AFL Round 21 – Melbourne v GWS: In which our young heroes come of age

There are some games you are afraid to predict.  There’s a fear that, knowing when you’re a chance, stuff that, a very good chance, the team will somehow falter and you’re left wanting.  I think we will win.  I mean, it’s Melbourne.  But the memories of the fourth quarter fade to beat all fourth quarter fades in the corresponding game last year is burnt into the brain.  Sure, we’ve beat them twice at home since then, but history does find a way of repeating itself.

Late in settling onto the lounge to watch the game, I missed the opening bounce and was surprised to see we were already one goal up.  Scored by Rhys Palmer (of all people!) But now Melbourne have the ball and was using it to advantage.

My husband is already muttering angrily at the television.  “They’re killing us” he says.  I look at the score.  OK, the Demons have just kicked their first goal.  But the lead is two points.  Two points. OK, too many loose men.  Too many kicks to a contest and failing to regather.  Too many silly, silly mistakes.  Like Phil Davis completely mistiming a tackle, crashing down and giving away a free kick.  Actually that is not a silly mistake.  That is a potentially game-changing mistake.  Phil is on the ground and we hold our collective breath.

It’s not an inspiring quarter.  The Giants kick a second (Rhys with 2!) and then the Dees reply from the next centre bounce.  They have the honours in the first quarter – 2.4.16 to 2.1.13. Davis has already undergone a concussion test and it’s not looking like he’ll be back soon.  The game is anyone’s.

Giants take the initiative early in the quarter.  But then, it didn’t seem like much, but Jonny Patton who has finally managed to play a string of games and show us that he is a champion in the making, is down.  He clutches his leg and you can feel his pain through the TV.  Poor kid.

We start to pull away, even though we’re two men down and Stewart the Sub (who sounds more like a Reverend W Awdry character than James Stewart, acting god) has been activated.  Phil is track-suited, red-vested and groggy.  Four goals in the quarter and none to the Demons.  We’re pulling together, finding targets, putting together a second quarter like we’re starting to do with regularity.  But with minutes to go our other Captain and rock, Callan Ward, is limping off the field.

The half time siren is yet to sound.  We only have a 19 point lead.  At best we will have two men on the bench in the second half.  I’m hoping that it’s not the drubbing of last year all over again.

The featured player in the half-time telecast is the Dees’ Dom Tyson.  While it’s a shame he’s no longer a Giant, it’s great he got an opportunity to play regular senior football.  Mark Whiley, who has been absolutely killing it in the NEAFL all season is getting his first game of 2014 this round.  But then again, if we still had Dom, we wouldn’t have had Josh Kelly.  You couldn’t tell he was only a first year player.  He was giving a masterclass in ball disposal and football awareness during the first half.

As the third quarter opens we are without our co-captains and our main forward target.  It’s a huge ask of any team; particularly one who lost concentration in the first few minutes of the third quarter the week before and didn’t get it back for the rest of the game.  That said, the Demons do not grasp the opportunity before them.  They’re the ones that are slower to the ball.  They’re the ones who can’t kick straight.  They’re the ones who aren’t marking.  With only three players on the park with more than three years’ experience, the Giants are taking the opportunity to put a team to the sword.  And at the home of football too.

I can’t call them boys any more.  They’re men.  They’ve found that extra reserve of guts and heart and are refusing to take a backward step – other than to slow down the play.  Dylan Shiel goes off and is walking gingerly along the sidelines.  Adam Treloar is holding onto his wrist.  Heath Shaw is cramping up.  But still they keep coming.  The pace of Will Hoskin-Elliott, who shows he can do more than run and take a speccy.   Mummy lays down the law in the circle; kicks a critical goal, takes a critical defensive mark in the goal square.  Adam Kennedy touches, harries and keeps them out; as does Buntine.   Rhys Palmer who proudly displays his guernsey when he kicks his fourth (FOUR!) – more goals than Melbourne! The world may be upside down because the GWS are winning in Melbourne at the MCG with only 19 men!

And I am in my lounge room, roaring with pleasure and wondering who on earth deserves my match votes.  Everyone contributed.  Everyone stood up.

We haven’t sung the song in the rooms at the G, so it was always going to be special.  But after today, they have really shown what it means to never surrender and fight until the end.  Apparently next weekend is the combined 21st birthday party for 19 of the team.  They celebrated early; for today the Giants came of age.



About Kath Presdee

Just a suburban girl, just a suburban girl. Lawyer by day, wife and Mum by night. I experience the agony and the ecstasy of sport, having followed Cronulla all my life, the Brumbies all their life and as a foundation member of the Giants.


  1. Kath

    I wrote about the Giants a few weeks back vs the Tigers, and it was reasonably clear from the article (which you picked up on) that I was unimpressed and a little underwhelmed.

    Credit where it is due. I saw the second half of Sunday’s game, and didn’t know the back story of the injured players. Sad that the win has been lost a bit in how bad Melbourne were, but a very impressive win, by a group coming together well.

    It will still be unpredicatble next year and it will take a while to string wins together, but I like what I saw.

    Maybe, it’s amazing how much they’ve improved in a few weeks? Or was I just paying more attention?


  2. Skip of Skipton says

    That game will be known as the Petracca Cup in times to come. If that wasn’t tanking, then Roos is the worst in-game tactical coach of all time.

  3. kath presdee says

    Sean – I think it was an improvement in the commitment stakes. The Richmond game was, for both sides, more going through the motions (although a massive improvement from the Giants since they last met). The Giants have put a lot of effort into some of the third year players in terms of developing their on-field (and off-field) leadership and I think it was the first time they put it in to practice.

    Skip – so if Petracca is going 2, who’s going 1? Both teams had percentage on St Kilda.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I love your passion for your giants , Kath in 3 yrs time it will be bloody , GWS !
    Best wishes to Patton , thanks Kath

  5. Earl O'Neill says

    Here’s to another win tonight.

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