By JESS WEBSTER
It was a season of two halves for the GIANTS as they narrowly missed out on a finals berth with a strong run home.
Here is the GIANTS season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 7th
Last year: 10th
NEAFL Development Award
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
26: Harry Perryman
25: Nick Shipley
25: Aiden Bonar
17: Zach Sproule
15: Adam Kennedy
Snapshot: The GIANTS season began in exciting fashion enough with a thrilling four-point win over Sydney in Round 1, but a five-game losing streak brought them back to the bottom of the pack by mid-season. The GIANTS moved as high as fifth on the ladder with five consecutive wins from Rounds 8-13 in a big turnaround. However, with only two more victories and a draw from their last seven games, the GIANTS slipped out of finals contention.
Highlight: There was a lot to like about the GIANTS 35-point win over defending premier Brisbane in Round 12 as their stunning resurgence back in to finals contention reached its peak. Leading from start to finish, the GIANTS victory was built from strong performers by several young starts. Harry Perryman (34 disposals, four goals), was sensational alongside the likes of Adam Kennedy, Aiden Bonar, Nick Shipley, Matt Buntine and academy members Lachlan Delahunty – who earned the NEAFL Rising Star nomination for the round.
Lowlight: In the final few rounds of the season, the GIANTS were down on AFL-listed stocks, but had a number to players ready to come back should the hold on and make finals. With just six AFL-listed players in Round 19, the GIANTS beat the SUNS by 70 points to keep their season alive. But the following week, they faltered against Sydney with the same number of AFL players to lost by 56 points. It got worse for the side in the final round, as they lost to Brisbane by 101 points to end their season.
Star Power: The GIANTS had several players carry the load at times throughout the season as injuries played a big role in the strength of their NEAFL side. Aiden Bonar made the NEAFL Team of the Year after a season where the first-year draftee averaged 21 disposals – 60 per cent of which were contested – 6.3 tackles and 6.5 clearances over 14 games. Isaac Cumming, Zach Sproule and Stein also took strides in their development over the course of the season.
What’s Next: It was a busy trade period for the GIANTS with Rory Lobb, Tom Scully, Will Setterfield and Dylan Shiel all traded out of the club in exchange for draft picks in a hit to the club’s depth again. Looking to their academy pipeline, ruckman Kieren Briggs looks a star of the future after winning the MVP Award for the Allies, plus the GIANTS Academy Player of the Year. Small forward Peatling and utility Riley Budd both earned NEAFL Rising Star nominations as they chase AFL Draft selection, and Liam Delahunty won the inaugural Westfund Academy Player Scholarship.
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