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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.

    The boy who cried Wolf
    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.

      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.

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

      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.

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

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        AFL 2016

        Round 1
        Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
        RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
        Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
        MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
        GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
        NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
        SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
        Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
        PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
        WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
        Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
        GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
        COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
        Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
        ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
        ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
        BRI vs NTH 16:35G
        STK vs WBU 19:25ES
        FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
        HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
        CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK vs COL 13:45MCG
        RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
        SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
        GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
        WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
        WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
        GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
        WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
        HAW vs STK 14:10AS
        BRI vs GCF 16:35G
        CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
        ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
        COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
        NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
        Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
        GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
        WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
        PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK vs GWS 13:10ES
        FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
        MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
        Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
        Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs STK 13:45ES
        ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
        GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
        RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
        GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
        Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        BRI vs SYD 13:10G
        CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
        WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
        Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
        COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
        GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
        SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
        GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
        WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
        FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK vs NTH 15:20ES
        PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
        HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
        GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
        BRI vs COL 19:25G
        RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
        Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
        MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
        WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
        Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
        COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
        GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
        PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
        NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
        FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
        GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
        STK vs ESS 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
        Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
        BRI vs HAW 13:45G
        MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
        STK vs FRE 16:35ES
        ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
        ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
        COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
        WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
        Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
        CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
        GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
        GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
        FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
        COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
        WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
        ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
        Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
        BRI vs FRE 16:35G
        GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
        WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
        STK vs CAR 13:10ES
        RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
        GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
        Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
        Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
        BRI vs WCE 13:40G
        FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
        WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
        Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
        ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
        COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
        Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
        GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
        STK vs GEE 19:25ES
        Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
        WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
        Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        GCF vs STK 13:40MS
        SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
        CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
        Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
        Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
        GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
        WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
        MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
        Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
        WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
        ESS vs STK 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
        Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
        FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
        NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
        WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
        ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
        STK vs MEL 15:20ES
        BRI vs GWS 16:40G
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL vs NTH 19:50ES
        Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
        GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
        WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
        WBU vs STK 19:25ES
        GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
        Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
        HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
        PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 19
        Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
        Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
        HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
        COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
        BRI vs PTA 19:25G
        NTH vs STK 19:25ES
        Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
        FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
        ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
        Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
        MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
        GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
        WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
        ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
        GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
        FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
        WBU vs COL 19:50ES
        Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
        BRI vs CAR 13:45G
        HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
        GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
        STK vs SYD 19:25ES
        PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
        RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
        FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
        WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
        Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
        RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
        GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
        COL vs GCF 19:25ES
        PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
        BRI vs GEE 15:20G
        ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
        STK vs BRI 12:00ES
        ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
        GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
        SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
        NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
        GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
        ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
        FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        AFL 2015
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
        Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
        View all

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