Week 2 of the JLT Series re-introduced us to the remaining six AFL clubs for 2017. While the results of the games don’t matter before Round 1, there were a few unevenly matched teams face off with predictably one-side scoreboards. Therein lie a few great stories from this weekend.
Dees Building Hype
Melbourne have given their supporters plenty of headaches and heartaches over the years, however 2017 could spark the beginning of their redemption story. After 10 wins and an 11th-placed finish in 2016, they have a squad full of young talent and several stars with the power to push their forward. They started their 2017 campaign with a convincing 54-point win over Carlton, the likes of Christian Petracca (4 goals and 19 disposals), Jesse Hogan (3 goals, 15 disposals), Jack Viney (2 goals, 19 touches) and Max Gawn (2 goals, 18 hitouts) leading the way at Casey Fields. Time will tell if they make a genuine play for the Top 8 this year, but if the above quartet can stay on the park, their chances are far greater.
New Tigers Impress
After we expressed doubt over how Richmond would go this week without star defender Alex Rance here, the Tigers were able to rise above and down the Crows by 19 points Etihad Stadium. Lead in the ruck by ex-Swan Toby Nankervis, who looked comfortable as the primary ruckman, tallied 13 hitouts, 15 disposals and a goal as he dueled with veteran Sam Jacobs. All eyes were on Josh Caddy (21 disposals and a goal from 70% game time) and Dion Prestia (21d and 5 tackles from 63% game time) and they didn’t let their fans down, settling into the Yellow and Black nicely. Whether they can help push Richmond up the ladder remains to be seen, but for now – their off-season trades are looking good.
Dumont Stands Up
North Melbourne have copped a lot of criticism across the last 12 months, and have shed an incredible amount of experience – now boasting one of the youngest lists in the competition. Nonetheless, the Kangaroos still believe they have the players to compete in 2017 – with a few young players both traded and drafted who will be key to their push for finals. While not the biggest name, 21-year-old midfielder Trent Dumont (25d and a goal) looks to be putting his hand up to lead the revival at Arden Street. He was among the best for North in his side’s Round 1 victory over Sydney and again this week as he helped ensure the Roos remained undefeated for the preseason. A breakout season could be on the cards for the 20-gamer.
New Colours Looking Good
The preseason competition has excellent value for the season proper, not least because it gives clubs a chance to test out their new recruits with the team structures and new teammates. Already, we’ve seen a slew of traded players strut their stuff in new colours for 2017. Caleb Marchbank (18d, 10 marks) looked every bit the player the Blues hoped for when they traded hard with GWS in November, while Sam Mitchell (28 touches) wasted no time endearing himself to West Coast fans – topping the possession count in his first outing for the Eagles. Finally, ex-Docker Michael Barlow looks like he has a spot in the Suns’ midfield locked up after another positive showing – this time showing his trademark accumulation to top all players for 31 possessions and 5 tackles. It’s early days, but these three players look to become key components of their new sides in 2017.
Will Brodie was long touted as one of the best picks of the 2016 Draft Class, however slide to pick 8 on D-Day – eventually chosen as one of four top-10 selections by the Gold Coast Suns. Determined to be the best and considered a ready-made midfielder, Brodie should be expected to play a few games in 2017 as the Suns look to start their resurgence up the AFL ladder. The first-year player struggled in his debut last week, however was one of the best for Gold Coast as he accrued 18 touches and kicked 2 majors, helping his side defeat Essendon in a close contest at Harrup Park. He may not be set for a Round 1 debut given the Suns’ relative midfield depth, but based on what we know about Brodie, it won’t be long until he earns a senior game.