By MITCH TERPSTRA
The GIANTS have been able to hold on to a hard-fought game against the Canberra Demons by 14 points at Phillip Oval on Friday night.
The GIANTS led the contest for majority of the match but used the most of their opportunities late in the game to seal a 11.12 (78) to 9.10 (64) victory.
Within the first minute the Demons were able to get a centre clearance straight away and land a mark in the hands of Tom Faul, who missed a goal that was absolutely gettable.
From that point on the GIANTS were able to dominate for large chunks of the first quarter.
GIANTS big man Dawson Simpson said getting a good start was the focus of the week.
“They (Canberra) were probably not expecting how much pressure we could give,” he told neafl.com.au.
“We’ve got a lot of players in the team who are high pressure players when they are up and about, and we probably didn’t bring that last week against Sydney… so we had a big focus all week to start well.”
The GIANTS came out of the gate with massive pressure acts and tackles putting the home side under pressure when gaining possessions; the GIANTS racking up 21 tackles for the quarter.
With the pressure the GIANTS were able to move the ball a lot better than the Demons, thanks to their run and spread from the contest and were simply outworking the Demons.
It led to Callum Brown’s goal and the GIANTS second after ball movement through the corridor and clean hands.
The Demons were then able on get on the board and respond with a goal Mitch Hardie working hard out a contest in his forward 50.
Unfortunately for the home side this wasn’t able to swing the moment their way with GIANTS big man Zach Sproule kicking his first for the game.
Alex Smout was able to capitalise on a big quarter with a late goal running goal to go with his eight disposals at the quarter-time siren.
The second term saw the momentum of the game remain stagnant with neither team able to break away from the other with any real damage.
It was crucial that the Demons got the first goal coming out of the quarter time break and they did after a sublime penetrating kick to Jack Powell who was able to convert from his set shot 35 metres out.
The quarter saw both teams move ahead of the other through patches going goal for goal which produced two Goal of the Year contenders by Zac Langdon and Mitch Hardie, both from the right-hand side boundary.
With that goal from Hardie that gave the Demons their first lead of the game 29-minutes into the second term.
Kieren Briggs was able to capitalise on a late forward 50 entry which saw him snap around a defender 30 metres out and crucially give the GIANTS the lead going into the second half.
Smout was main contributor for the home side with 20 disposals, seven clearances and four inside 50s by half-time.
Early parts of the third were dominated by the GIANTS, and they were able to kick two goals in the opening 10 minutes, before the game went back and forth where the margin didn’t get any bigger than 15 points.
It was going to be a thrilling an important last quarter for both teams; the GIANTS trying to hold on for an upset win while the Demons were wanting to improve on their 2-2 record.
Canberra started the last quarter exactly the way the wanted with a goal from Hardie to peg the difference back to three, before the GIANTS were able to reply back with a goal of their own through Langdon.
Canberra had the opportunities to take the game and seize it but missed key shots that would have played a one kick margin. It wasn’t to be for the Demons, as Sproule kicked a goal to push the margin back out to 13 before it was all but over.
Simpson said the win was important for his side in the early stage of the season.
“A hard-fought win always a good one, you know there’s only a couple of goals in it all the way through the game, and on a cold wet night in Canberra it’s good to slug it out and get a really tough win like that.”
Demons ball magnet Alex Smout said finishing off efforts was what let them down.
“I think our effort was super and I couldn’t fault that endeavour, but we just lacked that bit of polish just at the end,” he said.
“You know you never like to lose but we can take great confidence knowing that we have matched them with 16 AFL players.”
The GIANTS will now have the bye next week before facing defending premiers Southport and the Demons will be facing the most in-form team of the competition in the Brisbane Lions at home.
GIANTS 3.3 5.6 9.10 11.12 (78) CANBERRA 2.2 5.5 8.7 9.10 (64)
GOALS – GIANTS: Z Langdon 3 Z Sproule 2 I Hill 2 K Briggs J Caldwell A Bonar C Brown. Canberra: M Hardie 3 K Evans H Carr A Smout J Powell R Pollock J Osborne.
BEST – GIANTS: H Perryman J Stein I Hill Z Langdon A Bonar M Flynn. Canberra: A Smout M Hardie C Owen-Auburn R Pollock T Highmore A Bruce.