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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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        2014 Home and Away

        Round 1
        Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
        COL 46 vs FRE 116 Report Stats
        Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
        GWS 99 vs SYD 67 Report Report Stats
        GCF 87 vs RIC 69 Report Stats
        Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CAR 87 vs PTA 120 Report Stats
        Thu, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
        GEE 119 vs ADE 81 Report Stats
        Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
        NTH 60 vs ESS 99 Report Stats
        Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HAW 139 vs BRI 91 Report Stats
        STK 68 vs MEL 51 Report Stats
        Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
        WCE 134 vs WBU 69 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Thu, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
        Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
        ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
        Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
        STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
        PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
        FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
        SYD 69 vs COL 89 Report Stats
        Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
        MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
        WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 3
        Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
        Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
        WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
        ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
        GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
        WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
        COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
        Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
        NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
        ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 4
        Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
        Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
        PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
        GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
        GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
        GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
        Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
        SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
        STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
        FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
        Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
        SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
        WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
        ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
        Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
        ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
        MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
        WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
        Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
        GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
        STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
        FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
        Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
        CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
        MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
        Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
        WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
        RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
        PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
        Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
        HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
        GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
        ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
        BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
        ESS 73 vs WBU 65 Report Stats
        Sun, 04 MayTimes shown AEST
        NTH 77 vs GCF 120 Report Stats
        GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
        WCE 54 vs FRE 73 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 8
        Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
        Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
        BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
        MEL 83 vs WBU 99 Report Stats
        Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
        WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
        Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK 69 vs CAR 101 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
        Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
        Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        RIC 74 vs MEL 91 Report Stats
        NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
        FRE 96 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
        Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK 87 vs GCF 125 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
        Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
        COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
        PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
        Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
        GCF 119 vs WBU 74 Report Stats
        CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 11
        Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
        Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
        Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        MEL 75 vs PTA 95 Report Stats
        BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
        ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
        Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
        ADE 109 vs GCF 77 Report Stats
        WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
        HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
        WCE 44 vs NTH 82 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
        Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
        PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
        WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
        GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
        Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCF 74 vs SYD 109 Report Stats
        FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
        NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
        Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL 28 vs COL 61 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 13
        Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
        Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC 85 vs FRE 105 Report Stats
        SYD 98 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
        WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
        BRI 80 vs GWS 125 Report Stats
        ADE 109 vs NTH 73 Report Stats
        Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE 133 vs STK 37 Report Stats
        COL 98 vs WBU 106 Report Stats
        ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 14
        Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
        Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
        PTA 128 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
        HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
        GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
        FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
        ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
        Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
        GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
        STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
        MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 15
        Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
        Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
        STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
        FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
        SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
        BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
        Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
        WBU 91 vs MEL 85 Report Stats
        ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
        COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
        Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
        GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
        GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
        MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
        PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
        Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
        WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
        GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
        Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
        NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
        WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
        BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
        SYD 122 vs CAR 51 Report Stats
        Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
        ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
        FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 18
        Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR 109 vs NTH 86 Report Stats
        Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
        STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
        GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
        Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA 72 vs MEL 69 Report Stats
        WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
        Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
        WCE 42 vs RIC 59 Report Stats
        Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        BRI 110 vs GCF 56 Report Stats
        HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
        Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 19
        Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
        Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
        Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
        RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
        GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
        NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
        Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
        MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
        HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
        COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
        Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
        CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
        HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
        PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
        GEE 81 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
        Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
        BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
        STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
        WCE 126 vs COL 66 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
        Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
        GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
        ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
        COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
        ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
        Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
        MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
        FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
        Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
        ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
        GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
        WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
        HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
        Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
        BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
        WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
        RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
        Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
        FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
        SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
        NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
        GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
        Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
        GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
        ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
        WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        AFL Finals Round 1
        Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
        HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
        Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 93 vs FRE 69 Stats
        NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Stats
        Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
        PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        AFL Finals Round 2
        Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
        GEE 92 vs NTH 98 Stats
        Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
        FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        AFL Finals Round 3
        Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 136 vs NTH 65 Report Stats
        Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
        HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        AFL Finals Round 4
        Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 74 vs HAW 137 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        AFL Home and Away
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Sydney Swans 22 17 5 0 142.88 68
        Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
        Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
        Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
        Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
        North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
        Essendon 22 12 9 1 106.34 50
        Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
        View all
         
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