The first Saturday of the AFL’s new season was played under the shadow of a coronavirus scare, with Collingwood again the focus, only days after skipper Scott Pendlebury was cleared of any illness.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire as confirmed that a club staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus, but says the development would not affect the AFL season because the individual had no contact with players.
McGuire told Fox Sports that the staff member had returned from overseas and had “done the right thing” and self-isolated after feeling unwell.
“Had that person had contact with the players then we would have been finished for 30 days,” McGuire said, echoing Friday’s admission from the AFL that any positive test would likely see the competition shut down.
Collingwood opened its 2020 campaign with a big win over the Western Bulldogs on Monday night, with coach Nathan Buckley saying he was focused on getting the best out of his men in difficult circumstances.
Onfield, Port Adelaide’s brigade of rising young talent outshone Gold Coast’s new boys to make a winning start to the 2020 AFL season.
The Power led at every change on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium, surging to a 10.16 (76) to 4.5 (29) victory.
Connor Rozee, Todd Marshall and debutant Mitchell Georgiades all shone in the 47-point win, as Ken Hinkley’s team made the perfect start to a year in which the Power coach had warned the league to “look out – we’re coming”.
In Adelaide, Swans coach John Longmire said attitude had been everything in Sydney’s tenacious three-point triumph over the Crows.
While Swan livewire Isaac Heeney provided the polish with a game-breaking four-goal haul, Longmire reckoned the victory was based on pure grunt.
“We came across with a really good attitude,” Longmire said after Sydney’s 11.8 (74) to 11.5 (71) win on Saturday at Adelaide Oval.
Greater Western Sydney also opened its account for season 2020 with a 32-point home win over Geelong.
Earlier at Marvel Stadium, Essendon fought off a late charge by Fremantle to open its AFL season with a six-point win.
Debutant Sam Sturt kicked two of his three goals as the Dockers slammed through four majors in Saturday afternoon’s final term, but the Bombers grimly hung on for a 9.9 (63) to 8.9 (57) win.
In Justin Longmuir’s first game as senior coach, Fremantle started poorly but finished strongly, with Andy Brayshaw missing a late shot on goal which would have made it a point the difference with just under two minutes left on the clock.
Former Richmond premiership player Jacob Townsend booted two goals in the opening quarter as Essendon jumped out to a 19-point lead at the first break.
John Worsfold’s men led by 26 points at halftime but managed just two goals in the second half to leave the door open for the visitors.
Dylan Shiel starred for the Bombers with 35 possessions and eight clearances, while Townsend finished with three goals.
In the AFLW, Fremantle announced itself as the clear favourite for the flag after pummelling Gold Coast by 70 points in Saturday’s semi-final in Perth.
The Dockers were never troubled in the 12.8 (80) to 1.4 (10) win at Fremantle Oval, with the result setting up a preliminary final against Melbourne.
Hayley Miller (20 disposals, six clearances) was vital in helping Freo win the midfield battle, while Kiara Bowers (22 disposals, 14 tackles) added important grunt and hardness.
In the other game, Melbourne edged GWS by three points in their final at Giants Stadium, with Lily Mithen’s match-winner coming with just 25 seconds remaining.
The goal umpire hardly moved as Mithen marked in the pocket and calmly converted her set shot, completing a remarkable final-quarter comeback in the topsy-turvy semi.
The COVID-19 lockout ensured that screams of “SAVE THE GAME” from the Demons’ bench were then heard around the ground.
Melbourne, who kicked three goals straight in the fourth term and will next face Fremantle or Gold Coast, did exactly that to triumph 4.5 (29) to 3.8 (26).
“Whatever next week’s scenario throws up, the girls have another experience they can draw on,” Demons coach Mick Stinear said.