“I’ve never seen anyone train like he does. He’s elite with everything he does. He deserves to come out and play really well in these games.
“We knew he’d have some good form coming into today and it’s a credit to him, the way he trains. Hopefully some of the other boys get a taste of that and follow his lead.”
Coniglio was supported by a few other of the usual suspects for GWS, including Heath Shaw (29 disposals) and Jeremy Cameron (23 disposals, 10 marks, two goals), while young gun Tim Taranto (34 disposals) had the ball on a string. Daniel Lloyd kicked three, the leading goalscorer on the field.
But draftee Jye Caldwell made perhaps the most eye-catching contribution with 14 disposals, five tackles, two goals and some intelligent play as he continues to mount a strong case for a round-one debut.
“He’s a super footballer,” Nicks said. “It’s going to take a while, obviously, to settle into the speed of the game but that’s the second game now in a row – we had a praccy match against Sydney last week and he played really well in that, was one of the standouts for us.
“Just his inside work, his body work, for a young kid he puts his body on the line and his teammates love that.”
The Swans, in contrast, were clearly rusty. They saw plenty of the ball, particularly in the second half, but could not make it count where it mattered. Most of their established names were quiet, but Isaac Heeney led the way with 24 touches, two goals and five clearances.
Coach John Longmire admitted they never recovered from a poor first quarter, in which the Swans were held goalless. “We won the next three, but you’re really playing catch-up after that point,” he said.
“We really only played in spurts. We cut down a few of the things they were doing well in the second half but then they got some easy goals.
“It’s early days but we’ve got a bit to work on and we’ll keep working on that.”
Both teams went into the clash with fairly strong line-ups, although the Swans were forced to make one late change with veteran Heath Grundy scratched due to back tightness and replaced with James Rose.
But it was all the Giants early, dominant in every aspect. The first goal came after just 22 seconds through Coniglio, who soccered a loose ball off the ground. Coniglio finished the quarter with 15 disposals and three tackles.
GWS had three goals before the Swans had even gone inside 50, and four before their opponents finally managed to hit the scoreboard through a Jackson Thurlow behind. By quarter-time, the deficit was 30 points.
Swans players conducted what appeared to be an impromptu conference amongst themselves before joining their coaches and breaking into their line groups, presumably to address their poor start and what they would do to rectify it.
It took a while, but the worm started to turn. Isaac Heeney broke through for Sydney’s first goal 17 minutes into the second quarter, and two more – from George Hewett and Justin McInerney – quickly followed, shaving the margin in half. Having barely touched the ball prior to their scoring run, Sam Reid finally started to make an impact up forward as he continued his comeback from an injury-wrecked 2018.
Their momentum carried after half-time, with the Swans booting the first three goals of the third quarter to close to within three points.
But Caldwell’s second of the night seemed to turn the tide, and the Giants hit right back with another three majors – two of them to Lloyd – to restore their advantage to 25 points. From there, GWS were never headed.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.