Last Updated on 20 Mar 2022 4:23 pm (UK Time)
Crowds flooded back to the footy as a new season got underway, in a re-run of last year’s Grand Final, as Premiers Melbourne took on the Western Bulldogs at the ‘G’.
The attendance of 58,002, for the curtain raiser, was the biggest home-and-away between the two clubs. They were treated to a pulsating encounter, full of momentum swings that eventually saw the Demons run out 26-point winners.
Coach Simon Goodwin was delighted with the result; he said “It’s a great way to start in front of our supporters, on a pretty big occasion for our footy club, I thought it was terrific. Every time we play the Bulldogs, we know what we’re up against.”
He continued “Our ability to adapt, reset ourselves, get back to the core way we play is really important and the players have worked incredibly hard at that and I thought it was on show again tonight.”
Up in Queensland, two teams expected to be there at the pointy end, in September, clashed at the Gabba where Brisbane managed to get up over Port Adelaide.
In what proved to be a really close, tough encounter all evening, the Lions produced a strong finish, to get the job done, with forward Joe Daniher booting four majors.
Sydney fans will have the bragging rights going into next week after cheering on their heroes to a hard fought triumph over arch rivals GWS in the ‘Battle of the Bridge’.
With all eyes on Lance Franklin to see whether he could score the five goals needed to get to his 1,000th, it was midfielder Luke Parker (pictured below) who stole the show and did just that and earn himself his fourth Brett Kirk Medal for an outstanding performance.
Speaking to The Age, the 29-year-old said “I didn’t have to leave the 50 too much, I played pretty deep. It was good to get on the end of a few. That’s the good thing about our team, we’ve got a fair bit of depth, so we can change things up if need be.”
He added “When the game’s on the line, when the contest needs to be won, the boys stood up. Those boys, they’re the ones who are taking their game to another level. And that’s the reason our team’s gone to another level.”
Geelong were the biggest winners on the weekend and take the prize of occupying top spot on the ladder after they thrashed a disappointing Essendon by 66 points.
Key midfielder Patrick Dangerfield (pictured below) won the Tom Wills Award for his impressive best-on-ground showing that included 31 disposals, 19 contested possessions, 12 score involvements, 9 inside 50s, 8 clearances and a goal.Embed from Getty Images
The only disappointment of the afternoon was the sight of forward Jeremy Cameron being stretched off and taken to hospital. However, following scans, he has since been cleared of any serious damage and diagnosed with a hip pointer injury.
New Carlton coach Michael Voss enjoyed a great start as he watched his outfit end a 10-year losing streak against Richmond and come out on the right side of the ledger.
It was a particularly special evening for Sam Docherty (pictured below celebrating his goal with team mates) as he defied the odds to make his return after successfully overcoming a second bout of testicular cancer.Embed from Getty Images
Speaking on ground to Fox Footy, the 28-year-old said “Obviously it’s huge; you’re representing a large cohort of people that are going through a tough time and I understand the significance of that.” He added “I didn’t think that I would be here to be honest…but in the end the hard work has paid off.”
Another coach off to a positive beginning was Collingwood’s Craig McRae as his players put in a fine display to see off the challenge of St.Kilda and bag the points.
The match gave Magpies’ supporters the first chance to see Nick Daicos, the 2021 No.4 pick, make his much anticipated debut. Lining up along with older brother Josh, the son of club legend and Hall of Famer Peter showed no signs of nerves by playing a crucial role in the backline with 27 disposals and 416 metres gained.
Making it a trio enjoying a successful opening was Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell as he selected the club’s youngest side since 2005 in the win over North Melbourne.
Forwards Jack Gunston and Mitch Lewis kicked three apiece and completing a good afternoon was the return of defender James Sicily. This was the 27-year-old’s first appearance since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament back in August 2020.
Forward Lachie Schultz kicked the winner as Fremantle came from behind to get over the line, by just a single point, in defeating Adelaide at a sun drenched Oval.
However, in a thrilling finale, it was defender Heath Chapman that proved to be the hero. Despite being under pressure in a challenge, he still managed to fist away a Ben Keays effort at goal, on the line, with just seven seconds left on the clock.
Closing out the round of action, over in WA, Gold Coast secured its first ever win in the state over an injury-ravaged and depleted West Coast at Optus Stadium.
It is going to be a big year for the Suns that many feel have massively under-achieved over the years and hopefully this campaign will prove to be a turning point.
Round 1 Results
Melbourne 14.13 (97)
Western Bulldogs 11.5 (71)
Carlton 14.17 (101)
Richmond 11.10 (76)
St.Kilda 12.13 (85)
Collingwood 15.12 (102)
Geelong 20.18 (138)
Essendon 11.6 (72)
GWS 13.14 (92)
Sydney 17.10 (112)
Brisbane 11.14 (80)
Port Adelaide 10.9 (69)
Hawthorn 11.12 (78)
North Melbourne 8.10 (58)
Adelaide 12.10 (82)
Fremantle 11.17 (83)
West Coast 12.8 (80)
Gold Coast 16.11 (107)