Given the chance to start the season with a bang, Essendon planted a face instead.
Plus, the big worries of the eminent rival, which are almost completely out of their control.
The main challenges of the first round of the 2022 AFL season are analyzed in Topics for conversation!
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“NO BRUISES” BOMBERS SHOULD BE CONFUSED
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd led the criticism after his former club’s poor first-round performance against Geelong.
In a battle of the two finalists, the Bombers should have at least challenged a Cats team that missed out on perhaps six of their top 22 but still looked finished in the quarterfinals and never got close.
“I would be embarrassed by (the show) if I was a senior player at Essendon,” Lloyd told Nine’s. Sunday muddy show.
The Geelongs were outstanding, but the bombers were very, very bad.
“I thought it was a football game without bruising. You don’t like to say this about either side, but after yesterday, the bombers have to deal with it.
What particularly attracted Lloyd’s ire was the accumulation of stats without much effect.
Zach Merrett had 39 permits but only seven of them were contested and only added one permit; Darcy Parish had 34 touches and one tackle; Andrew McGrath has featured in just one score of his 29 eliminations.
“Controversial stuff was smashed, tolerances were smashed, but they had more exemptions,” Lloyd said.
“Yesterday they made a mistake in the game. Lots of short, small passes where guys were building up their skills but weren’t really effective.
“I hope that Ben Rutten will be strong during the week because it is not enough.
“They were hoping to play a ‘good’ game against a team that was there all along, in Geelong, and they were just bullying them yesterday.”
Essendon coach Ben Rutten said the result was not typical for his team.
“This is not an indicator of what we did in the preseason, how we trained,” he said after the match.
“This is something we probably didn’t expect. It’s definitely not what we stand for as a football club.”
AN EARLY SIGN OF THE PORT’S POTENTIAL LEAVING – AND IT’S NOT IN THEIR HANDS
Port Adelaide were left to lick their wounds after a series of brutal injuries in their season opener loss to Brisbane.
But another factor also affected – the margin.
It’s always unfortunate when you get multiple injuries to key players, especially impact injuries (as opposed to repetitive soft tissue injuries), as well as losses to Zach Butters (header), Aliir Aliir, Connor Rosie (ankle), Xavier Duursma (collarbone) . and Trent McKenzie (knee) will make them sink into their depths.
In particular, the losses of Mackenzie and Aliir saw their high defensive stocks receive two hammer blows.
However, losing a close game was another element of bad luck that The Force will have to deal with this season.
In the past two seasons, home and away, they have been amazingly good in close matches, posting a ridiculous 9-0 scoreline in games that decide 13 points or less.
We say “ridiculous” because no team can expect to be consistently good in close matches, as we wrote in pre-season. Strength fans assumed they were training for close games – like other teams don’t? – but in no global sport is there a team that consistently wins more close games than it loses.
This is because close games are based on luck. One free kick in your direction, one ball bouncing in the right direction, whatever it is.
So their 11-point loss to Brisbane is a sign that their close-quarters luck won’t last. They went 17-5 last year, helped by an AFL-best 5-0 record in close games.
They could have played as well as the 2021 team but had a worse record just by losing a couple of close games. But because of these injuries, they may not play as well as last year…
“FRAUDING” SAINTS LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN FOR CRITICISM
Was reaching the final in 2020 the exception rather than the norm for St Kilda?
Saints fans who had high hopes that the 2021 season was just a hiatus between Finals appearances will be deeply disturbed by Collingwood’s loss on Friday night.
Perhaps more than anything else, it was a sense of déjà vu that would infuriate Saints fans watching the action, with a roller coaster ride that set a major record-breaking Friday night so similar to how the 2021 season played out.
“St Kilda confuses me and we’ve been down that road with this plan before,” North Melbourne’s two-premiership player David King said. Decisive time SEN on Saturday.
“In the first half, I didn’t think there was any big difference, some real challenge.
“When their pressure builds, they are a capable AFL team, but when their pressure drops slightly, they are too easily taken apart.
“They have too many players finishing before the competition is won.
“We have been talking about this for two or three years now, this is a fraudulent model.
“You can’t finish ahead of the competition… Once you let your opponent outnumber you in the competition, you’re in trouble.”
The great Saints Nick Ryvoldt doubted that the team lacked intensity after the starting siren.
“The first 15 minutes of your season is probably a good time to show that intensity,” he said on Fox Muddy.
“Four tackles and a pressure rating of 160 is not enough.
“(They are) flat-footed, (not) strong enough to haunt Collingwood.
“They all went through the play. If the opposition wins, you won’t be able to pressure the other side.”
CAT KIDS STAND UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT OF AGE DEBATE
Chris Scott is no stranger to hearing that Geelong’s list is too old to dispute.
The Cats coach says “the last decade” has been the same criticism. But on Saturday, it was his kids who stood up to Essendon in their big first-round win.
Brendan Parfitt, 23, led Geelong in possession with 32 balls, while Tom Atkins had nine interceptions in 21 touches in just his 58th game in the AFL.
Rookie Tyson Stengl, 23, scored four goals and was backed by 19-year-old Max Holmes who scored two.
“I’ve been hearing (age criticism) since the day I walked into the club,” Scott said after a 66-point win over Essendon.
“Most people make these arguments based on logic. I will probably agree with many of the points they make.
“You are always trying to find a balance. The logical argument would be, “Oh, they look old and slow.” It is not our position to argue with this. We just need to mind our own business.
“We’re not ready to give up and convince ourselves that we can’t be a very good team.”
Despite the efforts of four-goal hero Tom Hawkins and star Patrick Dangerfield, Scott used his post-game press conference to shower praise on a host of young players.
“It’s good that there are a couple of guys who are not quite ready to play in the first round, we were going to play with them anyway, but we have a few young guys who I think are very well equipped,” he said.
“I thought De Koning looked solid, Ratugolea was a threat, I thought Holmes was really good and Francis Evans looked dangerous. This was a good sign for us.
“We think our experience is a strength, but obviously when younger players come in and change you a bit, I think it all makes us more nervous.”