1. The inspiring story of Zac Williams
The 18-year-old from Narrandera in the NSW Riverina capped his remarkable rise from obscurity by making his debut for the Giants against the Suns. A member of the GWS academy program in 2012, Williams caught the eye of the club’s recruiting scouts in a big way when he was best-on-ground in Narrandera’s Riverina league Grand Final win over Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka last September. He was then selected by the Giants with pick 55 in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft. After some impressive performances in the Giants’ NEAFL team, Williams was promoted to the club’s senior list in place of key forward Jon Patton, who recently had a knee reconstruction. A number of Williams’ family members, including his mum, who raised him almost single-handedly (his father passed away a number of years ago), were in the stands to see him play his first AFL game. A fleet-footed midfielder, Williams started across half-forward and had the crowd roaring when he flatted Suns player Matt Shaw with a strong but fair bump in the first couple of minutes. Williams ended the afternoon with 13 possessions and three tackles.
2. Runners wearing blue
The issue of the runners wearing orange, even in games involving Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast, became truly farcical when Suns defender Jarrod Harbrow kicked across goal to one of his team’s runners during the round one clash with St Kilda. Basically, something had to be done to stop the clash between the shirts worn by the runners and the jumpers worn by the Suns and the Giants. It took until round five, but common sense finally prevailed when the runners took to the field wearing light blue.
3. The big dollar derby
Two of the AFL‘s highest-paid players, Gary Ablett and Tom Scully, went head-to-head in the opening quarter. The Gold Coast skipper had the better of the contest, collecting nine possessions in the opening term to Scully’s two. The duo started the second quarter side by side, and the former continued to have the upper hand. They were separated when Ablett was moved to full-forward around five minutes into the second term. Ablett made the most of his new match-up with Sam Reid, kicking a goal and setting up numerous others. Scully also made his presence felt, booting a nice running goal as the Giants fought their way back into the game before half-time. Ablett was kept to just two possessions by Toby Greene in the third quarter, but he came back to life with a brilliant goal early in the last quarter. Ablett finished the day with 32 possessions and three majors, while Scully ended with 15 touches and that single goal.
4. Big bombs
Gold Coast had the upper hand for much of the second quarter. In fact, it proved to be the Suns’ highest-scoring quarter in their history, with their haul of 7.8 (50) eclipsing their previous best of 7.3 (45) against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium last year. But three of the Greater Western Sydney boys also made their presence felt during the second quarter, with Devon Smith, Jeremy Cameron and Dylan Shiel all bombing goals from at least 60m out. Smith’s effort was the play of the day. He received the ball in the middle of the “Lest We Forget” sign on the wing, then ran to 80m out. There was no one in the Giants’ attacking 50m arc, so Smith kicked a torpedo punt towards goal. It bounced about 25m out, but rolled and rolled and went through.
5. Big Charlie fires up
Gold Coast key forward Charlie Dixon is an old-fashioned footballer. A big burly Queenslander, who sports a beard and drives a ute, Dixon resembles the sort of blokes that ran around in the VFL in the 1970s. The 22-year-old from Cairns has taken time to acclimatise to the standard of footy in the AFL, but he came forth with a breakout performance against the Giants. Dixon kicked four goals during the first half, his work including a couple of contested marks and a brilliant baulk around Callan Ward. Dixon finished with six goals, which broke the previous club record of five that was set by Nathan Krakouer in the first QClash in 2011. In addition, Gold Coast also broke its previous record score. The Suns ended the afternoon with 21.22 (148), eclipsing their previous record of 18.16 (124), which they kicked in the same QClash that Krakouer kicked his five goals.