The Anzac Day Round lived up to its standard, drawing big crowds and providing electrifying footy.
Proceedings kicked off on Friday night, where Port Adelaide thrashed a young Carlton lineup by 90-points. The Blues are taking steps backwards, to move forwards, playing seven teenagers on Friday. Supporters can at least identify the vision Brendan Bolton has built for the club and be excited by the young players paving the way.
Adelaide continued their dominance, belting Gold Coast by 67-points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night. The Crows have set the benchmark for the competition in 2017.
The best of the round came after the weekend, a pulsating Monday night blockbuster stealing the show. Richmond continued their undefeated start to the season, running over Melbourne by 13-points in front of 85,757 people at the MCG.
Tuesday’s traditional Anzac Day game delivered a magnificent, see-saw affair. Essendon conquered their recent Anzac Day woes, defeating Collingwood by 18-points, with 87,685 fans in attendance at the MCG. Joe Daniher received the Anzac Medal, kicking three goals, taking eight marks and collecting six inside-50s.
Thumbs up to Fagan
Whilst the Brisbane Lions were eventually outclassed and defeated by the Western Bulldogs, they found themselves up by 32-points at half time to the reigning premiers. It was an inspiring performance from the baby Lions against the champs in their own backyard.
The Lions’ usual midfield culprits Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko and Tom Rockliff were enormous. However, it was the development of youngsters like Eric Hipwood, Lewis Taylor and Daniel McStay that would really please Lions fans.
Brisbane’s defense and tackling pressure was as good as its been in years, whilst their forward line was highly functional and efficient. New senior coach Chris Fagan is doing something right.
Teammate Patrick Dangerfield has received all the accolades and praise in recent times, however, Joel Selwood is quietly putting together his own Brownlow Medal season of sorts.
The Cats skipper is averaging 32 disposals and eight tackles for the second placed Geelong and he ranks first in the AFL for goal assists. No performance came bigger than on the weekend. Selwood registered a career-high 43 disposals, eight marks, nine tackles and one goal, as Geelong ran away with a 38-point victory over St Kilda.
Geelong is going under the radar in 2017 and has been led magnificently from the front. Selwood’s recent form prompted Mike Sheahan to declare him the ‘best player of the decade’.
Richmond’s mosquito fleet buzz
Love them or hate them, you have to admit to enjoying the famous ‘Yellow and Black’ song. Richmond are undefeated and haven’t started this well since 1995. It might all finally be coming together for Damien Hardwick and his troops.
This can largely be attributed to a new look, undersized forward line, featuring young guns Dan Butler, Jason Castagna and Daniel Rioli, who’ve combined for 23 goals this season.
At the other end of the scale, Sydney recruit Toby Nankervis has both figuratively and literally been enormous, whilst leaders Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance and Dustin Martin have all been outstanding.
North Melbourne is 0-5, but could easily have won two or three of those. Against Geelong and the Western Bulldogs, the Kangaroos surrendered late leads and eventually lost by narrow margins.
Their lack of ability to close out games continued on the weekend, conceding the lead to Fremantle with 44 seconds remaining after Shane Kersten booted a goal to seal a Fremantle victory. It’s been a slippery slope for North Melbourne fans in 2017.
Eagles MCG hoodoo
Unfortunately for the West Coast Eagles, premierships are won at the MCG, a venue which they have lost 18 of their past 23 matches.
Their most recent MCG flop came at the hands of Hawthorn, who recorded their first win for the season by an imposing 50-points. The game was somewhat reminiscent of the 2015 Grand Final.
As top four aspires, West Coast must resolve their perennial MCG hoodoo if they are to challenge for a premiership.
Both Spencer and Max gone
Melbourne faces a ruck injury crisis, losing Jake Spencer to a shoulder injury on Monday night. He joins star teammate Max Gawn on the sidelines, leaving the Demons immensely shallow in their ruck stocks, as Jack Watts was left to ruck the remainder of Monday night’s clash.
Spencer’s injury opens the door for youngsters Mitch King and Lachlan Filipovic as the only remaining healthy ruckman on Melbourne’s list. It throws a lifeline to out of favor Cameron Pedersen and other tall utilities to rotate through the ruck as another option for Demons coach Simon Goodwin.
This unfortunate series of injuries to one specific position should encourage the prospect of in-season player movement. If in-season player movement existed, Melbourne would have the luxury of employing the services of a ruckman, either from another club or through free agency as a short term fix.
Imagine Melbourne trading draft picks to a rebuilding North Melbourne for Todd Goldstein, who they could further use as trade bait at the end of season 2017. Melbourne is compensated for their injuries and gets their ruckman, whilst North Melbourne stocks up on draft picks. It’s a win-win scenario.
After winning the minor premiership and playing in the 2016 Grand Final, Sydney are winless after five rounds and sit dead last on the ladder. This is a far cry from the recurrent top four Sydney Swans of the 2000s.
Their latest loss came at home to ‘baby brother’ GWS, who are all grown up and undoubtedly superior to their sibling Swans.
Sydney’s star studded midfield has been uncharacteristically poor, whilst their defense looks vulnerable compared to other years. Matthew Lloyd has boldly stated that former skipper Kieran Jack should be dropped from the side for his form woes.
If any team can turn it around after a 0-5 start, it’s Sydney, however they will need to soon, as the competition is fierce in 2017.