No crowd, no wor­ries for GWS

Manawatu Standard - - SPORT - AUS­TRALIAN RULES

Greater West­ern Syd­ney are con­fi­dent they can per­form in front of what looms as the big­gest crowd in their seven-year his­tory after host­ing the small­est VFL-AFL fi­nals at­ten­dance in 101 years.

The Giants’ 67-point semi­fi­nal can­ing of West Coast on Satur­day night at Spot­less Sta­dium was wit­nessed by just 14,865 fans, the small­est fi­nals crowd since Fitzroy and Colling­wood drew just un­der 10,000 to an MCG semi­fi­nal in 1916.

Next Satur­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal be­tween the Giants and resur­gent Rich­mond is ex­pected to draw at least 80,000 fans.

That would eas­ily eclipse the pre­vi­ous best crowd for a Giants game of 60,222 who watched the all­syd­ney qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal against the Swans last year at ANZ Sta­dium. re­ported for­mer Tigers leg­end Matthew Richard­son as say­ing: ‘‘It [next Satur­day’s game] will be the most one-sided crowd in the his­tory of the game.’’

GWS coach Leon Cameron and his play­ers are adamant their club can deal with an over­whelm­ingly hos­tile au­di­ence in ad­di­tion to a red-hot Rich­mond side hun­gry for a first flag in 37 years.

‘‘As soon as that ball bounces, it doesn’t mat­ter whether there’s 85,000 Rich­mond sup­port­ers and 10 or 15 Giants sup­port­ers, it’s got noth­ing to do with the re­sult,’’ Cameron said.

‘‘The re­sult will be de­ter­mined by who has the best 22 on the day.’’

Cameron said there was no way to pre­pare his play­ers for the kind of at­mos­phere they would face next Satur­day, but pointed out they had won in front of big, hos­tile away crowds.

‘We’ve won games in Perth this year. We’ve won games in places that no doubt the crowd is big­ger than our home crowd,’’ he said.

‘‘But our guys are ab­so­lutely

itch­ing to get to the MCG.

‘‘We’ve come in a dif­fer­ent way this year. Last year we were the ones that ob­vi­ously had to wait.

‘‘But I can’t see our play­ers wor­ry­ing about the sup­port the op­po­si­tion will have be­cause a lot of th­ese guys are just born to play on the MCG in fi­nals.’’

Among the rea­sons be­ing touted for Satur­day’s small at­ten­dance, which was lower than the home and away crowd of 15,751 for the two clubs at the same venue four weeks ear­lier, was the evening start time and higher ticket prices for fi­nals.

The NRL fi­nals game be­tween Par­ra­matta and North Queens­land held si­mul­ta­ne­ously down the road at ANZ Sta­dium at­tracted al­most three times the crowd.

Also in west­ern Syd­ney ear­lier on Satur­day, the Matil­das’ foot­ball in­ter­na­tional against Brazil at Pen­rith pulled a slightly big­ger at­ten­dance than the AFL fi­nals match.

Steve John­son, left, and Tim Taranto of the GWS Giants cel­e­brate a goal dur­ing their win over the West Coast Ea­gles.

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