Round 2 – GWS v Geelong: Giants step up

Round 2 Sunday 3rd April 2016 GWS v Geelong at Manuka Oval, Canberra

What a difference a week makes in AFL football, or in the case of the Giants, an ‘eight day week’ to find redemption from the one that got away against the Dee’s, and for the Cats, a six day break after their Easter Monday battle against the Hawks. The last time the two sides met in Canberra was on a windy late July day last season and the Cats, led by the Tomahawk, cruised to an easy victory.

With Steve Johnson, now in orange, up against his former club, the contest had added spice and intrigue. Question 1: Which Cat would try to flatten Stevie J or would Johnson get in first? Question 2: What would the new Giant wearing number 17 say to his former team mates after snapping goals in his trademark style? Playing against your former club for the first time can be a challenge, as many players can attest, so better get it out of the way early in the season.

A warm sunny April day in Canberra, perfect for footballers and spectators alike, set the stage. Quickly Geelong were on the board with a six pointer courtesy of fast delivery from Lang to Selwood to Hawkins. Young Darcy Lang was starting as he finished last week and the Tomahawk was in everything. But the Cats wasted opportunities and could only move ahead in one-point-rolls rather than sixes. GWS held tight in defence and when Wilson gained possession he took off and bombed long and straight for a momentum changing goal to the Giants. The unexpected answer to Question 1 was provided next when Johnson crunched young Cory Gregson in a submarine-raid like tackle from behind. Johnson 1 – Cats nil. The moment signalled the intent of the GWS to take it up to their more fancied opponents with pressure and heat at every contest. With fast ball movement the Giants soon had a second goal on the board through the follow-up efforts of skipper Callan Ward who dished off to a fast moving, straight shooting Ryan Griffen. The story of the first quarter read “GWS doing more with less”. At quarter time: GWS 2.1 (13)  Geelong 1.5 (11).

The second quarter started with a deliberate out of bounds interpretation going against Heath Shaw and Lang goaling as a result. Giants ruckman Shane Mumford, wearing a head bandage as mummies do, was dominating at centre bounces and stoppages, giving his small men a feast of leather. The Giants were winning in close and had more outside run than the glacial ball-moving Cats in the second term. GWS goals to Devon Smith then Johnson (in trademark style snapping across his body) then Coniglio, broke the contest clearly in favour of the home side. The Cats seemed to have only one plan going forward – find Hawkins, but he was being triple teamed, making easy rebounding opportunities for the Giants. An against-the-flow goal from a snap on the left by Mark Blicavs brought up a much needed third major to the Cats.

At this point my biro was working overtime on the notepad, with “umpiring???” being scribbled repeatedly. An unpaid ‘mark’ to Lachie Henderson presented Dylan Shiel with the ball at centre half forward and he made no mistake. Immediately afterwards, the Geelong runner, Nigel Lappin, reportedly drew the umpires attention to Tom Scully dragging the ball in and his team copped an infringement which led to a Scully goal. Scully was sprinting from defence into attack and winning possessions at will, with support from Griffen’s gut running starting to cut the Cats up through the middle. Finally the Cats went forward with purpose to the hot spot and Blicavs rewarded the play with a front-and-centre possession which he converted.

Geelong repeated the play moments later when Toby Greene’s errant kick went out on the full and Mackie booted a long ball to Rhys Stanley who marked directly in front and kicked truly. The umpires were in question marks again when a wayward centre bounce favouring the Giants was not recalled and soon after Mumford drifted forward just before the half time siren to mark and goal. As the players left the ground for the long break, with the Cats tempers frayed and the Giants hanging tough, witnesses close enough may have heard the answer to Question 2. Stevie J 2 – Cats 0.

At half time: GWS 8.4 (52) Geelong 5.7 (37).

Energised after the break and eager for the physical contest, Johnson and Mumford laid bone crunching tackles and big hits on unsuspecting Cats. First Caddy, then Duncan and Murdoch felt the fierce desire of the Giants to intimidate their opponents. Moving the ball more fluently than Geelong, GWS scored a likely match-winning string of goals to break the game wide open in the early stages of the third quarter. First was a goal to Will Hoskin-Elliott after a screamer at the top of the goal square, quickly followed by a goal to Rory Lobb after a marking infringement against Harry Taylor, then Stevie J got onto the scoreboard again. With Josh Kelly racking up possessions and giving plenty of drive for his team, the Giants had all the momentum and a 37 point lead. But the Geelong player most likely to break the trend bobbed up again. Blicavs coolly handed the ball to McCarthy for the Cats sixth goal. Devon Smith quickly responded for the Giants before Josh Caddy and Cory Gregson both goaled after intercepts. The late third quarter comeback from the Cats gave the Giants something to ponder at the final break, no doubt remembering their last term fade out against Melbourne on Easter Saturday. Could the Giants weather the inevitable storm?

At three quarter time: GWS 12.8 (80) Geelong 8. 8 (56).

GWS were well on top in the clearances and continued the trend early in the last quarter until a shift in fortunes was signalled by an opportunistic, long drop kick-off-the-ground goal by Tom Hawkins from 55 metres out on the flank. Jimmy Bartel was standing tall around the centre and in the trenches, with characteristic second and third efforts. Hawkins flew and secured a second grab mark which he converted. With old stagers Enright, Bartel and Mackie in the thick of the action repelling GWS advances and some undisciplined play by Toby Greene against the Geelong Captain Selwood, the Cats regained the ascendancy and closed the gap. Cam Guthrie’s strong running through the centre provided further hope for the fast closing Cats. Stanley’s second goal from a strong contested mark brought the margin back to six points, before Kersten and Gregson both missed opportunities to put the Cats in front for the first time since late in the opening quarter. Under pressure, the Giants were suddenly turning the ball over, but the Cats failed to capitalise. As game trends often go, the previously superior team managed to arrest their opponent’s momentum, bring the ball into attack, maintain possession and consume valuable time. Stevie J and Lobb both missed chances to ice the game for their side, then a complete target-miss by Patton from close range gave Dangerfield the ball in the dying moments and in a desperate effort to break free and gain ground he ran too far. The resultant Griffen goal sealed the deal for the Giants.

The story of the afternoon was that a more desperate, fresher Giants outfit applied greater sustained pressure, won the contested possessions and moved the ball far more fluently than the Cats who looked a shadow of the team that defeated Hawthorn so convincingly a week ago. Ex-Cats Shane Mumford and Steve Johnson, well supported by a group of strong running mid-fielders, were instrumental in breaking Geelong’s previous domination over the Giants.

Final score: GWS 13.11 (89) defeated Geelong 11.10 (76)


GWS – Griffen 2, Smith 2, Johnson 2, Coniglio, Wilson, Shiel, Scully, Mumford, Hoskin-Elliott, Lobb

Geelong – Hawkins 3, Blicavs 2, Stanley 2, Lang, McCarthy, Caddy, Gregson


GWS – R. Griffen, T. Scully, S. Mumford, T. Greene, J. Kelly, D. Shiel,  S. Johnson

Geelong – M. Blicavs, T. Hawkins, C. Guthrie, A. Mackie, C. Enright

Crowd: 13 656

About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.


  1. Excellent report Peter. One of those frustrating ones for the Cats who still appear to be a long way off consistent performances. I was greatly annoyed by their mental frailty. However that probably takes something away from the Giants. They are improving every week. They must be a big chance for the 8.

    The Cats have undone all of last week’s good work. These games will end up defining the season when we reflect on what happened, come October 2016. The teams that can win away will be at the top of the ladder.

  2. Mumford cleared? Not often I agree with Patrick Smith, but this time he has got it right. To clear Mumford is an horrendous decision. It gives Mumford, at about 120 kilos, a green light to go and flatten every midfielder in the competition as long as he says, and the review panel agree he was just tackling strongly. I love to see a strong tackle, around the waist, hips,Steve Johnson laid a beauty in the same game. But you must protect the head. But, you have to tell Mumford, or warn him at least, that you can’t go around paralyzing everyone and then people saying, no that was just a tackle. Ask the panel to justify the unjustifiable. Or is the panel compromised by input from Evans, just as it was by Collins in the 90’s. Mumford can now set his eyes on a prime mover in the Sydney team this week knowing he will not miss a game. I say beware Hanneberry, Jacks, Kennedy, Mitchell, any one of you may end up in hospital this week, courtesy of big Shane. And don’t blame Mumford, if he does put another one in lala land because the MRP have said basically he is allowed to do it.

  3. Paul must say I agree that Mumford gets off. Both players attacking the footy. It’s a tough game. I don’t have a problem.

  4. Peter Clark says

    Your’e right Dips, it is a tough game and both players were going for the footy. Paul, the problem for Mumford in future games will be that bumps/hits such as the one on Duncan on Sunday are courting danger. There is a very slim margin for error in a bump like that. If he makes contact directly with the opponent’s head, and serious concussion or injury results, he is at a very high risk of being suspended for weeks. And Mummy does not have a good record with the MRP. He got away with one against Duncan, but may not be so fortunate next time.

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