In round 18 of this year’s AFL Premiership season Greater Western Sydney Giants played their first game at the MCG in a whopping 464 days, their last encounter being in round one of the 2016 premiership season. What some people might find even more startling is the fact that, in the club’s five-year history, they have only won at the MCG once, which was against Melbourne in Round 21 of 2014. However, the Giants haven’t had many opportunities to take home the four points at the ‘G, having only played 11 games at the ground since they debuted in 2012. And this has some fans worried.
For their 11th showing at the MCG, the Giants took on Richmond, going down by 19 points. After a dominant start in the wet, GWS didn’t score a goal until the 16th minute mark of the 3rd quarter, compared to the Tigers’ 6. GWS won almost every statistic that counts except the inside 50s where Richmond led 61-51. This really hurt GWS on the scoreboard and even when they could get it inside their 50 they couldn’t convert, with only 16 shots at goal from their 51 insides. It’s very possible that GWS could come up against Richmond in the finals and they are going to want to up their use of the ball inside the 50 as well as their pressure at both ends with only 9 tackles inside 50 compared to Richmond’s 18.
While the AFL world has a large focus on the Westcoast Eagles’ inability to perform at the home of the Grand Final, there has been next to no talk about whether or not GWS will be able to perform on the biggest stage of the year. Their record at the MCG would greatly affect their chances on Grand Final day if they were to make it. Considering GWS are one of 2017’s premiership favourites it is extremely surprising that the experts aren’t discussing what could be a major setback to their premiership campaign. The Giants don’t play at the MCG for the rest of the home and away season and if they keep their top 2 position until finals begin they may not play at the MCG again until Grand Final day.
For GWS fans, these statistics would be extremely concerning considering the Grand Final is played at this ground. It begs the question that many interstate teams could pose, how big of a role does the ‘home ground advantage’ play when it comes to winning on Grand Final day?
Twitter user and avid Giants fan Jessica described her team’s time away from the MCG as “ridiculous.”
“I 100% think it’s an advantage getting to play all your home games throughout the season at the MCG as opposed to interstate sides who only get to play between one and six,” Jessica said.
Jessica went on to say that “the MCG’s oval dimensions are not the same as either of our home grounds … so adapting to the size (of the MCG) come finals may prove to be a struggle as it’s much wider than both.”
Greater Western Sydney have two home grounds, playing at both Manuka Oval (Canberra) and Spotless Stadium (Sydney). GWS play a majority of their home games at Spotless Stadium and as you can see from the photos below, the MCG is significantly wider.
Richmond supporter Joshua Holt told D*scribe that he agreed his team did have an advantage when it came to the Grand Final’s location. “(The MCG) is much wider so play isn’t as congested as most other grounds, so certain tactics interstate teams use at their home grounds won’t work as well.”
Josh and Jessica were not the only footy fans discussing this hot topic. Here’s what some twitter users had to say on the issue.
Despite having the odds against them, Jessica still has faith in her beloved Giants and their ability to win the AFL Premiership, saying “I still believe we have the list of talented players needed to win the ultimate prize in AFL”.