1. The Giants and Bulldogs of Arabia
There was enough sand on the surface of StarTrack Oval that the Giants and Bulldogs were entitled to think they had stepped onto the set of a Lawrence of Arabia re-make or one of Canberra's many fine golf courses. In fairness, the Canberra locals told us there had been plenty of rain in the past week, but it was still unusual to see puffs of sand fly whenever players landed from marks and players hit kicks 'fat' like they were playing out of a bunker. The Giants relished the soft conditions early, jumping out to a 26-point quarter-time lead, but the Bulldogs tenaciously wore them down, eventually overrunning them in the final quarter.
2. Griffen's captain's mark
The Bulldogs went into the final quarter eight points down and it was their skipper Ryan Griffen who kick-started their rampant seven-goal final term. Standing under a long bomb inside the Dogs' forward 50, Griffen pushed his opponent aside with one hand and clung onto a spectacular mark with the other. Most importantly, he then went back and coolly converted from 35m. The skipper had a quiet start to the game with former teammate Callan Ward keeping him to one possession in the first term, but he kept at it and finished with 20 touches to be a valuable contributor.
3. Giles steps up with 'Mummy' away
The Shane Mumford-Will Minson match-up was one of the most anticipated clashes in the lead-up to Saturday's game. But Mumford's late withdrawal with general soreness meant Jonathan Giles had to shoulder the Giants' ruck load one out against last year's All Australian ruckman. The 26-year-old Giant seemed to relish the challenge. He won the overall hit-out count 37-32, dominated the count at centre bounces 19-7, often jumping early and out-bustling Minson. He also had seven clearances, pumped the Giants inside their forward 50 five times and kicked a cracking goal in the first quarter, grabbing the ball from a ruck contest and kicking truly.
4. Morris likely to come under MRP scrutiny
It was an instinctive action without an ounce of malice, but Dale Morris' trip on Will Hoskin-Elliott in the first term is likely to be scrutinised by the Match Review Panel. The Bulldogs defender was trailing his opponent Jeremy Cameron as he led for the ball, but when the incoming pass fell short Cameron's teammate Will Hoskin-Elliott burst in from the opposite direction to win the ball. That's when Morris stuck out his left leg and caught Hoskin-Elliott low on his left leg. Both players were hurt in the clash and were substituted from the game early in the second quarter. The extent of their injuries were not clear on Saturday night, but Morris' concerns won't be limited to the result of his scans.
5. Twin towers already imposing
For a team that's been on the hunt for a key forward in recent years, the Dogs must have looked on enviously in the first half at young Giant tyros Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron. Cameron is already an All Australian and with the second of his three goals on Saturday night became the first GWS player to reach the 100-goal milestone. But it's Patton who's been the revelation for the Giants this year. Against the Bulldogs, he showcased a mix of aerial strength, clean hands and agility that you just don't expect from someone who is 198cm and 103kg. 'The General' took nine marks, including three contested, against the Dogs. But the Dogs would have been heartened that Stewart Crameri (four goals) and Liam Jones (three) turned the tables – and the game – late.