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Talking Points: Round 15

1. Late outs steal star power from both sides 

Geelong skipper Joel Selwood was the first big name to drop out of the top-four clash when he was ruled out on Saturday afternoon with concussion as expected, the first game he's missed since round 16, 2015. After such a heavy knock last week, you have to wonder why the visitors even bothered bringing the tough midfielder to Sydney. The GIANTS' club champion Toby Greene joined Selwood in the stands after his name was missing from the team sheet because of an ankle problem, and the Cats' problems were then compounded when forward Daniel Menzel withdrew just before the bounce after he experienced some knee soreness while doing the on ground warm-up. The absence of the trio robbed the contest of two gun goalkickers and one of the game's best midfielders, but the 44 players that did run out gave the fans a thriller.

2. It was raining debutants at Spotless Stadium

The positive to come from the loss of Selwood and Menzel for the Cats was it meant youngsters Sam Simpson and Wylie Buzza were handed their first games at senior level, joining Zach Guthrie, and Jeremy Finlayson from the GIANTS, who were both named to debut on Thursday night. It was a mixed night for the quartet, with Geelong's fresh faces all playing decent cameos, with cult hero Buzza bringing the travelling fans to their feet with a booming goal from outside 50 in the second term. Unfortunately for Finlayson, who started in promising fashion playing across half-back, his match ended before half-time when his left knee was twisted in a tackle. The last time Geelong played three debutants in one outing was when Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel and David Johnson pulled on the hoops for the first time back in 2002. Two of those are future Hall of Famers, so it could be a handy omen.

3. Return of Brownlow fancy saw the GIANTS ditch the tag

With Josh Kelly forced out of last week's win over the Brisbane Lions with a hip injury, coach Leon Cameron took the opportunity to use Sam Reid to tag Dayne Zorko, and it worked wonders. It seemed inevitable that Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield would attract the Reid shadow in round 15, but with Kelly back against the Cats, Cameron decided against upsetting his midfield set-up and it didn't happen. Dangerfield started with 15 possessions in the first term, 14 of those handballs, and had the GIANTS co-captain Callan Ward as his main opponent. Danger was quiet with just three in the second quarter but burnt the GIANTS with another 14 touches and seven clearances in the third stanza, and while his influence wasn't profound before the main break, it was immense in the second half. An early goal in the final term gave the Cats a 19-point buffer, albeit from a highly questionable free kick, and powered on to finish the night with a game-high 45 disposals, 13 clearances and six inside 50s. Ward picked up 33 himself, to go with eight clearances and six tackles, as two of the competition's best went head to head.

4. The GIANTS maintain their good record on home soil … just

Heading into round 15 the GIANTS were a perfect 6-0 at Spotless Stadium and UNSW Canberra Oval in Canberra, the only team in the League to not have a loss at home this year. Well a draw means the record is intact. The GIANTS kicked the last three goals of the game but after Jon Patton booted his fourth late in the final term to level the scores, he came to the bench, where he was stuck for several minutes with the ball stuck on the opposite side of the ground. Patton eventually snuck back on but was forced to look on while his fellow power forward Tom Hawkins had a set shot for the win, but he couldn't nail his chance to be the hero after the siren. 

5. Tomahawk unable to be the hero again

Geelong forward Tom Hawkins broke Hawthorn hearts when he nailed a long-range bomb after the siren to give his side a thrilling win in round 19, 2012 at the MCG, but he couldn't come to the party against the GIANTS. The powerful big man managed to win a crucial one on one with the GIANTS co-captain Phil Davis, who had proved his master throughout the match, and his mark left him with a shot from around 30m out on a tight angle. With over 15,000 fans on the edge of their seats and a dozen GIANTS howling at him from all angles, Hawkins stabbed his shot to the right and knew immediately that he'd blown his chance to seal a huge four points on the road, and draw level with the home side on 10 wins for the season.