IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 5 clashes in the NAB League this year between the GWS GIANTS Academy and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in what has been the only clash between the pair,
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 7.9 (51)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 3.3 | 4.5 | 8.13 | 10.17 (77)
Round 4 | Saturday, April 13, 2019
Trevor Barker Oval, 10.45am
With the Vic Metro trials taking place at the same time, an understrength Northern Knights outfit hosted a travelling GIANTS Academy team in Round 4 last year in the first game of a double header at Trevor Barker Oval. Neither side had been able to get a win to start the season with the Knights having an unlucky loss in Round 1 to the Western Jets, and then went down comfortably to Sandringham Dragons in Round 2, and Eastern Ranges in Round 3.
Booting just 8.12 (60) to their opponent’s 25.28 (178) in the past two weeks, the Knights wanted to come out firing, while the GIANTS – who lost to the Brisbane Lions and fell away in the second half against Sydney Swans – needed to breakthrough for their first ever win in the new-style competition.
It was the GIANTS who were first on the board through James Peatling, before Sunny Brazier cancelled out the early major with one for the home side. They traded blows n the opening term, before a third goal to the GIANTS’ Liam Delahunty handed the visitors a crucial seven-point lead at the first break. The Knights needed a response early in the second term, and a response they got through Liam McMahon and Cooper Barbera who booted back-to-back goals in the first 137 seconds of the quarter to hit the front by five points.
Shaun Driscoll managed to finally break the drought for his side midway through the term after a couple of near misses for the GIANTS, only for ruck Nathan Howard to steal back the lead at the 17-minute mark of the quarter. Howard and Brazier both had chances in the last five minutes but missed, giving the home team a five-point lead at the main break.
It was now the GIANTS’ turn for a response and the travelling fans did not have to wait long with Matthew Hamblin taking just 15 seconds to put a goal on the board after a quick clearance and put one through for a one-point lead. From there, the GIANTS were never headed for the remainder of the game. In the third term, they restricted the Knights to just two points as they peppered the goals themselves thanks to 3.8, eight of those behinds coming consecutively after Hamblin’s goal.
In 21 minutes of play, the crowd had seen a total of 10 behinds in a row between the sides until the last four minutes saw the visitors slam home three more through Conlan, and back-to-back goals to Jeromy Lucas to blow the lead out to 25 points at the final change. It was the four minutes that decided the match, with Oliver Simpson getting one back in the seventh minute for the Knights, and Lorne Waldron given the home team some hope midway through the term to cut the deficit back to 14 points. It was Delahunty who popped up again late with two quick majors at the death to just help his team to a buffer and guarantee a 26-point win.
Highly touted draft pick Thomas Green had an absolute monster game with 38 disposals (71 per cent contested), three marks, six tackles, 13 clearances and three inside 50s, leading his side to a win in the clearances. Peatling (29 disposals, three marks, four tackles, six clearances, 10 inside 50s and one goal) was also instrumental with a 50 per cent contested rate, while Lucas also had more than 50 per cent of his 28 touches at the coal face, recording five marks, three tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s, three rebounds and two goals to-boot. Matt McGrory had 23 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds for his troubles on the day, while Delahunty finished with nine disposals, six marks and three goals, and defender Nick Murray had 10 touches and six rebounds in the win.
For the Knights, Sam Philp who was considered one of the most unlucky players to miss out on Vic Metro trials – and the highest picked Victorian in the draft at year’s end to have missed out on the National Championships – had 26 disposals with a whopping 75.9 per cent contested, four marks, six tackles, seven clearances and three inside 50s. Howard dominated through the ruck, using his height and experience to advantage to notch up the half ton of hitouts (50), as well as 18 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal. Brazier (19 disposals, four marks, 12 tackles, two inside 50s, four rebounds and a goal) and Ben Nikolovski (18 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) were also among the top ball winners. In defence, James Lucente and Josh Mazzarella combined for 31 disposals, 11 marks and 15 rebounds.
The GIANTS would go on to win one more game in the five-game series to finish mid-table from the Academy teams, while Northern Knights would end up in sixth, reaching an elimination final against Western Jets where they fell in a see-sawing contest at MARS Stadium.