IT’S a huge day for football with three intriguing clashes revealing which clubs are genuine title contenders in 2017.
Former Hawthorn star Sam Mitchell tasted victory in his first game for West Coast against North Melbourne, while the Crows easily accounted for Greater Western Sydney. Fremantle has the opportunity to erase the memory of a disappointing 2016 when the men from the west face a new-look Geelong.
Geelong starts strong
Geelong has started the season in fine form, grabbing a 31-14 lead over Fremantle at quarter-time.
Patrick Dangerfield has led the way for the Cats alongside Joel Selwood, while Tom Hawkins also scored a brilliant goal towards the end of the term.
But Geelong’s players had the wind behind them to start the match so the Dockers will be confident of erasing the deficit in the second quarter.
Phil Davis’ classy gesture to Eddie Betts
Giants co-captain Phil Davis won the sportsmanship award for the weekend after immediately coming to the aid of opponent Eddie Betts after the Crow fell to the turf in an attempt to take a huge mark.
Davis rushed to see if Betts, obviously in a lot of pain, was okay, ignoring the play taking place around him.
The Crows pulled off a huge 147-91 hometown victory against the Giants after a number of early jitters.
Phil Davis checking on Eddie without hesitating
Class. #AFLCrowsGiants— Tom Chadwick (@TomChadwickFox) March 26, 2017
Crows take home massive victory over GWS
The Crows have made a strong statement in round one.Source:News Corp Australia
Adelaide have shown they are a force to be reckoned with this AFL season, conquering premiership favourites Greater Western Sydney by 56 points. After a stumbling start, the Crows overran the Giants to win 22.15 (147) to 14.7 (91) in hot conditions at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon. Rory Laird was busy and creative for the home side with 42 disposals while Matt Crouch (29 disposals), Rory Atkins (three goals) and Charlie Cameron (23 disposals and two goals) contributed strongly.
Eddie Betts kicked four goals for the Crows while key forward Josh Jenkins booted three goals, including a long-range bomb after the halftime siren, in an important performance in the absence of captain Taylor Walker - who was a late withdrawal because of hamstring tightness.
GWS controlled the play early on, showing off their trademark running game as they moved the ball from defence to attack to lead at quarter time. Tom Scully (24 possessions and two goals) and Josh Kelly (27 disposals) ran hard for the Giants while key forward Jeremy Cameron (four goals) made his mark on the scoreboard.
The hard-running Crows gained momentum and put the Giants to the sword in a game-breaking seven-goal third quarter in which they sliced through the GWS defence with relative ease.
Both teams looked to be blowing out the cobwebs early, making some untidy skill errors and poor decisions.
But this was contrasted with some slick play by both sides, who played on readily and regularly took on the corridor.
It was a rough day for GWS recruit Tendai Mzungu who appeared to strain a hamstring in the first quarter, playing no further part and leaving the visitors a man down.
A deliberate rushed behind decision paid against Daniel Talia drew jeers from the crowd after the Crows defender knocked the ball through under pressure, leading to a Giants goal.
Eagles too good for Kangaroos
Dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy booted seven goals to guide West Coast to a commanding 43-point season-opening AFL win over North Melbourne. Three of Kennedy’s majors came during a dominant third quarter as the Eagles shook off a slow start and surged to a 21.10 (136) to 13.15 (93) victory at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It was the new-look North Melbourne who looked the more dangerous side in the early going, especially when former Kangaroos star Drew Petrie went to the Eagles rooms with a hand injury.
Two days after Collingwood supporters booed traded star Travis Cloke, North Melbourne supporters were praised for an all-class reaction to Petrie’s return.
Petrie’s warm return continued at half-time when he featured in a video that was played on the big screens inside Etihad Stadium to a round of applause from the Norths fans.
On Friday night, Cloke was heckled by Collingwood supporters after nailing a long-range bomb during the Western Bulldogs’ win over the ‘Pies.
Travis Cloke and Drew Petrie. Both 2011 All-Australians, both kicked 400+ goals.
One jeered, the other cheered by former fans. Nice, North.— Sam Landsberger (@SamLandsberger) March 26, 2017
That was really well done @NMFCOfficial it's great to support a club that's respectful of its past champions 👏 https://t.co/scTyQ4dQOF— Melissa Weatherley (@MellyW2907) March 26, 2017
Love the way our fans have celebrated @drewpetrie20 today. What a champion of our club. #beashinboner #nmfc— Heath O'Loughlin (@thossian) March 26, 2017
Former Geelong big man Nathan Vardy also copped a niggle, forcing West Coast to improvise with Jack Darling and Jeremy McGovern in the ruck against the imposing Todd Goldstein.
The Kangaroos, who lost 1500 games of experience with the off-season departure of several key veterans, led by nine points at the first break and impressed with their speed and pressure.
But West Coast’s ruck duo soon returned and the Eagles kicked in to gear in the second quarter, sparked by three goals in quick succession from crafty veteran Mark LeCras.
The Eagles led by a goal at half-time and put the Kangaroos to the sword after the break, driven by a super effort from Kennedy.
The gun forward’s performance shows he is every chance of becoming the first player since Geelong legend Gary Ablett Sr to top the AFL’s goalkicking tally for a third straight year.
There was plenty to like for the Eagles, with a best-on-ground performance from Elliot Yeo (26 touches, two goals), suggesting he may be ready to live up to his considerable potential.
Star recruit Sam Mitchell — the oldest player to ever line up for West Coast, after his shock trade from Hawthorn — was also impressive for his new side. The 34-year-old racked up 38 touches and looks set to make a big impact on an Eagles side firmly within its premiership window.
Footy Show host stitched up on debut
.@kanecornes has gone whack on the new host! 😂😂 #9AFLSFS pic.twitter.com/q7D1GViiEj— Sunday Footy Show (@SunFootyShow) March 26, 2017
Channel 9 reporter Tony Jones has been around the game long enough to get used to his fair share of criticism, but he never would have seen this unprovoked stitch-up from former Port star Kane Cornes while hosting the Sunday Footy Show.
Without provocation Cornes dropped a sledgehammer on Jones, replaying the Nine sports presenter’s infamous snub from Rebecca Judd.
Riewoldt cleared of serious knee injury
St Kilda superstar Nick Riewoldt has been cleared of any structural damage to his right knee, but has revealed he contemplated a farewell wave after initially fearing he suffered a potential career-ending injury.
Riewoldt, who kicked four goals before being stretchered off in the final quarter of the Saints’ loss to Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, felt the knee pop and thought he had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
“It feels a little bit stiff and a little bit sore but I guess compared to what it could have been it’s a good result,” the 34-year-old Riewoldt told the Seven Network on Sunday.
“I was pretty confident that I had done my ACL. Once we got in the rooms, they (the doctors) were able to assess it as much as they can. They are pretty confident that structurally it is okay.”
Petrie gives up insider Kangaroos information
West Coast midfielder Andrew Gaff says North Melbourne discard Drew Petrie has coughed up some insider information on his former teammates ahead of their showdown.
Gaff said Petrie has divulged information about the ‘Roos structures from recent seasons.
“He’s definitely (shared) a few things about the midfield and a few things he knows from the last couple of years,” Gaff told afl.com.au.
“But all teams change a little bit and their personnel has changed a bit with (Ben) Cunnington not playing this weekend.
“We’ve got plans – like every team does – to be dominant in midfield. We’ll have to be on top of our game.”
North Melbourne makes huge Martin offer
Huge callSource:Getty Images
NORTH Melbourne has become the first AFL club to offer Tigers star Dustin Martin a $1 million per season offer, according to a report.
Just months after the club was criticised by fans and footy commentators for cutting veteran players Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito, they are gearing up for a crack at one of the hottest off-contract stars in the game.
Reporter Damian Barrett has told Triple M Footy, the Kangaroos have made a “significant” offer to Martin, who is restricted free agent at the end of the 2017 season.
It comes as The Herald Sun reported Martin has told people close to him he has already been offered a $6 million, six-year deal.
“North Melbourne has put in a very significant offer for him,” Barrett told Triple M.
“I don’t get too bogged down in the money, but you know it’s going to have to be a million dollars to get him out of the footy club.
“North wouldn’t be the only club doing that.”
It comes as Fox Footy analyst and Kangaroos great David King declared Martin has easily shown he is worth upwards of $1.3 million per season.
King said the Tigers’ recruitment of Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia has allowed coach Damien Hardwick to use Martin in his ideal way.
“This is the first time in a long time where Damien Hardwick has been able to play him where he wants to play him and use him how he wants to use him,” King told SEN.
“The acquisitions of Prestia and Caddy have allowed that. Does that add to dustin’s value? Absolutely it does. If Prestia is 700 (thousand) Martin is worth $1.3 million.”