Greater Western Sydney travels down to Hobart to face North Melbourne who are coming off a tight one-point loss to Geelong. The Giants are essentially heading into this contest without a game since Round 1 (c'mon Gold Coast, that was a deplorable effort last week). The GWS boys would be happy with a slight tune-up game before they play a decent team - I say ‘slight' because I also thought the Giants were not 100 percent against the Suns.
Co-captain Phil Davis lines up for his 100th game after an up and down career so far with injuries; a massive milestone for him and the club. After Davis terrorised Suns' captain Tom Lynch all day last game, expect him to line up and take on Big Ben Brown this week. Leon Cameron has loved the start of Davis' season, after seeing a more aggressive approach to his game this year:
"He's had a really good pre-season, Phil, he wants to be a really good centre-half-back/full-back, and he's started off the year really, really well".
"I think he's building his game by not just defending really well, he wants the ball in his hands a little bit more as well".
The Giants are flying down with an unchanged squad for Saturday meaning Jon Patton is left behind after his late omission (groin soreness/hip) from the team last week. A Patton-less forward line inflicted no harm to the teams scoring potency after the team posted 160 against the Suns: the Giants' highest ever score and winning margin. I don't think Leon Cameron will be poking around too much with his forward structure right now. The Giants forward line has found a potent combination that has worked: the likes of Devon Smith and Toby Greene starting the season strong as small forwards has allowed Jeremy Cameron to attack the ball confidently. With a Patton-less forward half, Cameron can fully embrace the space of the 50 and stamp it as his own as he did in his performance against the Suns with 12 marks and six goals. With North Melbourne's Scott Thompson rubbed out for this game, expect Cameron to take full advantage of the depleted Roos' defence.
The Giants' internal focus this week would be to ensure when a scoreboard lead is leaning their way, they do not drop their work rate. A 10-minute dramatic drop in work rate against the Suns in the second quarter last week (losing the quarter as well) allowed a sniff of a potential comeback for the visitors. If the Giants switch off in contested possessions and defensive pressure for a similar amount to last week, it will certainly invite North Melbourne well into the game.
Watching North Melbourne give up a 32 point lead to the Cats, tells me the younger squad of Roos aren't the strongest finishers of games. They also let the Eagles have the better of them in the second half of their opening game indicating that their fitness levels are not elite as of yet. The Giants having a top class midfield of Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel, and Callan Ward should enable them to outrun the Roos in this part of the game.
Brown has started the season in fine form. Opening his 2017 season with five goals and averaging six marks thus far and he has provided the Roos with a strong target up forward. Brown wouldn't have had many games in his short career without Drew Petrie (West Coast) and Jarrad Waite (injured) featuring in the forward 50. Expect him to be given space from his teammates and feel unrestricted as he is now the leading man. The competition hasn't seen this Ben Brown yet.
Higgins is dominating the North Melbourne midfield and seems to be one of the primary accumulators of the ball. Higgins' disposal efficiency has been in the upper echelon of the competition for midfielders plus he loves floating forward and kicking a goal, which makes him a serious weapon for the Roos. Higgins has big body support from Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell allowing him to move freely. If he gets a move on early in the game, don't be surprised to see the Giants put some physical pressure on him.
It's A Big Game For
If you haven't heard the goss around town, the spotlight has been placed on Josh Kelly regarding his playing future (yes, this is only Round 3). Kelly has been rumoured to have been offered a 9-year contract at a high dollar rate from North Melbourne. Kelly has been in super condition and is looking primed for a big season in the midfield, having been in the best players for both games so far this year. It will be interesting to see how he plays after a week in the papers. Living in Greater Western Sydney, these Giant boys aren't used to the media attention compared to the Victorian footballers. I hope he shows out in an excellent performance in front of his interested buyers.
Johnson was stuck on 499 goals last week, and will definitely be wanting to get that 500 goal milestone quickly out of the way against North Melbourne. Stevie J was back to his usual level of performance, kicking three goals against the Suns. I'm sure he'll be putting the foot down to create more solid performances like last week to redeem himself from the suspension that cost him a preliminary final game last year. I'd imagine Stevie J would be dreaming and planning all of the potential goals he can kick this week to surpass his milestone. Expect a few big goals coming up!
The history between these clubs has suggested the Roos match up pretty well against the Giants winning four of the last five games. GWS have only travelled once to Hobart, and that was in their inaugural season. North Melbourne will certainly have the home ground advantage, but I can't see the class of the Giants failing this time. The Roos defence looks shaky to me, and vulnerable for another fourth quarter massacre. Leon Cameron will want to make sure his team gets a win on the road after a poor showing against the Crows. The Giants should win comfortably.