Greater Western Sydney host Port Adelaide in Canberra as their Homebush territory gets commandeered by the Easter celebrations this weekend. Manuka Oval is slowly becoming a strong second base for the Giants, with record crowds piling in for games the last few years for positive results with five wins coming from their last six games. The Giants will want to gain a similar result to last time they met the Power in Round 4 at Manuka Oval where they flogged Port by 86 points.
The Power have had a strong start to their 2017 campaign, by winning two games and coming close to their top of the ladder arch-rivals, Adelaide, last week. Ken Hinkley's lads have found more passion in their performances this year, making them more of a threat to top-tier teams such as the Giants.
Changes And Impacts
The Giants officially announced that defender Matt Buntine would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL (GWS defenders love long term injuries). A massive loss for the Giants, as Buntine was entering his prime as a shutdown defender. Buntine's injury leaves the door open for defender Aiden Corr, who just returned from his pre-season niggles, to cement a permanent spot in the Giants back six.
Steve Johnson has had to take time off the park to rest a knee bump he received last week against the Roos. Ryan Griffen is also out for an extended stint after he left the last game on crutches with an ankle injury. These omissions have given an opportunity for Matt Kennedy and Jonathan Patton to make their presence felt in the Giants outfit.
Kennedy returns to the line-up after spending two weeks in the NEAFL, and we should expect Leon Cameron to rotate him across the field featuring predominately in the centre square and replacing Stevie J's forward role.
Patton (The General) will plonk right back to his usual goal square position to exploit the smaller defence of Port this week, with Jackson Trengove leaving to assume the ruck duties.
The form of Johnson and Griffen was not amazing and may be a silver lining for the Giants. There is a massive queue of players knocking on Cameron's door on selection day with great performances in the NEAFL. The Giants personnel isn't fading, with the young players such as Kennedy and Tim Taranto gaining experience early in the season. You never know, these guys might be the players to steer the Giants into a successful finals campaign. It takes 30 players to help win a premiership, possibly 35 as the Bulldogs proved last season.
What Needs To Improve?
The kicking towards goal and to the forwards last week against the Kangaroos was not at an acceptable level for the Giants. Core midfielders will have to lift their efficiency if GWS are to kick 100 plus points. Conditions are occasionally breezy in Canberra but I'm sure the Giants are well prepared after their windy workout last week, and I expect them to capitalise their entries better in this contest against the Power.
I would not be surprised to see Ollie Wines up high in the Brownlow votes after Round 3. Wines' performances in the midfield have led the Power to both victories this season. Averaging over 30 disposals and six inside 50s a game places him in elite company. If the Power switches on, he will be the man connecting all their dots, but with the absence of Paddy Ryder, it might be a tough ask for Ollie to continue his sweet form.
It's A Big Game For
Being rated by the All-Australian selectors as one of the best midfielders last year, Scully is finally earning the respect from the media he deserves. Scully plays his 100th game for the club, the third player to reach this milestone. Scully spoke to GIANTS TV during the week about his milestone game:
"Upon quick reflection, it's been a great journey so far and one I've thoroughly enjoyed."
"We've got a really strong nucleus as a group and obviously over the years, we've added to that."
Scully hasn't been in the form of 2016 but is definitely due for a big game. With an almost assured victory in the ruck this week, expect lots of clean ball to land in Scully's hands this week.
Despite the experience lost this week in Johnson and Griffen, I'm expecting the Giants to come out firing here. The loss of Patrick Ryder is the difference in my eyes between a good Port Adelaide side and a bad one; his tap work and presentation around the ground has a massive influence on their contested ball movement. The Shane Mumford factor is too big for the Power to handle. GWS midfielders Callan Ward and Josh Kelly are in excellent form and will relish every stoppage that comes on Saturday afternoon. Giants by ten goals.