Bound For Glory News presents its team of the week for round two.
With the first proper round of 2014 done and dusted it finally feels like footy is back.
After an easy draw to kick off the season, West Coast sit atop the ladder but it is their cross-town rivals who have made the biggest statement thus far.
Following their demolition job of Collingwood in the season opener, the Dockers made short work of the upstart Suns out west in the pouring rain.
Meanwhile in Adelaide, the Power ran over the Crows in the first game at the beautiful new Adelaide Oval, sparking talk that they could be pushing into the top four in 2014.
The less said about North Melbourne’s clash with the Bulldogs the better: the two sides played one of the scrappiest halves of football in recent memory, where a collective four goals were kicked.
The undefeated Saints proved they won’t lie down as easily as some expected, as the return of Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna inspired St Kilda to a narrow win over the Giants.
In the best game of the season to date, the reigning premiers Hawthorn held off fast-finishing Essendon courtesy of a last-gasp Cyril Rioli goal to be one of six unbeaten teams.
Lance Franklin will have to wait at least another week for his first win in red and white after the Pies celebrated former skipper Nick Maxwell’s 200th game with somewhat of an upset victory against Sydney.
Melbourne supporters were confronted with the stark reality that there’s no such thing as a quick fix in football with the woeful Dees outclassed in every way against top four hopefuls West Coast.
Here’s the team of the round for round two.
B: Michael Hibberd, Josh Gibson, Lachie Hansen
HB: Pearce Hanley, Cale Hooker, Shaun Burgoyne
C: Steve Johnson, David Mundy, Devon Smith
HF: Chad Wingard, Nick Riewoldt, Brent Harvey
F: Chris Yarran, Josh Kennedy, Eddie Betts
Foll: Aaron Sandilands, Nathan Jones, Scott Pendlebury (C)
Int: Dayne Beams, Robert Murphy, Hamish Hartlett
Sub: Josh Kelly
Michael Hibberd: He chases and tackles like a man possessed, can shut down an opponent and can run for days. It’s easy to see why Essendon fans love Michael Hibberd and why every club would kill to have a player like him on their list. It was another very good display on Friday night, as he was one of the catalysts in the second-half fight back.
Josh Gibson: He dominated in the first half. Every time the ball entered Essendon’s forward 50 Gibson was in the contest, either marking the ball or knocking it down to be cleared. The Dons were able to curtail his influence in the second half but he is still deserving of a spot.
Lachie Hansen: ‘The General’ was back to his old tricks. After a lacklustre performance against Essendon, Hansen was a key cog in North’s first win of the season. He grabbed 10 marks and was able to absorb any pressure the Dogs applied.
Pearce Hanley: One of the few shining lights for Brisbane, the Irishman had 32 disposals, five inside 50s and four rebound 50s. Beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the best kicks in the competition, watching Hanley run off half-back, take a few bounces and deliver a pinpoint 55 metre pass is like watching poetry in motion.
Cale Hooker: Hooker has cast aside the reputation of a turnover machine he held during his early years at Essendon and has blossomed into one of the best centre half backs going around. He locked down Jarryd Roughead while collecting 27 disposals of his own.
Shaun Burgoyne: He was best on ground in many people’s eyes, with seven clearances and four score assists to go with his 30 disposals. He came up big when it looked like Essendon would run over the top of the Hawks.
Steve Johnson: 37 disposals, 10 tackles, six clearances and eight inside 50s in a good 25-point win. The man’s a freak; need I say more?
David Mundy: Opposition clubs will be lining up to throw money at Mundy who becomes a free agent come October. He dominated against a tough Suns midfield, with 33 disposals and eight clearances.
Devon Smith: Smith often goes unnoticed in a Giants side stacked with talent. He starred on Saturday kicking five goals to go with 22 disposals.
Chad Wingard: It was fitting that he snagged four goals in the first Adelaide Oval Showdown as the 20-year-old All-Australian will be the star of football in Adelaide for the next 10 years.
Nick Riewoldt: He led the way again as the Saints topped the Giants. He has stood up against lowly opponents Melbourne and GWS so it will be interesting to see how he fares against top of the ladder leaders West Coast next week.
Brent Harvey: Harvey is the AFL’s own Benjamin Button. Six weeks shy of his 36th birthday ‘Boomer’ had 25 disposals, three goals and five score assists and won the game for the Roos. It is tough to imagine a Kangaroos team without him in it.
Chris Yarran: Yarran kicked three, had eight inside 50s and very nearly pushed the Blues over the edge in their traditional Thursday night encounter against Richmond. He needs to find consistency now.
Josh Kennedy: Kennedy bagged four goals for himself but more importantly laid six tackles when it would have been easy to rest on his laurels in an easy win against Melbourne.
Eddie Betts: It didn’t take long for Eddie to endear himself to Adelaide fans. He made the most of limited opportunity, kicking 4 goals from just the 9 disposals.
Aaron Sandilands: The big fella is back in full flight. After the last few seasons have been plagued by foot injuries Sandilands playing upwards of 18 games this year will be huge in Fremantle taking the next step this season. He had 58 hitouts and gave the Dockers the crucial first use of the ball in the wet.
Scott Pendlebury (captain): In his former captain’s 200th game Pendlebury showed why the time was right for him to succeed Nick Maxwell as Collingwood skipper. He won the game for Collingwood in what will prove to be a huge win with Collingwood’s tough first seven games. 33 disposals, 10 tackles, nine clearances and 11 inside 50s; what else could you ask for from your leader?
Nathan Jones: Jones is the lone soldier for the Dees. He pushes himself harder than almost anyone else in the league to try and lift his club from the misery it continues to endure. It was a game that deserves the one Brownlow vote, despite Melbourne going down to West Coast by 93 points.
Dayne Beams: Try as he might even Scott Pendlebury can’t beat the Sydney midfield on his own – that’s where Dayne Beams comes in. The Pies missed him sorely when he missed the majority of 2013 through injury but has been quick to return to All-Australian form in 2014.
Hamish Hartlett: Hartlett was best on ground in the showdown. At his best he’s a star of the competition who can run and carry all day but at his worst he’s incredibly frustrating to watch. If he can be consistent this year he just might be able to take Port into the top four.
Robert Murphy: It was another fine performance from Bob. Even in the worst half of football this season has produced in its short lifespan, Murphy showed his class.
Josh Kelly (substitute): Kelly could’ve been excused for having little impact in his AFL debut but the number two pick made sure he won’t wear the green vest again with 11 disposals in just 31% time on ground.