New Year, new Dockers: Kangaroos smashed as Freo’s new look team flexes it muscle.
The first round of the 2019 AFL season has been breathtaking, bizarre and frankly unbelievable at times.
There have been upsets galore, with the Power, Hawks, Bulldogs and Lions defying the odds to clinch the four points.
Ross Lyon’s men added their name to the list of unlikely winners as they demolished a lethargic and lacklustre North Melbourne outfit at Optus Stadium.
Personally, I sat down and turned on the television expecting a snooze fest and a comfortable Shinboner victory. How I was wrong.
In a week overshadowed by the Jesse Hogan saga, the Fremantle Dockers brushed aside the media scrutiny and sent a message to the rest of the AFL competion: the purple army is back in town.
The Mongrel takes a look at the ‘heroes’ and ‘zeroes’ from the final game of round one.
Everybody within football circles knows the immense potential tall forward Cameron McCarthy has. After a disappointing 2018 season, it seemed as if his career was going to be confined to the tales of talent untapped. McCarthy shot down his critics in style, booting a bag of goals and showing a much greater body presence in contested contests than in recent times. It seems as if the arrival of Jesse Hogan has relieved McCarthy of the spotlight and allowed him to flourish into the footballer we all know he is capable of being.
Yes, it is only round one, but if McCarthy can string together a consistent base of performances similar to his showing today, Freo’s forward-line will be a serious threat to opposition teams in 2019. Add in a fit and firing Jesse Hogan, and the Dockers front six will be baying for blood.
The Dockers midfield
Freo’s midfield brigade was on-song today, with the likes of Fyfe, Tucker and Bradley Hill winning the stoppages with aplomb. A majority of the Dockers scoring opportunities were generated from run and carry football, with the midfield group working in tandem to will the footy forward. It was clear to see the Dockers reaping benefits from the compulsory zone setups at centre bounces. In past seasons, Fremantle have tended to adopt a defensive mindset, highlighted by their slow ball movement, but the open space created by the 6-6-6 set up naturally geared the Dockers towards playing with an attacking mentality.
Ben Brown is the key scoring source for the Kangaroos and kicked a handful against the Dockers in Perth last year. While the whole of the Dockers defensive unit should be applauded for their efforts in containing North’s forward line, Luke Ryan deserves extra accolades.
After booting the first goal of the game, Ryan was a rebounding force off the half-back line, keeping Ben Brown in check through strong body work and brilliant positioning. Ryan has come in leaps and bounds since his debut. He’s certainly a smoky for All Australian selection if he continuously delivers performances like today.
One of few North players who could hold his head high, Macmillan showed poise and class off the backline, racking up a career-high 37 disposals and giving his teammates a lesson in keeping a cool head. The rebound defender took a couple of great intercept marks and delivered by foot for most of his 21 kicks. He is one player who can be assured of a place in North’s side for next week.
The Roos put in a shocking showing but their coach deserves a spray for what can only be described as poor match management. At quarter time, the margin was just 22 points to the good of Fremantle and North Melbourne had the opportunity to reset and get back into contest. Instead, Scott’s charges continued to play rash football, taking control of the ball and then handing it straight back to the Fremantle defence.
Scott needed to shake up the structure and inject some urgency into his side. He did the opposite. For the remainder of the contest, North continued to rush their disposal and make errant decisions. There was no leadership on show; there was certainly no ‘Shinboner spirit.’
Brad Scott is an experienced senior coach, and to allow the final margin to get to 82 points is embarrassing and unacceptable.
Jared Polec and Aaron Hall
North’s two big offseason acquisitions were more like liabilities than assets in their first games for the blue and white. Each made countless turnovers, coughing the footy up in critical areas of the ground and allowing the Dockers to propel the ball forward, putting the North defence under incredible pressure.
North fans can only hope the former Power and Suns players were dusting the cobwebs off in their first hitout for the Roos. If not, North Melbourne will struggle to generate enough quick ball movement to produce match winnings scores this season.
Ed receives a unique ‘zero’ tag, after all it’s not as if he intended to injure his knee. When the defender went down in the first term, the Dockers never looked back, seizing an opportunity to burst a weakened North Melbourne defensive bubble. Regardless, nobody ever likes to see a player get injured, and we wish Ed all the best with his recovery.
Are the Dockers the real deal?
It would be crude to say Fremantle weren’t fantastic but by the same token it would be inappropriate to start talking finals football. After all, it is only round one. The AFL season is long and arduous. There will be injuries, upsets, twists and turns, so predicting the finals makeup at this stage would be a little farfetched. You can dream Freo Fans, but maybe hold off on purchasing flights to Melbourne for September for a little while yet.
Does Bailey Scott snap up the round one AFL Rising Star nomination?
North Melbourne debutant Bailey Scott produced an assured performance against the Dockers, collecting 21 possessions and slotting two goals. In a game where the opposition controlled proceedings, Scott would be a strong candidate to receive the nod for the first Rising Star nomination of the year, particularly considering he was picked a lot later in the draft comparative to his fellow draftees.
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