Giants play it cool, AFL rivalry reignites

·2-min read

GWS are determined to keep their cool as they brace for another heated chapter of a growing AFL rivalry with the Western Bulldogs.

The Giants, having pipped Sydney by two points in a dramatic derby, next confront the ladder-leading Bulldogs in Canberra on Friday night.

Geography dictates Sydney derbies carry a little extra spice, but in recent years there has been a lot more rage, resentment, spite and scraps during GWS-Bulldogs clashes.

The league fined 15 players after the corresponding fixture in 2020, when the Giants gave away 26 free kicks - their equal worst for the season - en route to a 24-point loss.

Triple premiership star and GWS board member Jimmy Bartel was scathing at the time, arguing Leon Cameron's side failed to back up "tough guy acts" with "fundamentals of the game".

Young midfielder Tom Green, who will be tackling the Bulldogs for the first time, says GWS can't afford to lose control at Manuka Oval.

"Last year a bit of ill-discipline probably hurt us," Green said on Monday.

"That'll be a real focus. You want to fly the flag, look after your teammates and what not.

"But you can't be doing stuff that is going to detract from us trying to win the game, which is the most important thing.

"We should be able to handle that stuff and keep our tempers in check."

The rivalry was largely sparked in 2014, when then Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen joined GWS.

The clubs clashed in an epic 2016 preliminary final then a fiery elimination final in 2019, when Toby Greene copped a $7500 fine for serious misconduct after making contact with Marcus Bontempelli's face.

"I know a fair bit is made about the Giants-Bulldogs rivalry," Green said.

"There's obviously a bit in the contest, so I'm really excited.

"We've built a really strong rivalry over the last five years. It's certainly a game that everyone looks forward to."

Green, who has helped the Giants bank consecutive wins after a 0-3 start, added winning the midfield battle will be crucial to his side's hopes of upsetting the undefeated Dogs.

"They are going really well at the minute. Sydney are obviously going really well this year too, but we managed to knock them off," the 20-year-old said.

"The Bulldogs have a really strong midfield, a lot of guys in really good form.

"So it probably starts at the centre bounce, the coal face. Taking care of business inside then we can get our game plan going.

"When we get that going, we can beat anybody in the comp."