GWS Giants still have a “questionable” record on the road, but Sunday’s game against North Melbourne is one the flag contender must win, writes Mick McGuane.
The Giants have to ambush North Melbourne at Blundstone Arena on Sunday and in the words of Ross Lyon they need to become ‘an anywhere, anytime team.’
That’s the attitude they must embrace from the start. And the reality is good teams don’t lose two in a row.
It requires a strong collective and individual mindset.
North Melbourne have won three on the trot. They’re in good form.
Their pressure game, contested game, forward half game, are all positive. On the back of that they have become a high scoring team.
The Giants must be ready both physically and mentally for the barrage that’s coming at them.
They can ill afford to revisit the inconsistency of effort in the first quarter of the Adelaide game last week.
On the road their record is still questionable, currently 3-4. They have to eradicate that on-the road issue they’ve got.
I think the Giants are clearly a top-four team coming up against a team that might make a play for a top eight or even help shape the top eight. These are the games you must win.
A huge part of their brand was challenged versus Adelaide and that was their contested ball. They got beaten by minus 20 by game’s end.
Contested ball is the Giants way, it’s in their DNA, it’s something they stand for. But last week I felt they got taken to the cleaners at critical periods in the game. Leon Cameron would be all over that this week. When you get comprehensively beaten it pricks the competitor and generally spikes them into a positive performance next time. On the back of a strong review, individual tape analysis, team analysis, a focus point for them against North Melbourne would be to win contested ball. North Melbourne clearly have some individuals that lead the way in Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Jed Anderson who relish the contest.
Enter for your chance to win two tickets to the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand FinalStart Survey
The great Leigh Matthews, who coached me for 11 years at Collingwood, often spoke about not just the ability to tackle but making it an effective tackle.
I felt broken tackles killed GWS last week. There were too many spaghetti arms in the tackle. They couldn’t hold on to what we call ‘the ball and all’ tackle, where you wrap them up into your body, no room to move. When they’re broken, the opposition still have the chance to win territory or be creative with their ball use. Stopping momentum is a must. GWS must have a strong intent to tackle. Hunt in numbers is a priority to pressure the North Melbourne ball carrier.
So in all areas the coach’s simple message is to start well, we must outcompete North Melbourne and our tackles must stick. And on the back of that, as simple as it sounds, the giants will get their game going.
Robbie Tarrant will go to Jeremy Cameron. Can Cameron hit the scoreboard against a very solid defender? That could be the difference between winning and losing.
Matt De Boer and Jacob Hopper will probably work in tandem against Cunnington to nullify his influence and that will be pivotal.
Then you’ve coach (Rhyce) Shaw versus (the Giants’ Heath) Shaw and that family game within a game.