their overall record are an excellent footy side, but four trips now for the Tigers have resulted in four losses. West Coast, Adelaide, Port and now GWS have all sent Richmond crashing to losses.

Their next trip is to Gold Coast in Round 21… surely it can’t happen, can it?

Incorrect disposal

I'm sure supporters of both sides can make cases for their players here, but I have no idea how some decisions were just left to play out tonight. There were two or three blatant dropping the ball free kicks unpaid in the last quarter alone. Not 50-50 decisions; blatant incorrect disposals.

I get the that when the heat goes on in the last quarter, and the game goes up a notch, things tend to be let go a little more. But why? Holding the ball is holding the ball, irrespective of when it happens in a game. When a non-call results in an advantage for the team whose player actually dropped the ball... it really annoys me. It punishes the tackler for tackling too bloody well!

I'm not going to name names about who dropped the ball and when... until the section below, but there needs to be a little more consistency around these free kicks. It's no wonder supporters get so frustrated.

THE UGLY

Jason Castagna’s goal kicking, or lack thereof.

If you don’t think the yips are a real thing, have a look at Castagna tonight. Earlier this season, him missing these sorts of goals in this sort of volume was unfathomable, yet here we are tonight and he started looking very nervous whenever he had the ball around the goals.

He kicked five behinds, and if memory serves me correctly, also put one out of bounds on the full. He dropped chest marks, and really, he had a really bad night for a small forward.

Even when he was kicking in general play, Castagna found ways to make things more difficult tonight. Streaming inside 50, he had time and space. So much time and space, in fact, that he decided to have a bounce. Of course, it bounced out of his reach and he ended up having to snap around his body whilst off balance instead of running straight at goal and slamming through a drop punt.

I don’t think we’ll see Castagna have another night like tonight – he is way too talented to have another game like that. I reckon he may have missed old mate Dan Butler down there tonight.

On the positive side… he got in position to take six shots at goal. If he gets that every week, things’ll start happening.

OTHER BITS

The Dylan Grimes effort to out-body Stephen Coniglio early in the game was exactly how to use your body. Remember when Rance was pinged a couple of times for pushing Franklin the other week? He was pushing him so far under the ball that he couldn’t contest the mark himself. In this instance, Grimes used his body and was still able to clunk the mark. That’s the way you do it.

Two goal assists to Jack Riewoldt in the first quarter – both to Daniel Rioli. I reckon he’ll have to buy him dinner at some point this week.

Not too sure about the front-on contact free kick Riewoldt received against Heath Shaw in the first. Looked like a decent spoil to me.

Really tough deliberate out of bounds decision against Adam Kennedy in the first. The Giants were made to pay a huge price with Riewoldt handing to Rioli deep forward for the goal. Big penalty for something that was line-ball in terms of decisions.

The first real chance for Toby Greene to make an impact was spoiled beautifully by Rance. People forget how good Greene is in the air… but Rance didn’t forget, and he crashed in and made a big spoil.

Interesting to see how the Giants covered for the absence of both Patton and Cameron. Lobb playing deep was working early, but it was Zac Langdon with the sticky hands and accurate kicking that was filling the void best.

Might get whacked for this, but that’s OK… the Tigers needed Trent Cotchin to really stand up tonight and break the shackles. He didn’t. I think he has had some superb moments over the last two years, but tonight wasn’t one of them. He is hard, he is determined,  and he cracks in, but he simply didn’t do enough tonight.  18 touches in a high pressure game… this is the sort of game I thought he’d play a huge role in. Instead, he played a cameo - a forgettable one.

We spoke of Callan Ward earlier, but he was amazing in his one out marking contest against Toby Nankervis. It was an absolute lesson in body positioning that saw him protect the drop zone, stifle Nank’s opportunity to attack the ball, and draw the free kick.

Great hanger from Riewoldt early in the second quarter. Not quite as good as the one he almost grabbed the other week, but he still has a bit of spring in the old legs. Funny hearing Phil Davis complaining about the hands on the shoulders – funnier still… he was right!

Josh Caddy was pretty quiet tonight. He had a supreme month of football ending a few weeks back, but he is now seemingly back to being an occasional contributor in front of goal, which is a shame, because his conversion is excellent. His snap after marking on the boundary was a ripper tonight.

Luke Darcy (I think) said this on commentary tonight in regards to Dustin Martin – “He draws a lot of free kicks, Dusty with his sheer presence.” Now I don’t know about you, but when I heard that, I was wondering if he was stating that he believes that Dusty was getting free kicks on reputation. What do you think he meant?

Speaking of Dusty, it was amazing to see him get caught holding the ball after ducking into a tackle a little bit, and instead of disposing the ball, just kind of stand there, staring at the umpire waiting to be awarded the free kick. It was as though he was amazed that the ump didn’t think it was too high. The replay showed the ump was correct.

Third Dusty comment in a row here … maybe it’s on reputation? Haha! Seriously though, I have no idea how someone didn’t have a body near him as Bolton bombed long to the square. The spill came to Dusty and he snapped a goal. Someone missed an assignment there.

The Toby Greene high tackle – interesting that one umpire called play on, yet another came in and awarded the free kick. It was very Selwood-esque with the lean and the drop of the knees. Very contentious free kick, but it was the class in stepping around Vlastuin on the mark and banging a goal on the run that overshadowed any controversy. Great goal.

Richmond kicked two goals tonight due to sheer hustle. Prestia got one after tip-toeing along the goal line in the second, and the other came late in the game with Jack Riewoldt whacking the ball back over his head into play as he ran out of bounds. It went through a couple of pairs of hands until it ended with Rioli for his third goal. On both occasions, GWS should’ve killed the contest over the line.

Great goal by Josh Kelly as the clock wound down to end the first half, and really quick thinking by Tim Taranto to handball over his left shoulder to give Kelly the space to run onto it.

Nick Haynes is one of the most underrated defenders in the game. He made a couple of huge defensive plays in the second half. One was a great spoil dropping into the hole with the flight of the ball, and the other was a mark that set the Giants off and running in the last, and ended with a goal to Tim Taranto.

Nobody plays the goal keeper role better than Alex Rance. The bloke just seems to drift back to the goal square precisely when required.

Stephen Coniglio’s squaring ball to Langdon in the third quarter was so poised and intelligent. Nine times out of ten a player would’ve hacked that toward goal, but Coniglio is very much like Pendlebury in terms of awareness and he knew he had time to look inboard.

Sam Taylor had a nice ten minute patch in the third quarter where he could do no wrong.

Five straight behinds from Richmond in the third quarter really hurt their chances. They kick even one of them and the entire vibe of the game (Thanks Dennis DeNuto) changes.

Geez the tempo went up when Jack Riewoldt missed out of mid-air early in the last, but I thought it was a terrible decision not to award holding the ball against Shai Bolton at half forward just seconds before. Sam Taylor absolutely nailed him and Bolton’s disposal was nowhere near being legal.

Minutes later, Coniglio caught Cotchin in the middle and the Richmond Captain just let the ball fall away… no free kick.

Say what you want about Toby Greene, but he was cool as a cucumber when he marked from Himmelberg 40 out on a pretty acute angle. He never looked like missing.

It’s amazing what pressure can do. I have no idea why Adam Tomlinson decided he needed to kick on his left when pinned on the boundary. It went straight to Edwards who ended up hitting Short at 50 and he just crunched it for a goal. Here comes Captain Hindsight... wouldnt waiting for the pressure to arrive and just spilling it over the line have been a better option. Poise, my friend... poise. Thanks Captain Hindsight! 

Minutes later, Tomlinson was involved again at half forward and he was happy to take it out of bounds… should’ve done that down back a minute or so ago. Captain Hindsight strikes again!

Heath Shaw only made a couple of mistakes, but that dropped mark inside defensive 50 had the potential to be huge. Castagna missed again to let him off the hook.

Adam Kennedy’s outsprinting both Caddy and Riewoldt to knock the ball away as it got over the back was fantastic. It led right to that Taranto gather and give in a split second to Shaw – great play by the Giants to clear the area.

Great poise from Dusty to stop, prop and pick out Bolton 45 out. Not so great from Bolton as he completely shanked it out on the full when a goal would’ve tied the score.

Tim Taranto is now the clubhouse leader in the behind of the year award. His little snap to put the Giants up seven points was the epitome of a handy point.

And that’s it for a Saturday night. Really glad I chose this over the Bombers-Suns game to cover. A highly enjoyable game. High pressure, high stakes, and a ripping win for the Giants as they jump into the eight.

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