1. Stephen Coniglio
Such a critical player for the Giants. He works both ways, is terrific at the contest and continually knocks up getting the ball. Had 35 disposals, seven tackles, eight clearances and 11 score involvements and while he isn’t a red-light tagger, he probably will be asked to be mindful of Dustin Martin this week. There’s a bunch of match-ups to savour this week, but if Coniglio can restrict Martin to, say, 20 touches, then the Giants have a foot in the Grand Final.
2. No excuses
West Coast coach Adam Simpson was asked if his players were tired, if the overtime game against Port Adelaide had caught up with them and they were emotionally drained. Simpson didn’t reach for the excuse book.
“They were exceptional and we got nowhere near it,’’ he said. “We tried to work off the resilience and the spirit we’ve been working towards since the bye, it didn’t matter that we had to travel a couple of weeks in a row. Tonight we weren’t good enough.’’
Again, classy in defeat from a coach.
3. Cats on rebound
It is well documented how well the Cats respond after a defeat and it should be well documented that the Cats midfield isn’t just “Dangerwood”. With Patrick Dangerfield forward and Joel Selwood playing injured, the rest of the Cats midfield responded. The week before against Richmond, with Danger in the middle, Geelong lost the contested footy by 19 — their worst differential of the season. The Cats bounced back against Sydney, winning it by 25 — their fourth best differential of the season. They did it on the inside and outside. They won the uncontested possession count by 110, took 129 marks and 114 uncontested marks.
4. Zac Smith
Who knows how Chris Scott and Zac Smith combine to motivate the big ruckman, but when he’s up and about and aggressive he is vitally important to the Geelong midfield. Sometimes it seems Smith is going through the motions, other times he looks like he could play a role in Full Metal Jacket as a demonic infantry intern. Nineteen disposals, 10 contested, four clearances and six score involvements meant he, Taylor and Lachie Henderson were the three best big men on the ground.
1. Swans at the MCG
Much was made of Geelong’s record at the MCG compared to Simonds Stadium, but what of the Sydney players who continue to flounder on the game’s biggest stage. In finals played at the MCG since 2011, Dan Hannebery averages 74 ranking points from seven games, Luke Parker is 67 from seven games, Gary Rohan 45 from six games, Sam Reid 47 from four and Tom Papley 61 from three. The worry is the first two players, the major concern is Rohan, who everyone says has the wheels for the MCG but just can’t get it going there.
2. The coaching box
It’s easy in hindsight and from the cheap seats, but was Sydney coach John Longmire imaginative enough as the game slipped away in the second quarter? Reid back as the spare is his signature move, but maybe Lance Franklin up to a wing to scare the opposition and Parker one out at full-forward, a shut down to Duncan? Coaches have faith in their players, but this game changed quickly on the scoreboard and maybe Longmire had too much faith before the game was lost for good.
3. Lewis Jetta
Has regained respect in the footy world after some outstanding recent efforts and the Eagles needed another one from him if they were to beat the Giants. It didn’t happen. Just seven touches from him. Just 10 from Jamie Cripps. Jack Darling had a poor one. But it wasn’t their fault alone. If the Eagles midfield put in the necessary pressure the game could have flowed somewhat their way.
How many are going to say it? How many will acknowledge they got it wrong on Stevie J? He kicked six goals in a final when most observers said he should never play again. Can hear it now. That it was junk time after halftime, that he won’t go near it this week, that it was one last lightning bolt in a brilliant career. That’s OK, but at least acknowledge the champ stood up when he was told he couldn’t.