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Five things we learned: GWS v West Coast

Highlights: GWS v West Coast The Giants and Eagles clash in the semi finals

1. The Giants’ smaller line-up worked wonders
Losing Shane Mumford (foot) and Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) for the year was a massive blow for GWS, but the positive to come from those injuries is that it forced Leon Cameron to go with a mobile forward line. With Jon Patton as the sole tall target inside 50 the home side looked far more elusive, and when they used the ball efficiently going forward West Coast intercept star Jeremy McGovern was rendered useless. Lowering the eyes to hit up leading targets is the best way to take the likes of McGovern, Tom Barrass and Shannon Hurn out of the equation, and with Richmond gun Alex Rance up next, the Giants must continue to play that brand of intelligent footy again next Friday night.

Full match coverage and stats

2. Stevie J will get at least one more crack in a big game at the G
The veteran looked gone when he was axed for the Giants' first final, and while he didn't have enormous numbers in the first half against the Eagles, Johnson showed his value with a brilliant third term. The 34-year-old booted four goals from a mixture of contested marks and pure footy smarts, showing just how valuable he still is to the Giants. When Johnson followed it up with his fifth just seconds after half-time he was in vintage touch, and a trademark Stevie J snap late in the final quarter topped off an outstanding night. The 2007 Norm Smith medallist finished with a bag of half a dozen from just 10 kicks and gave the GWS fans one hell of a show in his last outing at Spotless Stadium. 

3. The decision to send Mark Hutchings to Tom Scully was a blunder
The talk all week was that the Eagles would send their stopper to either Dylan Shiel or Josh Kelly, but Hutchings started the game on the bench and the reason behind that move became known when GWS wingman Tom Scully jogged on for his first run. Known more as an inside midfielder, Hutchings followed Scully up and down the wings for the first half, and while he did a serviceable job in keeping the 150-gamer to nine touches, the rest of the Giants midfield had a birthday. Shiel and Kelly, along with Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and Callan Ward, all found plenty of ball as the Eagles were beaten badly in clearances and the contested possession count. Scully is an important cog in the GWS machine but it was a baffling decision to let Kelly and Shiel roam free. 


4. Leon Cameron was right to stick with Aidan Corr on Josh Kennedy
The GWS coach has used his young key defender on Kennedy all season instead of going with co-captain Phil Davis, and didn't waiver on that faith for such a massive occasion. Corr limited the dual Coleman medallist and three-time All Australian to just 1.1 from six kicks and two marks, using his speed and strength to constantly upset the star Eagle's leading patterns and keep him quiet all night. With so much on the line, Cameron must have given some thought to calling on Davis for the key match-up, but Corr's job allowed his skipper to organise the GWS defence and maintain its structure, which shut down West Coast's forward-line dangers. 


5. The Eagles' left their intensity at Adelaide Oval
It was a famous win over Port Adelaide a week earlier but West Coast's players failed to bring any of their momentum to Sydney. The visitors had to pressure the Giants from the opening bounce but laid just 13 tackles in the first quarter, with seven of those shared between Luke Shuey (three), Mark Lecras (two) and Nathan Vardy (two). 13 Eagles failed to even bother the statisticians in the tackles column as GWS kicked 5.4 for the term, and while the Giants looked down on confidence against the Crows, they quickly had their tails up back on their home deck. You could forgive the Eagles for being tired after such an epic win against the Power, but it's hard to excuse such a flat opening to a huge final.


The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs