Four Rounds in and its a new year with a new look. St. Kilda is up, Geelong is down, a bit. Hawthorn are working out the new plan, Collingwood is sticking to theirs. Questions still remain on the chances of Richmond, Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast. Anything can happen and maybe it will.
Brisbane Lions v Collingwood Magpies
Easter Round began on Thursday Evening with Brisbane winning over Collingwood at the Gabba. Collingwood are without an established ruck, with former Lion McStay doing his best against McInerney. It was accuracy in front of goal that cost Collingwood dearly.
For the Lions, Charlie Cameron led the way with six goals, followed by Rayner with four, Hipwood and Daniher each kicked two. There were moments when you were expecting Collingwood to put together a run of goals. Daicos found, Pendlebury who found DeGoey who kicked for goal. It was then followed by a miss from the Pies and eventually, a score or two from Brisbane.
A frustrating night for Pies fans. Consolidation for Brisbane Lions supporters. If the Lions win most of their home games, they should make finals. Collingwood have to kick straight for their style of play to work. Perhaps that is the weakness of Craig MacRae’s innovation? We will find out.
North Melbourne Kangaroos v Carlton Blues
Tipping this game was easy. Carlton had the players, the recent history and the desire to return back to finals this year. North Melbourne have great players in Cunnington, Ziebel and Simpson. The new guy, Harry Sheezel is a remarkable young talent. Add new coach Alistair Clarkson and you expect they will win games this year. This game, no.
For the first two quarters they battled it out with Carlton and there was for a moment a glimmer of hope. Yet Cunnington was substituted from the game. What North Melbourne coach was trying is debatable. The simplest being trying something different.
Carlton coach Micheal Voss was not happy with the final quarter. Perhaps Clarkson’s changes were effective. Perhaps the Blues saw the win in sight and let down their guard. 5.6 to 5.4 saw North win the final term but Carlton won the game in the third kicking 6.1 to 1.3. Fans of both teams can look forward to this season being better than last. Carlton finals, yes. Grand final, we will see.
Adelaide Crows v Fremantle Dockers
Both teams were considered finals potential this year. Unfortunately, for Fremantle finals look very far away. Tipping Adelaide was a no brainer. While Adelaide has found new options to goal and players stepping up this year, Fremantle has returned to old ways. Ten goals, static kicking, no ground play, barely any run and carry.
Adelaide swamped the Fremantle players. Their zone defence pushed them into kicking long to contests. Where a murder of Crows was waiting to feast on the Dockers over used aerial route. In attack the Crows looked fresh, with multiple avenues to goal. Fremantle were messy and unable to find options beyond long predictable kicks in to the forward line.
Crows coach Matthew Nicks has struck gold in young players like Rachelle, Gollant and Soliglio. With older heads like Tex Walker and Rory Laird the potential for success is there. Freo coach Justin Longmuir has to make changes and find a system that wins. Either that or he will find himself the first coach unseated in 2023.
Richmond Tigers v Western Bulldogs
Wet, rainy, who do you tip. It was a hard one. Fortunately for the Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli led a striving mid-feild that ground out a tough win. Mind you, the second quarter blitz from Richmond must have had Doggies fans doubting. Eight goals to two in the second quarter left a lot of work for the Bulldogs.
Work at the coal face as contested possession became key in the slippery conditions. Conditions where Tom Liberatore shone. Twenty three disposals, two goals, ten tackles and seven clearances. Bailey’s Smith and Dale shone in the conditions as well. Grinding out a win is essential to making finals Bulldogs fans will be wanting a few more before they start believing.
Despite their second quarter Richmond were level with their opponent for much of the game. A fair judge could say there was little between them. Yet where did that run from the second quarter go? Richmond should make finals, yet without Tom Lynch changes will be needed. Lynch’s injury made for a disappointing afternoon for Tigers fans.
St. Kilda Saints v Gold Coast Suns
The difference between these teams is striking. Gold Coast are not expected to win in Melbourne, but on paper they have the talent to do so. As we learn, the real test is what happens when the siren sounds. For this season St. Kilda find themselves on top of the AFL and the Suns continue to struggle to make the leap.
The first quarter that was even between Suns and Saints. Then the Saints just fought harder. Their ability to find gaps and distribute the ball was better. Certain pundits have commented that the Suns rely too much on the same players. Took-Miller, Rowell, Lukosius are amazing players but this is a team sport.
Crisis creates opportunities and St. Kilda coach Ross Lyon is able to handout opportunities aplenty. These players have shown that St. Kilda talent is deeper than we all thought it was. Perhaps when your forward coach is Robert Harvey you expect a bit more. Yet, from the ashes has risen a St. Kilda team that runs, carries and kicks goals. Let us all see how far this goes.
Sydney Swans v Port Adelaide Power
They have the power to win, check. The power to rule? Not right now. What they do have is an excellent set of tall players who can influence the game. In defence for Port is the exceptional Alir Alir. Who denied Swan Olly Florent the winning goal.
Scores were level at half time thirty each. In the third quarter Sydney were up by fourteen. Halfway through the fourth quarter it was Swans by twenty. Goals for Port by Marshall, Rozee and McEntee gave Port a two point lead.Sydney stole it back with a goal to get four points ahead. It was answered by Ports Ruckman Jeremy Finlayson.
Three minutes to go and with seconds remaining it landed with Olly Florent. As his kick sailed straight at the middle of the goals he began celebrating. It fell short, short enough for Alir Alir to deny the Swans a win at home. Port needed this more than Sydney. Wins like this one away from home, with millimetres between win and loss change whole seasons. We will see how both go.
Essendon Bombers v GWS Giants
Was anyone actually watching this one? What was the highlight again? Oh yes, I remember. After kicking badly all night Essendon kicked a few goals. The best being Jake Stringer’s torpeedo. His second goal for the quarter. It put the Bombers up by twenty four points, the goal was enough to stymie the Giants and bag the win.
It was a regrettable game. So many behinds kicked by Essendon kept the Giants in the contest. When in all rights they should have been long gone. Both teams have new coaches that are setting new ways to play. This was not the game either coach wants for their teams.
Essendon coach Brad Scott gets the win. Giants coach Adam Kingsley the loss. The hope for both sets of coaches is that this is the worst this season will throw at them. I hope that is true. In all honesty it probably is not. Hard times are ahead but the dawn for Essendon looks closer than the Giants.
West Coast Eagles v Melbourne Demons
The Eagles are in in a position similar to St. Kilda with injuries aplenty. Eagles coach Adam Simpson has to find out what is available. Unlike St. Kilda they had to play one of the major contenders this year in Melbourne.
There is talent there but it is raw and requires time to develop. Melbourne are on the other side, watching the existing talent at their prime. Kysiah Pickett has gotten swole, Bayley Frtisch is a three goal regular. Petracca, Oliver, Rivers and Langdon are doing a job week in week out.
Adam Simpson’s job is secure, he is doing the best he can with the situation. Perhaps a few of these new players can step up and find a spot. It is going to be a hard year for the Eagles. Meanwhile Melbourne are just going to keep building towards the finals again.
Geelong Cats v Hawthorn Hawks
Not many teams go through a Premiership hangover like Geelong have. Three losses to start the season have made many asking big questions about the team and its place in the competition. Do we call this start a mulligan and let them go? Or do the fans call for blood?
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has made big changes to grow the team in the long term. The cost for right now is finals. Hawthorn are in no state to make the finals, yet stranger things have happened. It was a bold move by Mitchell as a favoured son he has enough grace for a poor 2023 but it has to pay off, soon.
Geelong beating up a depleted Hawthorn at a wet MCG was not a surprise. However with Hawthorn in front at half time questions and knives were probably at the ready. Stranger things have happened. It was all love after the Cats kicked a ten goal third quarter. The fourth quarter was carnival time as the Cat show continued. Geelong have risen, they have risen indeed.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.