Round 4: GWS v Western Bulldogs: It’s against the law to frown in our capital city

When talk of the AFL draw comes to what clubs request, you always hear the usual, ranging from we want a home game at a certain week or we want so many Friday Night games. This year I only had one such request, that the Bulldogs would be playing the GWS Giants on the 12th of April this year. It’s not because the date has any special relevant meaning, or that there was no local footy on (although this usually helps), it was because this weekend also marked the Australian Running Festival incorporating the Canberra Marathon in which I would be competing. Heck the completion of this report will start before the race, and finish a number of hours afterwards. But more about the running at a later time for there were more pressing matters at hand.

This would be the second time I had attended a game at Manuka Oval having watched us fall in a disappointing loss to Sydney in 2011, complimented by the dodgy sales skill of a gelato salesperson on Lake Burley Griffen. The major change naturally was the addition of 6 tall steel objects used to illuminate a playing surface more suited to a hazard at Augusta National than Canberra’s number one oval playing arena. Just ask Daniel Gianisiracusa, who in the last quarter was the first and last player to attempt a bounce outside of the centre square only to see the ball almost plug in the surface. Even the umpires were extracting less bounce from the centre, normally rock hard thanks to a cricket pitch now historically linked with another New South Wales Shield win but dampened due to some precipitation on Friday.

 

From the Bulldog perspective the first quarter was as poor as you’d find from an undermanned Under 10s team that the AFL supposedly doesn’t want to know what the score is. At least 3 of the Giant goals could have been traced to skill error, and another was a fluke Jeremy Cameron snap that I’m sure the media will salivate over all week rather than give the winning side credit. It would be the highpoint of Cameron’s day, for even though he kicked a trio of majors I felt he didn’t work as hard as he should have for the remainder of the game given the taller slower Tom Williams was forced to be the match up following the demise of Dale Morris (and not forgetting Will Hoskin-Elliott). His day was completed by having a physio no less having to tie up his shoelaces. The platoon of Bulldog cheer squad members and another fan who obviously took advantage of being served cans of Carlton Draught (YES, CANNED BEER IN CANBERRA, no cups but similar pricing and long queues) reminded him none too subtly.

Ditto for Jon Patton, who had the smaller and physically inferior Tom Young for the bulk of the game yet only really impacted the match in non-dangerous positions. Whilst the stat sheet may have shown 9 marks it seemed to me as though he was playing a bit too much like Warren Tredrea was in the early part of the last decade for Port Adelaide, relying too much on getting away from the danger zones to find the pill. There was only really a single mark in the second term (off a turnover which would have gave the Dogs a forward 50 entry) where he was able to exploit the Young matchup, and in the end Young broke even in the contests and on the scoreboard kicking a vital late goal in the third.

Perhaps the reason for the slow start was a lack of a run through banner. The excuse I heard was that the equipment couldn’t be loaded onto transportation, strange given trips have been made for longer matches with banners in the past. Perhaps the new management at the cheer squad don’t have the same pull as the old guard swept aside in the off season. Maybe this was all part of the plan, although skipper Ryan Griffen looked as confused as anyone. (At this point it may be a time to give the sponsors of the ground a plug given I work for their owner, but as someone who hates commercialising names plus the fact I had to gladly pay to get in I won’t).

It may have taken just over two quarters of the game to overcome the deficit, but once overcome in the early stages of the last term the victory in reality was never in doubt. For once Liam Jones proved to be a match winner as opposed to whipping boy, but rather than focus on the marks in the last quarter (admittedly against the ultra inexperienced Nick Haynes) the turning point for him would have come early in the third quarter. An aimless kick towards half forward was made into a contested ball by Lachie Hunter, before Jones steamed onto a ball at knee level resulting in a clean pickup and eventual major for Crameri (who flashed in and out all day). From there it was all about crashing packs, clunking balls in dangerous positions and impacting the scoreboard.

If anything was proven today, for the skeptics will still try to remind our fans that it was still ONLY GWS, it proved that there was some ticker in this Bulldogs outfit. Turn the clock back a couple of years ago, and a similar quarter time deficit combined with the loss of the most experienced defender would almost certainly have resulted in a defeat by a margin befitting of the Jack Fingleton Scoreboard. Now comes a new challenge given that the Dogs will be favorites against the 0-4 Blues on Easter Sunday which at the release of the schedule last year would have resulted in admission to the mental asylum.

As for the Giants, this is the second time this season where a poor last quarter may have cost them the points, although the St.Kilda loss was more attributed to missed opportunities rather than being worn down as they usually were in their formative years. To me the forward line, as disappointing as they may have been in patches on Saturday looks to be settled with the key pillars in place. The back half still needs their best players in the key roles with both Davis and Mohr missing, the sooner they return will see further improvement for the G-Men.

 

Oh, and as for the Marathon on Sunday, things were going swimmingly well at half way, but turned to manure not long after. At 31.5km, having just rounded an uphill left hand turn past a volunteer and Bulldog member, both hamstrings decided it was a good time to cramp up. Perhaps perfect weekends will have to wait for another time!

 

 

MATCH DETAILS

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3, 8.7, 11.8, 12.11.83
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.1, 5.5, 10.6, 17.8.110

SCORERS
GIANTS: Cameron 3.2, Patton 1.1, Tomlinson 1.1, Giles 1.1, Hampton 1.1, Kennedy 1.0, Sumner 1.0, Haynes 1.0, Kelly 1.0, Greene 1.0, Coniglio 0.1, Hoskin-Elliott 0.1, RUSHED 0.2
BULLDOGS: Crameri 4.0, Jones 3.0, Tutt 2.0, Hunter 1.2, Boyd 1.1, Griffen 1.1, Giansiracusa 1.1, Young 1.0, Murphy 1.0, Picken 1.0, Higgins 1.0, Minson 0.1, Stevens 0.1, Jong 0.1

BEST PLAYERS
GIANTS: Giles, Hampton, Greene, Hunt
BULLDOGS: Boyd, Higgins, Williams, Macrae, Jones, Crameri, Young, Tutt

VOTES
3: Matthew BOYD (Dogs)
2: Shaun HIGGINS (Dogs)
1: Tom WILLIAMS (Dogs)

OFFICIALS
FIELD: (11) Matthew “Def” LEPPARD, (22) Stuart WENN, (26) Jason ARMSTRONG (EM: (43) Brent PAWLEY)
BOUNDARY: Michael MARANTELLI, Scott GORDON, Adam COOTE, Luke ROBERTS
GOAL: Rose O’DEA, Dale PUREN

CROWD: 7863 (About 1500 less than the Raiders vs Knights NRL game that started 90 minutes earlier)

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. matt watson says

    Mick,
    I cringed when I read about your hamstring and uttered two words – poor bugger…
    Such a shame about your marathon attempt. I am supposed to be training for the Gold Coast Marathon, but the lingering pain of knee surgery will reduce my race to the half marathon.
    I played footy in Rockhampton a while ago, or something that resembled footy. It was more a game of ‘punch the bloke with the ball’ and me being passive, I didn’t do much punching but did a fair whack of receiving…
    I understand why you want to run.
    Foolishly, I tipped GWS. Like your hamstrings, the Giants tightened up in the third quarter.

  2. kath presdee says

    I can’t help but think what would have been the result if we had Mumford in the ruck rather than being a late withdrawal.

    The Giants are yet to master how to keep your opponent at bay when you get to a decent lead and could not keep up with a Dogs side who wanted to win it more.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Mick,
    I’m pleased for you that the Dogs managed to complete the assignment. It’s modest consolation for the terrible disappointment of your body betraying you in the marathon. In a way that’s the worst point it could happen; a few kilometres further on, and you might be able to hobble/walk to the finish; if it happens in the early stages, you haven’t made the same level of physical investment – other than in your training and preparation.
    I hope you manage to get back on the horse as soon as the hammies recover.

  4. I DID manage to stagger across the finish line for what it’s worth. Thanks for reminding me to do a race report on my blog, better do that to fill in some Good Friday time.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Mick bugger the footy to have finished a marathon after getting cramp in both hammys at the 31 K mark is a fantastic achievement well played Sir !
    By the way good summary of the game

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