I'll start this off with a few words about the Greater Western Sydney Giants. I don't like them. Not because they're any good, they're fairly average, but more because they are a soulless corporate entity that the AFL are pouring money and time into in a shameless exercise to move into the western suburbs of Sydney. This made up club, that count themselves lucky if they can draw more than 10,000 people to their boutique stadium, has been given enormous draft concessions at the expense of the traditional clubs that actually made the AFL.
That's their logo and their colours. I'm not joking. They paid someone (probably an advertising agency) good money to come up with that. What a joke!
Despite my personal opinion that the Giants are no good, will never succeed and after having millions upon millions poured into them by the governing body will eventually cease to exist and join University and the Fitzroy Football Club as the only VFL/AFL teams to do so, they haven't had a bad season and were a threat.
Games like this bother me. It stems from years of disappointment as a Richmond supporter. We faltered against West Coast after the Fremantle win and would the same thing happen following the great Sydney victory?
People were seeing it as a lay down misere, and it wasn't. The Giants have fallen away a bit after their encouraging opening to the season, largely due to some unforeseen injuries, but they've still got a very talented young list.
Despite being a rather uninspiring matchup (the Giants would have to have close to the lowest membership in the AFL, if not the absolute lowest) it was still an important game with plenty at stake. The Tigers and the Giants were locked on the same amount of points from games won at 28 each, with Richmond being higher on the ladder courtesy of a superior percentage. The winner would go a game clear and climb a rung or two, the loser would possibly fall out of the 8. Once a team falls out at this point of the season, it's damn hard to get back in.
The entire round was rather sombre due to the tragic events surrounding the murder of Adelaide coach Phil Walsh. No songs before or after the match and no banners, each side marked the passing of the coach with a minute's silence before the game and a minute after where they huddled together in a circle.
The wet cold Melbourne day did nothing to lighten anyone's mood.
The first quarter was a scrappy affair, and the Tigers looked rather lack lustre. The quarter reached no great heights as a spectacle and the Giants eked out a small lead.
No panic stations, Richmond haven't won many first quarters and they've overcome bigger deficits to win some of their games this year. Kicking for goal was pretty awful though and both the umpires and the commentators seemed to be willing GWS on. A bit about the commentators here. It was one of the most shockingly biased calls I've ever heard. (I don't include the guys from the old 3GL and K-Rock, because they were Geelong based and only ever called Cats games, and I let the South Australians out of it, because half the time I'm sure they're taking the piss). There had to have been a directive from the AFL to make them talk up the Giants. The entire team should honestly be ashamed of themselves for that call.
The Giants also led at half time. I could even cop that, but despite Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin, busting a gut to keep the Tigers in it, they still took a 15 point lead into the last quarter.
That must have been the final straw for Damien Hardwick. He's had the occasional dummy spit during a game. I've seen him throw water bottles and smash the phone on the desk, but he's generally fairly calm when he gives the address in the huddle. Not this time. He had a forehead vein going that would have done David Parkin proud, he shouted and even pushed a couple of players. This was some passion!
Trent Cotchin really took it to heart. For the second week in a row, the captain stepped up and said to his players 'C'mon boys! Follow me!' He was unstoppable. Alex continued to defend gallantly, and I have to pay some credit to the unfashionable Jake Batchelor. Cam McCarthy has been a handy and dangerous forward for the Giants this year, and Jake kept him to two touches for the game. Can't ask for much more than that from a second tier defender. Riewoldt remained dangerous and creative, but the guy who really took it away from the Giants was Shane Edwards, one goal was pure magic. Sharked the tap out in the centre, ran away from the pack, bounced once, got to just inside the centre square and then let go with a big bomb from outside 60 and it sailed through. It was like that was the catalyst and it broke the Giants. Edwards also kicked the final goal that put the Tigers up by more than a goal. This is what good sides do, they find a way to win.
Shane Edwards celebrates after his match winning goal.