He’s had his best year yet, but Greater Western Sydney forward Jon Patton has put a bigger emphasis on the rising AFL club’s near-miss season than his own improvement.
Sidelined by injuries for much of his first four seasons, only one of which he played in more than seven games, Patton in 2016 started to consistently deliver on the potential that prompted the Giants to take him with first selection in the 2011 draft.
He missed only their first game of the year and finished with career season highs in games (23), goals (38) and marks (131).
Patton’s radar improved after a ropy start.
He kicked 4.6 in his first five games and 34.10 during his subsequent 18 matches.
Although held goalless in the club’s historic first finals win over cross-town rivals Sydney, Patton booted 15 goals in three games either side of that victory, bagging four in the preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.
“I could have marked some balls that I dropped, little moments,” Patton told AAP.
“But you don’t really feel like you’ve played a good game or a decent game when you lose like that.
“I’ve played pretty much every game, which I haven’t done in the past, so it’s good to do that.”
While a preliminary final appearance represented a significant spike in improvement by a team that had never finished higher than 11th, Patton made it clear the Giants weren’t satisfied.
“It’s been an amazing season, to go from not playing finals at all and not even really being in contention to getting to a preliminary final,” Patton said.
“It’s a good effort, but we all had one goal and we didn’t get that.
“It was a good year, but we were almost there.
“We’ve just got to buckle up for next year and remember this feeling.
“We’ll just learn from it and to get ready for a big pre-season.”
GWS had only five goalkickers against the Bulldogs, a marked contrast with the multiple scoring threats they had through the season.
Jeremy Cameron (53) Toby Greene (44) and Steve Johnson (43) were prolific contributors, with Patton, Rory Lobb (29) and Tom Scully (23) chipping in regularly.
Cameron topped the Giants’ goal-kicking list for the fifth time in as many years of their AFL existence.
But in contrast with his game-breaking effort in the qualifying final win over Sydney, Cameron wasn’t a factor on Saturday, kicking just 0.1 and tallying only five disposals and one mark.