GEOFF HARRIS observes some giant strides taking place in the two drawn games over the past two weeks:
Perhaps the two AFL draws the past two weekends are more significant than immediately realised. The youngest club, the Greater Western Sydney Giants, drew firstly with Geelong and then Hawthorn – the two superpowers of this century (in the other order if judged on premierships rather than simply number of games won).
So, the newest boys on the block, at a club that only entered the competition in 2012, were able to draw with not just anyone but the mighty Cats and Hawks, with seven flags between them in recent years.
Yes, the Hawks are not what they were earlier this decade, but what looked dire for them early this season has turned out to be nowhere near as bad.
Indeed, some of the fresh faces they’ve injected since the departures of Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis have shown a lot more than mere potential.
The draw the Giants emerged with last round, after trailing by 15 points at three-quarter time and kicking six goals to go 13 points up in the last term, came at a ground, Launceston’s York Park, that is far more of a fortress for the Hawks than Subiaco ever has been for the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers.
Sure, the Giants ultimately were a little lucky not to have gone down by a point with the appeals of the Hawthorn players for a rushed behind right on full-time being disallowed.
The previous round, at home in Sydney, the Giants stormed back with a 21-point unanswered run after trailing by 20 eight minutes into the last term.
There was luck for them that day too, with Geelong’s Tom Hawkins missing a shot after the siren that would have won the game for the Cats, the main Victorian challenger for this year’s flag, but instead left the scores level.
While Geelong and the Hawks shape up to each other this Saturday in what has become the AFL’s major blockbuster in recent years, the draws of the past two weeks were perhaps symbolic that the Giants are now very much level with the modern superpowers – and with more upside than the Victorian stalwart clubs.
The Giants have lost only three games this season – one less than ladder leader Adelaide (one of the three teams to have beaten them, at Adelaide Oval in round one, while their other conquerors have been mid-pack St Kilda and, somehow, bottom-four side Carlton).
Sydney’s other team, the Swans, have come with a withering burst after losing six games straight for starters this season to now be in the eight at 8-7.
Just hours after the Cats and Hawks do battle at the MCG, the Sydney derby on Saturday night may be a portend of where the on-field powerbase in the AFL is now going to be.
Author: Geoff Harris
Motor racing – of all sorts – and Australian Football are the sporting passions, even obsessions, of GEOFF HARRIS, the journo known to family, friends and Sun News-Pictorial, Herald Sun and sportshounds.com.au colleagues as Harry.