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Despite the chaotic events occurring in Canberra over the past few weeks, one thing is for certain. This weekend’s game at Manuka Oval in the nation’s capital between the GWS Giants and Melbourne will decide which of Scott Morrison or Leon Cameron is the most under the pump at this point in time. 

This time twelve months ago, the Giants were coming off a season in which they had played off in a grand final. They opened up their 2020 campaign with a resounding 32-point victory in round 1 against Geelong before the Covid19 closure came along to ruin their season.

However, things really haven’t been the same for them since the return to play and their heartless display against the Dockers last Sunday suggests they’re in for a world of pain as the club feverishly works in damage control mode to prevent the further defection of star players to other clubs. We’ve only had two rounds but the talk of the week has been at which club and for what pay Josh Kelly will command in 2022. That’s hardly promising news when you’re on 0-2 and a tough few weeks loom ahead.

The Giants have a good recent record at Manuka. The Demons beat them with relative ease in their early days but in their last two encounters they were rubbish. In early 2015 they kept the home side goalless and led by an excess of 5 goals before half time before an avalanche of 14 consecutive goals saw them falter to a 45-point embarrassment. In 2017, when a long-awaited finals place was on offer, Melbourne scored three goals to nothing in the first ten minutes and then conceded the next 8.6.54 to Greater Western before the first break. The eventual 35-point loss was flattering thanks to their accuracy in front of goals. I’m expecting much better this time.

That’s because the Demons are looking at their best since their break out year of 2018. The playing conditions of this season are seeing a return of more contests and faster movement which appears to suit their style much better than the game of the past couple of seasons. Despite the loss during the pre season of their two main tall forwards, the injury situation is nowhere near as catastrophic as it was when they went into decline in 2019 (they haven’t yet had to activate the new sub rule) and their youngsters are not only standing up — they are coming to the fore at important moments of their games. Now, if only they could get their kicking boots on in front of goal ...

The Giants’ kicking for goal has also been shaky so far but they will need to be at the top of their game against Melbourne’s defence headed by Steven May and Jake Lever. With the Demon midfield back at close to full strength and showing greater depth, the odds are strongly in favour of a big victory for the visitors.

Melbourne by 41 points.

THE GAME

GWS Giants v Melbourne at Metricon Stadium, Sunday 4 April, 2021 at 6:10pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall – Melbourne 7 wins GWS Giants 6 wins
At Manuka Oval – GWS Giants 2 wins Melbourne 1 win
Past five meetings – Melbourne 3 wins GWS Giants 2 wins
The Coaches – Goodwin 2 wins Cameron 2 wins

THE MEDIA

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides.

Radio - check your local guides.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 12.7.79 defeated GWS Giants 11.8.74 at the Gabba, Round 17, 2020

The Demons led early but were reeled in by half time and the Giants took the ascendency after half time. Melbourne came back in the final term with the first three goals including a bottler from first year player Trent Rivers seeing the team home despite a very late goal from GWS’s Brent Daniels.

THE TEAMS

GWS GIANTS

B: S. Taylor 15 L. Keeffe 25 M. Buntine 21

HB: I. Cumming 13 N. Haynes 19 L. Ash

C: J. Kelly 22 S. Coniglio 3 J. Buckley 44

HF: T. Taranto 14 T. Greene 4 M. de Boer 24

F: B. Hill 37 H. Himmelberg 27 B. Daniels 16

Foll: M. Flynn 30 J Hopper 2 C. Ward 8

I/C: P. Davis 1 T. Green 12 C. Idun 39 X. O'Halloran 33

Sub: N. Shipley 34 Emerg: K. Briggs 32 Z. Sproule 28 C.Stone 18

In: M. Buntine T. Green C. Idun X. O’Halloran

Out: T. Bruhn (Omitted) H. Perryman (Illness) S. Reid (Suspension) Z. Sproule (Omitted)

MELBOURNE

B: N. Jetta 39 S. May 1 J. Lever 8

HB: Christian C Salem 3 A. Tomlinson 20 J. Hunt 29

C: E. Langdon 15 C. Petracca 5 N. Jones 2

HF: K. Pickett 36 T. McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30

F: C. Spargo 9 L. Jackson 6 B. Fritsch 31

Foll: M. Gawn 11 C.Oliver 13 J. Viney 7

I/C: A. Brayshaw 10 J. Jordon 23 T. Rivers 24 T. Sparrow

Sub: J. Melksham 18 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 M. Hibberd 14 H. Petty 35

In: J. Melksham 

Out: O. Baker (Omitted)

Round 3: Injury List

Mitch Brown (calf) — Available
Joel Smith (finger) — Available
Jay Lockhart (groin) — Available
Sam Weideman (leg) — 2 to 3 Weeks
Ben Brown (knee) — 3 to 5 Weeks
James Harmes (wrist) — 5 Weeks
Marty Hore (knee) — Season
Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

PreviewRd032021.png

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