AFL – Round 1!

Well, what a way to start the season. I doubt there were many, if any that got 9 from 9 in their footy tipping.
Thursday nights opener went by the script. The young inexperienced Blues up against a hungry Tiger outfit determined to not keep self destructing every season. Dustin Martin looks to be in Brownlow medal form very early with 30 touches and 3 goals, by far the best on the field. The Blues did show some signs of whats to come in a few years, but it will be a season of pain for them.
Friday night saw the reigning premiers take on the Magpies who have top aspirations this year, and showed some exceptional footy through out the game winning more contested possessions than the Dogs. But again, as so many times last year their disposal let them down. The Pies have so many ball winners but they really lack good users of the ball – they will not make the 8 until they fix this problem. The dogs on the other hand hit the ground running and while at times where troubled by the pies, they still looked every bit the same side they where last year. I love watching them play – they are all heart and will be going deep into the season again.
Saturday turned up the heat starting with the Saints v Demons and it lived up to the hype! Starting the week as outsiders the Saints got backed into favourites but where left wanting after a great start, and let the Demons build a match winning lead in the second quarter. The third quarter turned a 20 point deficit into a 40 point lead and in the process winning only their second game at Etihad in 26 attempts and the first win over the Saints since 2006. The only real worry out of the game was Nick Riewoldt’s knee but has since been cleared of any major damage. Both these sides will be hoping to push top 8 this year and I’m sure both on their day will be very exciting to watch.
The first real upset of the round and the Power did what most thought would be near impossible. They beat the Swans and actually made them look second rate after half time. For most of the first half you where left thinking the Power are playing well – thats great, giving the Swans a run for their money but after half time, the Power of a couple years ago turned up. It was brilliant to watch Power take the Swans to task and they never really looked like getting beaten. The season is a marathon, the Swans will be at the pointy end but there was a lot to like about how the Power played. They must back it up in Round 2 against the Dockers while the Swans will want to avoid a bad start and be 0-2 against the Dogs.
The second big upset for most but not as much as a surprise was the return of the Bombers and the falling of the Hawks. So much has been written about both these teams throughout the off season and it was the Bombers who came out looking the goods. Big question marks remain over the Hawks like the trades of Mitchell and Lewis, who both played superb for their new clubs – Mitchell in particular. I think the win over the Hawks was two fold; a huge welcome back to the Bombers players who had finished serving their bans and the ever so slow downfall of the empire of the Hawks. Its too early to write them off, but a loss to Adelaide this week will put a lot of pressure on them. I couldn’t help but smile watching the Bombers play, there was a real supreme attitude that seemed to flow through them – an us against them mentality that I think will power this side to quite a few wins this year.
The QLD clash was the other “upset” of the road on Saturday with the Lions holding out a fast finishing Suns for a 2 point win. It was a great start for new coach of the Lions Fagan and even though they won, I think they would be so very disappointed  in the last half fade away after being up by over 40 points. Tom Rockliff was brilliant with 37 touches but would love to see him kicking a couple goals. For the Suns, no one really stood out – it was a very good team effort to claw their way back into the game and will take some confidence from the second half.
Sunday saw 2 of the 3 games go as many thought – with the semi surprise coming from the Crows who never cease to amaze us. They are such a strong balanced side across every line – apart from the first quarter when the Giants jumped them. They never looked out of control, every time GWS scored the Crows had the answer. The Giants looked a bit lost after quarter time, Stevie J looked a little slow and a few of the Giants guns Ward, Griffen and even Scully with 25 touches looked off the boil. It was a demolition from the Crows after quarter time – Larid with 40 touches and the double threat of Cameron and Betts look so dangerous whenever they are near the ball.
The Kangas got the walloping they deserved by the Eagles with recruit Sam Mitchell leaving many Hawks supporters wondering why after his 38 possessions.  Jarrod Waite again, one of the most frustrating footballers to watch 1 goal 7 behinds which should have easily been 5 goals, 2 behinds, although it gives the Kangas some credibility. Mitchell really rounds out the Eagles midfield and if Kennedy can keep producing each week they will be so very hard to beat most weeks so forget winning in the west!
Final game saw what most predicted – an easy Geelong kill, I must admit I was disappointed in the Dockers, I thought they would put up more of a show with a few of the big names back in and running around. Still to early and I think they have a bit to offer this year when Sandilands and Fyfe get into the full swing. The Cats are going to be very much a threat this year; Tommahawks looks strong and they have recruited well to cover the losses. Danger, Selwood and company are as good a midfield as any if not the best.
Im sure Round two will have a few surprises stay tuned for our weekly preview!
#puntr team
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