With the 2019 AFL draft in the rearview mirror and club lists finalised for 2020, we decided – despite overwhelming popular opinion – that it’s not at all too early to start speculating about the season ahead.
The opening-round of a season, like any other week, provides an opportunity for the winning teams to gain four premiership points. Why we place so much emphasis on it, and draw definite conclusions, is a point worth exploring.
After all, it is just one week of football.
Maybe it’s because fans have been starved of their favourite game for six months, and their passion then suddenly emerges during the final week of March.
There was plenty we gained from Round 1.
We established, thanks to commentators and fans on talkback radio programs, that Richmond and Melbourne are the two worst teams in the competition.
The pair will finish 15th and 16th, respectively, this year. We just don’t know the order.
We have all seemed to ignore the fact these two sides could (and it’s a long-shot) develop over the season – there are 21 games for each of them remaining to prove the AFL community wrong.
Fremantle, meanwhile, should be the big improvers after a crushing win over the highly-fancied Adelaide. Significantly, the win was in the comfortable confines of Subiaco Oval. The Dockers remain flaky away from home until they prove otherwise.
And until Fremantle fixes this issue, it will not make any major progress.
Essendon’s Jay Neagle and Scott Gumbleton aren’t good enough at the top-level if Friday night’s effort against Geelong – the team with the best defence in the business – is any indication, according to, yep, you guessed it, the talkback “experts”.
Both deserve time. And Essendon will give them that.
There is a limit on time, of course, but that has yet to be reached for this pair.
Carlton won’t miss Brendan Fevola if its forward display in the season-opener was anything to go by. Eddie Betts, Setanta O’Hailpin and Chris Yarran kicked a lazy nine between them, with a number of other players also contributing to the scoreboard.
I’ll be interested to see how the Blues’ forward line stands up against the likes of Geelong, St.Kilda and Collingwood in future weeks.
Hawthorn may well be back as a contender after a superb Round 1 effort against…Melbourne. With six from its best line-up missing, it was an admirable effort.
But let’s see how the Hawks go against the league’s leading sides before we pass judgement.
Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs, who were all the rage before the season began, thanks to the exploits of Barry Hall and their NAB Cup win, were eclipsed by flag contender Collingwood on Sunday – and easily.
The season is a marathon. Top form in Round 1 is not the priority.
Are the Dogs overrated, we ask? Well, we’ve just had Round 1.
Bring on Round 2.