David Polkinghorne August 19, 2012
A few more fit troops and Greater Western Sydney could have had its third win, and second in Canberra, to help celebrate triple premiership player Luke Power's 300th AFL game in style, Giants coach Kevin Sheedy says.
And Sheedy continued to back struggling rugby league convert Israel Folau despite another dismal performance.
With a handful of talented youngsters suffering season-ending injuries the Giants struggled against the Melbourne Demons, eventually losing by 25 points at Manuka Oval yesterday.
Future stars like Jeremy Cameron (hip), Jonathon Patton (shoulder) and Dylan Shiel (toe) have all been put to pasture, while Stephen Coniglio (back) is also unlikely to play again.
And with those players on the park yesterday, Sheedy believed it would be a different score line to the 11.18 (84) to 9.5 (59) loss.
''We had our chances, I think we would've done a bit better today if we had somewhere near a bit better side, I think we might've won this game to be honest,'' he said. ''If Patton or Jeremy Cameron might've been there and maybe Coniglio or [Adam] Treloar we could've pushed this game a little bit further.''
Power turned back the clock with a composed effort, mainly in defence, picking up 25 possessions complemented by the odd one-percenter in his milestone game.
He said his decision on whether to play on next season would solely depend on what was best for the team - which on yesterday's effort would surely mean a 16th AFL season.
''I just want to go and catch up with [friends and family who came to the game] and have a quiet drink and reflect a little and then try to get myself up to get [physically] smashed again next week,'' Power said.
Sheedy continued to back struggling code jumper Folau, who seemed disinterested and had just three possessions - one kick and two handballs - in another dirty day.
To make matters worse, he didn't touch the ball until after half-time.
But Sheedy said it would take time for Folau to find his feet, using Sydney Swans ruckman Mike Pyke as an example.
Pyke used to play rugby union for Canada before signing up with the Swans.
This year he's started to emerge as a genuine AFL ruckman.
''It's taken a guy like Pyke four years [to learn the game],'' Sheedy said. ''Everybody here expects [Folau] to be an absolute superstar straight away - it doesn't happen. Pyke got under the radar for four years before he made it.
''Because Izzy's not from Canada he cops a fair bit of a battering.''
While Folau looked to give up, his young teammates certainly didn't. With the Demons holding an unassailable 44-point lead at the start of the last quarter, the Giants fought back to kick five of the last six goals and make the margin respectable.
GWS midfielder Toby Greene was relentless with his attack on the ball, amassing 38 possessions - 16 contested - with nine clearances to go with his two goals, in what was clearly a best-on-ground performance.
While Greene was involved in everything, Melbourne's Jeremy Howe won his team the game in an eye-catching third quarter. He kicked two of his three goals and took a spectacular mark, although it wouldn't rival his several contenders for mark of the year.
Howe's efforts, fed by an even Demons midfield, set up a comfortable 38-point lead at the final break.
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld agreed Howe was fast becoming a key to the Demons' future.
''A majority of our players provide a glimpse into the future,'' Neeld said.
''Howe, he's very talented, he loves jumping above the packs and he had a bit of a purple patch.
''Unfortunately he kicked a few behinds today so that'll be something for him to work on.''
But for the most part it was a scrappy affair, made difficult by a strong breeze across the ground that wreaked havoc with the players' kicking all day.
Sheedy was happy with the Giants' first quarter when they pushed the Demons, but the lack of a key forward hurt his team in the end - Greene was the Giants' leading goal scorer for the day.
It was a Greene goal that put them in front in the early stages before Melbourne slowly started to take control of the game.
They led at each change and had the game wrapped up before the Giants hit back in the last quarter.