“They’re not going to change their long-term sustainability in two weeks, it’s just whether the Dogs let them play the way the Giants want to play.”
Roos firmly believes they can prevail on Saturday afternoon, saying the pre-finals bye favoured GWS by giving them a week to take stock, get players back from injury and come up with a clear plan to reverse the result from the last time they met the Bulldogs three weeks ago, when they lost by 61 points at Giants Stadium.
I don’t question their ability to beat good sides. But can they do it four weeks in a row against great opposition?
Paul Roos on the GWS Giants
The first half of that contest was evenly matched and the rest of it might have unfolded very differently had GWS converted their opportunities early in the third term.
“They did get belted, but I watched that game closely, and there was some stuff to like about what the Giants were able to do,” Roos said.
“If I’m Leon, I’m showing them the second quarter, where they kicked four or five goals in a row and won stoppages. That’s what Leon’s going to have to focus on: winning stoppages, scoring from stoppages, winning the territory game.
“The Dogs look a bit vulnerable under the high ball, so if you’ve got Harry Himmelberg, Jeremy Finlayson and Jeremy Cameron, you can take advantage.
“There’s some stuff they can go to school on and some stuff they’ll like when they look at the tape.”
Roos said getting the ball to Lachie Whitfield, who he rates as one of the AFL’s best players, was one of the keys to victory for GWS.
“With the way the game’s played now, there’s so much defensive pressure, when you’ve got players who can make really, really good decisions and execute, it changes the game dramatically. Whitfield’s one of those players,” he said.
“He’ll pick options and deliver things that other players simply can’t do. He allows you to score, and doesn’t turn the ball over.”
But even if GWS were to upset the Bulldogs, Roos still has serious reservations as to how deep into this finals series they can go. To win a maiden flag from here, GWS would need to win their next four matches in a row, something they have been unable to accomplish this season.
“I actually think they can win this weekend, but that’s the question mark. I guess that’s my point about sustainability,” Roos said. “I don’t question their talent, I don’t question parts of their game, I don’t question their ability to beat good sides – they’ve done that before. But can they do it four weeks in a row against great opposition? That’s an area they haven’t been able to address.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.