In GWS’ first season, the Giants took little time unearth a few future stars. Gold Coast looked as though its development had been stunted before a strong finish to the season. Melbourne’s record doesn’t look great, but the future is looking bright for the first time in a long while.
Greater Western Sydney
Win/loss record: 2-20
Ladder position: 18th
In its inaugural season, GWS made a significant splash on the competition considering the circumstances.
With the drafting focus obviously on building a team for the future, the decision to target a variation of youth, experience and potential was a successful one, unearthing future stars in Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio, Taylor Adams, Jeremy Cameron and Adam Treloar to name a few.
On the other end of the ledger, the experience injected into the squad through Luke Power, James McDonald, Dean Brogan and Chad Cornes evened things up.
The mix of young and old, along with the relatively young players with AFL experience in Phil Davis, Callan Ward and Tom Scully, gives GWS a solid foundation for the future.
Although took six losses by an average margin of 71 points for its first win to come, GWS claimed its first premiership points against fellow expansion club Gold Coast in Round 7 by 27 points.
Despite winning just one more game for the season, a 30-point upset against Port Adelaide in Round 19, the Giants showed a lot of spirit on a number of occasions, displaying some great signs for the future.
Looking forward to 2013
The Giants have set themselves on a positive path with the mix of youth and experience. However, the big challenge will be retaining the quality core playing group for the next few years. Although a number of youngsters have signed new contracts, offers will come in thick and fast from Melbourne-based clubs as they continue to develop.
A similar problem will arise with the older players. The recruitment team has the right idea of picking up recently retired players for a year, but they must continue to bring in similar names in the future to further the development of those young players.
GWS will do well to learn from the mistakes of Gold Coast. The Suns appeared to go into their shell after a successful launch; the Giants need to quickly look to 2013 and raise the benchmark.
Win/loss record: 3-19
Ladder position: 17th
At some stages throughout the season, critics claimed that Gold Coast had taken a number of significant steps backwards in comparison to last year. In fact, many claimed that Greater Western Sydney had already surpassed Gold Coast after 21 consecutive losses carrying over from 2011, including a defeat to the Giants.
The losing streak was finally broken in Round 16 after the Suns claimed a stunning win against Richmond after being comfortably down with only a minute left. Gold Coast would soon follow up that victory, claiming revenge against the Giants in Round 20.
In what is the club’s biggest highlight to date, the Suns shocked Carlton, as well supporters of all teams, by racing out to a huge lead early on and holding on to win their Round 22 clash. The win could be exactly what the young Suns need to instil belief going into 2013
Gary Ablett hard arguably his best season ever, averaging just under 34 disposals and kicking 26 goals. On 7 occasions, Ablett tallied 40 or more disposals, including three consecutive games to start the season and a 53-disposals effort against Collingwood.
The development of youngsters such as Harley Bennell, Thomas Lynch, Dion Prestia and Maverick Weller were significant, though the Suns will hope for a more even output from the selected players on game day.
Looking forward to 2013
Although Gold Coast’s form in the second half of the season wasn’t terrible for a second-year team, it didn’t leave the mark on the competition that it would have been hoping. The losing margin was smaller in many more games, but a loss is a loss, and despite being in the first couple of years of the team’s existence, the Suns won’t be happy with a return of only three wins.
It appears that the Suns need to target big names in each area of the ground. A key forward target, a midfielder to relieve the pressure on Gary Ablett and a solid key defender would improve the Gold Coast spine and give the team a fighting chance.
Games are no longer about plodding along and claiming a few wins for the year. The target needs to be five wins at the very least in 2013, building up to a potential inaugural finals campaign in the next few years.
Win/loss record: 4-18
Ladder position: 16th
Don’t let Melbourne’s poor record fool you – the Demons were significantly better in 2012 in comparison to past years. For the first time in a fair while, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The acquisition of Mitch Clark, who kicked 29 goals in his 11 games before injury struck, proved to be the difference maker. Although Melbourne didn’t manage its first win until Round 10, a shock win over Essendon, the Demons had shown some fight and positive drive.
The other standouts for Melbourne were Nathan Jones, Jack Grimes, Jared Rivers and Jeremy Howe. Jones, who set the example every week, averaged just under 25 disposals per game to go with 16 goals. His intensity around the contest shows in his average tackles per game, ending up with 4.5.
Jack Grimes’ rebound attacks from defence were nothing short of inspiring, taking the opposition on countless times, and succeeding a great deal of the time. Jared Rivers acted as Melbourne’s versatile cog all season. Whether at full back or full forward, Rivers always had an impact on the game. The same applies with Howe, although not in key positions. Floating in between the forward and defensive 50m lines, Howe maintained his intensity on the footy for the majority of each contest. His high-flying antics kept the crowd entertained, too.
Looking forward to 2013
With its four wins coming against Essendon, Gold Coast and GWS twice, Melbourne will still need to improve considerably over the pre-season. However, unlike previous years, there seems to be a dedication from the playing list to the club.
At the same time, the Demons still lack the composure to trouble the top teams. Silly mistakes coming out of the backline or poor delivery going forward almost became a given. Repetition is the key to Melbourne’s pre-season training – never stop practicing hitting targets, because as soon as the young Demons can spot up a man on the lead time after time, they well become dangerous.
Nathan Jones has been terrific, but he needs assistance. Jack Trengove, Luke Tapscott and Sam Blease will all hopefully develop and become quality midfielders, but Jones needs help from more than just Colin Sylvia and, at few times during the season, Brent Moloney. Targeting a hardened midfielder with AFL experience during the trade period would benefit not only Jones, but the development of the future midfielders.