Giants weigh options to stop Richmond star
LEON Cameron could choose to run the gauntlet and not heavily tag Dustin Martin on Saturday night despite the hottest season in AFL history.
The GWS coach has an array of options, including run-with star Stephen Coniglio and hardheaded co-captain Callan Ward.
Yet Saturday’s preliminary final shapes as a clash free of heavy tags if recent history is any guide. In Round 18 Martin was coming off his most dominant game of the season against Brisbane — 40 disposals, 12 inside 50s, 14 clearances and two goals.
Yet in that MCG clash the Giants allowed him to run around opposed to unheralded midfielder Matthew Kennedy for much of the game.
The result: another “triple double”, as Martin had 31 disposals, 11 clearances, 10 inside-50s and a goal in a 19-point Tigers victory.
The injured Coniglio did not play in that contest and, as a tagger who made the All Australian 40 last year, he seems the perfect candidate.
He runs hard and can play inside and outside.
But in the effortless win over West Coast, Cameron chose to prioritise ball movement over restricting the opposition’s stars.
He didn’t tag any of Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis or Sam Mitchell.
This year Coniglio has tagged Jack Steven in Round 7, played on Patrick Dangerfield for 31 minutes in Round 23 and Matt Crouch for 44 minutes in the qualifying final.
None of them were pure tags, with Crouch one of Adelaide’s best players with 31 disposals.
In the Round 9 win over Richmond, Ward went headto-head with Martin for 22 minutes when the Brownlow Medal favourite played in the midfield.
At Richmond, Shaun Grigg shapes as the midfield cooler most likely to go to young star Josh Kelly.
But while the Tigers have used Grigg, Kane Lambert and even Dion Prestia in accountable roles they don’t run with a start-to-finish tagger.
Kelly wasn’t tagged in Round 9 and had 31 possessions, but Grigg went to him for 47 minutes in the Round 18 win. Kelly had 11 touches to Grigg’s 10, a victory for the Tigers on what was a heavy MCG track.
Leon Cameron had a triumphant game from the coaches box against West Coast, with revitalised ruckman Rory Lobb shaping as a real concern for Richmond ruckman Toby Nankervis.
But if Coniglio affixes himself to Martin’s side from the first bounce, it will be a significant departure from Cameron’s strategies this season.