Round 2: The Washup

In the first edition of ‘The Wash-Up’ for 2015, along with new features compared to the 2014 column, the author looks at his highlights and lowlights of round two. 

The Highlights 

Essendon’s two-point victory over Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon wins first prize here.

There’s much to like about this Bombers outfit, the most resilient group in recent times, given the stress and uncertainty surrounding their club in the wake of the horrendous two year ASADA investigation.

It was a telling victory, particularly after almost knocking off the Swans on their home deck in round one.

They got off to a flier, making Hawthorn earn their right to victory.

The reigning premiers were missing Josh Gibson and Sam Mitchell, yet the greater story was the match winner in key defender Cale Hooker.

For the man who was most often known for his impossible chase of Buddy Franklin in the ex-Hawk’s stunning 2010 goal of the year, he turned the tables on Sunday to kick the Dons to a win to savour.

The Western Bulldogs are another highlight of the round.

Their aggressive nature, ferociousness and preparation to break things open with flying handballs and gut running from one end to the other broke Richmond down on Saturday.

After a disastrous and much publicised off-season, not even this writer could’ve predicted two wins in the opening rounds.

It was great stuff to watch and be assured, the Dogs are the best under-23 team in the competition. Under new coach Luke Beveridge, expect big things.

Doggies’ fans get ready, it appears to be an exciting ride ahead.

The Lowlights

Three clubs made the bill here and are under the microscope – Gold Coast, Richmond and Carlton.

1. Gold Coast 

Of the three clubs in the worry list, the Suns are who most concern.

High expectations are nothing new at Metricon Stadium, with many experts having predicted a top four finish pre-season.

Having sacked Guy McKenna at the end of last year and appointed former Swans and Bulldogs mentor Rodney Eade as his replacement, the expectation more specifically was that the experienced Eade would be the man to lead the Suns deep into September.

Gun midfielder Jaeger O’Meara did his knee before round one and now after two rounds captain Gary Ablett, who remains out of contract, will be missing with that troublesome shoulder.

Worse still, the losses against Melbourne and St Kilda are alarming. My issues begin with the latter.

The Saints were able to do what they liked away from home on Saturday night, in what appeared to be like a training run at their Seaford base.

The Suns didn’t give a yelp and the basic fundamentals of hard work and pressure didn’t exist.

The Gold Coast have lots of work to do and others must stand up, particularly without their skipper to lead them.

2. Richmond

It seems to be the same old story for the Tigers – always the same mistakes that they need to rectify.

Coach Damien Hardwick is in his sixth year in charge and its finals or bust for him now. Surely.

Missing the suspended Brett Deledio and the late withdrawal of Shaun Edwards against the Bulldogs, the Tigers were without the class and run they rely so much on in those two men.

No aggression at the contest and the willingness to hunt the running Dogs outfit is what should concern the Tiger army.

The Tigers need to stick together and come game day, commit to a hunger and desperation to ferociously hunt the opposition and hurt them on the scoreboard.

Time will tell if they can make that a reality.

3. Carlton 

The Blues are in real strife.

Uncompetitive and unable to play four quarters of football, along with a disinterested and unmotivated playing group without leadership is damning so early on in the season.

Adding to the on-field woes is the out of contract coach in Mick Malthouse, and the uncertainty surrounding his future beyond 2015.

Two uninspiring losses has prompted the rebuild discussion to come up again.

The rebuild term is the focus here and one the club seems to finally coming around to realising the situation they’re in.

Like Eade at the Suns, Malthouse was brought to Carlton at the expense of Brett Ratten to lead this club to the top four and contend for a premiership. That hasn’t happened and most likely won’t either.

In some ways, the Blues have already started rebuilding with the departures of Eddie Betts (Adelaide), Jarrad Waite (North Melbourne), Jeff Garlett (Melbourne) and Mitch Robinson (Brisbane Lions) in the past two seasons. Those players were once the nucleus to a potent forward set up that is now not threatening to the opposition at all.

The big question for Carlton powerbrokers remains, is Mick Malthouse the right man to lead the rebuild that’s required?

In this author’s opinion, the Blues would be wise to allow Malthouse to coach out the season and then evaluate and decide whether to reappoint him or not.

The Blues are in a rebuild and would be wise to look at the Hawthorn model and in more recent times, St Kilda and the Bulldogs as evidence as to how to go about things.

To rebuild the club must be bold at the trade table and consider the likes of Chris Yarran, Andrew Walker, Matthew Kreuzer and Bryce Gibbs in order to build through the draft again.

List Manager Stephen Silvagni has a mighty job ahead of him.

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