For everybody but Essendon fans, the first week of the NAB Cup fixtures were a welcome return to AFL football.
Despite the bombers being taught a lesson by the highly fancied Perth duo, GWS were competitive, Western Bulldogs finally shed the ‘robo-dog’ from its strip and Richmond looked like this could finally be the year that they break their finals hoodoo.
One thing we were missing, however, was competition between three finals teams – meaning that this Friday night’s clash between Sydney, St. Kilda and Geelong should take it up a notch from the first week of competition.
Why You Should Tune In
After yet another successful season, Geelong, under new captain Joel Selwood, will be looking to prove that the ring of retirements that occurred at the end of 2011 will not slow them down. With club stalwarts in Cameron Ling, Cam Mooney and Brad Ottens gone from the club, younger players will be getting their first auditions tonight to see who will fill in the gaps. Players, such as Billie Smedts who was taken with a Gary Ablett compensation pick, will be looking forward to lining up alongside living legends of the game and proving their worth for a youthful Geelong in 2012.
The Sydney Swans transitioned well from Paul Roos to John Longmire after finishing 6th in the 2011 season. They rounded off their season by beating St Kilda in the Elimination Final in what turned out to be Ross Lyon’s final game at the club. As a club famous for being more then the sum of its parts, don’t be surprised if they begin a steady improvement on Friday Night – the likes of Hanneberry will have improved over the pre-season, and the evergreen Adam Goodes should improve on another amazing 2011.
St Kilda are perhaps the pick of the sides going into tonight’s round-robin. Coach Scott Watters has been causing a stir in the media by professing to change a club culture that, while having landed a few players in trouble in the last few years, has also delivered 2 Grand Final appearances. Lenny Hayes will be returning from the knee injury that broke St Kilda with it at the beginning of 2011 and all eyes will be on Nick Riewoldt as he endeavours to prove that he still has mileage in the tank and that he can adapt to the new defensive zones that opponents are employing against him – putting to bed last year’s Duthie Demons in the process.
With so much youth to be tested, this writer has no real idea where to lay his money. I can see the Swans snatching two wins and the Cats one.
Fox Footy will, as per usual, host the fixture. Tune in at 7:40 Eastern time for kick off.
Mitchell Brown, Billie Smedts, Jimmy Bartel, Andrew Mackie, Harry Taylor, Josh Hunt, Trent West, Tom Lonergan, Joel Selwood, Jordan Schroder, Shannon Byrnes, Taylor Hunt, Mitchell Duncan, Orren Stephenson, Tom Gillies, Tom Hawkins, Mathew Stokes, Cameron Guthrie, Steven Motlop, George Horlin-Smith, Simon Hogan, Cameron Eardley, Shane Kersten, Jesse Stringer, Josh Walker, George Burbury, Jonathan Simpkin, Ryan Bathie.
Mark Seaby, Rhyce Shaw, Jarrad McVeigh, Ryan O’Keefe, Nick Malceski, Mitch Morton, Jed Lamb, Josh Kennedy, Andrejs Everitt, Craig Bird, Keiren Jack, Gary Rohan, Tommy Walsh, Jesse White, Sam Reid, Ben McGlynn, Jordan Lockyer, Jude Bolton, Ted Richards, Luke Parker, Dylan McNeil, Martin Mattner, Lewis Jetta, Jarred Moore, Alex Johnson, Campbell Heath, Adam Goodes, Michael Pyke, Heath Grundy, Nick Smith, Shane Mumford, Harry Cunningham, Nathan Gordon, Shane Biggs.
Daniel Archer, David Armitage, Jason Blake, Jamie Cripps, Sam Crocker, Tom Curren, Sean Dempster, Sam Fisher, Jarryn Geary, Sam Gilbert, Brendon Goddard, Jason Gram, Lenny Hayes, Clint Jones, Justin Koschitzke, Tom Ledger, Ben McEvoy, Terry Milera, Stephen Milne, Jack Newnes, Brett Peake, Dean Polo, Farren Ray, Nick Riewoldt, Sebastian Ross, Ahmed Saad, Adam Schneider, Cameron Shenton, Tom Simpkin, Arryn Siposs, Rhys Stanley, Jack Steven, Beau Wilkes, Nick Winmar.