AFL Round One Performance Reviews



RICHMOND: The round one mission for the Tigers was a win against the Blues. And they completed that mission. The four points are about all Richmond can take out of their opening match. With high expectations surrounding the yellow and black this year, many of the Tiger Army would have left the MCG on Thursday night a bit shell shocked and even disappointed with their teams performance. The Richmond midfield had a bit of a reality check after they were soundly beaten by their Carlton opponents. The Tigers were caught out by the Blues quick and precise ball movement which seemed to come as a surprise to not only the Richmond players but to all footy fans watching the match. The ruck position is a real concern for the Tigers without Ivan Maric. Shaun Hampson really struggled to impact the game but with the ruck stocks at tiger land pretty thin, Hampson is the only viable option and will simply have to improve his output till Maric comes back. One of the highlights of any tigers match is watching the defencive master class put on by Alex Rance, this man is simply on another level to any other key defender in the competition at the moment and the tigers may well have lost their opening game if not for the backline blocker. I am sure we will see a much improved Richmond side in the round two Friday night blockbuster against a Collingwood side that will come out breathing fire after their round one embarrassment.


CARLTON: The Blues did everything but win the game against a more fancied tigers team. New Coach Brendan Bolton’s influence on the team and his philosophy on what successful AFL looks like was evident very early in the game. The blue print for his game plan is obviously based upon the Hawthorn and Alistair Clarkson model that comprises of quick movement of the ball, precision kicking and a flexible and unpredictable forward line. Bolton could not have asked for any more from his players they were hard and tough for most of the night and although they fell behind a couple of times on the scoreboard they never dropped their heads and kept coming at the tigers right until the final siren. Carltons midfield is their strength Marc Murphy Bryce Gibbs and Patrick Cripps are the teams three best players and lead the way on Thursday night. All three would have been in the top five players on the ground which makes it hard to understand how Carlton actually lost the game. While the three midfielders all played well special mention has to be made of Patty Cripps, this kid is going to be a superstar his strength in the stoppages is something to behold and he will give Carlton fans a lot to brag about in years to come. While their round one performance was maybe a bit surprising and may have lifted fans expectations for the year the reality is the Blues are going to struggle to win games this year and will have some bad losses against the top teams. But the success of this season will not be measured on wins and losses but on player development and consistent performances like the one they produced in round one.


MELBOURNE: Played at the traditional football timeslot of Saturday afternoon at the mighty MCG, the game between, the Melbourne Demons and the GWS Giants was enthralling. The Demons’ last quarter was a perfect example of everything that is special about AFL football. You couldn’t help but be swept away by the emotion of the Melbourne players and supporters as they sensed a victory the energy coming from the long suffering demons supporters in that pulsating last quarter could be felt through the television screen. It was sports entertainment at its best. The reaction and emotion from Paul Roos and the other coaches in the Melbourne box was an insight into how much hard work has gone into this team. Progress is the most important factor when building anything in life including a football team, it keeps everyone motivated with the belief that things are moving in the right direction and justifies the actions and decisions made to get to that point. And the progress of the Demons cannot be denied. Despite being three goals down going into the last quarter against a highly talented Giants side the Melbourne player’s belief was never shaken, they simply raised their game to another level and ran over the top of a helpless Giants side. After being well beaten in the first three quarters Jesse Hogan exploded in the last quarter to kick three goals and lead his team to victory. The Melbourne hierarchy have to do whatever it takes to keep this young superstar at the club long term. Nathan Jones and Jack Viney are two of the most hard working and consistent midfielders in the competition and again did the majority of the grunt work in the middle of the ground on Saturday. Jack Watts has always been a hot topic for Melbourne fans but his performances seem to be elevating with an improving team being built around him. Some players you can build a team around others just add the finishing touches to a good team they add polish and skill this could be a perfect example of Jack Watts. Melbourne will go into round two against Essendon as favourites, something they are unaccustomed to. It will be another test of their progress to go out and professionally get the job done against the bombers.


GWS: Disappointing would be the best and nicest way to describe the first up performance of the Giants. For a team that is looking to elevate itself into the top eight sides in the competition this was a real body blow. Although the fact that the Giants kicked 18 behinds was a big reason why they lost the game the fact is they just simply had to find away to beat the Demons. With not afforded many opportunities to play at the MCG this was a great chance to get a rare win at the home of footy. The fact the Giants were the better side for the majority of the game and played some really good football for the first three quarters makes the lose even harder to take. This was the perfect example of the one that got away. James Stewart and Adam Tomlinson had a big opportunity to cement a spot in the Giants side, with Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron out of the side but both were disappointing and will need to improve their performances if they are to stay in the side when the two young stars come back in. Callan Ward is at the peak of his powers and was probably best on ground, he really epitomises the way a captain should play. Other encouraging signs for the Giants was the games of young defender Caleb marchbank who for three quarters helped control the Demons forwards. 206cm Rory Lobb looked dangerous up forward but let himself and the team down with his kicking for goal. The old magician Steve Johnson still has a few tricks in his bag and if he keeps that standard of play up for the whole year it will be a huge bonus for the Giants. Another interesting player for GWS is Tom Scully the hard running midfielder is starting to get some consistence in his game and while he may not be the superstar some expect from a number one pick, he could still be a vital cog in the Giants midfield. The fight for four points gets harder for the Giants with around two clash against the highly touted Geelong Cats.


GOLD COAST: The Suns took care of business. In a clinical and professional performance Gold Coast did what the GWS failed to do and that was win a game they were expected to. For the multitude of teams that will be battling for a place in the eight at the end of the year the percentage gained in games against Essendon will be vital. We will have to wait until later in the season to see if a ten goal win against the Bombers is a pass mark or not. When the Gold Coast have a reasonably injury free list from which to pick their team from you start to get an idea of the talent this club has at their disposal. After having last season ruined by injury the Gary Ablett show has resumed normal broadcasting. The little master will be looking to reclaim his mantle as the number one player in the game. An example of the talent the Suns have is that even after losing a player like Charlie Dixon at the end of last year, they still have two of the most promising key forwards in the competition in Tom Lynch and Sam Day. Lynch and Day combined for six goals against the Bombers and provided a great target for the talented Gold Coast midfield to kick to. Aaron Hall accomplished one of the hardest feats in football, taking the best on ground honour away from Gary Ablett. The Young Suns midfielder has taken his game to a level that few could have predicted, his round one game of 36 possessions and 2 goals was a continuation of the form that he produced at the end of last season. What lies ahead in round two for the Suns is a date with the Fremantle Dockers at Subiaco oval. After a poor opening game the Dockers will be licking their wounds and looking to unleash some pain and frustration on the Gold Coast. What a great early season challenge for the Suns.


ESSENDON: New Essendon coach John Worsfold couldn’t have asked for much more from his team in his first game. The Bombers effort in the round one loss to the Suns couldn’t be questioned but as will happen many times throughout this season they were simply over whelmed by a more experienced and talented side. The challenges that face the Bombers this year are obvious and well documented but there is still plenty that can be achieved this season. The number one objective for Worsfold and the Bombers is the development of their young player’s. Darcy Parish was one of the first young Bombers to put his hand up after a 25 possesion debut game that was full of class and would have delighted Bombers fans. Zach Merrett looks to be relishing his extra time in the midfield with 31 possessions against the Suns and David Zaharakis has assumed the mantle of Essendon’s midfield leader after a hard running round one game that included a couple of hard earned goals. Apart from Joe Daniher the Bombers really lack quality tall forward options that can kick multiple goals in a game, which places added pressure on their midfielders and small forwards to generate goal kicking opportunities. The form of the Essendon top up players has to be closely monitored with the games of Ryan Crowley and Jonathon Simpkin well below par. These experienced top up players need to among the top contributors each week for the Bombers otherwise all they are doing is robbing valuable game time from Young Essendon players. While the top up players add valuable leadership and experience to the Essendon list a 13 possession game from a young Bombers player is of more value to the future of club than a 13 possession game from a Ryan Crowley who won’t be at the club next year. It is a fine line the Bombers will have to deal with all year between being competitive each week and doing what’s best for the future of the club. While no games this year are going to be easy the Bombers would expect to be competitive against the Demons this weekend.


SYDNEY: Wow!! I don’t think even the most fanatical of Swans supporters could have predicted that performance. From the opening bounce Sydney systematically dismantled the Collingwood team. It harassed and suffocated the Magpies until they couldn’t breathe and in the end Collingwood was lucky to escape with an 80 point loss such was the Swans dominance. It’s hard to judge a team after one performance but the Swans looked like a different team to recent years they looked quick around the ground and unpredictable in the forward line. Sydney played three first gamers in the match, which in itself is unusual but they all added a real spark and excitement to the side. Tom Papley came from the clouds to kick three goals in his first game and looks to be a genuine small forward that creates pressure and kicks goals, a position the Swans have lacked for several seasons. Another first gamer Callum Mills has filled the very important position in modern football of ball distributor off half back. Although in years to come Mills will be transitioned into the midfield his ball use off half back will be key to the Swans success this year. Although Sydney have been a ultra-consistent team that win a lot of home and away games they have really struggled in recent years to threaten the very best teams and a big reason for that is their lack of pace whether it be genuine leg speed or just speed of ball movement. Another has been kicking skill the Swans have a lot of very good players but very few elite kicks. So with the additions of Papley and Mills to the side it looks like coach John Longmire has gone about rectifying some of the Swans deficiencies and although it’s only been one game it looks like he is on the right track. Off course the big story from the game was the performance of Buddy Franklin, who although hampered with a shoulder injury for most of the match still lit up the SCG with a vintage Buddy performance. Kurt Tippett was another strong performer playing as the Swans number one ruckman he had 32 hitouts and played with an aggression rarely seen from the big man. Tippett’s ruck work was a major factor in Sydney’s domination of the centre square clearances. Clearly best on ground was Swans midfield dynamo Luke Parker who had 40 hard earned positions. Although the AFL is blessed with so many great midfielders at the moment Luke Parker’s name has to be put up near the top of the list. Next up for the Swans is a trip to Etihad stadium to play Carlton in a game they would be very confident of winning in front of all the old Bloods fans.


COLLINGWOOD: An opening round Collingwood fans would like to forget. It was like an episode of the twilight zone a team of highly talented footballers suddenly lost their ability to play, as if they had a cursed everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The Magpies were absolutely ambushed from the opening bounce and never recovered. While this performance isn’t a true reflection of the 2016 Collingwood team questions still need to be asked. It’s hard to know what happened or where to start but perhaps the best place would be the ruck, I am not sure if the fact that Travis Cloke played a lot of the second half in the ruck was punishment for his first half performance or had more to do with the output Jarrod Witts was giving. Either way putting Cloke in the ruck really didn’t help him get into the game or help his team get any ascendance in the middle of the ground. While Cloke’s first half performance was well below what the Magpies expect, it wasn’t a surprise as his teammates struggled to get the ball forward and when they did the delivery was very poor. Brodie Grundy is a very capable young ruckman and would have to be in contention for next week. The American rookie Mason Cox Looked to show good signs in the NAB cup and could at some size and athleticism to the Magpies line up. The injury to Dane Swan just topped off a bad night for the Magpies and was hard to watch for any footy fan. Swanny is one of the most liked and respected footballers in the competition and everyone will be hoping he gets back out on the park soon. The only good news out of the game for Collingwood was the performance of Adam Treloar, the former Giant is a jet and his acceleration out of congestion is straight out of the Chris Judd handbook. Now the work starts for Coach Nathan Buckley who will quickly have to find answers as to why so many professional and proven midfield performers had very poor nights. But this midfield group is to talented not to bounce back so it’s not panic stations yet for the Magpies just a rude wake up call. A Friday night blockbuster against Richmond is what awaits the Magpies in round two.




  1. Richmond got monstered by North in the final with Maric in. Our set-up is poor and our players not hard enough. I would try Vlastuin in the centre. Or Jack, he has the nous and we won’t play him out of the square anyway.

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