AFL News

Giants make sound start under McVeigh

Giants make sound start under McVeigh

GREATER Western Sydney has started its new era under Mark McVeigh in style with a 52-point thumping of West Coast at Giants Stadium.

The Giants outclassed the undermanned Eagles from the opening bounce to give McVeigh the best possible start as interim coach with a 21.12 (138) to 13.8 (86) victory on Sunday.

The Eagles will also be sweating on the fitness of Luke Shuey after their captain was substituted out of the match in the final term.

Both teams were missing several stars, especially after the Giants made nine changes to their team from last week, but the hosts settled quicker with four unanswered goals in the opening nine minutes that set the tone for the match.

The Giants went on to post their biggest first-half score since round 4, 2016 – and their second-highest ever – to lead 14.3 to 5.4 at the main break.

The most identifiable change made by McVeigh and the coaching group that now includes his former Essendon teammates James Hird and Dean Solomon was to switch Harry Himmelberg from the forward line to defence.

Himmelberg looked comfortable in the backline and enjoyed the freedom to launch some torpedoes when kicking in after behinds, with one long bomb in the second term flying beyond the centre circle.

He was also able to add to the 17 goals he had already booted this season, after a 50m penalty on the wing set up a shot from the 50m arc that Himmelberg slotted.

With Himmelberg pushed to the backline, Jarrod Brander spent more time forward in his third match for the Giants since being delisted by the Eagles at the end of last season.

Brander finished with 16 disposals and a goal against the club that drafted him from the Giants Academy with a first-round pick in 2017.

Co-captain Stephen Coniglio starred in an onball role with 36 disposals at 92 per cent efficiency, while fellow co-captain Josh Kelly (29 disposals) continued his strong form in the Giants midfield.

The Giants shared the goals around with youngster James Peatling kicking three majors and six players including Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan finishing with two.

Tim Kelly (23 disposals) and Jack Redden (20) battled hard in the Eagles’ midfield and Alex Witherden (18) looked to provide some run out of defence.

Andrew Gaff made a slow start on his return to the Eagles lineup with only five disposals in the first half before spending more time onball to finish with 19 touches.

The Giants face a tougher test when they take on Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday while the Eagles will play the Western Bulldogs at home.

(C) AAP 2022