GWS Giants v Gold Coast
In a season which was renowned for its topsy-turvy opening month or so, the Gold Coast Suns have faltered time and again to wind up exactly where their fast 3-1 start had led some punters to believe Stewart Dew’s men had put in the rear-view mirror. Nobody could have confidently predicted, then, that the ladder-leading Cats would be taken almost to their limit at Metricon Stadium last Saturday night.
Scoring has been their crucial downfall, though, and the side ranked bottom for total points goes from the highest scoring team last week to the second highest in the form of GWS, whose form has been bolstered by several statement wins even without the lethal form of Jeremy Cameron. Jeremy Finlayson continues to impress as the second tall (and Jeremy) up forward with the likes of Jon Patton absent and has joined the pack that have cut Cameron’s Coleman Medal lead from as far as 17 goals to just six.
Jesse Robertson previews this intriguing battle in Sydney as the Featured Game of the 2019 AFL men’s season for Play On Radio:
These two sides have endured very different times in the last month. The Suns, after a Jack Bowes miracle enabled them to see off Carlton at the death, have dropped their last six since and in their last four have plateaued totally in their attacking output, with scores of 57, 60 and 51 before 64 in a strikingly competitive effort against the Cats which the final scoreline may not have accurately reflected. Ben Ainsworth was a bright spark early as Gold Coast took it to the ladder leaders but is now expected to miss up to six weeks after finishing the game in a moon boot.
Credit is deserved for the visitors this week for their gallantry in the face of arguably the best side in the league with only one loss – unfortunately, however, their hosts at Giants Stadium were responsible for that sole dent in the Cats’ season down in Geelong. GWS have produced four huge wins (and one hiccup in Melbourne against the Hawks) with a points difference of +171 and a huge average winning margin of 51 points in that time. Shane Mumford could be looking to lift a gear, though, after being outmuscled in the ruck and thoroughly beaten around the ground by Max Gawn last week.
The Suns’ tackling pressure on Geelong’s backline was tremendous, and in racking up 16 tackles inside 50, despite surprisingly being beaten in that count on the night, have asserted themselves as a forward pressure-based outfit with an average of 11.6 per game so far this season, ranked sixth in the AFL. While headlines involving Anthony Miles were mostly due to the strike against him by Gary Ablett, he looked strong in a difficult midfield battle with 23 disposals at 87% with four inside-50s and a whopping 13 clearances.
Jeremy Cameron remains at the forefront of vital attack-minded charts, continuing to lead the Coleman race while also boasting a competition-high 37 marks inside 50. Their first three quarters were clinical at the MCG before a late fade last week, once again registering a huge disparity in marks on the day and continuing to lead the league as one of two sides averaging more than 100 per match (and 24 more on average then Gold Coast, which may favour a more patient transition as they overcome the incessant pressure of the Suns’ front six).
The Giants may not win a lot of plaudits by delivering a modest victory but the Suns’ performance against the Cats last week could well indicate that Leon Cameron’s side could be dragged into a low-scoring catfight, meaning they’ll need to turn up anticipating more than a cakewalk and take their chances to eventually inflict the killer blow.
Giants by 23.