AFL Round Two Performance Reviews

PART ONE

BY: Trevor Kannegiesser

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.

 

COLLINGWOOD: The Magpies got the win they needed to get their season started. Collingwood had to pinch the win out of Richmond’s back pocket, but after last week the Magpies will take the four points any way they can get them. They still look a long way off the potentially top four team I was calling them preseason. Collingwood’s foot skills where well below AFL standard and you got the feeling during the last quarter that the Tigers always had the Magpies at arms length. But they never gave up and if you keep believing funny things can happen. The emotion from the Collingwood players and coaches after Brodie Grundy’s match winning goal was an insight into the pressure a loss like last weeks has on one of the biggest sporting clubs in Australia.

Brodie Grundy’s performance makes his non selection last week even more puzzling. While Grundy will struggle to get over the top of some of the AFL’s big monsters in the centre square bounces, his athleticism around the ground and his sheer will to compete make him a vital part of the Collingwood team.

A Collingwood Football Club under pressure who is the man that stands up? Of course it was their Captain Scott Pendelbury, a proud warrior who would have taken last week’s performance harder than most. Carrying an injury into the game meant Pendelbury spent more time across half back than his customary position in the middle of the ground. In a game riddled with skill error’s Pendelbury’s decision making and skills stood out like a beacon.

Darcy Moore is a young footballer with talent and attitude, the contests he provided in the Magpies forward line against the premier backman in the league was a big reason the Pies won the game.

Collingwood play St Kilda next week at the MCG , a game that at the start of the season they would have been confident of winning but the Saints are an improving side and the Magpies will have to improve their game to win.

RICHMOND: A team that has made the finals for the last three years should have had the skill and experience to close out this game. A two goal lead with a couple of minutes left is a situation all teams would go through at training. Slowing the game down, denying the opposition the ball are basic skills that good sides execute in the dying stages of games. But this was a position Richmond should never have found themselves in, basic skill errors and poor goal kicking stop the Tigers from getting the scoreboard dominance they deserved during the game. Suddenly a Tiger’s team that looked like a top four side at the beginning of the year is now not playing well enough to even make the top eight. If Richmond are to take the next step this year a sharp improvement in the way they are playing is needed.

One positive for the Tigers this year has been the performances of Bachar Houli in the first two games. Houli’s run and carry against the Magpies was impressive, perhaps better known for his outside run and long kicking Houli’s willingness for the contest and run to support his teammates would be most pleasing to Damien Hardwick.

Jack Riewoldt hasn’t got the title of Captain but he is definitely the leader of this team. His passion on the footy field is infectious and he is willing to do whatever it takes to make his teammates better and win the game. Not only is Riewoldt the Tigers best kick for goal, but is also its best overall field kick in the team which was on full display on Friday night with some scintillating passes into the Tigers forward 50.

Richmond are in desperate need for the return of Ivan Maric, while Maric has his limitations he will give the Tigers a big improvement in the ruck. Shaun Hampson gets lost at times on the football ground constantly running underneath the ball in marking contests and then when he does get a chance to dispose of the ball or shot for goal his kicking skills let him down and are not up to AFL standard.

Adelaide Crows at Etihad stadium is the next challenge for the Tigers and a big improvement in the Richmond game is needed if the Tigers are to get the much needed four points against the Crows. And realistically if Richmond are to challenge for the flag this year they have to beat the Crows in an impressive display.

ADELAIDE: Adelaide produced an awesome display of power scoring football against Port Adelaide, with the Crows leading from start to finish. The game highlighted the fact that if the Crows midfield can win its fair share of the footy, its forward line will be near impossible to stop from scoring. Two good performances so far this year has the Crows right in top eight contentions, and perhaps lifts the clubs expectations for this year.

The numbers put up by the Adelaide forward line on Saturday afternoon are amazing reading. Tom Lynch who is one of the best lead up forwards in the league and is capable of some big games kicked 6 goals. The latest episode of the Eddie Betts show was a classic with the little master kicking 5 goals. Josh Jenkins is Adelaide’s most in form forward with his 4 goals against the power adding to his 5 goals last week against North Melbourne. Adelaide’s Captain Taylor Walker who is recognised as their best forward has only had to play a cameo role in the first two weeks with 2 goals in each game. Just to flex its forward line muscle and send a shudder through the league the Crows have unearthed another talented tall forward Mitch McGovern looks the real deal. The brother of West Coast marking machine Jeremy, is a very capable aerialist himself. The games of “Marking’s up” in the McGovern backyard when Jeremy and Mitch were growing up would have been fascinating.

Suddenly with the Crows in top form and Richmond really struggling early in the season, a showdown with the Tigers at Etihad Stadium looks a real possibility for a win.

PORT ADELAIDE: The mystery of the Port Adelaide football club remains. The inconsistent performances of the Power must be a source of great frustration for Ken Hinkley and all Port Adelaide supporters. The explosive last quarter against the Saints in round one gave the feeling that the 2014 Port Adelaide side was back, and the showdown against the Crows would be a tough contest with perhaps the Power the team to beat. This couldn’t be further from the truth with the Power never in the contest. With so much talent on the Power list you have to wonder where these poor performances come from.

An example of the strength of Robbie Gray’s game is that even with his team getting badly beaten and most of his teammates struggling, his personal high level of performance does not drop. Like all the great midfielders Gray doesn’t rely on his teammates to get him possessions, he is able to win his own ball and on the weekend really fought a one man war against the Crows midfield.

Next stop on the Port Adelaide rollercoaster is a primetime Friday Night game against the well documented under manned Essendon team. In true rollercoaster fashion it’s a game where Power run and gun football will return, to leave everyone still wondering what to make of the 2016 edition of the Port Adelaide football team.

ESSENDON: A win no one saw coming and perhaps one of the greatest wins in the history of this proud Club. It was hard for anyone to foresee this result, an Essendon side most predicted wouldn’t win a game this season against a Melbourne side seemingly on the up and in good form after a round one win against GWS, looks like a pretty easy result to predict. But when you have 22 committed players wearing the same iconic Guernsey footy miracles can happen. Like a dog with a bone the Bombers players got a sniff of victory early in the game and never let it go. The importance of this victory cannot be under sold it takes a huge weight off the club and playing group. Who knows how many, if any more winning opportunities will come for the Bombers this season so to hold their nerve and grab a win when it presented itself was vital.

In a powerful statement coach John Worsfold dropped experienced trio Craig Bird, Johnathon Simpkin and Shaun McKernan for the round two clash in favour of youngsters Orazio Fantasia, Michael Hartley and Nick Kommer. While Orazio, Hartley and Kommer didn’t take a lead role in the match they all contributed to a memorable win for the Club. First gamer Hartley was particularly impressive, having been around the AFL system for a few years now after being on the Collingwood list, he looks ready to be a solid contributor at AFL level. His size will be important for a Bombers side lacking key position talent.

These sort of performances will give the twelve Essendon players contemplating their future on the sidelines this year a lot to think about. Perhaps the greatest beneficiary from the opportunities this year presents is Zach Merrett. With a full list to pick from Merrett would most likely have played the majority of this season in the forward half but with greater midfield responsibilities the youngster has quickly taken his game to a new level. Another exceptional performer on the weekend was Joe Daniher the young key forward virtually put the whole Bomber forward line on his shoulders and carried them to victory. Only poor kicking for goal stopped the up and coming star from bagging the five or six goals he deserved. One negative to come out of the first two rounds is the performances of ruckman Matthew Leuenberger.

Brought to the club this year to be the number one ruckman and the real pillar for the young Bombers midfield, his output in the first two rounds have been well below expectations.

Next week represents an opportunity for the Bombers to showcase their skills in a primetime Friday night game against the Port Adelaide Power. While a victory again looks unlikely, the Bombers fans will be expecting to see another committed, competitive performance from their team.

MELBOURNE: There would be a few disappointed teams after round two, but none more than the Melbourne Demons. After the excitement and euphoria that surrounded last week’s win the team’s performance on the weekend brought their supporters back down to earth with a almighty thud .After so many years in the darkness there finally looked like some light at the end of tunnel, after their round one win against GWS. But it seems the habit of losing for the Demons is a hard one to break, it’s as if the Melbourne players got swallowed up by the expectation of winning. I have heard coach Paul Roos often talk about the losing mentality that surrounds the club and how he and his staff are trying to change this mentality, but on the evidence of the week ends game it looks like there is still some work to do in this area.

Melbourne are a building team that haven’t yet got the superstars that get them over the line even when the team as a whole doesn’t play particularly well. The Demons really need an even performance with strong contributions from all 22 players to get a win. If there are any passengers in the Melbourne team you end up with performances like the weekend. But maybe there is simply more patience required for this young and inconsistent team because there is undoubted talent on the Demons roster.

A top priority for Melbourne is to find another quality key forward to support Jesse Hogan, the young champs knees are starting to buckle with the weight of the Demons forward line on his back. I don’t think the Demons currently have the answer to this problem on their list, with Chris Dawes and Cam Pedersen the only obvious options. Jack Watts is a highly skilled player but isn’t the answer in the key forward post. Maybe trying to find another key back man and moving Tom McDonald forward may be a possibility for the Demons, but this maybe a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Melbourne travel to beautiful Tasmania in round three to take on the powerful North Melbourne unit. What to expect from the Demons this week is any one’s guess.

 

 

Read Part 2 of Round 2 Performance Review

 

 

 

 

 

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