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Giants vs Bulldogs match day guide and preview

Match day guide for the AFL Round 6 game between the GWS Giants and Western Bulldogs.

Who, when and where?

GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs

Friday 23 April 2021 at 7.50pm. Gates open at 6:30pm 

Manuka Oval, Canberra

Click here to buy tickets.

Ladder position and recent form

GWS Giants 12th – 89.9% | 363 points for |404 points against | 2 wins & 3 losses | WWLLL

After losing their opening three games, the Giants have bounced back with two upset victories over the Magpies and Swans.

They have fielded a young side over the past two weeks which has injected some enthusiasm into the team. The youth of Lachie Ash, Tom Green and Jake Riccardi are all contributing well along with the experienced players like Callan Ward, Tim Taranto and Josh Kelly.

Western Bulldogs 1st – 178.6% | 527 points for | 295 points against | 5 wins & 0 losses | WWWWW

The Bulldogs are one of two undefeated teams after five weeks and are certainly living up to the pre-season hype.

Their midfield is their key strength and bats incredibly deep with Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley, Bailey Smith and Lachie Hunter forming a formidable group.

Last 5 meetings

  • 2020 Round 3Bulldogs 8.9 (57) defeat Giants 4.9 (33) at Marvel Stadium
  • 2019 Elimination FinalGiants 16.17 (113) defeat Bulldogs 8.7 (55) at Giants Stadium
  • 2019 Round 22 – Giants 9.11 (65) defeated by Bulldogs 19.12 (126) at Giants Stadium
  • 2018 Round 1Giants 20.13 (133) defeat Bulldogs 7.9 (51) at Manuka Oval
  • 2017 Round 21 – Bulldogs 7.15 (57) defeated by Giants 16.9 (105) at Marvel Stadium

The last five meetings between the sides have produced some large margins with the Giants claiming three wins by 58, 82 and 48 points while the Bulldogs have claimed two wins by 24 and 61 points.

They met just the once in 2020 in an empty Marvel Stadium with the Bulldogs claiming a comfortable victory in a spiteful clash.

The recent rivalry

Despite some lopsided results in recent seasons, these clashes have become must watch due to the genuine dislike between the sides. The rivalry began after their epic Preliminary Final clash in 2016 but escalated in 2019 with some real physicality between the sides.

The Giants have gone hard after Bulldogs skipper Bontempelli since he bumped Nick Haynes which left him with a fractured larynx in 2019. That was in round 22 and the sides played off in a final just three weeks later and the Giants were relentless on their attack of Bontempelli both on and off the ball. The physical barrage worked as Bontempelli had little influence on the game and the Giants won by 58 points.

They tried the same tactic last year, but it backfired as they overstepped the mark and gave away cheap free kicks and fell behind early.

It will be interesting if the Giants go after Bontempelli again after last year but it should be an incredibly physical game regardless of any off the ball stuff. If you like a footy fracas then enjoy the video below.

The stars

Giants – Toby Greene

Greene has been in stellar form for the Giants this season and was the main catalyst for their first win of the season, booting five goals against Collingwood. He was heavily involved in the Swans win as well but could only manage a staggering 1.7 in a wayward display in front of goals. He poses a difficult matchup for any defender with his exceptional aerial ability matched by his ground ball skills. The Giants have a few forwards that can cause damage, but Greene will be priority number one for the top ranked Bulldogs defence.

Bulldogs – Marcus Bontempelli

The 25-year-old looked destined to become a star when he burst onto the scene back in 2014 and he has certainly delivered on that potential. It’s not just his elite ball winning ability that hurts sides but his capacity to go forward and kick goals puts him in the top echelon of AFL players. He has already kicked three goals on two occasions this season and at 193cm tall, Bontempelli poses serious matchup problems for any defence.

Click here to view the team lists.

History at Manuka Oval

  • 2018Giants 20.13 (133) defeated Bulldogs 7.9 (51)
  • 2017Giants 11.9 (75) defeated Bulldogs 9.19 (73)
  • 2014 – Giants 12.11 (83) defeated by Bulldogs 17.8 (110)
  • 2013 – Giants 12.11 (83) defeated by Bulldogs 13.9 (87)
  • 2012 – Giants 9.8 (62) defeated by Bulldogs 15.14 (104)

The AFL clearly like scheduling these sides in Canberra as this Friday will be the 6th meeting at the venue in 14 games between the sides. The Bulldogs hold a 3-2 record but those wins came in the Giants first three seasons in the AFL when they fielded an incredibly inexperienced side.

The pick of the matches was in 2017 when the Giants came away with a two-point victory in front of a packed crowd of 14,048.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Israel Folau of the Giants looks on before the round five AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval on April 28, 2012 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Israel Folau and the Giants lining up for their first AFL match at Manuka Oval against the Bulldogs. Getty

Canberra connection

There are three players that have a relationship to Canberra playing across both teams.

For the Giants, Tom Green attended Marist College and was a part of the Giants Academy system while Harry Himmelberg moved to the nation’s capital when he was 17 to further his development. Green has shown plenty of potential as a big-bodied midfielder in his first season and bit in the AFL while Himmelberg has become a mainstay of the Giants forward line.

Josh Bruce is the Bulldogs link to Canberra having grown up in the ACT where he played his junior footy for the Eastlake Football Club. He was drafted to the Giants as a ACT zone selection to play in the TAC Cup team in 2010 before playing 14 AFL games for the club in 2012 and 2013. Bruce then went on to play 99 games for St Kilda before moving to the Bulldogs in 2020.

Other match details

This is the opening match of the ANZAC Round so there will be a remembrance ceremony pre-game.

Friday night’s match will be shown live on 7mate in the ACT and NSW and on the Seven Network nationally from 7pm as well as on. It will also be broadcast on Fox Footy and Kayo

Click here for Manuka Oval conditions of entry if attending.

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