After two rounds of the 2012 season, we’ve already seen both ends of the competitive spectrum. Round one was littered with tight contests, with almost every game being closely fought for the most part. The fixturing meant that this was probably never going to be the case in round two, but only the most sadistic and cynical could have predicted the onslaught of floggings that eventuated.
Brisbane vs Carlton
The first quarter was fantastically contested, and for a brief moment it looked like the Blues would have a fight on their hands. Then Chris Judd got off the leash, Brisbane slowed to a standstill, and in the blink of an eye the margin had blown out to 91 points. The Lions should be disappointed that they let it get out of hand, although they were completely outmatched by the Blues, who continue to show improvements. They will be heavily assessed on Friday night against Collingwood, though, where a win would open their top 4, or even top 2, prospects right up.
Essendon vs Port Adelaide
This turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining affair, and a lot of credit needs to the Bombers for what as a pretty brave win. Port Adelaide were impressive, and have no doubt improved out of sight since last season, but for the Bombers to be so crippled by injuries and to fight out the win shows a character that any great side needs. Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton may just make up the perfect ‘vanilla midfield’, proving there is no substitute for hard work and consistency. Good start to the year from Essendon, and a strong interstate performance bodes well for Port as well.
Sydney vs Fremantle
If you expect to beat the Swans at the SCG, you know you have to win contested ball and at the stoppages. In reality, that’s effectively all that these games turn out to be. Looking at the stats sheet, you would probably then assume that the Dockers had won on Saturday, but on this occasion the numbers are deceptive. The Fremantle midfield again failed to take advantage of Sandilands’ ruck dominance, and the Dockers were beaten by a team that probably possesses less class than them, but definitely possesses more fight. The game produced exactly what should have been expected for the most part, as Fremantle need to find a way to win interstate in order to fulfil their enormous potential. Sydney will simply tick another box, sliding along as the silent assassins of the league.
West Coast vs Melbourne
What can you take from this game? Probably only a couple of things really. Firstly, Scott Selwood is on his way to catching up to older brother Joel, and secondly, Melbourne are in a whole world of hurt. The Demons were never supposed to win this game, in fact they were never supposed to get close, but they definitely were supposed to fight. And not fight in a ‘sloppy tackle, throw chat at the opposition’ kind of way. They needed fight in a ‘senior players pull their fingers out, put their heads over the footy and run until they are about to pass out’ kind of way. Melbourne and West Coast were running parallel a couple of years ago. One is now a premiership threat and the other is a complete rabble.
Collingwood vs Richmond
It’s believed that the sign of a good team is their ability to ‘flick the switch’ and put teams away in the blink of an eye. Collingwood were a little disappointing on the whole, but possess this ability in spades, and in a ballistic flurry of goals early in the third quarter, they took the game away from the Tigers. The Pies look as if they are being tested by their lengthy injury list, and will be up against it on Friday night against the Blues. Richmond have played two remarkably similar games in their first two rounds – being right in the game for most of the match before the better side took over. The Tigers are showing signs that they could be pushing for the finals this year, and will be looking to demolish the Demons this weekend.
Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs
The Crows carry on undefeated in all of 2012 with a tough win over a Dogs side that showed more character than expected to get back into it. For three quarters the Crows had stood up well to everything thrown at them, but as fatigue began to catch up, the Bulldogs edged away at the margin before eventually sneaking the lead themselves. Taylor Walker was arguably the difference, but with a vocal crowd behind them the Crows were able to lift for long enough to hold off the opposition. Bulldogs fans would be encouraged by some facets of their side this year, and would be tearing their hair out at others. They do look to have some fantastic young talent though, and will only get better as the season wares on.
North Melbourne vs Greater Western Sydney
Demolition Sunday kicked off in Tasmania, as the real GWS probably stood up. The Giants impressed everyone in their endeavour against the Swans in round one, but you have to fear that this insipid showing is closer to what we can expect for the season. You can’t get make any proper judgement on North from this game, they were effectively playing against a junior side. I don’t want to be too scathing on GWS, because if I set that tone now I’ll have to keep it up for the whole season. But let’s just hope they can put a limit on these sorts of margins, it can’t possibly be good for the franchise.
St Kilda vs Gold Coast
I genuinely expected the Suns to be competitive in this one. This season should bring some substantial improvement for the young side, and up against a struggling Saints side I really thought a strong challenge would be mounted. The fact that it never came is a real concern for the league, as they can’t afford to have both the Suns and the Giants (and definitely not the Demons…) getting destroyed every week. Just like the Kangaroos, it’s impossible to read too much into it for St Kilda, however goals to Nick Reiwoldt are always a good sign. The less said about Sunday the better…
Geelong vs Hawthorn
The Easter Monday blockbuster was a much needed breath of fresh air. The weekend past could have turned any footy lover into a cynic, but thankfully two of the great modern rivals put on a belter for us to renew hope. It seemed impossible that Hawthorn would lose this game even as deep in as halfway through the last quarter, but Geelong’s winning streak over the Hawks was remarkably extended, this time by just two points. The game was always going to be defined by who would stay running for longer, who would hold their nerve better, and which superstars would stand up. Geelong ticked off the first two boxes in the end, and had all of Bartel, Selwood, Hawkins and Podsiadly to thank for dragging them over the line. Franklin and Mitchell had dominant periods, but when the game was there to be won, neither of them could quite get it done. If anyone had written off Geelong this year, I suggest you commit yourself somewhere.
So we’re two rounds in and we’ve already had a bit of everything. A quick glance at round 3 indicates that we should be in for more of the same this weekend, with the Carlton-Collingwood game at the MCG set to be a ripper. GWS will probably cop another hiding, and there’s every chance Brisbane could cop the same, but at this stage of the season anything is possible, and we may just see an upset or two in round 3.