It was great to have the afternoon off (Launceston Cup, half day holiday!!) to watch the Bombers – oh, and Dogs – in their first hitout for the year. It was also great for the boys in the red-and-black to grab the four points, err win, and probably become premiership favourites from here on.
Anyway… just as I’ve talked some rubbish here, we should be reminded that pre-season games – these praccy matches specifically – should all be taken with a grain of salt.
That being said, there was a bit to take out of the game. The eye test is an important thing. Watching a game without stats is cathartic. Trust your eyes. That’s something that I tried to do watching the game via the Kayo stream (a few dodgy moments made for some interesting pixelated viewing), however I did set up a spreadsheet to track the CBAs.
Let’s get into my takeaways from the opening game of these scratch matches. Make sure you add your two cents in the comments!
Notable absentees: Michael Hurley, Jake Stringer (no AAMI either, but trained this morning), Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (running, a fair bit off)
Players of interest (in no particular order):
Looked sensational! Hungry, fit and in play all over the ground. I’ve been a bit of an ‘avoid’ guy this pre-season, but he’s definitely a first choice midfielder. He attended the most centre bounces of all midfielders in the first half, only missing one. Parish won plenty of his own ball and ran hard to link up play. Every chance to be a top eight midfielder. Still, an upgrade target for me in Classic, but I’ll adjust my Draft rankings as I was maybe a little harsh.
He’s a midfielder. Plain and simple. In some play, he found himself behind the ball but that could be the extent of his ‘back role’ that was floated. Same old Zerrett.
It was clear from the get-go that McGrath is being seriously looked at as a half-back this year. It’s super-interesting as there’s Heppell and Hind doing a lot of the run and carry there, bringing it out of the D50. McGrath was almost like a busy, inside half-back (could that even be a thing?!). Everything I saw today would say he’ll gain DEF status early on… and was still finding a bit of the ball. Stats next week will be important to track for Draft coaches.
He’s fit – bump him up the draft order. That 63 next to his name in Draft is A LONG way from what he’ll be considering he averaged 100 in his first to seasons as a Don.
Don’t panic … but, the midfield minutes may not be there to see him average enough to be the value we need him to be. With just 3 CBAs in what looked like a very settled rotation (especially in the first half, when it was more ‘real’), Caldwell may spend a bit of time as a half-forward. Stringer was out, which may have upset some of the rotations, but if you’re picking Caldwell based on a full-blown engine room role, then this is a flag. In saying this, he started well and got his hands on the ball a lot. Playing off the HFF didn’t mean that’s where he stayed… he was all over the ground.
Was used in all but one CBA in the last quarter when he was finally brought on and given a run. Possibly doesn’t play R1 (you’d think he would have had more minutes), but will get games this year. Looked solid.
Things were looking dicey early on for Ridley, but after about quarter time, he got his game on and ended up as best on ground according to Cal Twomey. Took quite a few intercept marks, due to being free of playing a key defensive role with Kelly in the team (and maybe the fact it was a praccy match). Kick-ins aren’t going to be a major thing. The Bombers rotated through a fair bit – Redman, Cutler, McGrath all had at least one. I was keen in content season, and I believe there is upside, but I won’t be starting in Classic at this stage. 90+ is definitely on the cards if he can be taking marks like he was today – including this one. Probably more stoked on how he played as a Bombers supporter than through my Fantasy glasses.
- Sam Draper is a jet. He’ll have Wright chopping out, but it won’t be much at all. Love him as a player. Might be 10-15 best ruck in your draft rankings.
- Archie Perkins was given a few CBAs in the second half. He has come on a bit. Keeper league relevant (could retain FWD status?).
- Nick Hind was playing a similar role to last year. He was used as a forward late in the season, no signs of this apart from his great run up the field.
- Kyle Langford always has me thinking of gaining DPP in draft. Looked to be wing with the odd CBA.
- Kaine Baldwin‘s body looked like he was AFL ready.
- Tex Wanganeen came on in the last quarter and was electric, kicking two goals. Has been handed a spot on the list – hello FWD $190k who may get an opportunity as a small forward while AMT is out – alongside Nick Martin (who I kept hearing Mick Martyn and having flashbacks to the mid-90s).
Notable absentees: Bailey Smith (groin soreness), Hayden Crozier, Sam Darcy, Josh Bruce, Tim O’Brien, Alex Keath
Players of interest (in no particular order):
Possibly the Dogs’ best. While he was rested late in the game (he has been managed this pre-season), Treloar looked fantastic hitting close to half of the CBAs available for his TOG. This is all he really needs … although a few more would help! He was all over the ground – even when starting forward – and I’ve got no doubt that he’s super-value priced at 87 with the MID/FWD status. It’s a gift based on how he looked today.
Time in the middle increased with the Bont out of the game after half-time. The mix will be important to track next week. It’s Libba, Macrae then the rotation between Dunkley, Treloar and Bont. While Treloar looked ‘better’ today, there was nothing not to like about Dunks. I don’t have a good read on what he scored – role was good, not sure about how much he racked up (tackles a big part of his game, but not many laid today).
Just gets it done. Must have started on the bench but when he hit his first CBA, he only missed two of the next 19. As mentioned above, he’s second banana to Libba. The inclusion of Bailey Smith doesn’t change stuff here. I guess seeing full clock from Bont is the only factor in what he did. Looked like a typical 110+ type game from Macrae.
Tim English & Stefan Martin
Split CBAs 50/50, but I felt like I saw English rucking around the ground a bit more. Stef looked fit (when doesn’t he?!) … so I’m not really sure I can back in English this year. Really sucks as I have him in my keeper.
- Marcus Bontempelli hit all the CBAs in the first quarter and then played mostly forward in the second. There’s been a bit of talk about an increased forward role, but this was him ticking his legs over today (and still looking like a man among boys at times).
- Caleb Daniel was busy and was taking kick-ins with Bailey Dale, who was also impressive out of the backline.
- Jason Johannisen could, could, could be worth using a late round draft pick on…