In a physical, and at times spiteful game, the GWS Giants got an important win on the road, knocking over North Melbourne in Hobart.
The Shaw family feud fell in favour of the Giants, with father, Ray watching on from the stands as Rhyce was handed his first loss as coach.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
MATT DE BOER
So we had de Boer sit the fourth quarter out, but the damage was done, and in Ben Cunnington’s 200th game, Matt de Boer laid the absolute smack down on the Kangaroos’ ball-winner.
Right from the outset, de Boer set the tone, allowing Cunnington no room at stoppages, wearing him like a particularly tight glove every time the ball was in dispute. We will disregard the last quarter, as Cunnington gathered six touches without de Boer’s company, but through the first three quarters, Cunnington was held to just 10 disposals, with six being effective.
How does that stack up against everything else he’s done this season? Let’s have a look, shall we?
Before today, Cunnington’s lowest disposal total so far this season was 21 against the Adelaide Crows in Round Four. His overall average for 2019 prior to today was 29.17 touches per game, which means that opposed to Matt de Boer, Cunnington was down a whopping 45.2% on his output.
That is absolutely amazing from Matt de Boer. Players like Cunnington and Cripps are supposed to be hard to tag. They’re in and under players who win their own ball under constant pressure.
However, Matt de Boer pressure is hotter than that which comes from others. They couldn’t handle that pressure. Like so many before him this season, Cunnington fell to the close attention of the number one stopper in the game, and even though de Boer played only three quarters, his efforts had maximum impact on the game. I’ll be hard pressed awarding him anything less than three votes.
So the stats will say that Ben Brown kicked a couple of goals, and people will tell you that he should’ve had a couple more. They’re probably right, but the defensive efforts of the GWS captain were of the highest order today.
Phil Davis led the game in one percenters (a whopping 17) and also had 10 intercept possessions en route to a rare defensive double-double, statistically. His positioning, control and ability to read the flight of the ball meant that the Kangaroo forwards had a very difficult time getting any space inside 50.
Not only was he a defensive maestro, he also refused to be forced into errors with the footy, running at 100% efficiency on his 14 disposals.
It’s amazing that Davis has never been an All-Australian defender. All my memories of him are of him being a difference-maker in games. I have memories of him beating Lance Franklin, beating Jack Riewoldt, and now beating Ben Brown.
But you know what – All-Australian selections are nice… being premiership captain is a little nicer, and the way the Giants are travelling, this may become a reality late in September.
You know we love our dumb stats here at The Mongrel, and one we’re always on the lookout for is the Quadruple Double – double figures in kicks, handballs, tackles and marks. Tim Taranto was painfully close to joining the club today, missing by a mark and a handball, in the process of finishing with a very impressive stat-line.
Taranto had21 ticks, nine handballs, nine marks and ten tackles as he excelled in every facet of the game. I love that he takes the defensive side of the game so seriously. In the last quarter, as Matt de Boer sat on the pine, Taranto started taking responsibility for Cunnington at stoppages. On three consecutive possessions, it was him wrapping Cunnington up in a tackle, determined not to allow him to get off the leash with his master on the bench.
I’ve written before about just how little the Giants have missed Dylan Shiel. Tim Taranto is the main reason why. There’s another reason named Jacob Hopper as well, but Taranto is on the fast track to being an elite AFL mid.
For the record, Shiel had 10+ tackles three times in his career. In contrast, Taranto has done it five times in just over a third as many games.
Now, if only he can stop giving away 50 metre penalties to big forwards, he may become more popular with his key defenders. The 50 he gave to Ben Brown made his stats a little better against Phil Davis – I’m sure his captain will remind him of that.
WILLIAMS X 2
Two small forwards were excellent this afternoon, with both Marley Williams for the Kangaroos, and Zac Williams for the Giants amongst their sides’ best for the game.
Marley had some big one-on-one wins, including an excellent effort on Jeremy Cameron when he found himself isolated on the big bloke late in the third quarter. I’ve been a little critical of Marley at times in the past due to a penchant for accentuating contact, but in a game that was as uncompromising as any this season, he stood up today. He finished with 24 disposals and three tackles.
Zac Williams was back to his outstanding rebounding best in this game, picking up eight intercept disposals amongst his 24 touches for the game. He sent the ball outside 50 on six occasions and was a constant thorn in the side of the North midfielder as he dropped into the hole and used that run and carry to hurt going the other way.
Zac finished with 618 metres gained to lead all players, his ability to break lines a vital part of the Giants’ ability to break down the North defence late in the game.
If the Giants win the flag, I’m not sure I’d be happier for anyone more than Brett Deledio. Gone from the Tigers right before they shocked the world and won the 2017 premiership (it sounds so long ago now, huh?), Deledio looks as though he has worked his way back into, not just the best 22 for the Giants, but as an integral part of their forward set up.
Deceptively good overhead, Deledio had a couple of contested marks amongst his nine grabs for the game. His quick thinking resulted in a couple of direct goal assists, and he managed to snag one, himself.
My hope is that his body holds up for the remainder of the home and away season and enables him to be an important factor in the 2019 finals. I’m not sure how many more goes he’ll get at this, so he has to get it right this season.
You know, there’ll be a heap made of de Boer blanketing Cunnington, and rightly so, but did anyone notice the defensive job Adam Kennedy did on Jared Polec?
Whilst Polec did accrue 18 touches for the game, that is -4.92 on his season average to date. Kennedy looks as though he has taken a page out of de Boer’s book, and looked determined to minimise the influence of the North recruit.
Having 18 touches isn’t bad, right? But only half of the possessions Polec was able to get his hands on were effective. Whenever Polec found the ball, Kennedy found Polec.
It’ll probably go unnoticed in a lot of circles, but Kennedy’s defensive efforts deserve praise. He’ll get it, at The Mongrel.
THE PHYSICAL NATURE OF THE GAME
The tone was set at the first bounce, as Jack Ziebell lined up Toby Greene and crunched him with a hip and shoulder that, on replay, may have been a little high. As it’s Ziebell, I expect him to be sentenced to death, request trial by conduct, nominate Ben Cunnington as his representative, and have his suspension reduced to a week.
Personally, I’d love to see him have no case to answer, but I guess we’ll see.
We saw Jed Anderson smash Stephen Coniglio with a half-tackle/half bump, and Matt de Boer get cleaned up by Luke McDonald… all we needed was Big Mummy to pulverise someone and the carnage would’ve been complete.
Alas, Mummy couldn’t get his timing right, and North players walked away unscathed.
It was a great physical contest today, with players more than willing to put their heads over it when it was their turn to go. It was good, hard footy, with good, hard players unflinchingly attacking the contest. I have to say, I absolutely loved it.
Seriously looked a cut above out there today. Picked up a game high 35 touches with 26 of them coming on the outside, as he ran and spread better than anyone else on the park.
He had six clearances, seven tackles and seven score involvements, often playing the role of taking the ball on the boundary and working it back inside for the Giants.
Kelly has been in a rich vein of form. This is his fifth consecutive game with 30+ disposals, and Kelly is really making a play on being included in any mock AA teams with this run.
These numbers aren’t pretty. Sorry, North fans.
Mason Wood – After a month or so of doing what many thought he was incapable of – holding down a spot at half forward and making opposition teams respect him, Wood went back into his shell. He was completely shut out of the game, with just five touches to his name for the game.
Jy Simpkin – He is so hot and cold. Just nine disposals despite getting a couple of runs up into the midfield is a disastrous result for one as talented as him. He has had a couple of ordinary games this season, particularly early in the year, but this one is now the clubhouse leader for his worst outing of the year.
Nick Larkey – Pulled in a nice mark and goaled in the dying stages, but don’t let that fool ya; he was just as poor as the others mentioned here. Nine disposals, five marks and just five effective disposals.
Jeremy Cameron – Remember a few weeks ago when people were talking about him kicking the ton? The Mongrel remembers, and I’m here to remind you of the mess he’s left since then. After 30 goals in the first seven games, he has added just ten goals in the last six games. The Giants are winning in spite of him at the moment.
Jeremy Finlayson – Ten touches, three marks and one goal is a performance down on what has become expected of him this season. He made the Rolling AA team after Round 12, but chances of him staying in there will be dependent on him shedding this form and returning to his early season form.
Cam Zurhaar – Had one of those games where he threatened, but didn’t deliver. Ten touches, three marks, but no tackles inside 50, and only two score involvements means that he wasn't dangerous when the ball did get into his hands.
Both teams had winners up forward as well. Toby Greene got three goals and 20 touches. Harry Himmelberg found some second half form and was one of the reasons the Giants were able to power away, but he was a non-factor in the first.
For North, Taylor Garner showed aggression at the ball and man, whilst Kayne Turner was elusive and positioned himself brilliantly for two front-and-centre goals.
ONE GAME ON A SUNDAY
I don’t know about you, but when there is one game on, I fell a bit…. Lost.
Hello? Is there anyone there? Oh, it’s the Giants and Kangaroos – thank goodness I found you guys, I didn’t know what was going on.
The AFL scheduled Thursday night games for the bye weeks, but if it means one game on a Sunday – a game that isn’t on free-to-air TV in many places across Australia, it doesn’t exactly get the sort of coverage the game should be getting on a Sunday arvo.
A 1pm and 4.30pm game would be great next year, thanks AFL.
Geez, Jack Ziebell really faded in the second half, didn’t he? With 13 touches to half time, he was one of North’s best, and his physical pressure was off the charts. Then he was like a man lost at sea in the second half – also off the charts. He had three disposals after half time, coinciding with North’s capitulation.
Really liked the contested work of Jacob Hopper. You can already see that he is building into a very nice fourth midfielder at the Giants. He had 17 contested touches amongst his 29 possessions and was often the first midfielder drifting back to help his defenders.
A lot of North fans I know seem to think Trent Dumont is about to blossom into something special. They told me that on the back of his finish to 2018, but after a very nice stretch from Round 7-9 where he averaged 33 touches over the three games, he has come back to Earth since, with 21.25 touches per game since.
I thought Stephen Coniglio was on target for another 30 disposal/three goal game in the third quarter, but he seemed to tweak an ankle in a contest on the boundary, and he wasn't as influential following that.
Luke Davies-Uniacke is still in that part of his career where he’ll tease North fans a little. Looks great when he gets it, and is strong in the contest, but then you don’t see him for long stretches. It’s the same thing happening with Carlton’s youngsters. And I apologise, North fans - I should never, ever compare North to Carlton again.
I thought Matt Buntine started really well, defensively and was incredibly unlucky to give away a free kick to Tarryn Thomas for in the back in a marking contest. If anything, it looked as though Buntine pushed him with his face! That’s not easy to do.
Love watching Toby Greene play. He’s in my top ten players in the game, and he just exudes both class and Mongrel simultaneously. The way his clean hands and good decision-making open the game up for his teammates has to be seen to be believed. I know a lot of more casual fans don’t watch a lot of GWS games. For me, if Greene is on the park, it almost becomes must-see TV.
People look at Greene and think he’s a dirty player, or a thug of sorts – those people haven’t really watched him play. He is sublime in the way he wins possession, uses his body, and takes every bit of time and space offered to make difficult kicks look easy.
A bit of credit to the North tall defenders before we finish up. Both Tarrant and Thompson were very good on Cameron and Finlayson, and it was only Himmelberg that looked threatening at any point of the game. After giving away a free kick, admittedly a soft free kick, while the Giants were in possession, Himmelberg was sparked into action, but the defensive efforts of Tarrant and Thompson more than did the job when opposed to the other two.
I’m still trying to figure out how Marley Williams had an in-danger free kick against him in the first quarter. It was a gift for Adam Tomlinson on a day he didn’t do much of anything else.
And that’ll do for Round 13. Both sides get the week off next week as we move into the last of the bye rounds. GWS now sit poised to make an assault on the top two, whilst North made their mid-season revival a little more difficult with the loss. Finals are not looking likely now.
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