The primary week of AFL pre-season hitouts confirmed precisely what followers needed to see – spectacular new faces, together with these in new locations, and lots of adjustments.
Some recruits shined even brighter than others whereas a number of golf equipment clearly nonetheless have work to do earlier than Spherical 1.
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Adelaide’s ahead line combine seemed imposing with the addition of Izak Rankine and he proved simply how harmful it may very well be amid the Crows’ sensible turnaround towards Fremantle.
Quiet within the first quarter, Rankine got here to life together with the Crows within the second time period, starting to hit the scoreboard and looking out harmful just about each time the ball went close to him.
He mixed brilliantly with Darcy Fogarty, who picked up the place he left off on the finish of final season.
The 23-year-old kicked two objectives however was a fierce presence within the air and reduce an imposing determine.
That the Crows scored with such frequency was made much more spectacular by the actual fact their most damaging ahead in Taylor Walker wasn’t taking part in within the match.
Rory Sloane’s return added one other dimension to the facet additional up the sector.
Sloane performed some spectacular soccer on the wing in his first aggressive match since an ACL harm, providing help for a midfield brigade now led by Rory Laird.
It was that midfield that turned the tables after the gradual begin, outwrestling the likes of Andrew Brayshaw, Jaeger O’Meara and Caleb Serong.
Whereas a really small pattern measurement, there have been sufficient glimpses on Friday night time to recommend that Matthew Nicks’ facet could make real strides up the ladder in 2023.
It’s exhausting to not suppose final yr’s preliminary finalists shall be even higher in 2023, particularly after their gun recruits confirmed promising indicators of their first televised hitout.
It’s exhausting to suppose what Chris Fagan would’ve been sad with within the 45-point drubbing of Sydney, with veteran additions Jack Gunston (three objectives) and Josh Dunkley (two) each key contributors.
However much more spectacular was how prepared for the extent high draft choose Will Ashcroft seemed – similar to the draft gurus mentioned he would.
Ashcroft appeared proper at house in a Lions midfield that was one of many workforce’s flaws final season, Lachie Neale excepted, with commentator Chris Coleman declaring “he’s a particular star of this sport within the making”.
Premiership-winning Swan Jared Crouch added: “I don’t need to put an excessive amount of strain on him. He’s a top quality teen. I do know it’s early days, pre-season. He’s profitable plenty of one-on-one contests.”
Not solely will including the standard of Dunkley and Ashcroft to the Lions midfield make it extra harmful, it’ll assist the defence, which is the opposite actual weak level.
A lot in the identical manner the Bulldogs made it to the 2021 Grand Last by merely dominating stoppages and guaranteeing their porous defence didn’t have to really defend fairly often, Brisbane shall be hoping to brutalise opponents from the center this yr.
“It’s what the footy world’s been ready to see,” Crouch mentioned.
“These inclusions, the Gunston’s, the Dunkley’s, the Ashcroft’s, what are they gonna convey [to the team],” Crouch mentioned.
“It’s February, it’s very early however it’s all the time the problem while you convey new gamers in, simply getting that synergy amongst the workforce and from a really early perspective that’s thrilling to see for Brisbane Lions followers.”
There’s a way there gained’t be many personnel adjustments to Carlton’s first-choice workforce in 2023 after its 2022 line-up took the membership to inside one level of a finals berth.
However the acquisition of Blake Acres looms as probably the most necessary — and shrewd — strikes of the low season, for he price the membership little or no on the commerce desk and is ready to fill arguably Carlton’s largest chasm.
Acres performed all 4 quarters of the Blues’ match simulation towards Collingwood on Friday, patrolling the wing at Ikon Park. His excellent cardio capability allowed him to cowl ample territory, dropping again into defence to offer rebound and pushing exhausting ahead of centre to ship the ball inside 50.
The previous Docker additionally hit the scoreboard, kicking a purpose for Carlton simply earlier than halftime.
Essentially the most important gap within the Blues’ record final yr was a scarcity of pace and out of doors class on. In response to Champion Knowledge, all three of Carlton’s wingmen — Jack Newnes, Lochie O’Brien and Will Setterfield — completed the season rated ‘beneath common’, with Newnes in the end delisted and Setterfield traded to the Bombers.
Acres, who was rated ‘elite’ by Champion Knowledge final yr for metres gained, kicks and kicking effectivity, looms as a great reply. And he price the Blues little, with Fremantle accepting a future third-round choose as compensation for dropping Acres.
“He’s a real winger with a bit extra of a mature physique than (Lochie) O’Brien and (Matt) Cotrell,” former Docker and Solar Michael Barlow informed Kayo Sports activities.
“A little bit of management and organisation on the wing is a crucial acquisition.”
And in a promising improvement, O’Brien and high 2022 draftee Ollie Hollands each moved properly all through Friday’s unofficial observe match on the alternative wing to Acres.
Dan McStay at Brisbane turned famend for his capability to push up the bottom and arrange scores for his teammates.
However at Collingwood, McStay looms as the principle man near purpose — and it’s a job that ought to go well with him completely, in accordance with twin premiership Kangaroo David King.
After ample hypothesis, McStay switched from Brisbane to Collingwood throughout final yr’s trade interval, signing a large five-year, $3 million deal as a free agent.
Many questioned Collingwood’s important funding within the 27-year-old, contemplating he has not beforehand kicked over 30 objectives in a season.
And, sure, the house and away season is simply over a fortnight away.
However McStay’s efficiency towards Carlton on Friday — and the best way wherein he was utilized by the Magpies — was promising.
King mentioned McStay must be a “good match” for coach Craig McRae’s gameplan.
“The Dan McStay haters or questioners are going to eat their phrases,” King wrote on Twitter.
“The position requested of him fits completely however the forgotten asset is his one-on-one marking. Completely elite.”
As detailed by twin All-Australian Ruby Schleicher throughout Kayo Sports activities’ broadcast of the match, the Pies try to maintain McStay as near purpose as doable. Particularly, they see him having a big effect inside a 30m radius of the massive sticks.
It paid dividends on Friday as McStay booted three objectives towards the Blues and took a number of towering marks because the Magpies’ No. 1 goal in assault. He nonetheless pushed up the bottom in the course of the sport, however his aerial capability and one-on-one power near purpose was the important thing function of his outing.
“He’s actually good at that between the arcs (play), however he’s form of needed to relearn his sport on the Pies,” Schleicher mentioned.
“They need to maintain him a little bit bit deeper and create that deeper entry so their smaller forwards can get busy. Reasonably than these pack marks he’d often get uncovered to, they need him in additional one-on-one contests as a result of he’s so robust aerially.
“At coaching he’s been seeing lots of inside 30m marks and pictures at purpose.”
Fellow ahead Brody Mihocek didn’t play on Friday as he offers with again stiffness. However as soon as match, the prospect of him working alongside McStay — and doubtlessly Reef McInnes, who impressed inside 50 towards Carlton — ought to excited Pies followers.
King added he a 30-goal season for McStay was about proper — and that Mihocek would kick extra objectives — however mentioned his success must be decided by the scores he’s concerned in creating.
The Bombers took a while to heat into the sport and shake off pre-season rust, and in equity, progressively introduced extra of their skilled gamers onto the sector as the competition went on.
However their finest footy was electrical together with a 5 purpose to nothing third interval to utterly flip the tables on the Suns in promising indicators beneath new coach Brad Scott.
It’s created some choice dilemmas for Scott forward of the season correct as plenty of gamers put their fingers as much as play Spherical 1 in a comparatively unsettled facet.
Midfield recruit Will Setterfield labored exhausting within the midfield all sport and kids Alwyn Davey, Tex Wanganeen and Patrick Voss confirmed promising flashes.
It’s the ahead line the place Scott arguably has essentially the most to ponder – an space of the bottom with query marks over Essendon in 2023 – with Jye Menzie dazzling with three objectives and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti returning along with his traditional thrilling play.
Sam Weideman additionally made his first unofficial look for the membership after crossing from the Demons, and whereas he wasn’t overly prolific, gave Essendon a special wanting construction within the ahead half in a tandem with Peter Wright.
“They didn’t play their strongest early, they slowly loaded their workforce up and received the fruits of it,” former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon mentioned on Fox Footy.
“You’ll be able to see Brad Scott already has his finger prints throughout this as a result of that they had some nice construction across the ball they usually did transfer the ball good and quick.
“I used to be actually rapt Sam Weideman began the sport so properly, he kicked the primary purpose and received his fingers on it. He labored rather well with Peter Wright. Wright goes to play that deep position and Weideman and goes to play that hybrid position by way of 30 and 60 metres from purpose to attempt to join what’s going to be fairly spectacular ball motion from Essendon.
“I used to be truly actually impressed and Bombers followers must be of their first have a look at their workforce with a brand new coach. It’s onwards and upwards.”
It’s been a fantastic thought in concept for a few years, however we haven’t truly been in a position to get genuinely enthusiastic about Nat Fyfe as a full-time ahead given the twin Brownlow medallist’s harm woes.
This yr, nevertheless, Fremantle’s luck might lastly flip, with the 31-year-old wanting in nice contact regardless of his facet’s observe match loss to Adelaide in Perth.
Fyfe booted three objectives, together with a fantastic set shot from 50 metres out late within the match, arrange others and will’ve completed with an even bigger haul if not for some set-shot inaccuracy, which stays a query mark.
He seemed imposing bodily and posed a mighty headache for the Adelaide Crows defence.
“Nathan Fyfe is an actual x-factor for them,” former teammate Lee Spurr mentioned on Fox Footy.
“He’ll get alternatives, he‘ll get appears to be like. I feel he’s nonetheless adjusting. I feel he’s led actually exhausting and straight, which has been nice, he’s received his fingers to it.
“All of the issues Nathan Fyfe does rather well, he‘s carried out properly. He can add some set shot routine .. that’s one thing he’ll have to proceed to work at.
“I feel he‘ll get extra alternative the extra gamers get used to him main exhausting and quick.”
By the tip of the match, Spurr mentioned the match was a “massive tick” for Fyfe.
His efficiency instructions respect from the opposition and the actual fact he’ll draw a key defender shall be invaluable to his different teammates within the attacking 50.
Much more spectacular for the Dockers was the truth that Fyfe nonetheless confirmed he was as much as the duty across the ball when required, along with his stints up the bottom leading to scoring chains at occasions.
Be it by way of kicking them himself or setting them up, a match and firing Fyfe provides an entire new dimension to Fremantle’s entrance half.
If there have been any doubts over whether or not the Cats had been able to going again to again – or nonetheless among the many finest sides among the many competitors – they had been rapidly put apart.
Geelong was at its scintillating finest for a lot of the sport in a dominant efficiency and ominous signal to the remainder of the league.
And in a scary actuality for his or her rivals, the reigning premiers might have certainly improved over the low season after including Jack Bowes, Ollie Henry and Tanner Bruhn, the previous two who had been among the many workforce’s finest towards the Hawks.
Bruhn performed closely minutes within the midfield alongside Max Holmes in a glimpse on the workforce’s future on-ball brigade.
The one actual draw back was a Jack Henry struggling a foot harm – the identical harm that brought on him to overlook eight video games final yr – in a new-look ahead position.
It might go away the Cats undermanned in assault to begin the yr with Tom Hawkins additionally sidelined. Nevertheless the remainder of the star-studded ahead line appears to be like greater than able to masking, with Jeremy Cameron and Tyson Stengle additionally shining towards Hawthorn alongside Henry and Gary Rohan nonetheless to return into the combination.
Chris Scott all the time has the choice to maneuver Esava Ratugolea up ahead, too, regardless of a powerful efficiency in a brand new intercept defending position – together with three intercept marks within the first interval alone.
“They solely turned stronger. Their combine at the moment was doubtlessly even a bit higher with some recent faces in there in some new positions, which can make Cats followers salivate,” Michael Barlow informed Fox Footy.
“The massive takeaways would be the recruits. Ollie Henry kicked 4; Jack Bowes solely performed the primary two durations however was actually clear and productive and located lots of it as that top half ahead.
“Having spent a few seasons with Jack Bowes, he’s as spectacular a draftee as I noticed come by way of. Actually humble, hardworking, clear participant. Simply hasn’t actually been in a position to click on it collectively persistently however within the surroundings of Geelong the place that duty to do to a lot is taken away from him, he might explode, Jack Bowes.”
However it was Bruhn, moved into the midfield after spending time in several roles together with half-forward on the Giants, who impressed Barlow essentially the most.
“Tanner Bruhn, he was taking part in prefer it was a house and away sport. He was throwing himself round and emphatically involving himself in workforce defence,” he mentioned.
“(Excessive half ahead) is a really exhausting place to go and play while you’re a pure ball-winning midfielder. That’s why we do see lots of these gamers take time to get their alternative – Will Brodie was a kind of at Gold Coast, couldn’t get a possibility, goes to Fremantle and turns into a pure midfielder, after which turns into a extremely good AFL midfielder.
“Bruhn appears to be like like he’s going to be afforded that chance on the Cats to be a centre sq. bounce participant and play across the ball, quite than play excessive half ahead which he might not have the engine and the breakout pace and ability to really make it a extremely efficient position for him.”
GOLD COAST SUNS
The Suns took the alternative method to Essendon and began the sport with their finest facet earlier than steadily pulling their extra established names all through the night time.
We noticed a quicker tempo from Gold Coast and crisp ball motion to create a number of alternatives for pictures at purpose, with Mabior Chol, Sam Flanders and James Tsitas all capitalising with two objectives apiece.
However on the similar time Stuart Dew’s facet was measured in a promising signal of maturity because the workforce seemed extra mature as a collective.
Flanders particularly continued his encouraging pre-season kind with a powerful displaying to place his hand up for extra midfield alternatives with Touk Miller battling a hamstring difficulty.
In the meantime Charlie Constable, who began the sport in his new-look half again position with the extra skilled facet, staked his declare for a Spherical 1 berth by racking up loads of footy.
“I beloved the ball motion. We had been very important of how stagnant they had been final yr. So I used to be actually impressed,” Dixon mentioned.
“James Tsitas I used to be actually impressed with, he lined the bottom fairly properly and kicked a few objectives. We’re seeking to all these younger youngsters to return in and make an affect.”
The GWS Giants had been in Canberra on the weekend as a part of their group camp, that means they took half in an intra-club hit-out quite than match simulation towards a rival membership.
And it was two top-10 draft picks that set the tone on the coalface, with Tom Inexperienced and Finn Callaghan carried out strongly as they proved why they are often key on-ball leaders for the Giants in 2023.
Recent off signing a four-year contract extension, Inexperienced asserted his authority round stoppages and fed the ball effectively out to teammates. The Giants’ web site claimed Inexperienced had a whopping 50 disposals throughout the match.
“He was actually robust across the contest and gave us actually good first use lots of the time,” Giants coach Adam Kingsley mentioned post-game.
With Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio not taking part in, Inexperienced was a part of a beginning on-ball brigade that included Callaghan and Harry Perryman, with Braydon Preuss within the ruck.
Callaghan, who was taken with Choose 3 within the 2021 draft, was significantly influential across the ball within the first half of the match whereas he additionally pushed ahead to kick two objectives.
“I assumed the entire mids did a extremely good job in there,” Kingsley mentioned. “We received some good use out of the center, competed exhausting and had been in a position to minimise the injury after they misplaced the clearance, so I assumed they did a extremely good job as a gaggle.”
Harry Himmelberg, who starred for the Giants in a defensive position final season earlier than being swung ahead in the course of the pre-season by Kingsley, completed with a game-high 5 objectives, whereas Jake Riccardi booted 4. Kingsley was additionally complimentary of James Peatling’s efficiency, with the 2020 mid-season acquisition booting three objectives in a brand new position up entrance.
Lachie Ash and Lachie Whitfield additionally stood out of their return to the backline.
“Their run and carry was actually noticeable from behind the footy and their use could be very robust, so hopefully we will see that enhance and actually turn into an actual weapon for us,” Kingsley mentioned.
The massive query from the Hawks’ 85-point match sim drubbing towards the Cats is fairly easy: was that about Geelong being that good? Or about Hawthorn being that unhealthy?
Aside from kicking the primary purpose by way of some speedy midfield ball motion Sam Mitchell’s males had been utterly outclassed by the reigning premiers in an extremely discouraging method.
We knew after their daring calls final commerce interval this might be a rebuilding yr, but when that is how low the lows are going to look, it’s going to be a protracted season.
In any case it wasn’t precisely sophisticated stuff the Hawks had been scuffling with.
“Quite a lot of it has come all the way down to the fundamentals of the sport,” Michael Barlow mentioned on Fox Footy.
“The missed tackles, the lack to compete one-on-one within the air. That’s a little bit of bodily improvement.”
He added: “As we speak it most likely turned evident they’ll have some moments this yr the place they do get blown away.
“It’ll very a lot be a yr of making an attempt to win quarters, and yeah win video games and discover alternatives to try this – however to construct a model, and construct a connection inside their group that they know the yr following or the yr following that, they begin to compete once more.
“They’ve a bit of labor to do.”
On a day the place Melbourne proved why it has all of the attributes to problem for a second flag in three years, essentially the most ominous particular person efficiency got here from a participant who looms as arguably 2023’s most in-demand commerce goal.
Star Demon Kysaiah Pickett had an electrical outing towards St Kilda on Friday, kicking two objectives and, most notably, dazzling along with his on-ball stint.
Whereas Pickett was quintessentially harmful inside 50, he was simply as influential when given an opportunity within the midfield, displaying terrific composure and contact in site visitors. He additionally used his pace to burst away from stoppages and arrange attacking Melbourne forays.
“You’d like to have one in every of him on each line,” premiership Hawk Stephen Gilham mentioned with fun on Kayo Sports activities.
Pickett’s transfer onto the ball comes after a scintillating summer season on the monitor, placing on muscle whereas additionally bettering his cardio health.
Melbourne is hoping to safe the 21-year-old, who was linked to Port Adelaide final commerce interval, on an extension between three to 5 seasons. He’s believed to be comfortable in Melbourne, however shall be among the many most in-demand stars available in the market ought to an extension not be reached in coming months.
Pickett is coming off a career-best 41-goal marketing campaign after booting 40 majors in 2021. However his capability to search out the footy on Friday urged he might turn into a extra well-rounded AFL star within the coming years.
“These working patterns are one thing he’s been engaged on quite a bit over summer season,” Gilham mentioned.
“He appears to be like thrilling within the midfield – and really comfy. He’s racked up possessions and created play and received concerned of their scoring chains. However he’s been harmful everywhere in the floor. You’ll be able to’t afford to take your eyes off him when he’s inside 50 as a result of he doesn’t want a lot time and house to carve you up
“However on the ball he’s received extra alternative to have extra touches, which creates lots of pleasure, brings him into the sport extra. Then he has the chance to relaxation ahead or push ahead and kick objectives.”
All Kangaroos followers know the story at this level – it’s one other yr of improvement, development and hopefully inexperienced shoots within the first season beneath Alastair Clarkson.
These leaving Arden Avenue on Friday morning would’ve felt they noticed loads of all three, particularly with No.3 choose Harry Sheezel including three objectives with two coming in a lightning begin.
“He’s wanting very thrilling,” Fox Footy commentator Ellie Blackburn mentioned, earlier than including Sheezel may very well be the Kangaroos’ “x-factor.”
Co-commentator Sam Hargreaves added Sheezel “appears very assured every time he’s had the ball in his fingers.”
It was a promising signal given the Roos’ current high draft picks have both not checked out their finest early of their careers, or outright left the membership.
In the meantime the footy world anticipated Clarkson to spin the magnets and his remodeling of the midfield delivered some good early promise too.
Blackburn marvelled at their “capability to run in numbers” in addition to “their work on the preliminary stoppage.”
“(Cam) Zurhaar is a little bit of a bull in there,” she mentioned.
“Luke Davies-Uniacke was clear off the deck, he was clear every time it type of got here close to him.
“I feel he’s (Clarkson) instilled most likely a bit extra confidence in them.
“I feel they’re prepared to take the sport on in several methods. They’re seeking to swap, use their fingers, run in numbers and be a bit extra thrilling.”
We eagerly await the facet Clarkson names for subsequent week’s observe match, and certainly Spherical 1, to see how daring he’ll get on the choice desk.
The massive outcome for the Energy was the shortage of great injury for veteran Travis Boak, with scans revealing no fracture however intensive bruising round his ribs and lungs after a collision with Eagle Jeremy McGovern.
That was essential as Port is approaching Spherical 1 with a number of harm considerations.
Charlie Dixon was dominated out of Friday’s match after he suffered bruised intercostal muscle tissue in Port’s inner trial final week. He joined Zak Butters, Darcy Byrne-Jones, Jeremy Finlayson, Trent Dumont and Josh Sinn on the sidelines — though Dixon, Butters and Byrne-Jones are all anticipated to participate in subsequent week’s official observe match towards Fremantle.
Regardless of the outcome, there have been a number of positives for Energy followers to remove from Friday’s loss to West Coast.
Connor Rozee at occasions performed a category above each different participant on the sector, whereas recruit Junior Rioli and returning ahead Orazio Fantasia wanting harmful inside 50. And massive-name recruit Jason Horne-Francis put in an encouraging efficiency, having an affect each at centre bounces then inside 50 when resting ahead.
However Port assistant coach Nathan Bassett was significantly impressed by veteran ruck Scott Lycett, who performed because the No. 1 ruck with help from Brynn Teakle.
“‘Scooter’ (Lycett) was actually spectacular, he did a extremely good job for us within the ruck,” Bassett informed reporters.
“Brynn is an efficient learner and he’s getting higher. Scott gave us a fantastic look and his contest was actually good.
“He solely performed 4 video games final yr and he’s been constructing in pre-season so it’s good to see him again and taking part in good footy.”
That is nonetheless a flawed facet, as we noticed final yr when regardless of all of their underlying numbers wanting so spectacular, the Tigers misplaced to North Melbourne after which didn’t even win one ultimate.
However their match simulation win at Arden Avenue additionally confirmed the potential new strengths of this Richmond group – and for as soon as, it’s within the midfield.
Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper had been focused additions to bolster a gaggle that has typically relied an excessive amount of on Trent Cotchin, or the injury-prone Dion Prestia, and Taranto particularly confirmed nice indicators in his first televised hitout in yellow and black.
“I feel Taranto has been a extremely welcome addition to this outfit and the category and totally different appears to be like that he’s offering has been actually thrilling for the Tigers,” Fox Footy commentator Ellie Blackburn mentioned.
“We’ve mentioned it quite a few occasions and we’ll most likely hold saying it all through the remainder of this sport however he has been excellent and what he’s been in a position to present is nice pleasure for the Tigers across the midfield.”
The flow-on impact of getting that further midfield muscle is permitting Dustin Martin to play much more ahead time, the place he typically appears to be like unstoppable – which was the case once more within the third interval towards North.
It’s exhausting to not dream of what this Tigers group will be at its finest. And, if the midfield actually is as much as scratch, that’ll assist defend the sometimes-flawed defence too.
There wasn’t an excessive amount of for Saints followers to smile about on Friday night time as a slick Melbourne outfit despatched a powerful message to the AFL competitors.
That’s particularly the case after it was revealed Jack Billings suffered a hairline fracture in his proper fibula which can pressure him out for eight weeks. However there have been glimpses.
Essentially the most thrilling one got here from high draftee Mattaes Phillipou, who put his hand up for Spherical 1 choice with an eye catching effort towards the Demons.
The South Australian product, who was taken by the Saints with Choose 10 in final yr’s draft, was significantly spectacular ahead of centre, taking three towering contested marks that resulted in 2.1, together with a long-range main from properly outdoors 50m within the third time period.
The 18-year-old captured the hearts of the footy world late final yr along with his infectious enthusiasm at becoming a member of the Saints. On Friday he performed with ample ardour and power.
“He’s a fantastic a measurement (190cm). He’s labored exhausting up the bottom and pushed deep into the ahead line,” Gilham mentioned.
“He’s been in a position to present these expertise above his head as an aerial risk and when he will get a possibility that left foot has kicked true.
“Thrilling indicators for his or her excessive draft choose early days.”
Gilham was additionally optimistic about what free agent acquisition Zaine Cordy – who icked the primary purpose for St Kilda on Friday night time – might obtain on the Saints, particularly with Max King going through a delayed begin on account of 2023 on account of harm.
“He’s an aerial risk, however he’s agile sufficient that he’s harmful on the bottom, He’ll be an actual handful there,” Gilham mentioned.
“He offers the Saints an actual goal within the absence of Max King. They’ll be searching for a powerful aerial risk but additionally put some strain on the bottom.
“I feel increasingly golf equipment are looking for these hybrid gamers and he’s an ideal measurement to play key ahead, key again and in addition pinch-hit within the ruck.:
Elsewhere Mitch Owens confirmed why there’s been a lot hype round his pre-season masking the bottom properly and competing exhausting within the air. He performed simply seven video games in his first season on the Saints, however count on that tally to be considerably larger by the tip of 2023.
Gun on-ballers Jack Steele and Jade Gresham had been distinguished, whereas Bradley Hill returned to the wing the place he offered ample run and carry.
If there actually is a Grand Last hangover, that is what it appears to be like like – a workforce struggling a bit, not helped by some guys simply not displaying up in any respect.
Whereas the Swans saved it shut by way of the opening half towards Brisbane they had been blown off the park from there, with younger weapons Errol Gulden and Chad Warner holding their heads excessive by way of their performances.
However as has so typically been the issue in the previous couple of years for Sydney, they had been troubled by their tall personnel.
With Tom Hickey, Peter Ladhams and Hayden McLean all unavailable by way of numerous maladies it was as much as younger rugby convert Lachlan McAndrew to take the ruck mantle.
He wasn’t unhealthy, simply clearly nonetheless uncooked; you think if McAndrew is pressured into motion at senior stage this season he gained’t be utterly outclassed however he’s not but prepared.
“Lachlan McAndrew battled properly,” assistant coach Dean Cox mentioned.
“Once you’re taking part in towards primary ruck it was a large studying curve for him, he’s come a good distance in a brief time period and at the moment he received to check himself towards high quality opposition which was pleasing.
“This time of yr you’ll be able to throw individuals in and see how they go. You need pleasure from the youth and provides them that chance, they may study from it.”
Cox added: “We let ourselves down within the second half towards a top quality workforce.
“It’s good to get that (a sport towards high quality opposition) at the moment of the yr however Brisbane had been too robust across the contests at the moment.”
We might not be too involved if we had been a Swans fan.
WEST COAST EAGLES
The returning Oscar Allen was the participant who sparked a late West Coast resurgence on Friday night time because the Eagles completed robust towards Port Adelaide.
Allen ran out for the Eagles in his first outing in 18 months following a protracted street again from a stress-related foot harm.
Whereas Allen post-game informed reporters he felt “rusty”, he undoubtedly had a big effect on the competition, booting 2.2, plucking a number of robust marks and main up on the ball with authority within the Eagles’ victory.
With Josh Kennedy retiring, the Eagles will want Allen to be an enormous presence inside 50 alongside Jack Darling.
“He holds the important thing to West Coast’s success this yr,” premiership Eagle Will Schofield informed Kayo Sports activities. “Individuals neglect the trajectory he was on earlier than he missed final yr with harm.
“They missed him final yr, however a very good yr for Oscar Allen will imply a very good yr for the West Coast Eagles.”
Simply as importantly, Allen, in addition to Dom Sheed, Tom Cole, Elliot Yeo and Campbell Chesser all emerged from the sport unscathed after their respective injury-interrupted 2022 campaigns.
Chesser, particularly, caught the attention on the wing as he pushes for a Spherical 1 berth. He had some glittering moments, together with an superior collect and spin within the first quarter that arrange an Eagles scoring alternative.
“Campbell Chesser has been an actual shining gentle for West Coast,” Schofield mentioned.
“I’ve seen sufficient to suppose he could make an affect as an AFL participant in his second yr on the record.”
The Bulldogs on Saturday had an intra-club conflict in Ballarat, quite than took half in match simulation towards one other AFL membership, as a part of their pre-season group camp.
And onlookers would’ve been thrilled with the output of returning defender Liam Jones, who appears to be like primed to have an instantaneous affect at AFL stage.
Jones late final yr was picked up by the Bulldogs – for a second time – as a free agent after his refusal to adjust to the AFL’s vaccination mandate noticed his tenure at Carlton reduce quick.
However the 32-year-old has put collectively an excellent pre-season, culminating in an eye catching efficiency lined up on Aaron Naughton in Saturday’s intra-club.
Jones was robust one-on-one and confirmed off his trademark confidence to assault the footy in defence – both by way of a spoil or intercept mark – as he labored intently alongside fellow key defenders Ryan Gardner and Alex Keath.
“It’s most likely why we put them altogether at the moment to see how they labored,” Canines assistant coach Brendan Lade informed reporters post-game.
“(Jones) working with ‘Gardy’ and’ Keathy’ was fairly seamless they usually defended rather well at occasions and at occasions the opposite guys (forwards) received them a little bit bit, however that was most likely on account of ball motion.”
It was a stacked 50m arc because the Bulldogs’ finest forwards lined up on one of the best backs, with Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Rory Lobb and Sam Darcy all displaying promise at numerous levels all through the hit-out.
“Bevo’s fairly excited, I don’t suppose he’s had this many talls to play with ever,” Lade mentioned with fun when describing the key-position conundrum for coach Luke Beveridge.
“It’s good for us to have that downside.”
Buku Khamis additionally bobbed up with three objectives as he continued to work on his ahead craft.
Elsewhere, Tim English carried out strongly within the ruck as he faces the prospect of taking over new dynamic Dees duo Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy in Spherical 1.
And Canines followers would’ve been happy with Adam Treloar and Bailey Smith, who discovered loads of the ball and moved freely after injury-interrupted pre-seasons. Lade mentioned Treloar and Smith had been “two of our higher mids” on the bottom.
Initially printed as Breakdown of each membership from AFL’s opening pre-season weekend