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Four points: Opening round AFL observations

Daisy Thomas kicked the Blues' first goal against Port Adelaide, but faded, like his new team.

Daisy Thomas kicked the Blues' first goal against Port Adelaide, but faded, like his new team. Photo: Pat Scala

Halfway through a woefully disjointed round one, we all already have strong opinions. Here's a few more!

1. We don’t like Sunday (night), no no.

The AFL has always prided itself on its attendance figures, and claims to always be seeking the biggest possible crowds for its matches. Even TV broadcasters prefer the atmosphere created by large gatherings. But in order to mollify its television partners, the league is trying to sell us on Sunday night games, starting at 7.40pm. It will not work. Twilight games, starting at 4.40pm, are barely tolerated on a Sunday. Though there is a hard core of fans who will watch their team at 2am Tuesday morning if so required, weeknight slots are anathema to families and socialisers. Who wants to make a night of it with the working week beckoning? Who wants to be travelling home from Etihad Stadium after 11pm on a Sunday night? No one. The meagre crowd of 24,640 to watch Carlton open its season against Port Adelaide reflects this antipathy. Ahead of a Monday public holiday, the slot might work, but not as a semi-regular feature of the draw. But if the Fox ratings are OK, the cost of alienating fans will be measured against the benefit in keeping a broadcaster happy. The league undoubtedly sees such inconveniences for its consumers as an unfortunate necessity, as TV rights underpin its very existence. The promise to listen to fans on this issue sounds as hollow as the league’s promise to move potential blockbusters from Etihad Stadium to the MCG. Crowds matter, up to a point.

2. Premature prognostications (correct)

It is easy to criticise dramatic conclusions reached from round one matches. So often, a lower-ranked team’s emotional round-one victory is a false dawn, and once the mundanity of another match arrives, without months of anticipation and hype attached, their shortcomings quickly get exposed. In round one, 2012, the Brisbane Lions upset Melbourne at the MCG, raising expectations of a big season. They hosted the middling Blues in round two at the Gabba, and succumbed by 91 points, a much more accurate predictor of their eventually mediocre season.

But sometimes round-one assessments are correct. Collingwood played premiership favourites Fremantle on Friday night, and had some short-term personnel issues, but the gap between the Magpies and the Dockers was a grand canyon, exposing the fact that the Pies are rebuilding, not contending. Collingwood lacked skill, confidence, cohesion and physical presence, not all of which can be attributed to the immense pressure exerted by Fremantle. Thus, the most important of the players missing from their line-up are not seasoned key position types Ben Reid and Jesse White, but sidelined youngsters Matt Scharenberg, Nathan Freeman, Tim Broomhead, Adam Oxley, Paul Seedsman, Marley Williams and Josh Thomas. If that group proves good enough, Collingwood has a chance to re-emerge as a flag prospect in the next few years, with the likes of Travis Cloke and Scott Pendlebury still in their prime. Fremantle is the current benchmark, and the Magpies may improve with Reid, White, Sam Dwyer, Alex Fasolo, Jarryd Blair and Lachie Keeffe putting pressure on Nick Maxwell, Martin Clarke, Jack Frost, Ben Kennedy, Tyson Goldsack, and Ben Sinclair. But the Magpies lack a settled back six, team spirit, crumbing goalsneaks, foot skills and secondary midfield depth. They will not be a flag contender in 2014. 

3. Premature prognostications (incorrect)

Carlton really did look underdone in Sunday night’s eventual capitulation to Port Adelaide. They started strongly, playing with verve, system and aggression, and ended up being beaten by a better team. Blues like Lachie Henderson and Dale Thomas will get better, and losing to Port will soon not be looked at as a terrible result.  Port Adelaide is (a) one of the fittest teams in the competition and (b) still grossly underrated. With Jared Polec added to Chad Wingard, Brad Ebert and Ollie Wines, Port Adelaide is compiling an awesome running brigade, with Travis Boak and Hamish Hartlett revelling in the spreading of the load. Port also possesses two of the league’s most underrated targets, Justin (Mr Fixit) Westhoff and Jay Schulz, and a no-name backline that is versatile, tough and quick. While the Blues will be one of many teams fighting for a berth in the eight, Port Adelaide is on the improve, and ought to push for a top-four berth. Get on them before they become fashionable – they are currently ranked eighth for the top four, at $4.25, behind some questionable commodities such as Adelaide, North Melbourne and West Coast

4. Chestnuts

Reliable, comforting in their predictability. Banal. The same things are said every year. Here come the talkback offerings from half-way through round one:

Sack the coach (Nathan Buckley).

Sack the coach (Mick Malthouse).

Umpiring is ruining the game (a missed head-high tackle Sunday night).

He wasn’t worth the money (Dale Thomas and Buddy Franklin).

The expansion teams will rule the earth.

For the record, our responses…

Nathan Buckley and Mick Malthouse deserve more time to prove their vision for their teams has the genuine prospect of a flag in the short-to-medium terms, but they would want to hold their ground this season.

The less-is-more umpiring at the weekend was generally excellent, as it was during the pre-season. Let the game flow.

Dale Thomas started brightly and faded. He is only 27, and needs game time after barely playing last year. Whether he was worth the amount he is being paid is debateable, but he has plenty of good footy left in him.

Lance Franklin will be serviceable, and he will tear some teams apart this season, once Sydney gets its mojo back. But that deal never seemed Swans-like, and suspicion lurks that it has cost Sydney more than money.  

The expansion teams will become strong teams, as intended. It will not be a bad thing. But winning premierships is another matter. They just aren’t that easy to snare. All that is happening is that these clubs are becoming hard to beat, which, though painful when your teams loses to them, is good for the overall competition. They have many further phases to experience before cups are being held aloft at Blacktown and Carrara.

5 comments so far

  • Will... Bucks has had plenty of time... not just round 1. this year - they wanted to turn this into a professional sport - well they got their wish and it's not the VFL anymore - only a blind man can't see Bucks has already got as close to a flag in his own personal capacity as he's ever going to get - he's got to go, anything else is just more folly.

    Commenter
    The boy who cried Wolf
    Location
    Planet Earth
    Date and time
    March 17, 2014, 8:36PM
    • I don't support Collingwood, but cant help but feel they are in a very bad position as a football club this year, if they play like that again they will be lucky to beat Melbourne, on 4 occasions on Friday night Fremantle carried the ball from full back to full forward and kicked goals without one bit of pressure from Collingwood, they were effectively running a training drill. Although you could argue that Jolly and Didak where way past their best the departure of Thomas and Shaw is going to leave a gaping hole in their ability to run the ball, let alone Krakouer being delisted is going to hurt even more. I agree with Teaman they are not going to win a flag for the next 5 years the way things look, Fasolo, Sidebottom, Taylor and Sinclair are four players Buckley will be banking on to come good in the next few seasons, but from what I can see they look underdone physically with fasolo being the exception and should be more likely running around in the VFL.Swan looks unfit and burdened and O'brien looks as though his time in the backline has well and truly expired, his chase and effort were appalling. The only positive for this club is Pendellbury, Swan and Cloke, we can maybe throw Reid and Elliot in that hat to, but its going to be a long way back for the once mighty pies.

      Commenter
      Geoff
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 11:56AM
  • Seems every one accepts that Collingwood is team building. That we had to tear down the team that was left to Buckley beggars belief. It's understandable that players move on and retire and that some get injured but the sort of havoc Buckley has wreaked on Collingwood's list just so that he will have players that he can coach has been detrimental. The sense is that the team had to change to suit the largely untried coach. If Pert thinks that Collingwood will have a flag in Buckley's next three years he is dreaming and perhaps hoping to justify the poor decision made by the club in employing Buckley. Competent media performer and good statistician but woeful coach.

    Commenter
    Teaman
    Date and time
    March 18, 2014, 8:50AM
    • Got rid of Shaw and Thomas and kept Lynch and Clarke. Great list management, Collingwood.

      Commenter
      Aussie Jack
      Date and time
      March 18, 2014, 11:30AM
      • Best thing about Sunday night football was that I did not find out about Carlton's defeat till I got up the next morning. And with 4 Sunday and 1 Monday night game, that's nearly a quarter of our games that I'll be ignoring this year.

        Commenter
        Conformer with a Cause
        Date and time
        March 19, 2014, 6:53AM

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        AFL 2015

        Round 1
        Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
        CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
        Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
        SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
        BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
        WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
        ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
        FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
        Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
        Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
        GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
        COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
        GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
        PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
        Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
        ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
        NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
        Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
        ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
        SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
        NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
        BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
        Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
        GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
        WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
        Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
        ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
        GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
        PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
        FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
        Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
        GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
        WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
        Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
        RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
        SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
        GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
        NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
        WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
        Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
        MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
        STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
        ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
        Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
        NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
        WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
        GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
        GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
        MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
        FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
        Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
        PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
        Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
        HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
        CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
        SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
        WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
        Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
        RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
        BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
        Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
        GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
        GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
        HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
        FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
        Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
        MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
        PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
        Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
        MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
        WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
        RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
        ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
        Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
        COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
        WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
        Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
        GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
        ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
        PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
        Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
        NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
        STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
        Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
        PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
        Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
        WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
        NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
        Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
        COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
        STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
        ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
        Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
        GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
        WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
        Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
        Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
        Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
        BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
        STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
        Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
        Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
        Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
        GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
        WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
        MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
        Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
        ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
        Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
        Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
        WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
        NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
        WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
        Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
        HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
        BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
        Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
        GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
        COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
        SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
        FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
        Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
        PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
        STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
        Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
        ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
        RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
        ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
        BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
        Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
        MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
        WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
        Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
        COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
        SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
        CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
        GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
        Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
        PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
        ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
        FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 19
        Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
        Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
        WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
        BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
        GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
        WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
        Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
        GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
        STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
        Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
        NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
        PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
        GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
        BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
        Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
        WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
        FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
        Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
        GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
        GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
        STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
        ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
        Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
        CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
        WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
        Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
        HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
        NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
        ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
        GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
        Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
        STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
        FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        RIC ($1.29)vs NTH ($3.60) 19:50ES
        Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
        GEE ($2.60)vs ADE ($1.50) 13:05SS
        BRI ($4.50)vs WBU ($1.20) 13:45G
        PTA ($1.10)vs FRE ($6.50) 15:50Adelaide Oval
        HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($17.00) 16:40MCG
        SYD ($1.04)vs GCF ($11.00) 19:20SCG
        WCE ($1.04)vs STK ($11.00) 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
        MEL ($3.20)vs GWS ($1.36) 13:10ES
        COL ($1.28)vs ESS ($3.70) 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        AFL 2015
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
        West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
        Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
        Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
        Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
        Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
        Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
        North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
        View all
         

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