Front and Square

ROUND ONE of the NAB Cup has concluded, with the public having now seen all the clubs in action for their first competitive hitouts for 2012.

The past two weeks have unravelled plenty of controversy already, which brings us to the agenda of this week’s column of Front and Square…

The new trials, will they work?

Every year the AFL trials new rules in the pre-season, and rightly so, given that any improvements to our great game should be put out there for all to see.

This year the AFL has introduced goal video technology to be used for those contencious umpiring decisions, especially the ones that decide games, and it was used frequently on the weekend.

But for mine, the cameras used didn’t help one bit.

Despite the successes with the 3rd umpire in cricket, tennis and rugby league, it’s hard to see it working in it’s current state.

Trust the goal umpire for now, with the only exemption for such technology to be used if the AFL can fund the setup of cameras behind the goals, where the appropriate footage can accurately evaluate an umpiring decision.

The other trial is the two sub rule, where each club has four players on the bench but two of them as substitutes.

Despite last year’s success of the one sub, coaches and players have already slammed a two sub rule to be introduced in the regular season.

I agree, it can’t be a good thing for the game.

Goodes, Hunt slammed

Last week it was young Tiger Reece Conca, this week it’s Swan Adam Goodes and Cat Josh Hunt.

The Match Review Panel cited the premiership winning Goodes for slide tackling Geelong’s Taylor Hunt and got a one-match ban, which he accepted.

Goodes was lucky and should’ve got more for the potential damage such a tackle can do to a player.

Hunt’s namesake, Josh, took young Swan Luke Parker in a sling tackle, taking a two-match ban.

Again, like Goodes, was lucky to not cop a harsher penalty.

Another Cat, Joel Corey was banned from the controversial sling tackle, as well as young Demon Jack Trengove, who copped a three-match ban.

Under a new AFL ruling both players will be able to serve their suspensions in the NAB Cup series and will be free to play in Round 1 of the home-and-away season, something that must change if players are ever going to learn what you can and cannot do.

Another luckless Pie goes down

Grand Finalist’s Collingwood have lost another player for the year, livewire Andrew Krakouer, who ruptured his ACL in a practice match with the Magpies’ VFL team on the weekend.

Krakouer joins Brent Macaffer on the sidelines as the second Magpie who will miss the entire 2012 season, a big blow to Nathan Buckley’s first season at the helm.

Both join a growing list of injuries that also includes Alan Didak (adductor), Ben Johnson (hamstring), Chris Tarrant (foot), Harry O’Brien (hand), Ben Reid (shoulder), Jarryd Blair (groin), Marty Clarke (hamstring), Tom Elliott (hamstring) and Dale Thomas (foot).

Your club’s verdict:

St Kilda: The first real hitout under new coach Scott Watters was encouraging, bringing across a new game style and plenty of youth on show. Remarkable similarities to that of Collingwood, the Saints played on at every opportunity but appeared overwhelmed at times. Lenny Hayes made a successful return from a knee reconstruction, while youngsters Ahmed Saad, Terry Milera, Sebastian Ross, Jack Newnes, Beau Wilkes, Rhys Stanley, Nick Winmar, Arryn Siposs, Jamie Cripps and Tom Ledger all showed signs that the talent is there. Can only improve.

Sydney Swans: Very impressive in game one particularly. Veterans Adam Goodes and Jude Bolton oozed class, showing there’s plenty of football left in them yet. Sam Reid continued to impress up forward while Lewis Jetta and Richmond recruit Mitch Morton added excitement. In the absence of ruckman Shane Mumford, the Swans rotated the likes of Mark Seaby, Mike Pyke and Jesse White in the ruck and up forward. St Kilda irish recruit Tom Walsh also showed signs. John Longmire would’ve been pleased with a night’s hard work, although he criticized the round-robin pre-season format.

Geelong: The Cats picked an inexperienced squad, unearthing several youngsters and giving coach Chris Scott a chance to evaluate the young talent on his list. The likes of Billie Smedts, Tom Gillies, Steven Motlop, Cameron Guthrie, Simon Hogan, George Horlin-Smith, Mitch Brown and draftees Shane Kersten and Orren Stephenson were all able to show their wares. 2011 premiership ruckman Trent West again stepped up and looks set to take the no.1 rucking mantle from the retired Brad Ottens.

Gold Coast Suns: The beefed up Suns outfit appeared to have benefited from a full pre-season, with several youngsters looking noticeably stronger. Jaeger O’Meara, the 17 year old who the Suns claimed from GWS in last year’s mini-draft in trade week, was granted special permission from the AFL to play in the NAB Cup and didn’t disappoint. The speedy West Australian turned on the jets with quick awareness and sublime skills by hand and foot, one to get excited about when he makes his official AFL debut in 2013. Aaron Hall, pick 7 in the pre-season draft impressed as a small forward, as did midfielder Dion Prestia and Nathan Bock, who looks set to play more as a key forward given the recruitment of Melbourne defender Matthew Warnock.¬†

Melbourne: With Mark Neeld in charge for his first hitout as coach, the Demons had something to prove and they didn’t disappoint. The Collingwood model was again on display, with the forward press combined with kicking down the line and then transferring into the corridor to hit a leading target. Despite the foot skills lacking at times, encouraging signs were shown. New recruit Mitch Clark will form a potent forward setup with Jack Watts in 2012, and the Dees now appear to have their best key forward since David Neitz. VFL rookie James Magner impressed, so too former Crow James Sellar in a swinging role at both ends of the ground.

Brisbane Lions: On a wet and miserable night the Lions struggled to get going but kept in touch in both their games against the Demons and the Suns. Former Dog Ben Hudson showed he will bring plenty to the table and aid the development of Matthew Leuenberger and draftee Billy Longer, while Hawthorn recruit Jordan Lisle, Patrick Karnezis, Josh Green and Jared Polec impressed overall.

Port Adelaide: Played with the competitive spirit that went missing for most of last season and set up well. Hamish Hartlett was a shining light off half-back, so too was Danyle Pearce, who was released from the midfield and able to get his hands on the ball. Former Eagle Brad Ebert showed plenty in what would’ve pleased coach Matthew Primus.

Adelaide: A stronger and a free flowing Crows outfit was evident under new coach Brenton Sanderson, notching two wins against the Blues and the Power. Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett look set for big seasons while impressive performances from Rory Sloane and Matthew Jaensch would’ve pleased the Adelaide faithful. Veteran Graham Johncock was also in excellent knick.

Carlton: Disappointing result for the Blues, despite the inexperienced squad. Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer headed the pack among the best, while Shaun Hampson continued to impress following a breakout 2011 before injury struck. Forgotten West Australian midfielder Kane Lucas continues his impressive pre-season, playing both games as he attempts to break into the Carlton lineup for round one.


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