Four Saturday upsets highlighted Round 1 of the 2017 AFL premiership.
Tigers kick off 2017 the right way
Richmond defeated Carlton by 43 points in the season opener. Dustin Martin lit up the MCG with 33 touches and four goals in a performance sure to shorten his Brownlow Medal odds. The highlight was an incredible torpedo kick through the middle of the field that measured at 78 metres. It had to be seen to be believed. The Tigers dominated the first half but were challenged in the third quarter on the back of Carlton midfielders Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs.
Bulldogs hold off Pies as Cloke enjoys dream debut
Reigning premiers Western Bulldogs edged Collingwood in a cracking encounter at the MCG. The Dogs welcomed back inspirational captain Robert Murphy (22 touches) after missing most of last year through an ACL injury while Travis Cloke (1 goal) made his Bulldogs debut against his former club and unsparingly was given a hostile reception by his old fans. Jason Johanissen, the North Smith medallist last year, racked up 30 disposals. Magpies skipper Scott Pendlebury kicked two final quarter goals but it wasn’t enough.
Demons vanquish Saints hex
Melbourne ended their hoodoo against St Kilda with a 30-point win at Etihad Stadium. The Demons snapped a 14-match losing streak in the rivalry, last tasting victory against the Saints in the 2006 elimination final. Both these teams were billed as potential big improvers for the new season. The Saints flew out of the blocks and got out to 24-point lead at one stage, but lost star forward Nick Riewoldt (4 goals) in the final quarter to what some feared could be a career-ending injury. As it turned out, it wasn’t as bad as first thought. Jordan Lewis had 32 disposals in his first game since switching from the Hawks and it also marked a first-up win for new coach Simon Goodwin.
Port pull off SCG boilover
The opening round threw lots of curveballs but the biggest shock was surely Port Adelaide’s 28-point win over Sydney at the SCG. It’s not often Lance Franklin kicks four goals and the Swans still lose. Momentum fluctuated in the opening half before the Power took control in Q3 with five goals to two. Leaders Travis Boak, Brad Ebert and Ollie Wines were prolific in what was their first win at the SCG for 11 years. The Power kicked with remarkable accuracy: 17 goals, 8 behinds, to make a statement in their season opener.
Bombers back with Hawks upset
In a breathless game of football, Essendon upset fierce rivals Hawthorn by 25 points at the MCG. On an emotional night, six Bombers returned after the much-publicised supplements ban during 2016. Also, Jarryd Roughead was playing his first game after his career was in the balance with a skin cancer scare last year. Reigning Dons’ best and fairest Zach Merrett was outstanding with 37 touches while skipper Dyson Heppell and Brent Stanton combined for five goals. The crowd of 78,294 was a record for a home-and-away game between these two teams.
Lions hold on for derby success
The Q-Clash was supposed to be one of the low-key matches of the round. However, Brisbane escaped with a two-point win over local rivals Gold Coast after almost surrendering a 47-point lead. In a game of two halves, Brisbane kicked 11 goals to three in the first half only for Gold Coast to surge back into the contest by kicking 11 goals to four in the second half. New Lions captain Dayne Beams starred with 28 disposals and six tackles to get best on ground. Gary Ablett was outstanding also, with 28 disposals.
Eagles rock Roos at Etihad
A new-look West Coast beat North Melbourne by 43 points at Etihad Stadium. Drew Petrie played his first match for his new club against the team he spent 316 games at. Petrie only kicked one goal but more worryingly fractured his hand and will require surgery. He was wearing different colours but it was the same old Sam Mitchell as he notched up 38 disposals. Josh Kennedy kicked seven goals to start his bid for the Coleman Medal in flying fashion, while smaller forwards Patrick Cripps and Mark LeCras combined for another seven.
Crows despatch hyped Giants
Adelaide downed premiership favourites GWS by 56 points in searing heat at the Adelaide Oval. The Crows trailed by 20 points at one stage but turned it on thereafter and demonstrated their attacking potency that was often a feature last season. Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins and Rory Atkins combined for 10 goals. The win was even more impressive considering the absences of Taylor Walker and Scott Thompson.
Cats cruise against Dockers
The last game of the round pitted the last two Brownlow medallists against each other and it was Patrick Dangerfield’s Cats, who were convincing 42-point winners over Nat Fyfe’s Dockers at Domain Stadium. Dangerfield had 24 disposals and three goals while Fyfe registered 28 touches and a goal. The Dockers’ new forward-line, without the retired Matthew Pavlich, failed to fire with Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten ineffective. But the Cats’ Tom Hawkins and Steven Motlop each kicked three.