Sport AFL Tales of the unexpected in AFL’s surprise start
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Tales of the unexpected in AFL’s surprise start

Fremantle's Michael Walters enjoys a goal as his side humbles North Melbourne in Perth on Sunday night. Photo: Getty
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A tip: Expect the unexpected

Lincoln McCarthy kicked four goals for Brisbane as it ran away from West Coast on Saturday night. Photo: Getty

Those in AFL tipping competitions needn’t worry too much about scoring badly in Round 1 – you certainly weren’t alone.

Powerful wins to cellar dwellers Fremantle and Brisbane and losses to 2018 grand finalists West Coast and Collingwood shows nothing can be taken for granted as the start of the AFL season was filled with upset wins.

Wooden spooners Carlton started the trend by running Richmond close in the season-opening match at the MCG on Thursday night. But it was left to Geelong to start the upsets with its seven-point win over Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.

Port Adelaide continued the Super Saturday runs of outs by consigning Melbourne to a 26-point loss, Hawthorn stunned Adelaide by 32 points and then Brisbane upstaged West Coast in a reminder that the Gabba could well become a dreaded road trip destination in 2019.

The Dockers made a statement of their own, punishing North Melbourne by 82 points in a loss that severely dented the Shinboners spirit in more ways than one.

Giants step forward

Despite missing its prime movers Josh Kelly and Callan Ward, Greater Western Sydney probably sent shivers down the spine of most opposition teams with its 72-point demolition of Essendon on Sunday.

Played in front of 15,424 fans – the largest non-Sydney derby regular-season crowd at the venue – the Giants dismantled a poor Bombers side that kicked just two goals in the first half and three in the second.

Fans of the home side at the newly named Giants Stadium enjoyed the show as Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals, and Lachie Keefe and Stephen Coniglio each contributed three as the Giants’ pressure and ball movement proved far too slick for the downed Bombers.

Saints almost sinners

Matthew Parker is mobbed by Jack Sinclair and Sebastian Ross after scoring his first league goal. Photo: Getty

It was billed as the battle for the wooden spooners, but St Kilda emerged with the four points against Gold Coast in an uninspirational one-point win at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.  A late Jack Lonie behind was the difference between the two sides as the Saints St prevailed 13.7 (85) to 13.6 (84). St Kilda coach Alan Richardson was pleased to claim the win. “There has been a real spirit of resilience shown by the players (in pre-season) and they had to do it again today,” Richardson said. “It was good our guys was able to hang in there and get the win.” Understandably, his Suns counterpart Stuart Dew was left to lament an array of missed chances. “We were finishing strong … we were running the game out and gave ourselves a chance to win,” Dew said. “Players will sit there, we’ll all sit there and go back on different moments in the game and kick ourselves.”

‘Hunt and grunt’ rewards Hawthorn

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson hailed his side’s “hunt and grunt” after its 32-point upset win against Adelaide on Saturday. The Hawks triumphed 12.15 (87) to 7.13 (55) at Adelaide Oval, with the Crows losing defender Tom Doedee to a season-ending knee injury. But it was midfielder James Worpel who orchestrated the underdog victory that Clarkson said was immensely satisfying. “He played well … but we just had a really good, even contribution,” Clarkson said. “Every guy played his role.” Hawthorn was expected to struggle after losing Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell to a broken leg, but Worpel – together with fellow midfielder Jaeger O’Meara filled the void – with plenty of possessions and two goals apiece.

Tayla-made triumph

Tayla Harris may have been embroiled in the headlines for all the wrong reasons – shame on all the internet trolls – but the powerful Carlton AFLW forward and her teammates answered in the best possible way. At a time when the much-discussed conference system came under fire, the Blues sealed their first shot at an AFLW premiership with a comprehensive 9.10 (64) to 4.4 (28) triumph against Fremantle on Saturday. Harris kicked a goal and was one of the Blues’ best. “In my head, footy came first and there was no point where I felt overwhelmed,” she said. “The support I received was incredible.”

Adelaide, Carlton to have the final say

Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke says hot favouritism will mean nothing when his side hosts Carlton in next Sunday’s AFLW grand final. The Crows kept Geelong to the lowest-ever AFLW score in a 66-point preliminary final drubbing –11.7 (73) to 1.1 (7) – on Sunday at Adelaide Oval. Adelaide will carry expectation of capturing its second flag in the third AFLW season. The grand finalists met in Round 2, when Adelaide over-ran Carlton to win by 13 points in Melbourne. “They had us in a bit of strife in the third quarter. They went out by about three goals, and then we responded really well and came over the top,” a wary Clarke said. “Carlton have improved pretty steadily through the competition … and hopefully we have done the same. We have certainly played a little bit better as the season wore on.”

 

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