Round 19 – GWS v Fremantle: Many questions, a couple of answers


There have been many questions asked by Giants’ supporters over the past few weeks. Why did we play so badly in the third quarter against the Hawks? Why did are we struggling so badly through third quarters? Why did we suddenly forget how to put pressure after quarter time against Richmond? Why Toby Greene, why?


For the home game against Fremantle, the questions persisted. I was, for a change, sitting in the upper deck of the Members’ stand, hearing the grumbling emanating from around me – a pretty big shift from the early days when I used to sit in the same seats and there was a fair amount of space around. There were expectations now, and they were not being met.


Why was Patton was having an off day in front of goals? Why was Smith making errors still? Why was Luke Ryan so good at taking marks? Why was Nat Fyfe so reliable, fast and great under all sorts of pressure? There was also a question for the Giants backline. Were they trying the tactic of triggering an existential crisis for the Freo forwards, by leaving them alone? “You’ll always be alone in this universe, so we are getting you used to it.” It didn’t seem to work as goals mounted up from easy shots in front.


That was, until the third quarter, I had returned to the cheer squad and the questions were stopping and the familiar feeling of dread was returning. Freo ran rampant in the same way the Hawks did in Launceston. They also, fortunately for the Giants, matched the Hawks in missing easy set shots, keeping the door slightly ajar for what was becoming a signature third quarter Giants comeback.


And then it happened. The answers. Kelly woke up from a semi slumber and got moving. Shiel got involved at key moments. Lobb was (finally!) clunking contested marks at crunch times. Coniglio was continuing to show he was back to full fitness. And Devon Smith was getting back to his full scrapping, hard ball get self, bobbing up at key moments and scoring the goal to put the Giants back in front.


It was also of note that another question was being answered throughout the game. Are the Giants gone without Mumford? That was answered in part by Dawson Simpson’s excellent performance in the ruck contests and around the ground – his 44 hitouts and 8 score assists demonstrated that the team missed out on nothing – an almost nerveless senior Giants debut. His first game for the side was unheralded in the Sydney AFL media, even though he is a fine ruckman and this was a big test.  His performance also lifted the spirit of those inside the club – he is a very humble and popular man behind the scenes and the interview video on the Giants website about him pre and post match is great viewing.  Simpson also now has the nickname “Joffa 2” from the cheer squad. Joffa 1 is Jonathan Giles, the original ruckman in the Giants’ early years, a man who is still thought of with great fondness around the long term membership. I hope Joffa 2 can hang around for a while, but also get a few more games in the seniors.


When one of the answers to the questions – when will Devon Smith return to form – was answered, there was joy amongst the cheer squad. During the fourth quarter, the unofficial chairperson of the Devon Smith Appreciation Society, Kath Dell’Orefice, was beside herself with joy about his effort and success. There was a lovely moment when, after the siren had sounded and the feeling of relief was palpable throughout the cheer squad, that Smith came over to the bay and enveloped Kath in a big embrace. He knew that she, along with the rest of us, wanted him to get back into form. He is one of the original 2012 players who has been part of the developing heart and soul of the Giants – when he is on top of his game, he plays a crucial role.


So it came to pass that we were to have a win, though, as a theme for the season, the tensions and fears were gripping us until right near the end of the game. There were questions remaining and new ones starting. Should have made easier work of a Freo still rebuilding? Will Patton get back to being reliable at set shots? Will Cameron return to playing the dominant across field game he was earlier in the season? Which Giants will turn up against the Dees next Saturday in Canberra? And importantly (from my perspective), will we be able to beat the Dogs in Melbourne when I am at the ground as a part of my birthday celebrations?


That’s been the Giants’ season so far. So many questions. And incomplete answers.

About Mark O'Sullivan

A teacher, musician and GWS Giants Foundation Member


  1. We’d never see Devon Smith heading to the cheer squad on the TV. It’s pieces like this that remind us that footballers are humans too.

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