A number of young guns fired to stake their claim for an Opening Round spot as the GIANTS completed their first official match simulation for 2024 in a physical hit-out with the Swans at Tramway Oval on Thursday.

Completing four 30-minute quarters, a squad of 25 took on the Swans in enemy territory as the Swans ran out 16.16 (112) to 13.8 (86) winners in sizzling conditions.

Missing skipper Toby Greene due to the impending birth of his first child, Aaron Cadman and Jesse Hogan shone up forward with four goals each. Draftee Harvey Thomas and wingman Jacob Wehr put their names in contention for an Opening Round spot, while stars Tom Green, Sam Taylor and Jack Buckley all impressed throughout.

Formidable Duo

Last year Jack Buckley returned to the field after more than 600 days on the sideline to form a formidable defensive duo with All-Australian star Sam Taylor and if Thursday’s simulation is anything to go by then that partnership is only getting stronger.

Sam Taylor in action for the GIANTS.

Setting the tone early with an intercept mark each inside the opening minute of the game, both Buckley and Taylor shone throughout the remainder of the hit-out, with their ability to scrap, spoil and nullify their opponent’s impact on full display as they repelled countless forward half entries.

Harvey at Home

One of the key takeaways from Thursday’s match simulation was the performance of GIANTS draftee Harvey Thomas who despite his slight frame looked right at home in his first official AFL hit-out.

Taken with pick 59 in last November’s AFL Draft, the GIANTS Academy product showed he’s more than capable at the elite level with a lively performance across half forward, with his pressure, skills and work rate highlights of an impressive GIANTS debut.

During one passage in the second term, the 18-year-old received a handball from a teammate just outside 50 before delivering a kick lace out to a leading Aaron Cadman to give GIANTS fans a glimpse of an exciting future for the young pair.

Green Machine

There’s been a lot of hype around Tom Green heading into his fifth AFL season and the 23-year-old showed why with a starring performance against the Swans.

Appearing primed to stamp his authority on the competition, the midfield bull made his presence felt early with a big fend off on Swan Tom McCartin in the second term on his way to a brilliant outing, with his clean hands and stoppage work on show throughout.

Master and the Apprentice

Without skipper Toby Greene in the side there were goals on offer against the Swans and it was young gun Aaron Cadman and veteran Jesse Hogan who stood tall with eight goals combined.

Working his way into the game, Cadman finished off his hard work with four majors in an impressive display for the 2022 number one pick, as he looks to cement himself in the GIANTS’ Opening Round side and build on his strong 12-game debut season.

Aaron Cadman celebrates a goal for the GIANTS.

Entering his 12th AFL season, Hogan showed no signs of slowing down against the Swans with the crafty key forward working hard across all four quarters to create a formidable one-two punch alongside Cadman.

Kicking a career-high 49 majors last season, Hogan looks hungry and primed to continue the strong form he’s shown since moving across from the Dockers ahead of the 2021 season.

Wehr’s Wing?

Another standout in Thursday's match simulation was silky wingman Jacob Wehr. With 2023 GIANTS Rising Star winner Finn Callaghan out with a sore shoulder, Wehr made the most of his opportunity as he used his running power and pinpoint skills to full effect to be one of the GIANTS best.  

With competition extremely tight for positions for the Opening Round clash with Collingwood, Wehr certainly did his chances no harm with an impressive outing on Thursday against the Swans.

Orange Tsunami

Last year Adam Kingsley’s high-octane game plan captivated the footy world as the orange tsunami stormed its way into a preliminary final on the back of a high pressure, fast ball movement game plan. While the Swans were at times able to handle the orange tsunami - particularly in the first half - the GIANTS found their mojo for patches of the second half as a countless wave of runners spread across Tramway Oval in several impressive handball chains which often resulted in shots on goal for GIANTS forwards.

The GIANTS will now turn their attention to the Gold Coast Suns who they will host in an exciting match-up at Manuka Oval on Thursday, February 29 at 7:10pm.

The 2024 AAMI Community Series match will be the GIANTS final pre-season hit-out before hosting reigning premiers Collingwood for Opening Round at GIANTS Stadium on Saturday, March 9.