• Match Preview: GWS Giants v Sydney Swans

    By Alison Zell

    Saturday March 24, 7.20pm, ANZ Stadium



    B: Tomas Bugg, Phil Davis, Adam Kennedy
    HB: Jack Hombsch, Tim Mohr, Will Hoskin-Elliot
    C: Rhys Palmer, Callan Ward, Chad Cornes
    HF: Nathan Wilson, Israel Folau, Stephen Coniglio
    F: Curtly Hampton, Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith
    Foll: Jonathan Giles, Dylan Shiel, James McDonald

    I/C: Jacob Townsend, Toby Greene, Adam Tomlinson, Dom Tyson

    Emg: Steve Clifton, Sam Reid, Thomas Downie


    B: Nicholas Smith, Heath Grundy, Martin Mattner
    HB: Andrejs Everitt, Ted Richards, Alex Johnson
    C: Nick Malceski, Kieren Jack, Craig Bird
    HF: Jarrad McVeigh, Adam Goodes, Luke Parker
    F: Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Sam Reid, Ben McGlynn
    Foll: Shane Mumford, Jude Bolton, Josh Kennedy

    I/C: Daniel Hannebery, Gary Rohan, Lewis Jetta, Harry Cunningham

    Emg: Mark Seaby, Nathan Gordon, Mitch Morton

    The game:

    The derby, showdown, battle for the bridge ? Whatever you want to call it, Saturday night?s match is a historic night in football, especially in Sydney.

    In the Swans? thirtieth year in Sydney, there is a new team in town and Round One marks the Greater Western Sydney Giants? debut in the national AFL competition.

    This game has been given top billing ? a stand-alone fixture to kick off the 2012 AFL season and with a crowd of 40,000 expected, the eyes of the footballing world will be on ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

    The Giants are the unknown quantity. Coached by the mercurial Kevin Sheedy ? arguably, one of the greatest minds in the game ? with a Rugby League convert at full forward and many of their prized recruits out injured.

    They are a team who have recruited a group of established players to join the best teenagers in the country, but a bona fide star of the equivalent of Ablett at the Suns is yet to emerge.

    The Swans have enjoyed a largely successful pre-season, recruiting some new and exciting prospects, with improvements from the younger brigade and a relatively short injury list.

    All seems to be going swimmingly for the Swans but they will be hungry for more after consecutive seasons finishing sixth.

    The Swans will be hoping the additions of Walsh, Morton and Armstrong to the younger brigade of Reid, Parker, Hannebery, Rohan and Johnson and the new kids in Cunningham, Mitchell and Lockyer, will be able to take the team to the next level.

    The Giants will be given time to succeed and with 17 debutants, no-one is giving them much hope this weekend. But this Saturday night we will get our first look at the stars of the future and a team that could well be dominating the competition in years to come.

    Regardless of the final score, the first game between Sydney?s two teams will be monumental for AFL in NSW, both now and in the future.

    Pre-season form:

    GWS: Won v. Gold Coast (13 points). Losses v. Western Bulldogs (5 points), Collingwood (3 points), Hawthorn (74 points), Richmond (74 points)

    Swans: Wins v. St Kilda (30 points), Kangaroos (17 points), Gold Coast (19 points). Losses v. Geelong (16 points), Essendon (2 points)

    Pre-season form is always hard to pick and this year more than ever, the focus has been on getting game time in to players rather than winning.

    The Giants started their campaign very competitively, going down to the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood by just a few points and proving a few doubters wrong.

    They were brought back down to earth the following week, run off their feet against Hawthorn and going down by 74 points. Sydney?s newest team scored their first win of 2012 against the Suns in a tight match before going down to an impressive Richmond side in the nation?s capital.

    The NAB Cup gave us our first look at the young Giants who were without their older stars for many of the matches and although they are young, there is no doubt they are talented.

    The Swans looked impressive against St Kilda in their first hit out for the year before going down to a strong Geelong outfit. It was a messy but solid win against the Kangaroos and another thriller against Essendon.

    Last week?s clash with Gold Coast proved an unexpectedly tough game but an impressive second half will hold the Swans in good stead for the opening round.


    The intrigue surrounding Israel Folau?s AFL debut became more intense this week after a clash with Tom Scully in last week?s pre-season game forced Scully ? the Giants? star recruit, out of this week?s game with a fractured cheekbone.

    Veteran recruits Luke Power, Dean Brogan and Setanta O'hAilpin are also sidelined with injury.

    The Giants will have five players with AFL experience on the field on Saturday night ? Davis, McDonald, Palmer, Ward and Cornes ? with 17 players making their AFL debuts including top ten-draft picks Coniglio, Tyson, Hoskin-Elliott and Tomlinson.

    The Swans have a relatively short injury list but will miss the talents of Ryan O?Keefe across half forward after he suffered bone bruising in the off season. Rhyce Shaw will also miss this week after leaving the field with tightness in his back last week.

    Gary Rohan has been named in the team despite an injury scare last week but the real excitement for Swans fans comes with the debut of Harry Cunningham.

    The Wagga Wagga teenager was overlooked by the Giants at the end of last year and after the Swans picked him up very late in the rookie draft, he has gone from strength to strength to earn his place in the red and white on Saturday night.

    Key match-ups:

    Israel Folau v. Ted Richards

    The eyes of the entire AFL world and much of the NRL world will be watching Israel Folau on Saturday night with the powerful athlete expected to line up in the forward line. The league convert has shown promise after being thrown forward during last year?s NEAFL season. He is an incredibly impressive athlete with a giant leap and a fairly decent marking ability but is still very raw and has trouble reading the play. The AFL will be hoping he succeeds but the experience and nous of Richards should have him covered in Folau?s first professional AFL game.

    Rhys Palmer v. Adam Goodes

    With Scully out injured, the Giants midfield will be relying on Palmer and Ward to guide their young counterparts. At his best Palmer is a very strong midfielder and has the ability to provide the Giants with some great run through the middle. The Giants? biggest headache will be finding someone to run with Goodes. They may try Palmer on Goodes when he ventures through the middle as the younger Giants just won?t have the body strength to stay with the Swans veteran.

    Phil Davis v. Sam Reid

    Davis only played a handful of games for the Adelaide Crows before being poached by the Giants but the co-captain and former top-ten draft pick has shown he will be a mainstay of the Giants backline for a long time to come. He impressed in the pre-season and is the logical matchup for the Swans? young star in Reid. Reid wowed footy watchers last season with his agility and exceptional marking ability, his breakout season only dampened by some wayward kicking. After a pre-season spent adding bulk to his already impressive frame, Reid is primed for a big season and Davis will have to be on his game to contain him.

    Where the game will be won:

    We all know the Giants are a young side and it is true that they will struggle early this season but they have shown some promising signs when the contest is tough. It?s when the ball is spread quickly that the Giants find it hard to keep up.

    They will be primed for their very first outing as a team but enthusiasm can only take you so far and the Swans will run over them as the Giants? young stars run out of legs.

    This will be a great opportunity to see the Giants and we should have a much better understanding of where they are positioned by the end of this match. So too will we see if the Swans have improved their skills and devised a path forward that doesn?t just involve bombing the ball long.

    It should be a willing contest early before the Swans? experience and depth will blow the young Giants away.


    Swans by 84.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. GoSouth33's Avatar
      GoSouth33 -
      Great summary....
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