Things are looking good down the highway. A team of so-called second stringers finished extremely strongly against the slow-cooking juggernaut of the Gold Coast. More of those players will get a chance this year with the veteran retirements of 2011, and a smooth transition to these players may very well be in reach.

Smack. Not that we expected any less.

Israel Folau
Couple of strong flyers, that great tackle and a goal. Baby steps, but it certainly seems better than Karmichael Hunt at this stage.

Port Adelaide
Yes, another loss…but they’re looking good. Perhaps the doom and gloom predictions may not be absolutely true.

It’s a new style of football for Melbourne, emphasising pressure and stoppages. And it’s working. New players like Magner, Sellar and Couch standing up as well as strong games from Garland, Sylvia and Petterd lead to a strong victory.

The Crows making the final of the NAB Cup would be a very, very good thing for football in Adelaide, as well as a great boost to their good finals chances.


Everyone involved in the Wangaratta game
St Kilda lose because they did everything right and get stuck without a game, running a training session for people who are probably more pre-occupied with sandbags than statistics.

The people of Wangaratta who forked out in advance for a rare chance to watch AFL only to be stuffed around. But much of the blame should be left with Essendon, who strangely decided to fly to Wangaratta and elected to do so on game-day.

A strange decision at the least, considering the weather has been all over the news this week. It wouldn’t be surprising if Essendon were both fined and forced to pay ticketholders back.

The AFL should be magnanimous and give Wangaratta one of the NAB 4 games to at least partially make up for it.

It’s all looking a bit worrying for the Pies. It is the NAB. But there’s a list of injuries slowly building with Krakouer and Macaffer, players coming back who have missed significant time such as Nathan Brown and a slight loss of extra edge with Leigh Brown and Davis. Could the wheels be loosening on the Pies’ wagon before a ball is kicked?

Western Bulldogs and Carlton
A no-meaning pre-season game, with both sides out of NAB Cup contention thanks to percentage and the draw, resulting in serious injuries for a couple of players. Bugger.

The issue for the Tigers is that they didn’t even remotely look like winning. Losing to Fremantle in the west is understandable, but they barely whimpered.

North Melbourne
North are looking to make the finals in 2012. The problem that they had in 2011 was a near-complete inability to defeat those sides that made the eight. An easy draw may help them get there anyway in 2012, but in the end they need to defeat a finals contender. Still can’t quite manage it.