This afternoon at Manuka Oval saw the historic first AFL victory for the league’s newest franchise, the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Pipped against fellow newcomers, the one season older Gold Coast Suns, the Giants’ young squad complemented by the experienced heads of Chad Cornes, Luke Power, Tom Scully and Callan Ward saw off the Suns in fine form with a flurry of late fourth-quarter goals to see off their rivals by 27 points - 13.16 (94) to 9.13 (67) in front of 8,603 passionate fans on a sunny yet chilled Canberra afternoon.
Both expansion franchises have attracted their fair share of doubters, mockers and non-believers coming into the league from non-AFL heartlands, at the expense of footy-mad Tasmania, whilst being credited with very generous draft concessions to help establish their sides. But, both the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants have won their fair share of admirers, including many former sceptics, for their flair and raw talent combined with their ample enthusiasm and grit. GWS, in particular, have slowly but surely started to win over even the most ardent critics with their no-nonsense focus on the ball and determination to get in and do the hard work in order to get it. Coached by the ever wily, cunning yet genius Kevin Sheedy and complimented by premiership winning coach Mark Williams, the Giants are laying the groundwork for a very promising future as their young guns continue to develop.
Meanwhile, things didn’t prove as rosy today for Guy McKenna’s Suns, they too have showed promise in past weeks, particularly last week in their narrow home defeat to the Fremantle Dockers at Metricon. Pressure no doubt will be placed on McKenna after today’s upset defeat and the team will need to stand up and actually get some wins on the board but the signs are there that a win won’t be too far away. It could be argued that lingering fatigue from last week’s match could have contributed to their second half fade to the Giants.
However, credit where is due on a proud, historic and well deserved victory for the fledging club. One, no doubt, of many to come over the next few years. Congratulations and well done Greater Western Sydney Giants!