Jonathan Patton of the Giants grabs the ball in the air for his mark before scoring a goal.
Jonathan Patton of the Giants grabs the ball in the air for his mark before scoring a goal. DAVID MOIR

Going small has big rewards for Giants

THE Giants have flexed their premiership muscle with a comprehensive 67-point win over the Eagles at Spotless Stadium.

And in doing so, the competition has been put on notice.

The Ferrari may have stayed in the garage last weekend, but it was out and on the highway in fifth gear, driven predominantly by a brigade of smalls.

In the absence of injured duo Shane Mumford (ankle) and Jeremy Cameron (hamstring), the Giants looked as dangerous as the day they defeated Melbourne by 35 points in Canberra last month. And they were decidedly shorter.

Dual premiership player David King said it was a formula the Giants would be crazy to mess with.

"This is their second highest score for about 12 weeks," King said at halftime on Fox Footy, with the Giants having kicked nine goals.

"This is an obvious answer: to stay small. They don't need another cumbersome ruckman in there."

Rory Lobb assumed the role of dominant ruckman in the absence of Mumford, with Jon Patton pinch hitting for support.

Dawson Simpson had been floated as a potential inclusion for Mumford, but Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall said the decision to play Lobb in the ruck had been vindicated.

"It's funny because Lobb had been struggling up forward," Dunstall said.

"All of a sudden you get the freedom of running in the ruck, just attacking the ball, reading the play all over the ground and you get a chance to get involved a lot more."

As well as looking shorter, the Giants' pressure was outstanding.

At halftime they'd laid eight tackles inside 50. In 2017 they've only averaged 12 tackles inside 50 per game.

"That's the smalls factor," King said.


Steve Johnson of the Giants celebrates scoring a goal during the AFL semi final match between the GWS Giants and West Coast Eagles at the Spotless Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, September 16, 2017.  (AAP Image/David Moir) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Steve Johnson of the Giants celebrates scoring a goal. DAVID MOIR

Veteran Steve Johnson, one of the two inclusions alongside draftee Tim Taranto, kicked four third-quarter goals to show he's not done yet. By the end of the night he'd have six - his greatest return in any final.

While the trademark Johnson moves were all there - the crumbing goals, the spinning marks - it was the former Cats' pressure that stood out.

West Coast's Jeremy McGovern was marking everything in the first term and looked like a probable villain were the Giants to lose at home.

But Johnson employed all his guile to block McGovern or at least put some body contact on the All-Australian defender to ensure his intercept ability was limited.

Brownlow Medal winner Gerard Healy said quelling McGovern would hold the Giants in good stead given they would need to do the same against Richmond's Alex Rance next week.

"(McGovern) has been a significant player again tonight," Healy said.

"And what's interesting is that if the Giants go on and play Richmond next week they've got practice against the man Rance they're going to run into.

"You've got to get a McGovern or a Rance in a duel situation where they're second guessing."

Brett Deledio will play his 250th match against his former club in a game that will see either Richmond or GWS progress through to a grand final.

It's a storyline that's set to dominate the week, with Deledio facing the Tigers for the first time as a Giant.