Infotainment Factory: Why the Bombers are approaching crisis territory

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Why the Bombers are approaching crisis territory


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After what seemed like an eternity, the AFL’s home and away season finally got underway with Round 1 in the books.

It proved to be as eventful a season-opening round as we’ve seen in recent history with boilovers across the board as well as season-ending injuries.

Through it all, we saw a relatively low-scoring round before the GWS Giants and Fremantle turned up the offensive sliders on Sunday putting two premiership hopefuls to the sword.

With nine games fully completed, here’s what we learned from an eventful opening round of AFL action.

Essendon are fast approaching crisis territory

Dylan Shiel

It is true that we are just one match into the season, and Essendon ultimately lost just four points, but it was the manner in which the Bombers were dismantled that is the biggest worry.

John Worsfold’s men showed no discernible AFL skill on Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium, wilting under pressure from an outfit that showed it was hungrier for the contest.

All afternoon the Bombers were not only a distant second to the ball – they were smashed in the contested possession department 157 to 116 – but when they did get to the ball, they displayed the same horrific foot skills that have cost them in recent years.

The silver-lining for the Bombers was the fact that they emerged from this contest unscathed, a godsend considering the pre-season loss of both Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker.

Essendon also has to be breathing a slight sigh of relief with what looks like a relatively simple bounce-back game against St Kilda ahead of them in Round 2, but fail to win that, and seat will start to become uncomfortably warm for Worsfold.

The Power have provided the league a Gawn blueprint

Max Gawn

Melbourne was one of the league’s most devastating attacking teams in 2018 and did so by being the league’s best centre clearance team.

The Demons possess arguably the best tap ruckman in the game in Max Gawn and a set of bullish midfielders that are good enough to capitalise from Gawn’s brilliance.

However, with most expecting Gawn to feed the likes of Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw on a platter, Port Adelaide spoiled the Demons party in spectacular fashion.

Not only did the Power go into the contest with two first-choice ruckmen in Paddy Ryder and Scott Lycett, they feverishly hunted Gawn around the ground and wore him out, prompting Demons coach Simon Goodwin to defend his star ruckman’s toughness after the match.

Luckily for Melbourne, they have a more than able No.2 ruckman waiting in the wings with Braydon Preuss and don’t be surprised to see the former Kangaroo in the lineup come Round 2.

Write off the Hawks at your own peril

Alastair Clarkson

Death, Taxes, Alastair Clarkson pulling a rabbit out of the hat.

With reigning Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell and star recruits Chad Wingard and Tom Scully absent heading into Adelaide Oval, the Hawks were rank outsiders in the Round 1 clash against the Adelaide Crows.

But what almost every fan and pundit failed to calculate was the ‘Clarko’ effect.

While they do not possess the on-field talent from the era of Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell, what Hawthorn still does possess is the league’s best chessmaster in Alastair Clarkson.

Undermanned and counted out, Clarkson pulled off one of his finest coaching performances in Round 1, putting in a game plan to stymy a potent Crows side that usually scores in its sleep in Adelaide.

The Hawks channelled the 2017 Tigers and 2016 Bulldogs, ramping up their pressure around the ground and suffocated the Crows, holding them to just 65 points.

Many soured on Hawthorn after a straight-sets elimination in last year’s finals series, but another summer of shrewd recruiting has given Clarkson new toys to play with and the rest of the competition should be worried.

Alex Rance is one of the best people in football

Riewoldt and Rance embrace

How cruel football can be sometimes.

Richmond, a team who has enjoyed a charmed run with injuries over the past few years, loses the lynchpin of its vaunted defensive six on the opening night of the new season.

However, while the rest of the football world rightly began mourning for Alex Rance, the man himself showed a remarkably refreshing attitude that was simply a testament to the man he is.

Rance is widely considered to be one of the league’s absolute gentlemen and simply class personified and he showed it in the way he handled what has been one of the few moments of adversity to hit the club in recent years.

What remains to be seen is how Richmond will fill the gaping hole left by the five-time All-Australian who is vital to its defensive set-up.

However, given the enthusiasm Rance has shown in the aftermath of arguably the worst moment of his AFL career, do not be surprised if you see the yellow and black No.18 striding out at the MCG come September.

The AFL’s new world order is around the corner

Cam Rayner

Over the last 15 years, we have become used to the teams that have become synonymous with success with the likes of Sydney, Hawthorn and Geelong mainstays in the business end of the season.

The AFL has done everything in its power to try and create parity across the league, and while full parity may never be achieved in any sporting league, Round 1 showed how much talent there is across the league.

Arguably the two performances of the round were from two teams that many predicted to finish near the bottom of the ladder in Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions.

On Saturday night, the Lions continued the club’s steady progress under Chris Fagan with an impressive performance against the reigning premiers at home.

The Eagles hopped out to a 27-point quarter-time lead, and when many expected the Lions to go into their shell, the team roared to life, taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Brisbane eventually ran out 44-point winners over the reigning premiers, the first time it had defeated a reigning premier since 2009.

Since forming one of the most feared sides in AFL history in the early 2000s, the Lions have largely been dormant since the members of its golden era filtered into retirement.

With the way the club has progressed under Fagan, another golden era could be on the horizon over the next five years.

After what seemed like an eternity, the AFL’s home and away season finally got underway with Round 1 in the books.

It proved to be as eventful a season-opening round as we’ve seen in recent history with boilovers across the board as well as season-ending injuries.

Through it all, we saw a relatively low-scoring round before the GWS Giants and Fremantle turned up the offensive sliders on Sunday putting two premiership hopefuls to the sword.

With nine games fully completed, here’s what we learned from an eventful opening round of AFL action.

Essendon are fast approaching crisis territory

Dylan Shiel

It is true that we are just one match into the season, and Essendon ultimately lost just four points, but it was the manner in which the Bombers were dismantled that is the biggest worry.

John Worsfold’s men showed no discernible AFL skill on Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium, wilting under pressure from an outfit that showed it was hungrier for the contest.

All afternoon the Bombers were not only a distant second to the ball – they were smashed in the contested possession department 157 to 116 – but when they did get to the ball, they displayed the same horrific foot skills that have cost them in recent years.

The silver-lining for the Bombers was the fact that they emerged from this contest unscathed, a godsend considering the pre-season loss of both Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker.

Essendon also has to be breathing a slight sigh of relief with what looks like a relatively simple bounce-back game against St Kilda ahead of them in Round 2, but fail to win that, and seat will start to become uncomfortably warm for Worsfold.

The Power have provided the league a Gawn blueprint

Max Gawn

Melbourne was one of the league’s most devastating attacking teams in 2018 and did so by being the league’s best centre clearance team.

The Demons possess arguably the best tap ruckman in the game in Max Gawn and a set of bullish midfielders that are good enough to capitalise from Gawn’s brilliance.

However, with most expecting Gawn to feed the likes of Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw on a platter, Port Adelaide spoiled the Demons party in spectacular fashion.

Not only did the Power go into the contest with two first-choice ruckmen in Paddy Ryder and Scott Lycett, they feverishly hunted Gawn around the ground and wore him out, prompting Demons coach Simon Goodwin to defend his star ruckman’s toughness after the match.

Luckily for Melbourne, they have a more than able No.2 ruckman waiting in the wings with Braydon Preuss and don’t be surprised to see the former Kangaroo in the lineup come Round 2.

Write off the Hawks at your own peril

Alastair Clarkson

Death, Taxes, Alastair Clarkson pulling a rabbit out of the hat.

With reigning Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell and star recruits Chad Wingard and Tom Scully absent heading into Adelaide Oval, the Hawks were rank outsiders in the Round 1 clash against the Adelaide Crows.

But what almost every fan and pundit failed to calculate was the ‘Clarko’ effect.

While they do not possess the on-field talent from the era of Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell, what Hawthorn still does possess is the league’s best chessmaster in Alastair Clarkson.

Undermanned and counted out, Clarkson pulled off one of his finest coaching performances in Round 1, putting in a game plan to stymy a potent Crows side that usually scores in its sleep in Adelaide.

The Hawks channelled the 2017 Tigers and 2016 Bulldogs, ramping up their pressure around the ground and suffocated the Crows, holding them to just 65 points.

Many soured on Hawthorn after a straight-sets elimination in last year’s finals series, but another summer of shrewd recruiting has given Clarkson new toys to play with and the rest of the competition should be worried.

Alex Rance is one of the best people in football

Riewoldt and Rance embrace

How cruel football can be sometimes.

Richmond, a team who has enjoyed a charmed run with injuries over the past few years, loses the lynchpin of its vaunted defensive six on the opening night of the new season.

However, while the rest of the football world rightly began mourning for Alex Rance, the man himself showed a remarkably refreshing attitude that was simply a testament to the man he is.

Rance is widely considered to be one of the league’s absolute gentlemen and simply class personified and he showed it in the way he handled what has been one of the few moments of adversity to hit the club in recent years.

What remains to be seen is how Richmond will fill the gaping hole left by the five-time All-Australian who is vital to its defensive set-up.

However, given the enthusiasm Rance has shown in the aftermath of arguably the worst moment of his AFL career, do not be surprised if you see the yellow and black No.18 striding out at the MCG come September.

The AFL’s new world order is around the corner

Cam Rayner

Over the last 15 years, we have become used to the teams that have become synonymous with success with the likes of Sydney, Hawthorn and Geelong mainstays in the business end of the season.

The AFL has done everything in its power to try and create parity across the league, and while full parity may never be achieved in any sporting league, Round 1 showed how much talent there is across the league.

Arguably the two performances of the round were from two teams that many predicted to finish near the bottom of the ladder in Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions.

On Saturday night, the Lions continued the club’s steady progress under Chris Fagan with an impressive performance against the reigning premiers at home.

The Eagles hopped out to a 27-point quarter-time lead, and when many expected the Lions to go into their shell, the team roared to life, taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Brisbane eventually ran out 44-point winners over the reigning premiers, the first time it had defeated a reigning premier since 2009.

Since forming one of the most feared sides in AFL history in the early 2000s, the Lions have largely been dormant since the members of its golden era filtered into retirement.

With the way the club has progressed under Fagan, another golden era could be on the horizon over the next five years.

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