The Hopper show
Lachie Whitfield, Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio played big games and important parts for the second week in a row. Tim Taranto and Jye Caldwell were tough and Matt De Boer put the clamps on David Swallow. Together, the midfield took control of the game early on and held it almost all of the day, never really allowing the Suns to ramp up the pressure game that has seen them start the season really well. But it was someone else – Jacob Hopper – who got things going for the GIANTS. The 23-year-old was strong around the stoppages from the first bounce and ran hard to get involved all over the ground. Twelve of Hopper’s 27 disposals were contested, he racked up five clearances, he laid four tackles and he snapped a goal too. Only one thing went wrong - his first quarter shot - having danced around two players to open up the goals.
He’s missed a few weeks with a hamstring injury, and Zac Williams made it clear upon his return to the backline how important he is to the team. He defended well, he dropped back to intercept, he took the game on at every available opportunity and alongside Whitfield generated run, run and a bit more more run out of the backline. Williams’ 26 possessions came along with six rebound 50s and eight pressure acts for the day, while he gained a team-high 436 metres. Welcome back, Zac.
The super-solid Lachie Keeffe
He was called up after round four, when Sam Taylor found himself in hospital battling the horrible infection that has kept him out of the team since. And Lachie Keeffe has barely put a foot wrong in that time, doing his job alongside the ever-reliable Phil Davis in defence. Keeffe was pitted against the 201cm Ben King against Gold Coast, a talented young player who would not have come up against many opponents as tall as him, let alone anyone a few centimetres bigger, as Keeffe is. The Suns forward got on the end of a fast play early in the second quarter and took a gutsy mark late, but Keeffe did an excellent job at keeping him under wraps, limiting King to six kicks and just that one late grab, while making plenty of big spoils and racking up eight one-percenters for the afternoon.
Finlayson’s run continues
He has been learning a new role this year – as the back-up ruckman – and he has done something no other GIANT has managed in the first nine rounds by kicking at least one goal in every game. Harry Himmelberg kicked two of the Giants’ nine goal, Jeremy Cameron added two of his own and the midfielders chimed in with more, but Finlayson kept his run going after taking a nice one-on-one mark against Charlie Ballard midway through the third quarter. The forward has kicked one goal in seven of the GIANTS’ nine games, with two in round two and four in round five against Hawthorn.
He kicked five goals last week and Toby Greene was on again early against Gold Coast, collecting six first-quarter possessions, narrowly missing a shot on goal then setting a Tim Taranto shot from the pocket. Unfortunately, that’s where his afternoon finished. Greene pulled up short chasing a ball kicked in towards half-forward and made his way straight to the bench, shaking his head. His hamstring will be checked out in the next couple days, as will that of De Boer, who made his own way to the bench with less than a minute left to play having done a great job on Swallow.
Having moved to Brisbane at short notice last week, the team will stick around in Queensland to get ready for Friday night’s game against Essendon before heading over to Perth and setting into a hub there for a few weeks. The team has a bye in round 11, but the condensed fixture means there will still be just a six-day break between the Bombers game and our round 12 clash with Sydney.