By JESS WEBSTER
It was a tough season for GIANTS at NEAFL level, but we caught a glimpse of the future with a number of players earning AFL debuts and the next generation of academy members making their mark.
Here is the GIANTS’ season in review.
By the Numbers
Ladder position: 10th
Last year: 1st
NEAFL Development Award
Top 5 NEAFL MVP votes
27: Matthew Kennedy
27: Will Setterfield
22: Daniel Lloyd
17: Harry Perryman
15: Jeremy Finlayson
Snapshot: Wins were hard to come by for the GIANTS this year as injuries took their toll on the club’s depth at NEAFL level, averaging just nine AFL-listed players this season. They began the year with a comfortable 28-point win over Gold Coast in Round 1 at home, but from there victories dried up. A run of 13 consecutive losses was broken with a morale-boosting win over Sydney University in Round 17, but by season’s end the GIANTS had recorded their worst ever finish in the NEAFL.
Highlight: The GIANTS were starved of success for most of the year, but received a big boost heading in to their Round 17 clash against the Students at Blacktown with the returns of Brett Deledio and Stephen Coniglio from long-term injuries. The GIANTS trailed at the first break but hit the front by half-time. In a match which featured the class of Deledio and Coniglio, in addition to four goals from GIANTS Academy member Mathew Walker and top performances from young talent Harry Himmelberg and Isaac Cumming, the GIANTS held on for a thrilling 13-point win.
Lowlight: The GIANTS hadn’t beaten NT Thunder since Round 14, 2014, but were confident of breaking the drought when they hosted the Territorians in the corresponding round this season. The GIANTS trailed by as much as 28 points midway through the third term before storming home. No more than 10 points separated the sides in a frantic last quarter, and had a two-point advantage after Harry Perryman missed a shot on goal at the 28-minute mark. But NT Thunder regained possession, and went the length of the field in time for Francis Kinthari to mark 45m out moments before the siren. He coolly slotted the goal in a heart-breaking finish for the GIANTS.
Star Power: There perhaps hasn’t ever been a season dominated by a ruckman in the NEAFL moreso than Dawson Simpson. The sole GIANT to make the Team of the Year, Simpson led the total hit-outs with 726, with an average of 48.4 per game, and an average hit-outs to advantage of 14.4. He was superb following up around the ground with great pressure and presence, averaging six tackles and eight contested possessions per match.
Next Generation: Although injuries were the theme of the GIANTS season, it opened the door for the up-and-coming academy talent to make their mark. Allies squad member Brendan Myers earned a Rising Star nomination as did Canberra product Jack Powell, while 17-year-old Jeromy Lucas made an impressive debut with three goals against NT Thunder in Round 14, and Mathew Walker continued his rapid development. Throw in the eye-catching performances of first-year players Isaac Cumming, Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman and Lachlan Tiziani, and there is plenty for the GIANTS to look forward to in 2018.
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