GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) conquered their first trip to Narrandera with a 33-point demolition of West Coast on Saturday.
The homecoming for the Giants’ six Riverina products could hardly have gone better as they all played their part in GWS’s victory in front of 3984 fans at Narrandera Sportsground.
An explosive start from the Giants put them on top, before the Eagles worked their way back into the contest through the middle two quarters.
GWS then finished as they started, controlling the final term to run out comfortable winners, 10.10 (70) to 5.7 (37).
Giants forward Jon Patton led the charge with three goals in a powerful display in attack, while stand-in captain Josh Kelly accumulated a match-high 29 disposals.
Matt Kennedy was the pick of Riverina’s home-grown products, gathering 22 touches, while Harry Himmelberg was strong in defence and also gathered 16 disposals.
Zac Williams was busy across half-back and through the midfield, but came off with an adductor concern late in the game.
GWS coach Leon Cameron loved every minute of the Giants’ first Narrandera experience.
“Obviously it was great for us. We come in here last night at about 7 o’clock and the supporters here were great,” Cameron said.
“It’s really good for us because it’s an area that’s obviously in our academy zone, there’s a number of our boys that are from this area, or whether it be an hour, hour and a half away, so the families and the supporters have really turned out...and it was a really good atmosphere.
“Also, credit to the local guys who prepared the ground, I thought it was in absolute cracking nick.”
The Giants brought an inexperienced squad to Narrandera for their opening pre-season hit-out of 2017, and still came away with a strong victory, over a fellow highly-rated premiership prospect.
The talent of the Giants’ young brigade and second stringers on display on Saturday showed how much talent and depth GWS possess.
Cameron said the performance of his team at Narrandera sent a message to the more experienced players at home.
“It’s good to play 100 minutes of footy, great that a number of our young guys got opportunity, good game time, which puts pressure on some of the guys sitting at home,” Cameron said.
“They start their campaign in a couple of weeks but the good thing about it is there in probably a dozen players that put their hand up to say ‘hey, have a look at me over the JLT series because I might be ready for round one’.
“So that’s a real positive thing.”
Cameron was not as fussed about the result.
“It’s good to win a game, we want to win any game, and it beats losing, but I also understand that there is a lot of experimenting going on in this series,” Cameron said.
“Players will play in different positions, West Coast would have tried a number of players in positions like we did as well, so I’m mindful that the real stuff starts in four of five weeks and we use this as preparation for that because we’ve got a really, really tough start to our season with Adelaide in round one over there so we’re mindful of that.
“But it’s good to get away with the result.”
- For faces in the crowd, don’t miss our off-field gallery from Ron Arel