The emerging GWS Giants are showing they can win without their “mummy” and contest better and for longer against leading AFL sides.
An impressive 34-point win on Friday over local rivals Sydney highlighted the continued development of the fifth-year franchise under coach Leon Cameron.
The Swans fielded a strong side including most of their leading midfielders but were swept away by a feisty, fast and robust Giants outfit.
GWS maintained their dominance even after hugely influential ruckman Shane Mumford left the field in the second quarter as a precautionary measure after reporting knee soreness.
Emerging youngster Rory Lobb stepped up and the Giants didn’t miss a beat.
Last season the Giants were 7-3 until Mumford got injured and 4-8 after he went down.
“I think what was pleasing was Rory Lobb and Adam Tomlinson going into the ruck and playing really good roles,” Cameron said.
“We can’t always rely on Shane to be your number one ruck every week. We want that to happen, but it’s not going to happen all the time.
“He’s 29 years old and he’s been battered around a fair bit.
“He’s had a good pre-season, touch wood he’s going to be right for next week, but time will only tell.”
Another positive from Friday’s game for Cameron was the improvement from their previous hitout in the vital contested football area.
“The contested side of our game was better, last week in Canberra that was probably an area the Bulldogs showed us up,” Cameron said.
“Last year it was particularly bad at times, so competing that one-on-one, two-v-two footy I thought that was probably the most pleasing thing out of the game.”
Prize recruit Steve Johnson enjoyed a strong first run in Giants colours, kicking a match-high three goals and racking up 17 disposals and proved much more than just a scoring threat.
“Some of his forward pressure hits to upset the opposition [were] pleasing,” Cameron said.
“We know he’s always going to hit the scoreboard. If you have a small or medium forward that’s going to kick two or three goals a game, it’s a bonus.
“He’s gelled in really well and backed up his pre-season. It’s pleasing to see him get on the board early.”
Cameron was pleased with the performances of his tall backs against the Swans and the increasing depth and competition among his rebounding defenders.
“For us to get better we’ve got to have a really good stable back six or seven and there’s a lot of boys putting their hands up to play,” Cameron said.
He intends fielding his strongest available side for next week’s final pre-season hitout agains Brisbane.
“It will be full steam ahead. We’re not good enough or absolutely competitive enough to flirt with anything,” Cameron said.