Front and Square

WITH THE NAB Cup relatively over for another year and round one a couple weeks away, a review of the NAB Cup format heads the agenda in this week’s edition of Front and Square.

NAB Cup format must change

The pre-season competition has just completed its second successive year under the round robin triangular series format, with an Adelaide-West Coast Grand Final to come from AAMI Stadium on Saturday night.

Time for the review.

Sydney coach John Longmire is the latest to come out and publically declare his dis-satisfaction with the format and this writer agrees.

The triangular series involves three teams playing on the one night, three games with two 20-minute halves and the sharing of changerooms.

Clearly not ideal but great value for the fans.

The original knockout system worked well, so the it has to be asked, why change it at all?

This writer’s view is simple, go back to the knockout system with full four quarter games and integrate the NAB Challenge for eliminated teams where scheduling in regional areas can still take place.

Clearly a knockout format is the best alternative, giving clubs the best platform to launch them into the upcoming season.

No reports win-win for all

Finally a weekend in football where no sanctions are handed down to players by the Match Review Panel.

Melbourne’s Jeremy Howe was charged over an incident with Hawthorn’s Tom Murphy, only for it to be thrown out.

For fair competition, we all want players out there and none to miss, so let’s keep it that way.

Your club’s verdict

Essendon: Easily their best performance of the pre-season and last week’s Wangaratta situation can now be put to bed. Alot of encouraging signs.

Sydney Swans: Have had their best pre-season in years and despite Friday’s narrow defeat, lots to like about the Swans heading into the season.

Adelaide: Have surprised many but have earnt place in NAB Cup final. Appear to be revitalised under new coach Brenton Sanderson and set for a big year.

Collingwood:Haven’t fielded a full strength team all pre-season. Not much to worry about but expected to click into gear come round one.

Geelong: Chris Scott has opted to play the kids and not worried about pre-season. Will be ready to go come round one.

Richmond: Have made steady improvements since last season with a number of eye-catching performances from various recruits. Confidence-boosting win over Geelong on Saturday important for a club who has been down in the pits for too long. Must make inroads this season.

Port Adelaide: A much improved pre-season, quality off-season recruits and a reknewed enthusiasm has given this club reason to sell hope again. Another win against quality opposition in Fremantle is a big boost.

Fremantle: Have shown more commitment and a hard defensive edge under new coach Ross Lyon, who won’t be too concerned by pre-season results.

Brisbane Lions: For a club that has lacked wins and boasts a poor record under Michael Voss, every win in the pre-season has been vital. Recorded resounding 64 point win over an underperforming Carlton outfit on Saturday.

Carlton: Won’t be too concerned with a winless pre-season heading into round one, despite the critics. Will field a full strength lineup in a practice match against North Melbourne at Visy Park on Sunday, in preparation for round one.

GWS: Huge morale-booster in win over the Gold Coast on the weekend. Ahead of the Suns’ progress this time last year.

Gold Coast Suns: Pre-season results suggest a long way to go yet but patience will again be preached as this club continues to develop.

Melbourne: Only pre-season but the big loss to Hawthorn on Saturday night raises concerns given the encouraging signs of the previous few weeks. Talented group but won’t win many games with efforts like that.

Hawthorn: Tore apart a disinterested Melbourne team on Saturday night, spelling danger for the competition. Lock them in for top four this season, can go all the way with enough depth in their list now.

West Coast Eagles: Alot to like about the Eagles this pre-season. Despite the loss of Mark LeCras, appear to be able to cover his absence. Look very sharp and are yet to play full strength lineup, which spells danger for the rest of the competition.

St Kilda: Still learning and adapting to a new coach in Scott Watters and the way he wants them to play. Alot of unknown quantities about the Saints this season but expected to play finals.

North Melbourne: Solid and much-needed pre-season win by the Roos who must play finals this season. Alot of unanswered questions remain.

Western Bulldogs: Have impressed in pre-season with new short kicking, precise style of play under new coach Brendan McCartney. Loss to Roos not a great concern.



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