The AFL 2012 season kicked off in Sydney with a special derby featuring the Swans and new side, the Greater Western Sydney Giants. 38,203 GWS fans made it out for their inaugural game, and although the young team showed some good signs they were ultimately outplayed, losing 99-37.
Kieran Jack kicked first goal of the 2012 season just moments into the game and a second almost followed a minute later when Sydney came dashing through the field but a soccer attempt was touched on the line.
After what appeared to be some initial shock, the Giants eventually settled down but a careless 50 meter penalty against Callan Ward gave Craig Bird an easy shot on goal. Bird would kick his second not long after when Adam Goodes delivered a nice handball to the running youngster in a contested situation, allowing him an easy shot right in front of goal.
The Giants used a strong second half of the quarter to better control the ball and pressure the Swans across the field. Their first AFL goal was a result of their constant effort as Israel Folau forced a turnover directly in front of goal, 40 meters out, allowing Ward to swoop in and snap their only major of the first term.
Sydney scored again after an awful Bird delivery inside was somehow marked by Josh Kennedy who went on to convert the set shot, sending Sydney into the break with a 4.1.25 to 1.2.8 lead.
Sydney’s Lewis Robert-Thompson kicked a goal to open the second quarter and while Sam Reid was lining up for another shot just moments later, a free kick against a teammate had the potential goal reversed and a free kick was instead given to the Giants.
Jonathon Giles got the better of the Swan’s elite ruckman Shane Mumford, but the Giants midfield simply weren’t good enough across the ground. A ton of inside fifty ball eventually turned into a free kick for Sydney’s Ben McGlynn and the tiny pocket rocket thumped through a long ball from the 50 meter mark.
GWS were drifting further and further out of the game but a huge goal from beyond 50 by Nathan Wilson once again brought the score within 20 points.
Curtly Hampton showed why GWS has the potential to be one of the more exciting teams this year by collecting a loose ball and sprinting past the Swans defenders into an open goal from the right side, but unfortunately he shanked the kick across the face of goal.
Goodes delivered a rough but effective inside to Roberts-Thompson that spilled to Jude Bolton who snapped a goal across his body with five minute and Mumford converted another right before the half time siren to give Sydney a 31 point lead at the major break.
Leroy Jetta used his fantastic foot speed to kick two quick and exciting goals, two of the five unanswered by Sydney to open the first ten minutes of the third quarter, doubling what was a thirty point halftime lead. It was a forgettable third term for the Giants who went into the final break down 86-22, a lead that would have been much larger had Sydney been able to kick accurately.
The fourth term was much better for GWS and they ended a quarter and half goal drought courtesy of Giles, and outscored Sydney two goals to one.
The game wasn’t much of a test for the Swans, but to their credit they pushed the ball and pressured the GWS run enough to keep the ball in their side of the oval for the vast majority of the match.
For GWS, the game was a lot of what you would expect: young guys not being able to match up physically with mature AFL bodies, missing their targets and playing on and passing to teammates in poor positions, which in turn created turnovers and killed the Giants ability to get into a productive running game.
Former Fremantle young gun Rhys Palmer was impressive for the Giants and showed some better delivery of the football in his first game for GWS. He was a major ball getter and collected 24 disposals while Thomas Bugg (29) Toby Greene (27) and Adam Kennedy (28) also did well to rack up the possessions. Giles was also impressive in the ruck and rugby recruit Folau had a poor debut but did some good things in the final quarter.
Superstar Adam Goodes had one of his historically slow early season starts but Kieran Jack (30 disposals) Josh Kennedy (27) and Bird (27) more than made up for it.
Bird, Jetta and Kennedy each kicked two goals apiece for the Swans.