James Hird made his first appearance in the Essendon coaching box when the Bombers took on Brisbane in the
opening game on Friday night at Docklands. Up against Hird was fellow 1996 Brownlow Medallist Michael Voss,
who was looking to rebuild his club’s fortunes after a disappointing 2010. It was one-way traffic, as Hird’s
Bombers dominated from start to finish to win by 62 points.
From the beginning, the Bombers were intent on asserting their dominance; while the under-strength Lions,
without several of their key playmakers, were unable to keep up. An early super-goal to Brent Stanton set the tone
for the evening, while the miserly Bomber defenders held the Lions to just one point for the half. A 38-point half
time lead was a fair reflection of the one-sided nature of proceedings, and it was more of the same in the second
term. The Lions were unable to score a goal until half-way through the second period, while the accurate
Bombers made every post a winner with 12 goals from their 13 scoring shots to cruise to a 62-point win.
But there was to be no rest for the embattled Lions, as they were to back up and take on last year’s grand finalist
St Kilda. And although it was not quite as one-sided as their match against the Bombers, the Lions were again
outclassed from the start. Brett Peake landed a super-goal in the first half, a period of play in which the Lions were
unable to manage a goal as the Saints coasted to a 20-point lead at half time. And with the game safely in their
keeping, the Saints took it easy in the second half, but still landed 3 goals to 2 for the half to stretch the winning
margin to 29 points.
So with both the Bombers and the Saints having already recorded a win, the game between those two clubs was
to determine top spot in the group. And it would be a cliff-hanger, the most exciting game so far in this year’s NAB
It was a game of two halves, the Saints the better side in the first while the Bombers took over after half time. The
Saints were in control early, with five goals to one for the half to lead by 22 points at half time. But they would be
held to only one scoring shot, a goal, for the second half as the Bombers came storming back into contention.
The Bombers missed some key shots early in the half, but once their goalkicking radar started working the
margin started shrinking. Three goals in quick time cut the margin to 6 points, and with time running out the
Bombers surged forward again. And Mark Williams was on hand to take a strong contested mark 40 metres out,
the final siren sounding as Williams went back to take his kick. But keeping his cool, Williams’ kick was straight
as an arrow, never looked like missing; and the match finished in a draw. Essendon, with the better percentage,
topped the group; but the Saints, having a win and a draw, will also go through to the knockout stages.
Essendon 1.5.0 1.11.1 (76)
Brisbane 0.0.1 0.2.2 (14)
Nine-Point Goals : Essendon - B Stanton. Brisbane - Nil.
Goals : Essendon - M Hurley 3, S Crameri 3, D Zaharakis 2, B Stanton, M McVeigh, P Ryder.
Brisbane - J Polec, T Rockliff.
Best : Essendon - J Watson, D Zaharakis, B Stanton. Brisbane - J Polec, T Rockliff, S Sheldon.
Umpires - R Findlay, R Chamberlain, M McKenzie.
St Kilda 1.2.2 1.5.5 (44)
Brisbane 0.0.3 0.2.3 (15)
Nine-Point Goals : St Kilda - B Peake. Brisbane - Nil.
Goals : St Kilda - R Gamble 3, A Smith, T Lynch. Brisbane - T Banfield 2.
Best : St Kilda - B Goddard, R Gamble, S Fisher. Brisbane - D Rich, T Banfield, T Rockliff.
Umpires - B Ryan, S Meredith, R Findlay, J Mollison, R Chamberlain, M McKenzie.
St Kilda 0.5.2 0.6.2 (38)
Essendon 0.1.4 0.5.8 (38)
Nine-Point Goals : St Kilda - Nil. Essendon - Nil.
Goals : St Kilda - S Milne 2, L Montagna, R Gamble, T Ledger, W Johnson. Essendon - S Crameri
2, A Monfries, J Carlisle, M Williams.
Best : St Kilda - S Fisher, D Armitage, L Montagna. Essendon - S Crameri, C Dempsey, B Stanton.
Umpires - B Ryan, S Meredith, J Mollison.
Crowd – 23,313 at Etihad Stadium.
The new-look expanded AFL was on display at Blacktown Olympic Park on Saturday night, with new teams
Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants in action, along with the Sydney Swans. While the
Swans fielded a team of seasoned professionals, and the Suns fielded an AFL-standard term; the Giants,
who don’t enter the AFL proper until 2012, fielded a development team consisting mainly of 17-19 year
The young Giants were pitted against the Swans, who were keen to make a statement of superiority
against their cross-town rivals. All the warnings pre-game were of a mis-match; and that’s exactly what it
was. It took just two minutes for Josh Kennedy to mark and kick the opening goal, and when Craig Bird
bent a shot from the pocket on a tight angle, the procession was on. The Swans were ruthless, efficient
and primed for success, and the Giants were unable to keep up. The GWS side were unable to score a
goal all game, while a run of 13 for the Swans gave them a comprehensive 79-point win, the biggest
winning margin so far in the new format of the NAB Cup.
But it was closer and tighter when the Swans took on Gold Coast. Much of the interest in the Gold Coast
side was to see how former NRL star Karmichael Hunt would handle the transition to his new game. Hunt
aquitted himself capably, looking to have learned his new skill set well.
In a battle of the defences, there were only three scoring shots in the first half and the Swans led by a point
at half time. The game opened up more in the second half, but the scores remained close. With a minute
to go, Kieran Jack had a chance to put the result beyond dispute but his shot sailed wide for a behind. The
Suns moved the ball downfield from the kick-in, and the ball spilled free to Hayden Jolly 30 metres out.
Jolly made no mistake from his snap, and the Suns had taken out a remarkable win.
The Suns only needed to win their final game to top the group, and with three goals in the first five minutes
of their match against GWS it looked set to be another one-sided game. But the Giants bounced back,
Jimmi Savage going down in history as the first person to score a goal in an AFL-sanctioned match for the
Giants. Two more goals would come, and against all odds and expectations the Giants took the lead at
half time. Maintaining that lead would be beyond them, as the Suns powered away after half time to win by
25 points, but the lead was a moment of hope for the future for the Giants.
In the end, Gold Coast won by 25 points and finished top of the group; showing the rest of the football
world that the Suns are the real deal for 2011. The Swans, with their impressive percentage, will also go
through to the next round.
And a capacity crowd of 9,500, with many of them wearing the charcoal and orange of the Giants, showed
that the AFL’s 18th club are building themselves a support base ahead of their entry to the AFL in 2012.
Click here to see Harboursport's photo gallery of these matches.
Sydney 0.7.4 0.13.5 (83)
Greater Western Sydney Giants 0.0.2 0.0.4 (4)
Nine-Point Goals : Sydney - Nil. GWS - Nil.
Goals : Sydney - Kennedy 3, Goodes 2, Bird 2, Sumner, Rohan, McVeigh, Johnston, Parker,
Dennis-Lane. GWS - Nil.
Best : Sydney - Kennedy, Jetta, Hannebery. GWS - Cameron, Shiel, Hampton.
Umpires - S Wenn, Chris K, B Kronk.
Gold Coast 0.1.0 0.4.1 (25)
Sydney 0.1.1 0.3.4 (22)
Nine-Point Goals : Gold Coast - Nil. Sydney - Nil.
Goals : Gold Coast - Matera, Dixon, Harris, Jolly. Sydney - Goodes, Lamb, Seaby.
Best : Gold Coast - Matera, Swallow, Brown. Sydney - Bolton, Moore, Mattner.
Umpires - S Wenn, C Kamolins, B Kronk.
Gold Coast 0.3.0 0.8.4 (52)
Greater Western Sydney 0.3.1 0.4.3 (27)
Nine-Point Goals : Gold Coast - Nil. GWS - Nil.
Goals : Gold Coast - Magin 2, Matera, Dixon, Harris, Bennell, Harbrow, Russell. GWS -
Stevens, Harding, Hombsch, Savage.
Best : Gold Coast - Stanley, Magin, Matera. GWS - Clifton, Savage, Cameron.
Umpires - S McBurney, M Gestier, M Brown.
Crowd - 9,447 at Blacktown Olympic Park.
The final set of games in the first phase of this year’s NAB Cup saw Geelong, North Melbourne and the
Western Bulldogs in action at Skilled Stadium on Sunday afternoon; on a day that started fine but became
cloudy as the afternoon progressed.
First up, it was twin brothers Chris and Brad Scott against each other in the coaching box as the Cats took
on the Kangaroos, and the Cats suffered a blow early when James Podsiadly departed the scene with a
broken hand. Podsiadly was a revelation last season, making a big impression as a mature-age draftee;
but his preparations for his second season will be disrupted for several weeks. But the Cats dominated
around the ground in the first half, a lopsided possession count manifesting itself in more scoring
The Kangaroos were only able to trouble the scorers once in the first half, but thanks to the Cats’
inaccuracy were only 11 points down at half time. The Kangaroos tried hard to get back into the contest in
the second half, but the Cats had the answers for anything the Kangaroos could throw at them; and
despite some poor finish and silly turnovers still had little difficulty in running out an 18-point win.
The Western Bulldogs, keen to defend their title from last season, got off to a flying start against the
Kangaroos with four goals in the first 10 minutes; on their way to a 17-point win at half time. But the
Kangaroos were brought back to life early in the second term thanks to a team-lifting super-goal by
Lindsay Thomas. But the Kangaroos were quickly brought back to earth by the ruthless Bulldogs, who
completed another 4-goal quarter to run out 31-point winners.
The final game was a battle for top of the group; and the match saw the Bulldogs looking strong to lead by
6 points at half time. But the Cats steadied in the second half, with Steven Johnson presenting himself as
a dangerous target up forward with three-second half goals. The Cats completed five goals to one for the
quarter to run out victors by 21 points, ensuring the Cats would progress through to the knockout rounds
while the Bulldogs would be relegated to the NAB Challenge.
Geelong 0.2.5 0.4.8 (32)
North Melbourne 0.1.0 0.2.2 (14)
Goals : Geelong - B Johnson, Bartel, Duncan, Motlop. North Melbourne - McKinley, Hansen.
Best : Geelong - Duncan, Bartel, Milburn, Hogan, Stokes. North Melbourne - Anthony,
Urquhart, Richardson, Tarrant.
Injuries : Geelong - Podsiadly (broken hand).
Umpires - Kennedy, Jennings, Haussen.
Western Bulldogs 0.4.1 0.8.6 (54)
North Melbourne 0.1.2 1.2.2 (23)
Nine-Point Goals : Bulldogs – Nil. North Melbourne - Thomas.
Goals : Bulldogs - Grant 2, Veszpremi 2, Giansiracusa, Roughead, Hahn, Higgins. North
Melbourne - Swallow, Petrie.
Best : Bulldogs - Higgins, Griffen, Moles, Wood, Sherman, Grant, Boyd. North Melbourne -
Tarrant, Wells, Richardson, Pratt, Urquhart.
Geelong 0.2.1 0.7.4 (46)
Western Bulldogs 0.3.1 0.4.1 (25)
Nine-Point Goals : Geelong – Nil. Bulldogs – Nil.
Goals : Geelong - S Johnson 3, Hawkins 2, Bartel, Simpkin. Bulldogs - Grant 2, Addison,
Best : Geelong - S Johnson, Selwood, Bartel, Hawkins, Cowan. Bulldogs - Boyd, Picken,
Wood, Higgins, Cross.
Umpires - S Ryan, H Ryan, N Foot.
Crowd - 13,232 at Skilled Stadium.
|NEXT WEEK'S FIXTURES (all times AEDT):
Thursday, Feb 24:
Melbourne v Essendon at Etihad Stadium, 7.10pm
Friday, Feb 25
Collingwood v Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium, 7.40pm
Saturday, Feb 26
Geelong v St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, 7.10pm
Sunday, February 27
West Coast v Gold Coast Suns at Patersons Stadium, 7.40pm
Friday February 25
Port Adelaide v Richmond at Alice Springs, 7pm
Saturday February 26
Western Bulldogs v Brisbane Lions at Visy Park, 1pm
Hawthorn v North Melbourne at Skilled Stadium, 1pm
Adelaide v Fremantle at Thebarton, 3.30pm
GWS Giants v Carlton at Manuka, 4.30pm