A breakout performance from youngster Harry Perryman and some ruthless finishing in front of goal has helped the GIANTS begin its 2020 campaign with a 32-point win over Geelong on Saturday night.
Perryman kicked four goals from 20 possessions playing on the wing for the home side in the finest game of his short career, as the GIANTS held off multiple challenges from the Cats to get home 17.3 (105) to 11.7 (73) at GIANTS Stadium.
Geelong made a late charge with three quick goals in the final quarter until Perryman and Toby Greene each booted their fourth majors to seal the win.
Star forwards Greene and Jeremy Cameron (three goals) caused problems for the Cats inside 50, while Matt de Boer won his battle with Patrick Dangerfield and limited the Brownlow medallist to just 16 possessions.
Gun Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan was his team's best despite his limited preparation, and kicked three goals from 21 touches, while veterans Gary Ablett (24 and a goal) and Joel Selwood (16) battled manfully.
Key defender Mark Blicavs had an entertaining match-up with last year's Coleman medallist Cameron and probably had the better of the duel, despite the GIANTS' three goals.
GIANTS stopper put the clamps on Danger
Matt de Boer went straight to superstar Patrick Dangerfield at the opening bounce and the pair had another classic battle through the midfield. The explosive Cat started well with a brilliant long goal and gathered six possessions in the opening term, but the GIANT kept a close check on him after that. Dangerfield gave away a couple of free kicks in frustration and, while he wasn't the visitors' worst, de Boer took the chocolates.
All hail the Perryman
Going into the season opener GIANTS wingman Harry Perryman had four career goals to his name and was known more for his hardness at the footy than his goalkicking, but he starred for the winners and doubled that haul. The academy product started with an inventive effort off the ground in the first term and added another in each of the next three quarters. His fourth, a clever snap around his body ended the contest when the Cats had kicked three in a row midway through the last term.
Cogs settles in quickly as skipper
New captain Stephen Coniglio wasted little time reminding the competition of his talents in his first game since round 17 last year. The midfield gun slotted a clutch set shot in the first quarter and snapped a brilliant second on his left boot right on the half-time siren. Coniglio finished the night with 19 disposals and six clearances to get his new role underway with an important victory.
Will Gazza ever slow down?
Many predicted him to do so in 2020, but the way Gary Ablett started his 19th season showed it might be a premature call. The 35-year-old's laser-like pass to set up Gary Rohan in the first quarter was vintage Ablett, and his performance showed he can be a more than handy up forward for the Cats this year. The 345-gamer began the season with a game-high 24 touches and a goal.
Conversion in front of goals has never been a strong point for the GIANTS, but the home side's accuracy against the Cats was outstanding and played a massive part in the win. The GIANTS kicked 8.0 before they registered a minor score, and while Geelong failed to capitalise on their hard work and wasted some chances, Leon Cameron would be a happy man with his side's finishing.
GIANTS: Midfielder Adam Kennedy injured his right hamstring midway through the first term and played no further part in the game.
Geelong: Quinton Narkle dislocated a finger, but had it put back in on the ground and finished off the match, while Esava Ratugolea copped a nasty poke in the eye in the third term, but also played on.
The GIANTS are on the road to take on Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, with the Cats hosting Gold Coast at GMHBA Stadium the following day.
GIANTS 5.0 9.1 13.3 17.3 (105)
GEELONG 4.2 6.6 8.7 11.7 (73)
GIANTS: Perryman 4, Greene 4, Cameron 3, Coniglio 2, Lloyd 2, Langdon, Finlayson
Geelong: Duncan 3, Hawkins 2, Ablett, Miers, Dangerfield, Dahlhaus, O'Connor, Rohan
GIANTS: Perryman, Greene, Hopper, Haynes, de Boer, Whitfield
Geelong: Duncan, Stewart, Ablett, Selwood, Tuohy, Blicavs
GIANTS: Adam Kennedy (hamstring)
Umpires: Mollison, Foot, Power