What have we learnt from round 1 of the AFL?

Round 1 at the MCG
Photo: Pang-rum, Bigstock

After a strong season of AFLW, round 1 of the AFL proper kicked off last weekend. So what did we learn from the first games of the season?

Title contenders start right

The title favourites this year started off strongly, with the exception of the Crows. Richmond, GWS and Sydney all recorded wins, as did perennial contenders Geelong and Hawthorn.

The Sydney Swans were particularly impressive – travelling to Perth and recording a win is always difficult, no matter how weak the current West Coast Eagles look. GWS also recorded their first ever round 1 success, at home against the Western Bulldogs.

Bulldogs are going to struggle

With a team that was tipped as having an outside chance of making the eight this year, Footscray were embarrassed by newcomers the GWS Giants. After a mammoth 82 point loss, the 2016 premiership looks like the distant past now. The Doggies will need to regather quickly against St Kilda to avoid another big loss.

Dark horses emerge

Essendon and Port Adelaide confirmed themselves as the dark horses for the competition this year. Both recorded impressive wins, with the Bombers looking reasonably comfortable against last year’s finalists and minor premiers.

In any other week Port’s 50 point thrashing of the Dockers would be the most remarkable result of the round. Unfortunately for them, GWS had other ideas.

Adelaide disappoint

The Adelaide Crows are aiming to go one better this year, but they haven’t started well. A 12 point loss to Essendon is excusable as a one off result for a premiership contender, but it isn’t the ideal result going into a grand final rematch against Richmond on Thursday. The Crows will need to lift dramatically, and fast.

Cairns game a waste of time

Yes, I understand that the Gold Coast is hosting the Commonwealth Games, starting next week. I also applaud the Suns for taking more games to regional centres.

However. Playing in Cairns, in March (which is the wet season), is madness. What’s even worse is having two of the worst teams in the competition have a round 1 game there. The skills on display, and the final score, were exactly as would be expected in by far the lowest scoring game of the round.

If this match had been in round 22 it could have easily been a playoff to avoid the wooden spoon. Having bad teams play each other in (predictably) bad conditions is no way to grow the game. Even the two men and a dog who turned up wouldn’t be enthusiastic after that display.