The return of North Melbourne’s Majak Daw has given the AFL a good news story that means more than mere stats.
The key defender returned to the field at VFL level just over six months after being rescued from under Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge.
The 28-year-old suffered hip and pelvic fractures in December’s incident, with the extent of the injuries meaning he effectively had to learn to walk again.
Daw played limited game time for North Melbourne’s VFL team in Sunday’s clash with Sandringham at the Kangaroos’ Arden Street headquarters and appeared to move freely before his day ended, as planned, at quarter-time.
“It was super exciting having him back … it was a great day for the club and for Maj himself,” coach David Loader told reporters after North registered a 57-point win.
We’re really pleased to have him back in the fold. He certainly looked good out there, didn’t he?’’
Daw was all smiles as he was given a hero’s welcome by about 1000 fans as he ran out for the warm-up, giving the crowd a fist pump in appreciation.
Loader said he didn’t notice any extra pre-match nerves from the defender. Daw still has two metal rods inserted in his hips.
“We just kept it as normal as we possibly could,” he said.
“There was no change to what we did … we went about our roles and Maj went about his, which was just preparing to play a game of footy.
“It was really that simple. The rest took care of itself.”
Daw started deep in defence and was in the action early, tackled hard to the ground inside the first minute.
He was meant to spend two eight-minute blocks on the ground in the first quarter before sitting out the rest of the game. But it seems Loader has a sense of theatre, sending him inside attacking 50 in the dying stages of the opening term.
“It was more hopeful than anything else,” the coach said with a smile.
“I thought, ‘Gee, it would be a nice way to write the fairytale if he takes a mark and kicks a goal just on quarter-time’.”
Daw finished with four possessions and a strong intercept mark. The Roos will assess how he recovers before plotting his next step.
Giant-killing Lions making their mark
Brisbane Lions look set to return to AFL finals and do some damage.
The young Lions overwhelmed Greater Western Sydney in a 20-point upset win at Giants Stadium on Sunday, claiming a top-four spot.
Brisbane’s Eric Hipwood and Luke Hodge both played on after copping painful knocks, with the former clearly restricted but still bobbing up with a clutch third-term goal after a pack mark.
The hosts also had their injury woes, most alarmingly Josh Kelly’s iced-up leg problem that ended the superstar’s evening during the fourth quarter.
The challenge for Lions coach Chris Fagan, barring an unexpected capitulation in the second half of 2019, is no longer whether he can end Brisbane’s 10-year finals hiatus.
Fagan’s charges, who next face Port Adelaide away then four teams currently outside the top eight, have a golden chance to lock up a double chance in September.
GWS confronts Richmond, Collingwood and Port in a stretch that might make or break its premiership credentials.
Sunday’s contest started with one of the most bizarre score reviews of the year, when GWS youngster Harry Perryman clearly took possession in the goalsquare and stumbled over the line but umpires wanted to take another look.
Teague says Blues need to bring intensity
Carlton’s caretaker coach David Teague says the young Blues need to turn up earlier if they are to challenge in matches.
Carlton’s latest fourth-quarter AFL fightback left Teague wanting more, saying they need to start turning up earlier in games.
The Blues on Sunday fell agonisingly short of posting their third win from four games, losing to Melbourne by five points in a tense finish at the MCG.
Carlton clawed back a 38-point deficit to take the lead before Jayden Hunt’s goal with two minutes remaining saved the Demons’ skin.
While the Blues’ improvement has been obvious, their languid starts in all four games under Teague’s charge have been an issue.
The Blues rallied for upset wins over Brisbane and Fremantle but left it too late in tight losses to Western Bulldogs and Melbourne.
“We know we’re a good fourth-quarter team over the last four weeks and we’ve been in this position, so they’ve got belief in it,” Teague said.
“You could see from the way they were talking … (they had) a big crowd behind them.
“When the crowd gets behind them and we get a bit of a run on, I think we’re really dangerous. We just need to start doing it earlier in games.”
The Blues have fielded one of the least experienced teams in the competition this season but Teague didn’t think a lack of maturity was holding them back.
“I don’t think it’s maturity, it’s just a mindset,” he said.
“I think they’re good enough and they can do it, they’ve just got to do it for longer. It’s just our ability to go out there for four quarters and actually concentrate.
“Concentration is a tough skill … I think the best players have it and we’ve got to get better in that area.”