AFL Round Two Performance Reviews – Part II






AFL football never ceases to amaze me!! Just when you think you have a handle of where teams are situated the whole thing gets turned on its head after one round. There will be a host of very disappointed teams licking their wounds this week after some surprising results. So let’s put each club under the microscope after their round two performances.


BRISBANE LIONS: Its small steps for the Lions in 2016, they have planted the seeds for success now they just have to be patient and wait for them to grow. Brisbane have a batch of young position players that are going to take time to find their feet at AFL level. The position of the Lions list means that an opening two rounds against West Coast and North Melbourne was always going to be tough ask. But positives can be taken from both games, firstly reaching the 100 points mark against last years runners up in Perth, then a committed round two performance at home against last years preliminary finalists North Melbourne. The Lions had to make the most of any opportunities they got in front of goal if they were to cause an upset, but were left to rue a string of missed chances early in the second quarter. From there the Roos kicked six goals to two for the quarter and the result was decided.

The Lions are a team that need all their best players on the field and playing well to have any chance of beating the top eight sides, which makes the calf injury sustained by Captain Tom Rockliff on the weekend a bitter pill to swallow. With midfielder Dayne Beams already on the sidelines the injury to Rockliff means the Lions will be without their two best players for the next few matches. An insight into the problems these injuries create was seen against the Roos who identified Daniel Rich as the Lions most damaging midfielder and clamped down heavily on the classy left footer. Without the support of the experienced Rockliff and Beams, Rich really struggled to cope with the tight North Melbourne tag. This is a scenario Rich and the Lions have to overcome whether it means Rich goes to half back, deep forward or simply works harder and finds a way of beating the tag in the midfield as all the good onballers have had to do.

The tough start to the season continues for the Lions with them having to tackle Geelong at Simmonds Stadium in round three. With the Cats looking to rebound from an unexpected loss to GWS, the Lions will need all hands on deck if they are to prevent a blow out against the Cats.

NORTH MELBOURNE: The Kangaroos disposed of the Brisbane Lions to start the season with two solid wins and push forward to greater challenges that will tell us more about where North Melbourne sit in the 2016 premiership landscape. The Kangaroos have become the Tasmania of AFL football, a place where everyone goes to retire and why not, the experienced players that North Melbourne are bringing in are taking their game to whole new levels. Since crossing from Carlton Jarrad Waite’s form has been nothing short of remarkable and perhaps a little surprising. The impressive part of Waite’s game on the weekend was the 23 disposals he accumulated, this is a good example of how hard the key forward is working to provide an option for his teammates. The fact Waite, Brent Harvey and Daniel Wells were the Kangaroos best players on the weekend can be looked at two ways. The positive is that these experienced players are keeping such a high level play and are setting the example for the younger players. Or the negative is that the success of the Kangaroos still heavily relies on the performances of the older guys rather than the younger guys pushing through.

Next is a home game at Blundstone Arena against the Melbourne Demons. North have to make the most of this winnable games early in the season.

ST KILDA: Hard to know how to rate the Saints this year, their round one loss to the Power looked encouraging but they would have been disappointed with their round two effort against the Western Bulldogs. Playing the Bulldogs this year looks a tough assignment for any club, but for the Saints to only manage 5 goals for the game and still rely on the tireless work of Nick Riewoldt to produce a lot of their scores is disappointing. The Saints are well aware of the burden Riewoldt carries and have taken steps to rectify this situation. The unexpected season long suspension of new recruit Jake Carlisle, and the understandable long term view of the development of Paddy McCartin are short term hurdles St Kilda face. But the long term picture looks promising with Carlisle, McCartin and last years leading goal kicker Josh Bruce forming the foundation for a very potent forward line in seasons to come.

A chance to play a big game at the MCG against Collingwood awaits the Saints in round three. After the rollercoaster early season form of the Magpies its hard to measure the Saints chances in this game. The minimum that the Saints fans will be expecting is a committed competitive effort the closer that gets them to winning the game the better.

WESTERN BULLDOGS: Is it a mirage? Or is this the greatest challenger to the mighty Hawthorn juggernaut. The picture will become a little clearer after this Sunday’s blockbuster match against the two sides. I think sometimes these blockbuster games don’t get the build up they deserve, and get lost in the off field dramas that often consume a lot of the media surrounding the AFL. Will the Bulldogs 2016 run and gun style of play stack up against the power and precision of the mighty Hawthorn team. The Western Bulldogs are a ball winning, running machine, looking through the team that beat the Saints on the weekend only Jordan Roughead , Easton Wood , Tom Boyd and Dale Morris play are taller stationary role in the team, the rest of the side is made up of ball gathering runners it is an amazing team dynamic. The Bulldogs play a Russian Roulette type of footy that is exciting to watch, but how will it cope against a Hawks side that pride themselves on being able to keep possession of the footy and deny the opposition the ball. In case you can’t tell this is a game I cannot wait for.

FREMANTLE: How quickly the mighty have fallen. I was very suspicious of a drop off from the ageing Fremantle side in 2016. But this early season form is alarming to even me. As calm as Ross Lyon seems he will be churning inside, the scores given up by the Dockers in the first two rounds go against all the fundamental principles Ross Lyon builds his teams around. While there is still genuine talent in this side and they will still win enough games to be in the mix for finals the days of this particular Dockers side contending for the flag are numbered. The lack of young talent coming through to regenerate this team is a worry, understandable the Dockers have poured all their resources including their early draft picks into trying to find that missing piece of the puzzle to win that elusive Premiership. Similar to the Ross Lyon coached St Kilda side if the mountain summit is not reached it can be a quick and steep fall back down.

The match up between the two best players in the competition in Nat Fyfe and Gazza Ablett resulted in a points decision to Fyfe. Although Ablett’s performance was a contributing factor in his teams win the game of Fyfe was exceptional. The one man wrecking ball had 34 disposals and kicked three goals to be not only be clearly the Dockers best midfielder but also its most dangerous forward. The only thing Fyfe can possible do to play any better is loosen his “Man Bun” that thing is pulled back so tight it looks like his head is going to explode.

A derby match against local rivals the West Coast Eagles is the perfect match to “fire up” the Dockers machine. But the Eagles are the possess of one of the most dangerous attacks in the AFL, and a special Ross Lyon inspired defence effort will be needed if the Dockers are to prevail.

GOLD COAST SUNS: Finally they have arrived!!! What took you so long? Is the question one could ask about the Suns. After The greatest win in the clubs history it finally looks like the Suns are going to raise their game to a new level and compete against the competitions heavyweights. A club that has been unable to show its true potential because of a spate of injuries over the last couple of years is finally getting some continuity in its selection of players. The fact Gold Coast are still missing two of their most promising midfielders Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow is an indication of the talent they have at their disposal. The early season form of young Tasmanian Aaron Hall has been breathtaking, in the first two rounds he has outshone the great Gary Ablett, but I am sure the little master won’t mind playing second fiddle if it means more wins for the Gold Coast. Key forward monster Tom Lynch who just signed a contract extension with the Suns, is the real deal this guy is already one of the best forwards in the competition and his early season form indicates he is ready to tear apart opposition clubs. Jack Martin is a player who’s talents have been spruiked about by the Suns for a couple of years and on the weekend we got a little taste of what all the fuss is about. Martin looks like a natural forward, his leading patterns and marking were first class and he has an effortless kicking style that looks build to get lots of goals in the AFL.

The next car to be in the way of the Gold Coast Monster Truck is the famous Carlton footy club. Mark it down as another crushing win for the Gold Coast Suns.


Read Part 1 of Trevor’s Round 2 Performance Review

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