GWS v Adelaide – The Doc’s Autopsy

At half time in this one, I was ready to sing the praises of the Adelaide Crows and give them their dues for what was – to that point – a stunning first half effort away from home. They were tipped to be my big movers this year and all signs were pointing to a big win.

But here’s the thing about football, and especially the opening round; you don’t know what you’re dealing with until the final siren sounds.

In Adam Kingsley’s first game as head coach, the Giants stormed their way back from a five-goal deficit in the second half. They lost soldiers along the way: Harry Perryman in the early goings of this contest with a hamstring injury, followed by Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly with concussions in the last quarter when the game was there to be won and let’s not mention the hit Jacob Wehr got from Shane McAdam there too which could’ve potentially ruined his day (let’s not forget that delayed concussion exists too).

Make no mistake about it, this was one of the more gutsiest wins the Giants have had in quite some time, but for this week at least, they’ve found their grit again. The sort of grit that pushed them as Grand Finalists a few years back – but this is only just week one of the marathon that is the AFL season.


From the outset, this looked like Tom Green’s midfield. Sure the elder statesmen of Coniglio, Josh Kelly and Callan Ward are all still present on the ground, but when the ball is in dispute, very few can argue that the man we on the A3 Footy Podcast like to call ‘Green Green’ is the man you’d want in the clinches.

To put things into perspective – the first half was dominated by the Crows on the stats – they beat the Giants in centre clearances 9-4 and the Giants rallied back in the second half to win the centre clearance count by two and alongside Stephen Coniglio (who had a brilliant game himself) it was this man who put the lads on his shoulders and got them where they needed to be.

He had eight clearances – six of which were out of centre bounces. He also lead all players on the ground for contested possessions with 15 of his 37 disposals being contested. He was also top three for the Giants in pressure acts with 16, which goes to show what sort of defensive work-rate he puts in as well.

The one thing that caught me a little off guard was the fact that he was running to the next contest to be the next link in the chain. A few years ago, you wouldn’t have seen him do that – it’s just a testament to how hard he’s working to be the best player he can be.

And in case you didn’t read Jimmy Ayres’ Mongrel Scorecard thing last week (which you should really do), he made mention about whether or not this was one of the biggest signings of the season, following his recent contract extension.

On the basis of this game alone, it means the world to the Giants to hold onto him for as long as humanely possible.



I hear there’s a lot of people that are murmuring about the appointment of Toby Greene as captain and I hear you; a lot of people tend to not forget about past indiscretions, certainly not many from the western suburbs of Victoria. And despite being a Bulldogs supporter in all of this, I’ve always maintained that when he puts that nonsense to the side, Toby Greene is the kind of bloke you’d want by your side.

One of the many cases in point, was this game – his first official game as the sole captain of the Giants. There was definitely some frustrating moments, I noticed Tom Doedee was giving him a bit off the ball on a couple of instances in this game – not like the umpires to turn a blind eye on a maligned figure, hey AFL?

But good leaders respond, and respond hard. When the Giants began overturning their contested deficiencies, Toby Greene was the one of a few that got them going. When they were struggling to find scoring options, he turned up with a couple of goals and with eight scoring shots for 4.4 and another two score involvements – one of which was a goal assists – it’s safe to assume he was GWS’ number one option inside 50.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s also been one of the main negatives that the Giants often look to him for scores. Brent Daniels kicked a couple in this one in his first game in nearly 600 days. And Jesse Hogan kicked a bag of three goals, so there’s something decent to work with, providing those two can stay fit.
Nonetheless, this was an impressive first-up performance from Toby and well he said it was one of the hardest games he’s ever played in. Don’t doubt that looking at how hard you had to work to find separation from your opponents.



So there’s good and bad with this, but let’s start with the good, because it’s mostly good and that’s the inclusion of Izak Rankine.

There was a lot of noise over the off-season about Izak Rankine returning home to South Australia and the price Adelaide paid to get him over the line. Remember, the Crows coughed up a top-five pick to get the deal done last year. It’s also worth mentioning that Rankine was a top-three pick back in the superdraft of 2018.
From the first bounce, Rankine played like he was worth every draft point the Crows coughed up to get him – it may be an underrated aspect to his game, but he is a brilliant link-up man across the forward third of the ground. He can get metres off his direct opponent and is always looking to find someone in a better spot.

Some bad to this was that he had seven scoring shots for a return of 2.5 – A lot of people will turn to Adelaide’s missed opportunities in the opening half and see that as a means to their end and well 20 scoring shots off 32 inside 50s in the opening half should say a lot about how much they dominated the opening half – but they only had a 28-point lead to show for it. Flip that quarter time scoreline of 4.9 around and this becomes an entirely different ball game.
But another positive is how well Rankine and Josh Rachele work together. It wasn’t lost on me last year that when the Crows ruled Rachele out for the second half of 2022 – the Crows really lacked some of that small forward firepower and Rachele looks as if he’s ready to pick up where he left off last year with another three goal performance – five goals between them isn’t bad first up, but everyone knows now that they can be so much better.



Alright, so this deserves to be unpacked a bit, because of what has happened throughout the past few weeks.

We saw on Saturday night Kysaiah Pickett launch off the ground to smash Bailey Smith with a hip and shoulder that would’ve done Byron proud. He got himself two weeks for his trouble. Lance Franklin ignored the ball, opted to clobber Sam Collins in the mouth with his shoulder – he gets a week.

The AFL are in the midst of what is going to be a very hairy story with numerous past players in regard to concussion and what is going on right now on field and what the peanut – we have to call a Match Review Officer – is handing out – I’ll put every last penny of my savings on it that the AFL couldn’t give a flying fig about the whole thing.

These sort of incidents – the one on Kozzie Saturday night and McAdam’s hit on Wehr – is walking the most dangerous of tightrope when it comes to it. One slip here or there and we’re talking about the possibility of a player’s career ending. It’s fortunate that both Smith and Wehr were able to get back on the ground and play out the game.

But it’s about time that the AFL started looking into stamping out players and coming down hard on the action itself, as opposed to basing it off just the consequence. And for those complaining about yearning for the old fashioned footy back – tough luck.



He was my prediction to be GWS breakout star on the A3’s season predictions episode (you should also give that a listen – already some predictions are going to leave a big bite mark on my butt) and after one round he’s proving himself to be a very valuable contributor in the GWS engine room.

After just five games last year and not a lot of room in the midfield to show what he could do, he showed exactly why he was highly rated as a draft prospect a couple of years ago. He’s a gut-runner and for a lot of this game, he was helping the Giants looking for outs in the defensive half and with 15 kicks and a kicking efficiency of 86 percent – he was playing like a man beyond his years.

I think by the time he sprayed that set shot in the last quarter… and horribly I may add – he was spent, but that’s something you expect from your first, second and third year players.
Callaghan is going to be a midfielder of the future, but for now, he looks a settled figure as a wing/half back because the Giants with Coniglio, Green, Kelly and Callan Ward attending a lot of their centre bounces in this one, it gave him a little bit of a lesser role to provide connect and drive from the defensive half to the mids and it was one that worked brilliantly.

He finished with 25 disposals, six marks, 427 metres gained and four score involvements. It may not sound as exotic a statline in comparison to a bloke called Harry Sheezel, but for a Giants fan, you should be pleased with his performance in this one.



So I mentioned Coniglio before. His stat sheet read 32 disposals, one goal, 810 metres gained (lead all players), eight clearances, nine inside 50s and 14 score involvements – he looked very dangerous every time the ball was in his hands.

I loved seeing Brent Daniels back in this side. I think people forget just how important his pressure and his presence inside 50 was in the 2019 season – the year that the Giants made the Grand Final. It’s been a tough slog since with injuries but a couple of goals on return, plus a team-high 21 pressure acts and four tackles inside 50 – is a phenomenal return.

Another player that made a long-awaited return to the side is Jack Buckley – who showed some good form towards the end of 2020 and 2021 before he went down with a knee injury. With Phil Davis on the shelf (again!) he provides a great second-fiddle to Sam Taylor had 10 spoils and five intercept possessions in this one.

Captain Dawson in his first game officially as the Adelaide skipper turned in a nice shift; 23 disposals, 564 metres gained eight score involvements, five intercept possessions and two intercept marks on kicking efficiency that went just over 83 percent.

Harry Himmelberg may have already wrapped up mark of the year for this season, but talking about where he plays his footy best – I’ve maintained he should be forward where he utilises his marking hands the best.

Was impressed with Reilly O’Brien’s positioning in general play and clunked some important grabs during the game. The ruck duel with Matt Flynn was good to watch – O’Brien had six more contests, but the hitouts read 33-25 in favour of the Adelaide big man and a slight 13-12 win in the hitouts to advantage. Also had three intercept marks and 12 pressure acts.

The top three players on the ground for pressure acts were all Adelaide players – Sam Berry (27), Jake Soligo (25) and Izak Rankine (23) – makes their collapse in the second half all the more bizarre.

And on that, that’ll do me for this game. A big way to start off your coaching career for Adam Kingsley and the Giants are off the mark in season 2023. Where it goes from here – your guess is as good as mine, but there’s no doubt that wins like this install belief in the playing group. They have West Coast next week in what will be another intriguing battle – no Kelly and no Whitfield and away from home certainly makes the challenge a bit steeper, but it’s a game that they can still win.

As for the Crows, they’ll need to bounce back at home as they take on the Tigers in a must-win game for both sides. I’ve always stressed that winning games early is crucial to setting up the season; Adelaide can’t afford to go 0-2 in a season that many expected them to make a big jump up the ladder.


You know who is awesome? The Doc. If you appreciate his work, please consider buying him a coffee at the link below.