“Remember where you were the first time little brother hammered big brother.”
Dwayne Russell’s words echoed through the Fox Footy broadcast as Lachie Whitfield’s kick sailed through goal in the Giants’ Round 1 clash against the Swans in 2014.
It was the beginning of the Giants’ third AFL campaign and there was no bigger way to start the season than with a victory against the club that had an average winning margin of 79 against them.
Each week, Aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides before their upcoming clash.
Former Lion and inaugural Giants co-captain, Luke Power, was in the coaches’ box as his side took to the field, knowing how big the match was for the young GWS troops due to the time of year and because it was against their cross-town rivals.
“Over time, the Swans probably thought the Giants disrespected them a little bit in terms of being the new kid on the block and being young, aggressive kids,” Power told Aflplayers.com.au.
“Truth be known, everyone at the Giants wanted to emulate the Swans culture. We talked about the Swans being the peak in the competition and the team we wanted to build our culture around.
“The Swans probably thought we were at them all the time but it couldn’t be further from the truth and we actually talked about them in terms of their culture.”
The game was tight throughout.
The Swans threatened to blow out the contest during the second term, getting out to a 24-point lead midway through, but three late goals to the Giants kept them at arms length.
Only seven points separated the pair at half time, with the main change being extended due to lightning in the area which Power said allowed the inexperienced Giants to recover for longer from the taxing affair.
The scores stayed tight, with Sydney taking a three-point lead into the final term. John Longmire’s men, who would eventually play off in a Grand Final some 26 weeks later, again threatened to dominate the contest, registering five behinds in the opening 13 minutes.
The inaccuracies would prove costly for the Swans, with the Giants growing more confident as Leon Cameron’s first game at the helm began to close.
“The Swans are relentless and that was a big message whenever we played against Sydney,” Power said.
“We had to match them and as the game wore on, the Swans missed a few shots which kept us in the game in the last quarter and, the longer it went and the closer the scores got, our players got a bit of belief and matched them for the last 10 minutes and we were able to run over the top of them.”
And run over the top they did. The Swans failed to score a goal in the final term as the Giants kicked six unanswered goals to win by 33 points — registering their first victory against Sydney.
For Power, the win was significant for the Giants’ development and especially for one of their co-captain’s who managed to keep the dangerous Lance Franklin to seven touches and only one goal.
“The Swans were the benchmark, so it was a milestone for the young Giants. Footy week-to-week makes you forget pretty quickly about what happened during the year but it was massive at the time,” Power said.
“The story of the night for us was Phil Davis’ effort. It was almost like a leader was born that night. He’d been great from the start in terms of voice and instruction but that night his teammates noticed how tough he was to stay out on the field and play against one of the best players in the competition and keep him to one goal.
“He got a knock on the kidney in the first quarter so that was the big point of the night for me. We were pretty close to him being in serious trouble. Besides playing again, he was really crook in terms of his wellbeing and was in hospital for a while after that.”
The Giants would win another five games for the year as the Swans stormed into their second Grand Final in three years, but this Round 1 victory signified big brother handing the baton to little brother a bit earlier than expected.