Pain’s Talking Points – Round 1
Footy is back, and what a round we had.
Each game had fascinating subplots and outstanding performances, as a record 400, 401 fans packed into stadiums around the country, breaking the attendance record for any single VFL/AFL round in history.
Along with the return of the men’s competition, my talking points are back. Here’s what caught my attention in Round One.
1. The Comeback Story
Essendon has been through almost everything imaginable in the past four years. Its 25-point win over rivals Hawthorn gives the club, players and fans a fresh start. To experience the emotion released by both players and fans at the final siren was spine tingling. New captain Dyson Heppell and young star Zach Merrett combined for 71 disposals in a win that could propel the Bombers this year and beyond.
2. Crows win inaugural AFLW final
Adelaide’s 4.11(35) to 4.5(29) win over the Brisbane Lions capped an extraordinarily successful first season of the AFLW competition. Crows co-captain Erin Phillips was named best on-field, was voted as the AFLW MVP and the League’s Best and Fairest. The success of the first season gives hope to women across the country who had previously dreamed of playing football but were unable due to not having a viable, national competition. That dream can now become a reality because of women such as Phillips.
3. Du$tin Martin has arrived
The title for this point is no mistake, as Martin’s performance against Carlton in the opening round shows how good the Richmond superstar can be and the pay day he’s in line for at the end of the year. You could argue he ‘arrived’ last season, finishing third in Brownlow voting, but his 33 touches and four goals stamped his intent from the word go this season. If his form continues, it should see him competing for the Brownlow yet again.
4. Melbourne break their hoodoo
The Demons first win against St. Kilda in its past 15 attempts came as somewhat of a shock to the football world, as many analysts had pegged the Saints as the better of the two sides. Led by Max Gawn (49 hitouts) and youngster Clayton Oliver (game-high 36 touches), the Dees had over 100 more disposals and easily won the clearances battle to run out 30-point victors. If Melbourne can keep their pressure and intensity up, watch out.
5. Eddie Betts! EDDIE BETTS!
The Crows electric small forward booted four goals in his side’s 56-point demolition of the preseason premiership favourites, as Adelaide ran riot over the Giants. Rory Laird also starred for the South Australian side, his 40 touches a competition high in Round One. Despite losing captain Taylor Walker pregame to a hamstring injury, the Crows showed how dangerous they can be at their very best. If they can keep up their high-scoring football, led by Betts, Adelaide could hold both the men’s and women’s premiership cups.