With the drawn out round one over, Bound For Glory News presents its team of the week for the second instalment of 2014’s opening round.
It’s finally over. The ridiculous spectacle that is a split round to open the season is over. It had us waiting until 4:40 on each Saturday until we could watch footy and until 7:40 on each Sunday.
Compounding the split round first up was the lack of good, tight footy.
17 points was the tightest margin of the round – but even that came in the eyesore that was St Kilda vs. Melbourne. With the exception of GWS recording a win for the ages over premiership fancies Sydney, the two weekends which constituted round one were devoid of major upsets and of good footy.
Nonetheless, this is the team of the week – a weekly feature on Bound For Glory News – and these are the 22 players who who stood up most when their team needed them in the second week of round one.
B: R.Murphy, D.Morris, A.Mackie
HB: D.Heppell, C.Hooker, G.Birchall
C: J.Selwood, J.Watson (C), C.Jones
HF: P.Chapman, N.Riewoldt, L.Breust
F: L.Thomas, J.Roughead, M.LeCras
Foll: S.Jacobs, N.Jones, J.Macrae
Int: S.Selwood, D.Zorko, B.Goddard
Robert Murphy: Playing his 250th game, the Bulldogs utility showed the class and composure which has seen him become one of the most well-respected people in the business. Chris Masten was assigned the task of restricting his influence and despite gathering just the 19 touches Murphy didn’t waste a possession, going at 100% disposal efficiency. He finished with six marks and two goals to go with his 19 touches and showed that he still has plenty to offer in 2014.
Dale Morris: Although the Bulldogs conceded 134 points at Subiaco, Morris gets the spot at full back for his individual performance. Josh Kennedy has kicked 29 goals in his last six outings against the Dogs, including an infamous bag of 10 in 2011. To restrict him to just six disposals and keeping him off the scoresheet entirely is a great effort by Morris.
Andrew Mackie: Manned up against the dangerous Sam Kerridge, Mackie showed the form that saw him named on the bench of the 2013 All-Australian team. The defender showed his football IQ – often correctly leaving his man when others wouldn’t to help out his teammates. He ended up with 23 disposals, eight marks, four inside 50s and five rebound 50s.
Dyson Heppell: Heppell had 37 disposals – 10 contested – and 16 marks. He can change games playing inside or outside and has now established himself as a star of the competition. Nobody is saying he can only win the uncontested ball now.
Cale Hooker: 26 disposals at 92% efficiency and 16 marks for a key defender who had a direct opponent is almost unheard of. Hooker is quickly becoming known as one of the best intercept marks in the competition and is a key cog in the Essendon defence. He reads the play like few others can and seldom makes the wrong call on whether to help out or stay with his man.
Grant Birchall: As it was in the early rounds of 2013 Birchall is reminding the competition that if you don’t put a hard tag on him then you’re going to pay. When in form the best runner off half back in the competition, Birchall’s penetration and elite kicking has been priceless for the Hawks over the years. He had 31 disposals at 81% against the Lions including three inside and five rebound 50s.
Joel Selwood: Supposedly coming in underdone on the back of a hamstring injury suffered in the pre-season, the Cats skipper stood head and shoulders above the rest as the Cats begun another tilt at a premiership season with a win. Selwood had 34 disposals – 20 contested – six tackles, nine clearances, six inside 50s and two goals. To think that Selwood’s coming off a shortened pre-season, scary.
Jobe Watson (C): Watson is the personification of the resilience Essendon has shown over the past 13 months. Time and time again Essendon have won when it would’ve been easier to roll over and give up. Time and time again they’ve been led by skipper Jobe Watson. With 38 disposals – 14 contested – at 89% efficiency, nine marks, seven clearances and six inside 50s, it defies belief that Brad Scott didn’t put a hard tag on him.
Clint Jones: With Montagna, Hayes and Steven missing from the St Kilda midfield Clint Jones had to stand up and he delivered. More often than not deployed as a tagger throughout his career, Jones enjoyed the freedom that comes with not having to follow the oppositions best midfielder everywhere he goes. Jones had 39 disposals, eight marks, five clearances and five inside 50s as the Saints spoiled Paul Roos’ return to coaching.
Paul Chapman: It took just one quarter for Chapman to endear himself to the Essendon faithful. After slotting two of the first three goals against North Melbourne every thing Chapman had done against Essendon during his decorated 251-game career at Geelong was forgotten and it was ‘Chappy’ the Bomber. Chapman ended with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and four goals showing he still has the x-factor which made him the best small forward in the game during his Geelong days.
Nick Riewoldt: Nick Riewoldt jumping for joy at the final siren on Saturday is already one of the images of the season. Another St Kilda off-season full of controversy and the Saints being a popular pick for the wooden spoon was obviously starting to get on Riewoldt’s nerves. The win on Saturday against Melbourne meant the world to the St Kilda champion. ‘Roo’ led from the front like only Roo can. He ran harder and further than anyone else on the ground in gathering 23 disposals, 12 marks while bagging three goals, and the win at the end made the wild journey that the last six months has been completely worth it.
Luke Breust: 22 disposals, five goals and four score assists for the Hawthorn speedster, Breust has become one of the most damaging players in the AFL. Whether it be streaming down the wing at full tilt or crumbing at the bottom of a pack, Breust looks more at home on a football field than ever and will take some stopping at full flight.
Lindsay Thomas: Thomas was one of the few North Melbourne players who could hold their head up high after a torrid performance on Friday night. Thomas made the most of limited opportunities kicking four goals – one a beauty from the boundary line 40 metres out while being corralled out of bounds by an Essendon defender – and took a couple of high-flying marks. He looks to have kicked off where he left off in 2013 as the best small forward in the league.
Jarryd Roughead: It was one of the most low-key five-goal hauls in recent memory. It never seemed like Roughead was tearing the game apart yet ended up with 19 disposals at 84%, five marks and five goals. Without partner in crime Lance Franklin, Roughead showed winning the Coleman last year was no fluke and that the stats which show he’s been better without Franklin are no anomaly.
Mark LeCras: LeCras is often forgotten as he’s plying his trade out west, but he proved himself again as one of the best medium forwards going around. Injuries have plagued his recent seasons but if he can stay on the park for the majority of 2014 it’ll go a long way to West Coast returning to September action. Had 27 disposals – 11 contested – as well as 10 marks, three score assists and booted five goals on Sunday night in a big win over the Bulldogs.
Sam Jacobs: After a down year in 2013 in which Jacobs struggled for form, ‘Sauce’ bounced back against the Cats on Thursday night. He finished with 19 disposals, eight marks and 26 hitouts and if he can kick a few more goals while Taylor Walker continues to recover from an ACL it will make a huge difference for the Crows.
Nathan Jones: Another year yet Nathan Jones continues to fight like few others can. The newly appointed co-captain led a much-improved Melbourne midfield but with no targets up forward as Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes and Jesse Hogan are sidelined he couldn’t pull Melbourne over the line in Paul Roos’ first AFL game at the helm of the Dees. Jones had 38 disposals, seven tackles, nine clearances and five inside 50s.
Jackson Macrae: Too often have we seen a player dominate in pre-season competitions then look completely lost when it comes to the real stuff. This is not the case with Jack Macrae. The 19-year-old’s NAB Challenge form had many a Western Bulldogs supporter excited for what he could produce in 2014 and he didn’t disappoint against the Eagles. The number six pick in the 2012 National Draft had 31 disposals at 81%, seven marks, three clearances and kicked two goals.
Scott Selwood: Tasked with tagging Bulldogs contested machine Tom Liberatore, ‘Scooter’ was almost demanding his own tag by the final siren. Not only was he able to somewhat restrict the infleunce Liberatore had at the coalface, Selwood gathered 29 disposals of his own.
Dayne Zorko: Comfortably the best Brisbane player on the ground on Saturday afternoon, Zorko returned to the form which stunned the football world in his debut 2012 season. Benefitting from more time in the middle than he had in 2013, 12 of Zorko’s 28 disposals were contested.
Brendon Goddard: There are many Essendon players who could stake a claim for the final bench spot after the statistical domination by the Dons but for his 26 disposals, six tackles, seven inside 50s and three goals, Goddard gets the nod.
Leigh Adams: Despite only being on the ground for 31% of the game Adams recorded more disposals than all but six North Melbourne players. Adams’ 10 marks was also three more than any other Kangaroos player.