By Myles Stedman (NEAFL Media)
The GIANTS have secured an important NEAFL victory over Sydney University, running away with the game in the final quarter at Spotless Stadium to win by 55 points.
The game remained relatively close through the first three quarters until the GIANTS pulled away in the last, solidifying their finals charge as they draw level on points with the sixth-placed Brisbane Lions with the 20.12 (132) to 11.11 (77) victory.
“We seem to play well when we lose players,” GIANTS coach Adam Schneider joked after the game.
“We had no-one on the bench in the last quarter, so to fight it out like that was sensational.
“They’re a good team, in that first half they cut us apart, so it’s a credit to our boys to hang in there and fight the fight, I couldn’t be happier with how the game ended.”
Schneider made mention of how important the win was for his club, but also that the league’s pressures would not get to his young side.
“Everyone looks at the ladder, and you don’t shy away from that, but you can’t get caught up in that,” he said.
“We just focused today on the two hours we needed to, we break it down into quarter-by-quarter, contest-by-contest.
“One of our biggest strengths when we play well are our contests; we had 84 tackles today – that’s how you win games of footy.”
The game started at a furious pace, the GIANTS opening with two goals in the first six minutes, which was swiftly matched by their opponents.
University’s Jacob Derickx was quick to expose the slow-footed Lachlan Keeffe with a pair of his own, though he could’ve had more, sending another two opportunities to the left of the sticks.
Despite a fairly equal amount of scoring opportunities, it was the GIANTS who made better use of theirs, 6.1 besting the Students’ 2.5 in the first quarter to open up a 21-point lead.
Aidan Bonnar’s line-breaking ability and Dylan Buckley’s goal-sense in particular were causing the visitors trouble, the two combining on multiple occasions to create opportunities for the men from the west.
The home side took their 21-point advantage to the half-time break, Harry Perryman registering 18 disposals and Matt de Boer doing the dirty work with 16 touches to go with seven tackles.
For Uni, Derickx had added another goal to bring his total to three while Tom Young remained dangerous as ever with 17 disposals.
It looked like the game may have gotten away from Sydney University halfway through the third quarter, with GWS blowing the margin out to five goals, but three in a row from the visitors kept them within three majors.
Derickx brought up his first five-goal haul for the season, almost single-handedly keeping his team without shouting distance at three-quarter time.
What gains had been made in the third quickly evaporated in the last, the GIANTS kicking seven of the last eight goals to finish over the top of their more fancied opponent.
Disappointed with his team, Sydney Uni coach Tom Morrison insisted he was not panicked or worried about how far his group may be behind others.
“All we can do about today’s performance is focus on the areas we didn’t do well and address them, we need to be playing our best football in four weeks time regardless of where we finish,” he said.
“Two weeks ago the general consensus would’ve been we were nowhere near it, but then we came to play last week as one of the top two or three teams. The gap between our best and our worst footy needs to be smaller than it is at the moment.”
However, Morrison did insist his team needed a shift in their approach to the game.
“Attitude. It was just that today,” he said.
“We were beaten comprehensively at the contest, they had far better appetite for the physical elements of the game.
“They smacked as at the clearance, they beat us up around the ball, the contested ball numbers were massively in their favour. It was a massively effort-based win by the team today.”
The GIANTS will have to continue on the fight for finals without defender Tim Mohr, who went off early in the second quarter and did not return.
Sydney University travels to Brisbane next week to take on Redland, whilst the GIANTS have the bye.
Sydney University v GIANTS at Spotless Stadium
GIANTS 6.1 10.3 13.7 20.12 (132)
SYDNEY UNI 2.4 6.7 10.9 11.11 (77)
GOALS – Giants: Z Sproule 5 M De Boer 3 D Buckley 3 R Pollock 2 T Green A Bonar S Driscoll L Delahunty D Lloyd J Peatling T Evans. Sydney Uni: J Derickx 5 N Reinhard 3 N Foster T Young C Bird.
BEST – Giants: M De Boer Z Sproule H Perryman A Bonar D Lloyd J Stein. Sydney Uni: J Derickx T Barton N Reinhard A Day J Bartholomaeus S Barkley.