Greater Western Sydney made sure it was two new teams in this year’s grand final when it bundled out last year’s runner up in a nail-biting four-point win over the Magpies on Saturday evening.
Get ready for another season of heart-stopping action, as Round 1 of the 2018 AFL competition gave every indication that it’s anyone’s premiership – much like the past two years.
Jumping out of the blocks and looking the goods this year are underachievers Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney, as well as reigning premiers Richmond.
Among the losers, Carlton suggested that they will be a force to be reckoned with after a terrific arm-wrestle against the Tigers before a last-quarter fadeout.
Geelong can count themselves lucky to be on the winners list against a dominant Melbourne, whose inaccuracy cost them a win they surely deserved, while Adelaide being in the grand final last year did not impress the emerging Bombers, who dug deep to overcome a last-quarter 20-point deficit and turn it into a 12-point win for their jubilant fans at Etihad Stadium.
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Hawthorn were impressive, completely shutting out Collingwood to win by 34 points, giving Magpies coach Nathan Buckley plenty to digest as he hangs on to his role as coach.
The Giants were ruthless in their demolition of 2016 premiers Western Bulldogs, with an 82-point thrashing, and Port Adelaide announced their intentions for this season with an imposing 50-point win over Freemantle.
Sydney left West Coast with bitter initial memories of their new stadium in Perth, beating the Eagles by 29 points.
St Kilda also showed signs of improvement and backed the confidence of coach Alan Richardson that they would be contenders this year with an impressive 25-point triumph over the Brisbane Lions. Gold Coast proved better mud larkers to outplay North Melbourne in atrocious conditions in Cairns.
It’s a long road to the finals but with the modern game played at breakneck speed and the injury tolls likely to be a determining factor, the depth of talent of each team will ultimately decide this season.