AFLW Round 2 – GWS v Carlton: Everything explodes

GWS Giants v Carlton

7.05pm, Friday 9 February
Drummoyne Oval

Georgina Hibberd

 

When the draw came out I couldn’t believe it: GWS playing Carlton at Drummoyne! My son plays footy on that ground, and I’m going to be able to watch the Giants play there! Not to mention the likes of Vescio and Davey run round on it. For a footy-starved Sydney resident, this was like Christmas. I counted down the days.

 

It all started so well.

 

I set off on the bus, full of excitement, the only one wearing a club scarf. Not unusual in Sydney. Walking to the ground I got a good-natured ribbing from a Carlton fan as he play-acted hitting me with his banner.

 

“Which player are you following?”

 

“Oh, not a player. Sydney only has one team so I am Giants. I am actually a Swans member but they don’t have a team, so I am a Giants member for AFWL.”
(I didn’t mention my creeping suspicion that the Giants were slowly winning a larger slice of my heart).
“It’s so good to see the girls get their chance”
Yep, it certainly is.

A good crowd started to build, Sydney seemed to be actually getting around the Giants. Admittedly, a lot of the crowd seemed to be converts to footy – current players in local comps, their families and quite a few Carlton fans – but there were others who seemed to be taking advantage of the game being played closer to home than Blacktown. It was shaping up to be a chilled way to spend a Friday night.

 

Then I got a text: “You are adequately prepared for the storm, yes?”

 

What bloody storm?!

 

GWS took up where they left off last week, applying pressure around the ball and taking advantage of their few forays in the forward 50. Phoebe McWilliams laid a good tackle and was rewarded with a free kick for holding the ball. She duly kicked the goal. Alicia Eva was working hard on the inside. Jess Dal Pos was back in touch after a quiet game last week. It did feel like this could be our night. Carlton though were applying continual pressure. Their midfield has received some underwhelming reviews recently, when compared to their forward and back lines, they didn’t seem underwhelming here. They enjoyed extended periods in the forward 50 but couldn’t notch a goal. The Giants didn’t look dominant, but were in the game.

Wet and wild at Drummoyne Oval

 

Then the rain came. I was at the GWS-Swans game in 2014 that was suspended due to a storm, but this was worse. There was nowhere to run.  At first we thought we’d sit it out but then the rain became unbearable. We took shelter under the trees at the top of the hill. Never a good idea in a storm, but as my companion reassured me, it will hit the light towers first. He has a PhD in science so I felt ok, despite my pathological fear of lightning. Under the trees was a woman picking at a roast beef roll she didn’t really seem to want, her shoulders hunched up against the wind and the rest of her resigned to to getting very, very wet. Then the rain got harder. She cracked. I’m done, she declared, and off she went with her roast beef roll, and two thirds of the crowd.

 

The players were back in the sheds.

 

After about half an hour the players re-emerged and it seemed the game was back on. We went back down onto the hill and sat on the grass. My jeans were drenched by this point so sitting on the wet ground was no biggie, we just had to avoid the plates of expensive hot chips and dodgy burgers abandoned as families fled the storm.

 

It was wet weather football from here on in. By the time Jess Hosking kicked Carlton’s sixth behind you thought maybe Carlton were going to win this with behinds. But you just knew, once Carlton figured out how to kick straight the Giants could be in trouble. Finally they did: Nicola Stephens kicking a pearler. It was hard to see where the Giants were going to find a goal. They didn’t look threatening in the forward 50 but they kept fighting, their commitment to getting to the ball first and competing was fierce. They let themselves down with dropped marks and poor distribution, both possibly due to the pressure Carlton was applying.

 

Carlton were pulling GWS wide, switching the ball and hitting their targets well. The Giants were chasing. Coupled with that, Carlton were just applying too much pressure when they lost the ball, from the forward line right through the team. Tayla Harris was nullified reasonably well in attack by Renee Tomkins and Phoebe Monaghan but her defensive effort was strong. (Watch footage of that tackle on Renee Forth in the final seconds. Ouch.) Sarah Hosking put together 16 tackles for the match. SIXTEEN.

 

In their trial game and against Melbourne, the Giants looked to have many more options in front of goal, compared to last season. These options dried up against Carlton. Cora Staunton was given no room and at times seemed to be watching the play rather than actively engaging. She is still learning the game so I won’t count this against her. McWilliams and Jacinda Barclay were often double-marked and the likes of Rebecca Beeson, Courtney Gum, Forth and Eva were working too hard in midfield to find any room to score. Speaking of Gum, thank goodness Adelaide neglected to sign her up. She was everywhere, has great hands, makes good decisions and brings a maturity the Giants need.

 

Once Carlton found some accuracy, the Giants were out of the game. Pepa Randall tried hard on Darcy Vescio and although Vescio didn’t trouble the score too much, she managed to work herself into the game, regardless of the attention. Brianna Davey continually frustrated the Giants, she cleaned up everything. She just seemed to emerge from packs with the ball and get it away cleanly. She is a joy to watch, even when you’re wishing she would not take that mark because you want your forward to pick it up. Then came that sickening buckle. She picked up 16 possessions, despite leaving the field early.

 

Throughout the game I realised I was getting anxious about how many goals were being scored – even though the conditions were diabolical – because the AFLW needs goals, we’re told.  But what the hell? There were two teams of women out there putting their bodies through hell, fighting for every scrap, on a suburban ground in a city that can be pretty blasé about this kind of footy. After everything that was said during week – Carlton having been at the centre of it, given their part in the much-criticised opening game against Collingwood – the emotion seemed to explode during this game.

 

It was a flattening end to the match for both teams. Carlton won but at the loss of their captain. The Giants lost, and the momentum they seemed to have initiated last week dissipated. This could have been a breakthrough game for AFLW in Sydney but the weather cruelled that. There was a healthy crowd in before the rain made it unbearable, particularly for the many families with small kids.

 

Around 10.30pm I was home and finally got to change my clothes. It was exhausting to watch, but essential viewing.

 

Greater Western Sydney 1.0   1.0   1.2   1.3 (9)
Carlton 0.4   1.7   3.7   3.12 (30)

GOALS
Greater Western Sydney: McWilliams
Carlton:Stevens, Loynes, Vescio

BEST
Carlton: Davey, J.Hosking, S.Hosking, Audley
Greater Wester Sydney: Eva, Farrugia, Gum, Dal Pos

UMPIRES
Rawlings, Crosby, Newell

CROWD 4952

About

A Swans AFL member and a GWS AFLW member, quickly developing conflicting allegiances. Trying to finish a PhD but footy keeps getting in the way. Mother to a teenage half-forward who sometimes plays at half-back.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Well done under duress, Georgina.

    Your anxiety about the scoring underlines the effect of the AFL’s efforts during the week. Not the focus the comp needs at this early stage.

    I reckon the conditions suited the Blues here. I’d be surprised if GWS don’t bounce back with a better effort next week.

    Cheers

  2. Thanks John. I was annoyed at myself for even thinking about the score. I originally had a rant in this piece about how much I disagree with the ‘memo’ but decided to remove it. Focusing on the footy is the best way to ignore the critics.

  3. Kasey Symons says:

    Great write up Georgina – very impressed you toughed out the weather. The injuries in this game, and this round were frightful. Thinking of the players effected , especially young Izzy in her second game.

    Hoping the Giants rally after this match, they look so promising.

  4. Yvette Wroby says:

    Great work Georgina. Loved that you stayed and were able to report on all the goings on. It is interesting when we chose not to engage with the negativity and write what we see in front of us. It was an enthralling game played in terrible conditions. All the people and players at that game are declared winners!

  5. Thanks Kasey and Yvette.

    The conditions were terrible but we are so starved of footy here there was no way I was going to leave! It was a terrible round for injuries, I really felt for the players. The season is so short and they prepare for so long, to then miss it due to something that happens in a millisecond, it’s heartbreaking.

  6. Just to set the record straight, Carlton lined up with their 5 players down back against Collingwood.
    When I asked why they didn’t line up on a direct opponent more often, the answer was that the pie forwards seem to be playing to a set game plan of pushing up the field. Thus when the ball was kicked down to them it was invariably picked up by a loose blues defender. But who gets the blame for “excess numbers in defence?” Go figure!
    A very enjoyable read Georgina but I felt for you up on the hill under those trees. Yes, the comment was made in our little dry grandstand on the other side that trees and lighting are not a good mix!

    It was devastating to lose Davey as she is a pleasure to watch, as you described. Without her, it is difficult to see the blues winning the flag. We will now see how good the Carlton ‘team’ really is in the next 5 weeks.
    I was very worried when the giants kicked the first and realised throughout the game how much they had improved. The Gum girl is a fantastic pickup. Alicia Eva is another good get. It wont be long before this team starts winning regularly.

    I now wish I had have talked a bit more to you on the way to the ground – I’m glad I got your attention after playfully whacking you with our banner!

  7. I can’t believe we ran into each other Dave! Pity we didn’t know at the time! Thanks for the comment, nice to hear from the other side – both in terms of teams we support, and the field on the night.

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