The Giant rookies fared well against the Swans, Carlton ran out winners over Richmond, the Hawks took out last years minor premiers, Lions surprised a few downing the Dee’s, Adelaide took the expected honours over the Suns, Freo knocked off the 2012 premiers, North missed out against the Bombers, Eagles trounced the Doggies and Port got up over the hapless Saints to finish the round. An amazing first round where a few games came down to a single kick, one after the siren, some great performances from veterans and rookies alike and 2 suspensions being handed out.
What I loved about the Giants game was the heart they showed against overwhelming odds. My bet is Sheedy breifed them on stature rather than stamina. Everyone knew the Giants stood little chance of getting first blood in the opening game, but many tipped them to go down by a lot more. Sure 10 goals might seem like a lot, but if you take out a third quarter romp by the Swans the game was fairly competitive, albeit a little sloppy to watch. Giants lacked the engine to run out the 4 quarters but not once did I see a Giants player giving up. Rookies Bugg and Greene showed their true value racking up 27 possessions a piece and Kennedy topping the Giants possessions with 28. The three managed to get more of the ball than veterans Palmer (25), MacDonald (24) and Cornes (25). If they can string that together week to week the Giants may get more than a few wins in their first year. The Swans on the other hand looked a little nervy and they still lack any decent defensive pressure. They certainly restricted the young Giants scoring options, but you should expect that from every team against the Giants this year. Swans have some great players, Kieran Jack was outstanding for the bloods, but Goodes didn’t look to be in his normal vintage form. Hopefully the Swans can brush off first round jitters to keep their campaign rolling.
The second game I watched was the Carlton Richmond game on Thursday night. This actually was a closer contest then the 44 point scoreboard margin would indicate. The first three quarters was an ebb and flow game with both teams showcasing that they have really stepped it up in 2012. Cotchin had a great opening quarter for the Tigers in the middle but Carazzo started wrapping him up soon after so the Tigers alternated Cotchin and Martin into the goal sqaure, leaving Riewoldt at half forward. Lachie Henderson had an outstanding game playing on Riewoldt and the 4 goals Riewoldt kicked doesn’t really show how dominating Lachie was in defense. Yarran already got in a favourite for goal of the year when he took the ball on the wing and widened the boundary running 60m before kicking the goal from the pocket. The ball clearly crossing the line but the goal stood and it came at a time where the Tigers took a real moral hit after coming back from 5 goals down. Blues ran out easy winners after Yarran’s wonder goal, kicking all but 1 of the last quarters goals. Kruezer had a great game in the navy blue, but Judd looked a little under-done after a shaky pre-season. Blues looking good so far, am not looking forward to the Lions playing the Blues tomorrow night!
I only saw bits and pieces of the next three games of the rounds; Collingwood vs Hawks, Lions vs Demons and Adelaide vs Gold Coast. The standout from the Hawks game was not just Cyril Rioli taking flight over Shaw, but that the hype surrounding the Hawks this year is well deserved Buddy is in best form, kicking a bag (5) of goals. It was a valuable win for the Hawks not having beaten the Pies in their last 4 encounters, and looking to face the Cats next week they have the chance to 2-0 up on 2 of the best teams in the competition.
I was at Nobby Beach surf club for the Lions vs Dee’s game and got to see a good chunk of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. I had tipped the Demons to take the game, and thought it might be by a fair bit after Stynes state funeral the week before. I think everyone got a shock when the Lions took the lead into the main break. The contested footy was tilting the Demons way but their clearances and disposals to forward options were severely lacking. The Lions, without Browny, seemed to have an abundance of forward options with Merret playing forward, Rockcliff pushing up and Polker kicking a few as well. The Lions ran away with the game in the 3rd and 4th quarters which is something they haven’t been able to do in a few years. Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch the 4th quarter as some retard at the surf club changed the channel to another game. Hudson looked to compliment Luenberger well and it can be safely said that Mitch Clark is not the silver bullet to the Demons problems.
The only other game that I caught any of was the Adelaide vs Suns game. Adelaide obvious hot favourites after taking away the NAB preseason cup, taking away the win. The suns actually looked a lot weaker than I would of expected after a fairly good pre-season getting some fitness into their young side. Ablett was at his best as always getting another best on ground performance for the suns, but their defense still lacks a lot of oomph without veteran backs Bock and Campbell in the back line. The Crows poured on the points in the first quarter and I must say the Suns fought hard to get back into it, but only stemming the flow rather than making up ground. Suns might end up getting back to back spoons this year as its still too early to say they have a leg up over GWS.
The other games seemed to be all corkers with the Eagles Vs Bulldogs game being the only one that featured a final margin greater than 4 points. It came down to a kick for McIntosh sprayed the shot and North Melbourne went down to Essendon. Port suprised St Kilda beating them by 4 points at AAMI stadium. Bulldogs look well out of sorts, and Eagles look to be top 4 contenders when they ran out winners by 49 points. The talk of the round was the fiery clash between the Cats and the Dockers with 3 incidents going to the Match Review Panel (Scarlett and Ballentyne for striking, James Kelly for rough conduct), a strong fightback from Geelong before going down by 4 points to a strong looking Freemantle outfit.