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Twelve quick takes from AFL Round 1

26 March 2017 11:15 AM
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Twelve quick takes from AFL Round 1

A massive Round 1 of the 2017 AFL season has been run and won. No time to waste, let’s get into some quick takes.

The Bombers just have everything a good team needs – a nice mix of types in the forward line, a backline with at least one elite tall, a midfield with quality depth, and an excellent coach bringing it all together.

On top of that, they’ve got a hunger and desire and positive feeling among the team that has been born out of what they’ve been through over the last four years.

The most common question over them so far has been how quickly this team can gel together given how many of the parts of it are unfamiliar with each other – but if Saturday night’s result is anything to go by, they might already be there.

But with Brad Crouch and Scott Thompson out, and Taylor Walker too up forward, they still had more than enough talent to take flag favourites GWS to the cleaners.

They finished -6 in the clearances, but +17 in the inside 50s, +19 in the contested possessions, and with +11 tackles despite also having +67 disposals.

Rory Atkins, Richard Douglas and Matt Crouch reminded us they are all quality players in their own right, even if we don’t often see their names up on a marquee.

On top of that, the moves of Rory Laird and Charlie Cameron into the middle of the ground worked a treat – expect to see more of that in weeks to come.

Their 56-point smacking from Adelaide on Sunday was the perfect example of this. The Giants were favoured to win, but they looked uncompetitive.

They have only beat one top-eight side while playing interstate in the club’s history – a depleted and struggling North Melbourne in Round 23 last year.

Many saw the Giants as coming of age in last year’s finals series, but both of their finals were played in Sydney.

If they’re going to win the flag, they need against the best of 17 other teams at the MCG on the big day – they haven’t proven they can do that just yet.

Short version is he’s a gun – 33 disposals, four goals and four goal assists is a set of numbers rarely achieved.

Out of contract at the end of this year and a restricted free agent, the Tigers are already offering him $800,000 a year.

That’s not going to be enough, not with the salary cap set to skyrocket. If he isn’t earning a million a year in 2018 and beyond I’ll be very surprised.

Judging by his performance against the reigning premiers on Friday night – 35 touches, ten clearances, and two last-quarter goals – 2017 could be his year.

Sure, Dustin Martin would like to win that medal as well. Nat Fyfe would be hungry for it, and Patrick Dangerfield could go back to back.

Good news: it’s not an ACL. In fact he doesn’t have any structural damage to his knee, and isn’t expected to miss more than 2-4 weeks.

That’s a nice turn that is honestly refreshing when you consider how common and innocuous ACL injuries can be.

It’s a shame that he’ll miss games at all, but make no mistake, this is at the very least a decent-sized miracle for Saint Nick.

My point of view is that if a player has fought and bled for your club then they’ve earned your support, and that extends beyond when they’re on the list.

Drew did that, he did that more than 300 times for North Melbourne. So it was great to see Roos fans, for the most part, getting around him and supporting him.

It’s a testament to his character that he actually broke his hand in the second minute of the game, but played it out all the same.

His major in the last term was only the second time I’ve ever applauded an opposition goal – thought the fact that the game was already dead didn’t hurt.

Compared to the ugliness of seeing Travis Cloke heavily booed on Friday night, it made me proud to see that plenty of respect and genuine admiration still exists between Drew, the club, and the fans.

I didn’t give the Power much of a chance in this match – any, really – but they kept in the match well in the first half, then ran away with the win in the second.

Is it the start of a resurgence, the kind that can save Ken Hinkley’s career? Very possibly. This was the best game they’ve played in two years, and by a considerable margin.

That said, it’s only Round 1, so caution is warranted. And the same goes for writing off Sydney. They’ve got enough credits in the bank for us to give them the benefit of the doubt.

They did more the overcome their demons, they left them for dead – although they had something of a slowish start, it was just all them from the second quarter onwards.

The young guns are stepping up in no uncertain manner. Jordan Lewis is an awesome recruit. Mitch Hannan on debut was very impressive. Michael Hibberd and Dom Tyson are itching to come back in.

I’m already regretting my decision not to but them in my top eight this year.

Will Hoskin-Elliott has been flying under the radar but he – and the Pies – deserve some kind words for a clever piece of recruiting.

I have been a fan of his ever since he finished the 2014 season in ripping form. Sadly, due largely to injury, he didn’t go on with it.

Keep a close eye on him this year. He was good on the big stage on Friday night, and he has the skill set to be genuine star of the competition.

(Plus, everyone knows that blokes with Elliott in their name are just the best kind of people.)

Well, time makes fools of us all, especially me, and usually very quickly. They improved in the latter half and almost won the thing.

Brisbane are getting the new-coach bounce, that much is clear. Hopefully for their sake it lasts longer than two quarters.

As for the Suns, they have the talent, but who knows if they’ve got the process sorted just yet. I’m not at all convinced they have.

Probably the only thing to say with certainty is that we’re going to need to see more from both of these teams before we can make any definitive calls on where they’re at.

Instead let’s talk about Harry Taylor – he has played as a key defender throughout his career with the occasional foray forward as a swingman.

On Sunday night though he played much of the game as a forward as had been foreshadowed during the pre-season, but was held scoreless and didn’t exactly get rave reviews from his performance.

It’s true that the Cats could use another tall to support Tom Hawkins up forward, but against teams with taller forward lines than Fremantle (which is most teams), Taylor will be needed back much more than he was on Sunday night.

The Cats have North Melbourne and Melbourne in the next two weeks, and can probably afford to continue the experiment that far, but if Taylor doesn’t make some magic up forward by then they’ll want to have him in the backline against Hawthorn in Round 4.

Also read: Grounds for concern: Are AFL Canberra's days at Manuka Oval numbered?


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Comments - 4
Roar Guru

26 March 2017 11:18 PM

Thanks Lofty!

Roar Rookie

26 March 2017 11:18 AM

Pies might actually go ok this year, which means Pendles could even pick up some votes! But the best moment of the round (and there were a lot of eligible moments) was the look on Joffa’s face when Trav kicked it straight over his head. LOLOLOL

Roar Guru

26 March 2017 11:16 AM

One thing is for sure, Brisbane have just avoided the wooden spoon. Brisbane are more honest than GCS.

Roar Guru

26 March 2017 11:15 AM

I wonder if Rocket Eade will last the season…