The big finish…
Trailing by 29-points early in the third quarter, the GIANTS needed to get moving and did. The win wasn’t cemented until Callan Ward slotted a set shot with just over a minute left to play, but it started midway through that third term. Gradually, the GIANTS were able to slow the Bombers’ run and deny them the ball. Tim Taranto, Stephen Coniglio and Jacob Hopper went to work, Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly joined in, Shane Mumford played with huge presence at the centre bounces and the team slowly started to find some room and get the ball moving more quickly. Goals to Jeremy Finlayson and Hary Himmelberg cut the Essendon lead to 16 points at the last break and the GIANTS were able to up the pressure from the start of the last term. Jeremy Cameron kicked his first goal inside the first minute, Heath Shaw added another, and the GIANTS hit the lead when Himmelberg won the race for a loose ball at half-forward, pumping the ball long inside 50 to Cameron. He ran onto the loose ball, and kicked his second with six minutes to play.
….. after the slow start
The GIANTS have made some slow starts in games this season. This one was right up there with them; thankfully, the opposition came along for the ride this time. While the GIANTS were tough around the clearances and winning plenty of contested ball, they could not find a way to score; it was a slow, safe and dour start for both sides and it wasn’t until Coniglio slotted a set shot at the start of the second quarter that either team got a goal on the board. Unfortunately for the GIANTS, that was followed by a six-goal run of red-and-back goals. The combined first quarter scoreline was the lowest since Geelong and Footscray kicked one behind back in a 1965 game.
Heath hits the scoreboard
Goals were hard to come by in the first half. Step in: Heath Shaw. Shaw had not kicked a goal since the 2016 preliminary when he slipped forward with one minute left in the second quarter, taking a mark, kicking just the 40th goal of his 318 game career and just the GIANTS’ second for the game. And there was more to come: after taking a mark at half-forward early in the last term, Shaw won a 50-metres after Connor McKenna barrelled him over. His second goal took the GIANTS to within a kick with 13 minutes left to play. It was the first time he had kicked two goals in a game since round six in 2012, when he was a Collingwood player and the GIANTS were in their first season and yet to win a game. As he explained it in the rooms after the game, he owed the team a couple after conceding a few during Essendon's second quarter run.
Phil’s brave effort
Goals were really hard to come by in the first half, and Phil Davis headed to full-forward in the second half so that the team could try something new down there. It started well: he took a strong mark and dished it off to Jeremy Finlayson, who kicked his first goal for the game. Finlayson, by the way, is the only GIANT to have kicked at least one goal in every round this year. Then, Davis landed awkwardly in a marking contest, jarring his left knee and heading straight for the boundary line (stopping along the way to compete in the air again as the ball was kicked in his direction). Davis was strapped up in the rooms and back on the ground for the last quarter, doing all that he could to help the team win.
Xavier O’Halloran was presented with his first GIANTS jumper by Davis in the rooms before the match and did some nice things in the debut game he had been waiting a long time for. O’Halloran put his head over the ball in a number of early contests, used his speed to put in a couple of big chases, laid three tackles and sent the ball forward with some long, powerful kicks. O’Halloran’s housemate and fellow 2018 draftee, Jye Caldwell, had to wait endure six losses before getting to celebrate his first win; O'Halloran got to sing the song after his first game.
The GIANTS will be back in the air on Saturday, flying to Perth to set up camp there for a few weeks. The team has a bye in round 11 but will play their round 12 game against Sydney in six days, on Thursday August 13. In round 13 the team will go up against another top eight team, West Coast.