Here it is: numbers courtesy of CT and then reports on every game by yours truly. I tried to strike a balance between being succinct and depth and detail. Some reports are long and expansive where warranted and other sections more bullet point, headline style. I’ve also linked to the original game chats for each game, where it can be helpful to see live reactions from a few perspectives. All in it’s quite a large but critical write up. Strap in feel free to drop your own takes, questions and what the repercussions of the practice matches were for your side.
HAWTHORN v COLLINGWOOD
Newcombe 24, Mackenzie 19, Reeves 19, Worpel 18, Day 16, Meek 12, Ward 9, Macdonald 4, Nash 3
Crisp 20, De Goey 20, Mitchell 19, Cameron 17, Pendlebury 16, Cox 14, Adams 11, N. Daicos 2, Lipinski 2, J. Daicos 2, Sidebottom 1
Bramble 6, Sicily 5, Hardwick 4, Impey 1
Moore 6, Noble 3, N. Daicos 2, Howe 2, Frampton 1
Starting with the Pies, this outing killed a few of their previously popular options in Daicos and Mitchell. Daicos lined up at half back, instead of on ball where the real upside was, and was immediately given a look by Maginness. He attempted to retreat to a wing, where he was still well held to just 17 touches but battled with 5 tackles and good use. He’ll be a sitting duck for tags at half back, whereas at least OB he’d at least have had a contest and stoppage presence scoring stream. Undeniable talent but tricky to now start.
Similarly, the volume of midfielders put through centre bounces for the Pies and their overall weak midfield system will cap Mitchell’s ceiling and deny him some consistency. In that midfield system, Titch put up 20 HBs to 8 kicks and was only carried to a ton by an impressive CP ratio. Just didn’t have the support, space or system to really dominate. Cameron was deployed again in a 50:50 ruck split but was very strong around the ground with 11 kicks (no HBs), an intercept mark, utilization in switching the ball and then 6 CPs and 4 tackles. If the price and DPP still appeal to you, go for it, but deprivation of a majority of the ruck economy will both cap his ceiling and lower his floor. With no rookie prospects and Crisp and De Goey MID only, that was it for the Pies.
The Hawks, however, could probably warrant an entire post given their relevance at all positions. Starting down back, Sicily was just capital. Relaxed early on, acquiesced to the other HBs and didn’t go in and wreck himself but when the game shifted to a more season proper pace he really got cooking. Commanded the backline, took 10 marks, ran at 93% TOG and had a 50 point quarter. Even with all the HBs bobbing around, his field position, intercepting ability and competition best field kicking were all on display and reminders why he’s a Top 6 lock. In fact, given his invulnerability to a tag there’s a case he could pull out ahead of the rest of the 600k options.
Moving into the guts, the entire Hawks engine room was noteworthy. Worpel, who’d been a slob in the match sim, was switched on and led the Hawks with 30 touches, 17 contested and 9 clearances. His use was very poor (63% DE, 5 clangers) and the Hawks midfield overall was very soft but his performance was strong. Alongside him, Mackenzie was the next big headline after missing the sim with a corkie. He looked a little awkward at first and like a headless chook but improved as the game went on. 24 touches and moved very quickly from contest to contest. The Mackenzie hype will sound very reminiscent of Ward, who also tonned in a practice match, looked fantastic and was 180k. Inevitably, H&A match conditions will be drastically different, he won’t be the #2 CBA recipient on debut and the opposition won’t always be a Pies midfield. If we weren’t thin on MID rookies we could safely fade him but an energetic and progressively composed performance means the kid is fair game to start.
Newcombe was solid, Day was very sleek and deliberative as that smaller frame MID and put in a very balanced performance and then Macdonald lived up to his mantle as the Hawks’ best off-season performer in an ultra composed outing. In a stronger side without a rebuilding profile, there’d be cases for all three.
Finishing with the Hawks’ forward stocks, Moore was absolutely explosive. He played just the first half (43% TOG for the game) for 70 SC! 2 goals, link up play between the midfield and forward line and injection into forward stoppages. Could have easily played out the game and been BOG. Greene locked himself up a spot for Round 1 with 3 goals and 5 marks, perfect for that FWD bench spot.
Worpel 101, Mackenzie 99, Sicily 96, Macdonald 89, Day 88, Greene 84, Moore 70
Mitchell 101, Cameron 97, N. Daicos 72
FREMANTLE v PORT ADELAIDE
Darcy 22, O’Meara 20, Serong 20, Brayshaw 19, Brodie 16, Treacy 3
Rozee 20, Lycett 18, Horne-Francis 16, Wines 15, Drew 10, Jones 7, Butters 6, Teakle 4, Dixon 3, Powell-Pepper 1
Young 4, Wilson 3, Cox 2, Clark 2, Chapman 1, Hughes 1
Houston 6, Burton 6, Farrell 1
The biggest headline from this one was the ruck battle. Darcy was just absolutely god tier in Jackson’s absence. It wasn’t just a dominant 38 HO outing flush with HTA and back tap goal assists, it was the 10 marks, ground coverage and mobility that hearkened back to his purple patch of 180s. Now this alluring performance has to be contextualized within two realities of the day. First, Jackson didn’t play. In the sim they ran a tight 75:25 split and said that’s how they liked the two of them but obviously the return of a second ruck returning is going to eat up a quarter of his economy. Secondly, Lycett was a ghost at just 60% TOG and with large bench stints – so Darcy was just dancing in free real estate. Something clearly up with Lycett, looked sort of okay on field but never built into the game and that TOG a week out from the season means somethings up.
Brodie was the best on baller of the day with 33, Brayshaw found more than him with 36 but was highly uncontested at just 15% and then dirty in his use with 9 clangers and 75% DE – very much a pre-season, not drilled in performance from him. Rozee wasn’t spectacular by any means and in pure football terms isn’t that great a midfielder but had the role and discipline to ton and his history as forward gave him really great synergy with Port’s attack. Butters was working his way back to match fitness after a minor set back and didn’t have much of a role or any dynamism that would warrant starting him – has the scope to be Top 6, so just wait till his in the clear with his body and hits some form.
Young surprisingly didn’t pop off without Ryan and played a really tight, defensive game. Knows his role, follows Longmuir’s directives and works within a back six with guys like Cox and Clark who themselves can accumulate. Decent meterage and use but no where near even a plurality of distribution. Fyfe put in what seemed like the top of his range for his role his year: 3 goals, 6 marks and 15 touches as a full time forward with no CBs or stoppage injection. Did us a favour with a very good approximation of how he’ll be this year at about 80-90. Freo’s incredibly soft fixture could see him open strong if bags 10 in the first 3 but the FWD line is pretty saturated for options right now. At a similar price, Horne-Francis was a flop. Not only 61% DE, 9 clangers and no substantive development since last year but his attitude really sucked – who’s starting punch ons in a pre-season game? Could not have been more turned off.
Sturt re-entered the fray with a clinical 100% DE and 2 goal outing in a clearly defined forward role, making him a nice bench option alongside Greene. The Dockers demand a lot out of their smalls and mediums, so he should be solid.
Darcy 127, Brodie 117, Fyfe 90, Brayshaw 84, Sturt 80, Young 79
Rozee 111, Horne-Francis 70, Butters 67, Jones 44, Lycett 36
BRISBANE v GEELONG
Dunkley 19, Neale 18, McInerney 14, Ashcroft 13, McCluggage 11, Bailey 7, Fort 6, Hipwood 2, Tunstill 2
Atkins 14, Dangerfield 14, Ceglar 14, Guthrie 11, Bruhn 11, Parfitt 11, Stanley 10, Holmes 8
Rich 5, McKenna 2, Coleman 1, Starcevich 1
Stewart 5, Whyte 3, Tuohy 3, Guthrie 1, O’Connor 1
Dunkley and Neale looked like they’ll be crowning the Lions the #1 midfield the competition this year after putting in truly enormous efforts in this one. Dunkley not only offered Neale that defensive cover, pressure and receivership but firmed as an equal with 31 touches, 20 contested and 404 MG. Affirmed his must have designation. Neale was then fantastic also with 31 touches and just a very smooth game. McCluggage, while not exactly relevant, made space for the MIDs by reprising some time on the wing but still led the Lions for clearances. Expecting them to be the most restrictive SC midfield this year. Ashcroft was great in what was a really fair approximation of how he’ll play this year: moderated TOG, high impact, 3rd CBA load and then a healthy contribution on ball.
McKenna cleared the low bar he set in the match sim with fractionally more composure but still 5 clangers and didn’t look to offer the Lions much. Wilmot persisted on a wing but the Lions obviously favoured McCluggage or a rested MID and he did himself a diservice 44% DE. There’s a chance neither play Round 1. The Lions back six over the sim and practice match was too small, missing key stocks and non-defensive. Surely that can’t be how they enter the H&A, especially with Rich and Coleman already there as mainstays at HB. A reconfiguration there could spell the end for McKenna and Wilmot’s rawness and errant use could warrant some development in the 2s. One probably starts but you wouldn’t want to field either.
Much like Sicily, Stewart was classy in cruise control and there wasn’t much to discuss. Ratugolea came into the same role as the sim but was far less inspiring: 10 touches, 3 marks and no real defensive craft or mindset. Still looked a liability for the Cats and his use was clean but ignoble. That said, it looks like they’ll run with him in the 22 and remains an option at R3 for those who want no loop and maximum cash gen. There was nothing ignoble however about Bruhn, who played off a healthy CBA load and was the Cats biggest contest presence. Doesn’t have a great accumulating or two way profile and had only 19 touches but 11 of them contested and then threw in 5 clearances and 7 tackles for some real grunt. He was deliberative in the contests he went hard in and a strong extractor. He does remain CP and role reliant and awkwardly priced despite a strong performance and palpable talent.
Dunkley 146, Neale 121, Ashcroft 96, McKenna 53, Wilmot 52
Bruhn 112, Stewart 91, Ratugolea 49
ST KILDA v ESSENDON
Marshall 16, Steele 15, Crouch 14, Bytel 10, Clark 7, Sinclair 3, Windhager 2, Cordy 1
Draper 16, Shiel 12, Parish 11, Zerrett 10, Perkins 8, Setterfield 8, Caldwell 2, Weidemen 1
Wanganeen-Milera 7, Sinclair 6, Howard 1
Redman 2, Ridley 2, Zerk-Thatcher 1, McGrath 1, Kelly 1
As Lycett fell, RoMo came in and rectified our ruck problems: dynamic across the ground, 24 touches, an insane game high 19 contested and intercept and score involvement work at both ends. Best of all: no second fiddle! Pick him and another ruck. Steele was nowhere near as emphatic in his contribution: good tackling and coverage but just the 17 touches at sloppy use. Also looked slender and tired. Hard to ascribe this to the match conditions or him personally. At half back Sinclair started the game carrying the Saints with intercepts, distribution and aggressive ball movement but all three of those contributions dissipated due to 1) Wanganeen-Milera’s new found economy, 2) errors on his own part and 3) sort of a cruise control withdrawal similar to other big name players. The problem is it’s hard to see the degree to which those three factors will carry in to the season proper. It must be said that Wanganeen-Milera’s use and absolute decision making was absolutely terrible – like mind numbingly bad. Kick ins sprayed out on the full, I50 turn overs or taking ridiculous non-options. So maybe the Saints reel back the freedom he was given and it isn’t panic stations for Sinclair. Clark remained a hack, no need to bother.
By way of rookies and midpricers, the Saints offered up Phillipou, Stocker and Bytel. Phillipou was decent in the same FWD role as last week, with a goal, 15 touches and stoppage exposure. Stocker shared in the vacuum left by a withdrawn Sinclair and had some tricks but didn’t do anything that another defender in the 22 couldn’t do, so not essential for the Saints. Bytel has been in the system for a bit and might get a permanent look with Billings and Windhager injured and Owens now in a more stable role. He did himself plenty of favours with 7 tackles, 9 CPs and good pressure work off 60% TOG – shaping up as very much the type of young, earnest player who comes in post-clearance to tackle and pressure. One to consider.
To the Dons, it was all pretty snappy: Zerrett truly excellent and will excel as captain, Parish a lazy slob a ways off his purple patch and Ridley didn’t play in a pure intercept role but made it work with high TOG, DE and play reading, Redman quiet amongst a backline of HBs. Davey recovered from some dirty mistakes early, gathered himself, got a word from Fox Footy’s Eddie Betts at HT and then played himself into the 22 it seems. Menzie didn’t kick any goals or do anything eye-catching but chained up well and laid 6 tackles.
Marshall 155, Wanganeen Milera 91, Steele 84, Clark 78, Stocker 76, Bytel 75, Sinclair 59, Phillipou 53, Caminiti 40
Ridley 128, Setterfield 119, Zerrett 112, Redman 73, Davey 67, Parish 54
SYDNEY v CARLTON
Parker 22, Gulden 18, Rowbottom 17, Warner 17, Ladhams 15, McAndrew 8, Edwards 3, Roberts 3, Heeney 1 (woooooo!)
Kennedy 18, Hewett 18, Pittonet 17, Cerra 16, Dow 13, De Koning 9, Docherty 9, Carroll 2, Fisher 2
Blakey 4, Lloyd 4, Florent 2, P. McCartin 1, Campbell 1
Saad 3, Docherty 3, Cerra 1
Don’t worry, they’re getting shorter! Just the two talking points for this report: Gulden and Docherty. Starting with Gulden, who from Day 1 in the system showed his ceiling and class as he graced our fields with 130s in the opening fortnight of 2021. His performance at Blacktown was nothing short of meteoric: 45 touches, 17 contested, 887 MG and 3 goals. The Blues aren’t slouches either, even in a practice game and without Cripps their midfield remains one of the competition’s best and was up to par – but there was no stopping Gulden. Pretty much comes into everyone’s side given his price, the risk of non-ownership and the lack of fieldable FWD rookies. Hesitation was expressed due to the absence of Mills, however Gulden did play the week before in the sim OB and Mills midfield role was being sliced and diced well before last week – as far as half way through last year in fact.
Docherty too took the opportunity to boost his ownership numbers with an OG seagull performance at HB topped with a midfield cherry. There’s really little analysis to provide: he gets deferred to an obscene amount, plays a non-accountable role and demands the ball. His preference for kicks, big meterage and good use in low pressure transitions put a nice multiplier on all that possession.
Hewett looked refreshed and straight back to his low TOG, high impact style of CPs (18) and tackles (13). Cowan and Cincotta were the Blues 2nd and 3rd highest tacklers behind Hewett and one of them will get a gig Round 1, so just pick whoever that is. Fans of Saad shouldn’t really be surprised as a low floor was always part of the deal for the small who defends like a tall and has to put up with Doch’s shenanigans, but he can still be serviceable as a trade in at the right price during the season. Pittonet was good with 12 touches and 21 HOs off 58% but really needed a full pre-season to warrant on field consideration. Ladhams managed to get up and looks like he’ll handle the rucking in Hickey’s absence, putting a line through R3 McAndrew. Additionally, Warner was quiet as Parker, Gulden, Hewett and Kennedy took control as the centre square.
Gulden 190, Warner 88, Heeney 81, Lloyd 47, McAndrew 32
Docherty 154, Hewett 129, Cincotta 70, Saad 65, Pittonet 65, Hollands 59, Cowan 57
WEST COAST v ADELAIDE
Jamieson 22, Kelly 19, Sheed 17, Yeo 12, Ginbey 12, O’Neill 11, Shuey 7,Waterman 3, Rotham 3, Chesser 3, Hewett 3
ROB 21, Laird 20, Berry 17, Rachele 9, Schoenberg 9, Soligo 8, Himmelberg 7, Brown 6, Keays 6, Crouch 5, Rankine 3, Sloane 1
Hurn 5, Witherden 2, McGovern 2
Dawson 5, Doedee 2, Smith 2
The Eagles were bad on an inconceivable level after a promising performance against Port in the sim. The key and unfortunate standout amongst that prompt demise was Yeo. Low TOG, off a full CBA load, unimpactual, 20 touches and looked nowhere near as sharp or hungry as he did in the sim. Maybe it was due to the romping, maybe he was managed to not exert himself, but it struck a real asterisk next to his name. Perhaps the nail in the coffin for Yeo going forward, as well as Sheed who was equally flat at 21 touches, is the absence of Nic Nat. The side is just so dead without him, not only as a god tier all time ruck but often as the #1 contest igniter and presence at stoppages. The weekend’s poor performances coupled with his absence really drive down the stocks of the Eagles midpriced MIDs.
In some positive news, Ginbey was absolutely dynamic. Easily the most composed and confident of the rookies this year outside of Ashcroft. He was headstrong, took the contest on and notched up 17 ultra clean touches. 10 were contested, he slapped on 5 tackles and 99 SC off just 56% TOG. Huge PPM and an immense, ready made talent. Going to be a pleasure to watch and the easiest straight field of the DEF rookies. Chesser was understandably a little green and quiet in side getting pounded and generating no outside ball but he too will line up Round 1 and do okay on the bench. Cole (who *ahem* hasn’t left my side since SC opened) did what was expected of him in a well organized, premiership but under siege backline – which is probably perfect conditions for him. Does what needs to be done and will do 60-70. Won’t be surprised if Hurn sneaks into or right onto the periphery of the Top 6 this year; still an efficiency god and on field general with a lot to do.
Very much a checklist for the Crows. Laird capital with 32, 10 tackles and 2 goals if you don’t, SLOB nowhere near good enough to not pay up for Witts, Gawn or English instead and Dawson sensational at HB. Dawson probably underscored and has a great scoring stream coming into the season, bringing his large frame, good hands and aggressive presence to the cushy job of intercepting and distributing. Berry still looked yet to have developed his accumulating and two way work and rested on his CP and tackling laurels. Pedlar had some real tricks and his maturity definitely showed but 55% TOG might suggest his not ready for Round 1.
McGovern 144, Ginbey 99, Hurn 97, Yeo 78, Sheed 73, Cole 68, Allen 52, Chesser 34
Laird 151, Dawson 105, ROB 103, Berry 86, Pedlar 56, Michalanney 38
GWS v GOLD COAST
Kelly 26, Green 25, Perryman 23, Preuss 23, Coniglio 21, Flynn 8, O’Halloran 6, Riccardi 3, Ward 1
Rowell 26, Witts 23, Swallow 21, Davies 20, Anderson 16, Fiorini 10, Casboult 8, Flanders 6, Hollands 3, Chol 3
Whitfield 3, Cumming 1, Ash 1
Long 4, Constable 2, Farrar 1, Macpherson 1
Kingsley is the Anti-Cameron! In a move that stunned everyone at GWS but surprised no one else with oxygen to their brain, Kingsley played the Giants’ first class on ballers (*checks notes*)…ON BALL! Who would have thought. Jelly was sleek, dominant and led the day with 36 and powerful running through the guts. Green looked much steadier with continuity on ball and notched up 34 touches at 50% contested. Coniglio survived an assassination attempt from Ballard but was otherwise also solid and as a pure midfielder still a forward lock. Kingsley’s back to our roots directive wasn’t limited to the engine room: returning Whitfield to HB where he distributed and linked up exceptionally and Himmelberg forward. Amongst all the high use chaos, Cumming was very solid with supreme efficiency at 93% and still a healthy chunk of distributing work. With a reasonable coach and an insanely soft fixture, the entire Giants midfield is back on the table.
To the Suns, Constable and Long chopped it up at half back and were both very solid. Constable is an easy rookie selection and field whereas Long is a little more confounding. He’s got a baseline HB economy and then high K:HB ratio and marking skills for a 75 floor with some continuity but will need week in week out accumulation to ton – a skill he doesn’t appear to be all over just yet. Weller and Powell to return also allowed us to see Constable and Long through potentially rose coloured glass. With no Miller (although reportedly no problem for Round 1) and Anderson a combination of limp, benched and managed, the Giants on ballers dominated clearance and stoppage. The Orange Tsunami however found themselves crashing against the seawall that is Witts. Despite actually being beaten by Preuss on paper, Witts HO work was incredibly sharp and his involvement for four quarters in the context of a pounding was exceptional. Very much back in consideration as he looks to open the season with Miller back against a Hickey-less Swans. Berry went at 100% off just 9 touches and found himself with little to do, King heavily managed at 42% TOG and it showed and Tsitas isn’t in the 22.
Flanders was the Suns best. Very quiet in the sim but really played his guts out in this one in a HF/wing rotation role with 30 touches, 11 contested and consistent stoppage presence. A marked improvement from the week before and genuinely looked very polished and hungry. You will need to back him however for a 110%, ground covering performance each week to warrant selection as he doesn’t have any default scoring stream in a role as thankless as HF/wing rotation. The Suns will generate plenty of outside ball and repeat stoppages however.
Kelly 138, Green 130, Ash 129, Cumming 118, Callaghan 111, Whitfield 86, Coniglio 85, Haynes 62, Himmelberg 43, Preuss 40
Flanders 103, Witts 101, Rowell 97, Long 87, Constable 73, Anderson 71, Berry 40, King 29, Tsitas 11
BULLDOGS v NORTH MELBOURNE
English 30, Liberatore 27, Bontempelli 25, Smith 24, Macrae 23, Treloar 18, Lobb 7, Darcy 2
LDU 34, Cunnington 27, Phillips 24, Xerri 23, Simpkin 19, Goldstein 16, Powell 9, Zurhaar 4
Daniel 4, Dale 2
McDonald 5, Ziebell 4, Sheezel 1, Goater 1
Really don’t want to extrapolate too much from this one: it was a massacre, the ground was soaked with the blood of North Melbourne. They still managed to score and move the ball but the Bulldogs were immense at all ends.
Bontempelli led his side for clearances and whacked on 2 goals, 27 touches and truly exemplary, iconic Bont delivery I50. Macrae was head down, on the tools with minimal role interference for a clean 31 and 600 MG. Libba a true coalface performance with 8 tackles and functioned really well in a streamlined, focused midfield. The Big Dogs credentials are all well established and didn’t need to beat up on North to reiterate it.
We got a look at Jones, who didn’t miss a beat playing as that much needed key defender and tonned. Looked at home with 17 kicks, 11 marks and a bunch of intercepts to come in a plug a hole down back for us depending how deep a backline you’re running. Crozier had gone slightly under the radar but had the spot in that six and went off with an apparently minor finger injury, calling it a day with 79 off 53% TOG and presenting as another midpricer who can spare you a 600k starting premo and make up for the lack of good scoring rookies. Baker played himself into the 22, which was an uphill battle given the Dogs have plenty of similar types who can plug HF and wing rotations. Gut ran and notched up 22 touches with a offense first thread running through his game all day. Comes as literally the only 123k MID rookie. Other grabs included McLean very quiet, unable to carve up a lucrative role and not worth the price tag, Bruce came in as a defender and was given a lot of space and free position but was unoteworthy otherwise, Richards off injured early with a corkie and Tingles slammed by Xerri and Goldy but didn’t find himself needing to do much anyway. Honestly hard to say if he looked sluggish and cautious due to an interrupted pre-season or if the Dogs dominance at all corners of the ground didn’t want his usual high involvement.
Ziebell won’t reach the heights of 2021 as North start to implement a defensive system and a few more users have popped up but he still has a baseline economy and floor that warrant selection at 350k. There was little LDU could do, which unsettled prospective owners. Just the 18 touches, 9 contested and looked impotent and defeated in the face of the rabid Dogs. It was actually great to see Phillips alongside a full strength North midfield. Didn’t score well or rack up any notable numbers but what was key was that even with LDU, Cunnington and Simpkin he still had a decent CBA load. He certainly wasn’t helped by 35% DE, which to some degree was a product of the Dogs pressure and dominance as well as his own inexperience. Cunnington, despite an entire pre-season forward, slotted straight back on ball and tabled an impressive 16 contested possessions all things considered. It would be a bit of a punt given the limited sample size and tricky priced in between Ziebell and Gulden but he’s still a strong contested midfielde who could pan out.
Sheezel confounded me once again. Terrible role in a terrible side but he just managed to score: 21 touches, mostly clean, a goal and then a final quarter at half back. The half back spell won’t materialize into anything come Round 1, he’ll be at half forward, but the kid just has some tricks. Strong goal sense and always links up cleanly – it’s bizarre. Goater will struggle for both a spot and economy – pass.
Liberatore 158, Bontempelli 145, Dale 124, Macrae 118, Smith 118, Baker 11, Jones 101, Crozier 79, Daniel 72, Darcy 71, Bruce 61, McLean 45, Richards 26
Ziebell 86, Cunnington 79, Sheezel 72, LDU 55, Phillips 48, Goater 46
MELBOURNE v RICHMOND
Harmes 20, Oliver 20, Gawn 16, Petracca 15, Grundy 15, Pickett 13, Sparrow 12, Neal-Bullen 7, Brayshaw 4, Woewodin 1, Rivers 1
Hopper 25, Bolton 20, Nankervis 20, Taranto 20, Dow 12, Cotchin 11, Soldo 11, Prestia 4, Martin 1
May 8, Bowey 2
Vlastuin 4, Baker 3, Broad 2, Balta 1, Grimes 1, Rioli 1, Young 1
A very simple to read match to close us out. We’ll start with Gawn, who is the only ruck who could have Grundy come to their side, split with them, play a decent chunk FWD and still warrant consideration! While resting Grundy at 60% certainly gave him more space to pop off, Gawn was monstrous: highly mobile and forward oriented, kicked 3.2, slapped them in on the run and from both difficult and conventional angles, 8 marks and a true presence despite being contained stationary up forward. He also only had 12 HOs and still went 150. Insanity. Grundy was good earlier; lively, also mobile and came in with a far greater a forward craft than he ever had the Pies, converting 3 straight. In the sim he and Gawn had a 60:40 split in his favour but he was rested in this one after a hot start. Yes, they’ll cuck each other of ruck economy but the headline was G&G were dynamic, offensively minded and sharp.
Satan was phenomenal with his hands early and just chugged along. Did sit twice at half back but it’d be lunacy for that to materialize into anything substantive – still on team high CBA load. Petracca continued to build that forward dimension to his game, not so much from a standing start but pressing hard forward upon the Dees capturing the ball in D50. May and Bowey both had high disposal outings, leaving Brayshaw understandably quiet as he remained at HB with none of the OB time that some had hoped for – will still see improvement at HB this year.
Just the two names to tick off at the Tigers and bring us home. Taranto looked much better than in the same: hit 30 touches, a high energy performance and a full time MID role obscured his trademark butchery. Remains a lock and will continue to top the Tigers SC scores each week. Played a balanced game. Hopper sort of stalled and doesn’t have the accumulating or four quarter presence that Taranto has and his scoring profile was clear to see: contested work at center bounce and clearance with little accumulating work, resulting in 24 touches, 14 contested and 9 clearances for the day. That kind of a profile on ball is solid but will produce a fair degree of variance; he’ll need those cherry on top non-contested possessions outside of CBs to press into the tons.
Gawn 153, Bowey 120, May 117, Petracca 114, Oliver 95, Grundy 80, Brayshaw 77, McVee 23
Baker 132, Taranto 124, Hopper 93
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