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AFLX Friday wrap: How each club fared

Melksham brings X-factor, Dees taste glory Nat Edwards with all the news and highlights from AFLX tournament two in Melbourne

THERE was something for every club to take away from Friday night's AFLX tournament, with Melbourne rewarded for putting a premium on competing hard and having the will to win. 

All six clubs escaped without injury in a round of matches that had a more contested feel to them than Thursday's opening clashes in Adelaide, with higher scores and more 'Zooper goals' also flowing.  

Dees edge Hawks to win AFLX Melbourne

The most experienced players on the night stood up, with Melbourne's Jake Melksham (six goals), St Kilda defender Shane Savage and North Melbourne midfielder Shaun Higgins adapting best to the new format. 

A number of young guns were on display as well, with prized draftees Paddy Dow and Lochie O'Brien (Carlton), and Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield (St Kilda) getting their first taste of senior football.

RECAP: AFLX Melbourne as it happened 

 

Game 1: Melbourne 7.1.6 (86) def Carlton 2.5.4 (54)
Game 2: North Melbourne 5.4.9 (83) def Carlton 5.2.6 (68)

While the Blues lost both of their games and were the first team knocked out, they would have been pleased with the signs shown by emerging midfielder Zac Fisher. The 19-year-old's speed through the centre of the ground and penetrating kick look like being assets for the Blues in 2018. No.3 draft pick Paddy Dow also showed good signs, particularly with his smarts in cutting off opposition kicks He was consistent across both matches, while fellow first-round draftee Lochie O'Brien was kept to one match but looked comfortable. Jarrod Pickett provided the highlights with his sharpness around goal and creativity against the Kangaroos, with new Blue Matt Kennedy winning 18 possessions across the two shortened games. Ruckman Matthew Lobbe and midfielder David Cuningham were held out of both matches.  

 

Game 1: Hawthorn 3.6.7 (73) def Essendon 3.3.6 (54)
Game 2: St Kilda 2.5.2 (52) def Essendon 2.2.5 (37)

Big man Shaun McKernan was the star for the Bombers, racking up 16 possessions and taking 10 marks – both tournament highs – in the clash against St Kilda. He drew the ball and was a constant target for the Bombers, who lost both matches but exposed some new players. Captain David Zaharakis was also excellent, while recruit Adam Saad and NAB AFL Rising Star Andrew McGrath provided dash off half-back and up the ground. Inside midfielder Matt Guelfi got his first taste, while rookie Ben McNiece required some attention from medicos after a nasty football to the face. Left out of both matches were Jackson Merrett, Mason Redman and Matt Dea.    

See the AFLX fixture and get your tickets here   

Essendon fans finally got to see new recruit Adam Saad in full flight. Picture: AFL Photos

Game 1: Hawthorn 3.6.7 (73) def Essendon 3.3.6 (54)
Game 2: Hawthorn 4.5.7 (77) def St Kilda 2.5.5 (55)
Grand Final: Melbourne 3.3.8 (56) def Hawthorn 1.5.6 (46)

The most exciting aspect of Friday night for the Hawks was the form of James Sicily, whose talent shone through in the abbreviated game. The young tall was kept to one game, kicking two goals – including one 'Zooper goal' – and taking a strong contested mark. The other highlight for Hawthorn was a massive 60m goal from Ryan Burton, who launched a 'Zooper goal' from the wing. The Hawks would have been pleased with Jack Gunston's form in attack, where he is expected to return in 2018. Draftee James Worpel applied nice pressure and looks a ready-made player who could play round one, while Dylan Moore wasn't overawed in his first taste of senior football. Kieran Lovell was the only player named in the squad to not feature as the Hawks rotated their team heavily across the three games.

Ryan Burton bags a 'Zooper goal' on the run. Picture: AFL Photos

Game 1: Melbourne 7.1.6 (82) def Carlton 2.5.4 (54)
Game 2: Melbourne 1.9.6 (70) def North Melbourne 3.2.4 (46)  
Grand Final: Melbourne 3.3.8 (56) def Hawthorn 1.5.6 (46)

Jake Melksham was the story of the night for the Demons, booting six goals across the three matches – including five from long-range. He lit up Etihad Stadium with back-to-back 'Zooper goals' in the opening match and clearly had his kicking boots on. He was well-supported in attack by Tom McDonald, whose set shot kicking was accurate. Young star Christian Petracca was well-suited to the game in the midfield and provided a highlight when he swung onto his right foot to convert from 45m on the boundary in the opening match. While defence was the Dees' priority, they looked slick and creative with the ball and played the new format with dare. Oskar Baker, Dion Johnstone and Charlie Spargo didn't see any game time.  

Everything you need to know about AFLX

 

Game 1: North Melbourne 5.4.9 (83) def Carlton 5.2.6 (68)
Game 2: Melbourne 1.9.6 (70) def North Melbourne 3.2.4 (46)   

It was a mixed night for the Kangaroos, who squared their tournament at 1-1 but walked away with the highest score kicked in an AFLX match so far. Classy midfielder Shaun Higgins was a class above in the opening match with his long kicking, kicking two 10-pointers from his 12 possessions. Shaun Atley was another whose long-kicking made him a constant threat, while Jamie Macmillan launched plenty of attacking chains.  Draftee Gordon Narrier wasn’t always busy, but when he had the ball he showed he'll excite fans. Former Hawk Billy Hartung was the Kangaroos' best in their second match with a team-high 13 possessions. Only prized draftee Luke Davies-Uniacke, who suffered a back knock at training, was kept out of action from the 15 players named.

 

Game 1: St Kilda 2.5.2 (52) def Essendon 2.2.5 (37)
Game 2: Hawthorn 4.5.7 (77) def St Kilda 2.5.5 (55) 

The Saints were the only team to rotate their 10-man line-up completely from the first game to the second, but they fell short of earning a spot in the decider. Forward Tim Membrey is building towards the season nicely and was dominant early against the Hawks, finishing with three goals. Shane Savage was the star of the opening match, kicking two 10-pointers from just in front of the 'X' logo in the middle of the ground. The future of the midfield was on show, with Blake Acres and Luke Dunstan combining nicely, while young tall Rohan Marshall showed nice signs in attack after a full pre-season. Prized draftees Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield played one match each, easing in but showing glimpses of their talent.