The NEAFL GIANTS are looking towards finals after their regular season concluded with a 56-point loss to the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday evening.
While the GIANTS were disappointing in their 14.13 (97) to 6.5 (41) defeat, they get the opportunity to redeem themselves in an Elimination Final against Aspley next Saturday.
The Suns led from start to finish in the game at Metricon Stadium, despite impressive performances from young GIANT Jackson Hately and experienced midfielder Tommy Sheridan.
“We were hoping to go into the first final with a better performance but it’s an exciting week for us,” GIANTS Development Coach Damian Truslove said.
“We reset quickly and get our minds set on Aspley this Saturday, which will be a tough game on their home deck.
“We were beaten in the contested possession by the Gold Coast and they were a bit cleaner with the ball.
“At times they outworked and outnumbered us, but I’m sure the boys can reset and be ready to go.”
The GIANTS finished sixth on the NEAFL ladder with nine wins, a remarkable achievement given they played a number of games with less than five AFL-listed players.
“It’s been challenging because we’ve been playing with low numbers of listed players for several games,” Truslove said.
“What’s been pleasing has been that our Academy kids have stepped up and played at NEAFL level, which has been great to give them that exposure.
“The AFL-listed players that have played consistently all year have been tough and hard, and just dug in and they get the reward of playing finals, which is great.”
Meanwhile, Western Sydney product Nick Shipley was named in the NEAFL Team of the Year at the NEAFL MVP Awards on Sunday night.
The 20-year-old, who is in his second season at the GIANTS, was named on the wing.
“He’s spent half his time this season on the wing and half of his time as an inside midfielder,” Truslove said.
“He’s worked really, really hard and his ball use and decision making continue to improve.
“It was a good reward for his consistent effort this year.”
GOLD COAST 5.3, 8.6, 11.10, 14.13 (97)
GIANTS 2.1, 3.4, 4.4, 6.5 (41)
Goals – GIANTS: Sproule 2; Squire, Barzen, Grant, Sheridan.
GIANTS Development Coach Damian Truslove on the GIANTS’ AFL-listed players:
Jye Caldwell – 21 disposals, 12 tackles
“He was hard and tough around the contest and what was pleasing was that he had a really good first quarter, which was a strong focus for him going into the game. His game is improving each game now. His work around the stoppages is impressive and he’ll be ready to go for that first final.”
Jackson Hately – 32 disposals, 15 tackles, five marks
“Jacko had a very good game, he laid 15 tackles and had 32 disposals. He worked hard for four quarters, his running patterns away from stoppage were excellent and his ability to hunt the opposition around stoppages was also impressive.”
Aiden Bonar – 10 disposals, nine tackles, two inside 50s
“He split his time forward and in the midfield. It was good for him to get the opportunity forward this week. He didn’t find a lot of the ball but his intensity around the contest was really good. His hunt for the man and the ball was good and the more time he spends up forward he’ll keep on improving. He didn’t play the last quarter as he was withdrawn as the AFL emergency.”
Tommy Sheridan – 26 disposals, 10 tackles, five marks, five inside 50s, one goal
“Tommy worked really hard; he played half his game on a wing and half his game as an inside mid. He gave us a spark around stoppages which we needed, his running patterns were very good and, just like Jye, he’ll continue to get better with more game time.”
Matt Buntine – 17 disposals, six marks, four tackles, one inside 50
“Bunts was fantastic again down back, either winning or halving his critical contests. He’s a real leader down back for us, his communication was great. We all know what courage he shows week in, week out, so he was one of our better players.”
Zach Sproule – nine disposals, three marks, one tackle, two goals
“He had limited opportunities up forward because we didn’t win a lot of the stoppages. I thought he worked fairly hard up and down the ground to give us outlets but probably needs to keep on working on his forward craft as far as his contested marking goes.”
Kieren Briggs – 36 hitouts, 18 disposals, nine tackles, three marks, three inside 50s
“Briggsy had a tough job because he had to go against Nicholls and Wright in the ruck, but I thought he worked through that pretty well and had a pretty even battle with Nicholls. What was pleasing about his game was that his last quarter was probably his best quarter. He really dug in.”
Xavier O’Halloran – 18 disposals, five tackles, five inside 50s, two marks
“Xavier played his second game back from injury and it’s always tough in your second game back. He wasn’t quite as damaging defensively this week, but he brought that hunt and pressure around the stoppage. He was tough and hard and his spread away from stoppages was good.”
Nick Shipley – 25 disposals, six marks, one tackle, one inside 50
“Shippers was very good. He played the whole game on the wing and he ran good patterns defensively and offensively and was quite selfless with his positioning around the contest. I thought that he used the ball a little better this week.”
Connor Idun – nine disposals, three tackles, one mark
“He played back and forward this week. He started on a really dangerous forward this week in Isaac Rankin from the Suns, which was a tough job for him, because Isaac’s quick and talented. I thought he did a really good job. He hadn’t played forward much this year but it was good exposure for him.”
Jake Stein – 14 disposals, six marks
“Jake had a really good job against Corbett, one of Gold Coast’s forwards, who has a huge tank. I thought Jake broke even with Corbett. He worked really hard and showed a lot of courage jumping into packs and spoiling.”
Callum Brown – 12 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s
“He started forward, but lacked opportunities because we were losing stoppages, so he didn’t get as much opportunity as he would have liked up forward. We then moved him back and he looked more comfortable there. He’ll be looking forward to seeing some excitement from him in that first final.”