There is a simple explanation for GWS having won only a single match all season. They are a side in only their second year of AFL football, and their playing list consists of a group of young players with not nearly enough mature-aged players as opposition sides.
The bottom line is, only eight players on their 2013 playing list is 24 years or older, discarding those who are yet to play this year. 32 of their players are 20 years old or in their teens.
Compare this to an established side like Geelong. They have 18 players who have played in 2013, 24 years or over. That’s 16 more than GWS which is almost a full starting side.
So, how does a young list of players affect results so much? After all, a lot of these youngsters are promising talents who have gone at high draft picks.
The problem with an undeveloped side like GWS is clearly an inability to run out games. Time and time again in 2013, GWS have shown moments of promise and flashes of brilliance. But, their second halves are, in the majority of their games, a far shadow of their first halves.
GWS have won 17 quarters this year to date. 11 of these have come in the first half, with only six coming in the second half.
Seven first quarter wins tells something when they have only snatched one victory for the season.
Four times this year GWS have blown a half time lead, and on three of those occasions the end margin was over 35 points.
A prime example of a typical GWS fadeout came in round 18. GWS lead Collingwood at every break, and clearly were the better side all day. The last quarter summed up the disadvantage of a young side. Collingwood piled on six goals to only two behinds to end up winning by 40 points. A lackluster GWS could only watch on as they let another lead slip away.
They also pondered half time leads against Melbourne (round four), Essendon (round six) and Western Bulldogs (round 15).
A massive 10 times this year, GWS have conceded six or more goals in the last quarter. Half that number and that is how many they have conceded in the first term.
The most goals they have conceded in a last quarter came in round four against Melbourne. GWS were moments away from signing the team song, with a three-goal advantage at three quarter time and emphatically looked to have too much leg speed for the Dees. The party was over as soon as the fourth quarter began. Melbourne may not have the most promising of lists, but what they had on this day was experience. Melbourne piled on 12 goals to only two, as the margin blew out to seven goals and yet again GWS were left pondering.
That’s what you come to expect from teenagers playing at the top level. A burst of energy to start with and a lot of front running, but when times get tough towards the end of games, GWS cannot cope.
Aside from the issue being predominantly a physical problem, it can also be due to attitude in a lot of their players. Many young players simply don’t have the mental capacity required as yet to match it for four quarters with the best sides.
They think they have done enough in the game and they drop off the intensity and stop running both ways. This is where GWS have such a good upside.
Once they get three or four seasons under their belt, that’s when sides will start to take GWS seriously. Not just for two quarters. Nor three quarters. But a full four quarters, opposition sides will need to be on their full guard once GWS have experience.
There is no doubting the potential that GWS have on their list. Once players such as Toby Greene, Curtly Hampton, Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith, Lachie Whitfield and Will-Hoskin Elliott get seasons under their belt, GWS will be serious contenders.
Not to forget the talent up forward. Everyone knows just how good Jeremy Cameron is. And once Patton returns along with the likely recruit of 199 cm power forward Tom Boyd, it will be all their for GWS to showcase their talent.
With all this experience, comes the ability to run out games. That is where GWS are seriously lacking and have to learn how to cope with it before they are a genuine threat to the competition.