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AFLX Saturday wrap: How each club fared

Lions go undefeated in AFLX experiment All the highlights from tournament three in Sydney

BRISBANE elected to go with some old heads and their selection strategy proved to be a masterstroke in Saturday's AFLX tournament in Sydney. 

The likes of Daniel Rich, Mitch Robinson and Tom Bell played with outstanding leadership and used their big bodies, and in the case of Rich, his massive left foot, to lift the Lions to an important Grand Final win.

Rich is just about the perfect AFLX player with his ability to kick long distances with great accuracy, and the West Australian was just about the MVP of the Sydney leg, along Richmond's Dan Butler and Giants star Lachie Whitfield. 

RECAP: AFLX Sydney as it happened

The young Western Bulldogs squad failed to fire a shot but all six clubs will take plenty out of the concept, with a host of draftees and up and coming players exposed to footy at senior level. 

The clubs walked away without any injury concerns and will now set themselves for the JLT Community Series.

Game 1: Brisbane 4.3.8 (66) def Richmond 4.3.3 (61)
Game 2: Brisbane 3.5.4 (64) def Giants 2.6.2 (58)
Grand Final: Brisbane 5.2.5 (67) def Sydney 2.3.3 (41)

It was a small step but it was something for the Lions, who went in with an experienced squad, and it paid dividends. Daniel Rich, Mitch Robinson and Tom Bell provided enormous presence in all three games, and also used their smarts to have an influence in key moments when the frantic pace of AFLX had the players out on their feet. Allen Christensen enjoyed his return to the big time after persistent shoulders issues, and was creative close to goal. The energetic Rhys Mathiesen brought his usual intensity to the tournament along with elusive forward Rohan Bewick, with Ben Keays and draftee Zac Bailey also consistent contributors.

 

Game 1: Gold Coast 2.10.8 (88) def Western Bulldogs 0.3.4 (22)
Game 2: Sydney 2.8.4 (72) def Gold Coast 1.4.7 (41)

The Suns overcame their late arrival to smash the Bulldogs, and despite a narrow loss to the Swans, should walk away extremely pleased with their efforts. The return of Sam Day from major hip injury was a massive positive, as was the form of young guns Brayden Fiorini, Jack Bowes, Jesse Joyce and Brad Scheer. Touk Miller and Kade Kolodjashnij provided the experienced heads through the midfield, with recruit Aaron Young excellent in his first appearance for the club, along with the impressive Alex Sexton. New coach Stuart Dew must be a content man knowing his career has taken off on the right foot.

 

Game 1: Richmond 3.2.7 (49) def Giants 2.2.2 (34)
Game 2: Brisbane 3.5.4 (64) def Giants 2.6.2 (58)

The Giants lost their two pool games but could easily have won both against Richmond and the Lions. It was hardly surprising that running machine Lachie Whitfield was a star, gathering 31 possessions for the afternoon, to go with two 'Zooper goals' and three regular majors. Draftee Aiden Bonar showed some exciting signs, as did second-year midfielder Will Setterfield and defender Jeremy Finlayson. Rookies Sam Reid and Daniel Lloyd did their chances of an upgrade no harm, with former Blue Dylan Buckley solid playing as a small forward. Adam Tomlinson and Lachie Keeffe were versatile big men, while youngsters Nick Shipley, Jack Buckley, Jake Stein and Lachie Tiziani would have enjoyed their taste of senior footy.

Nathan Mullenger-McHugh soars for a classy mark in Sydney. Picture: AFL Photos

Game 1: Richmond 3.2.7 (49) def Giants 2.2.2 (34)
Game 2: Brisbane 4.3.8 (66) def Richmond 4.3.3 (61)

The premiers continued their winning ways with a first-up victory but couldn't repeat their efforts to make another Grand Final. Flag heroes Dan Butler and Jason Castagna were dangerous forwards for the Tigers, while Nathan Broad was a dasher in defence. Forgotten forwards Sam Lloyd and Reece Conca used the tournament to kickstart the season with both players finding plenty of the ball, with Jayden Short prominent with his pace, and youngster Noah Balta an influential big man. Jack Higgins showed glimpses of the talent that made him the club's No.1 draft pick, with both Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Tyson Stengle also bringing some flash to the day.

 

Game 1: Sydney 4.7.6 (88) def Western Bulldogs 1.4.2 (36)
Game 2: Sydney 2.8.4 (72) def Gold Coast 1.4.7 (41)
Grand Final: Brisbane 5.2.5 (67) def Sydney 2.3.3 (41)

The Swans elected not to play Nick Smith, Sam Reid and Jake Lloyd, and only played All Australian defender Dane Rampe in their first pool game, where he eased into the action with three straight 'Zooper goals' to start the contest. Harry Marsh took over the leadership down back once Rampe exited and was fantastic, with Nic Newman, Dean Towers and Irishman Colin O'Riordan providing brilliant run from the defensive half. Harry Cunningham was at his best in the pacey format, while fringe Swans Jordan Foote, Dan Robinson and James Rose were prolific ball winners. The tournament was a great chance for Sydney to show off their young draftees, with Tom McCartin, James Bell and Angus Styles certainly players of the future.

 

Game 1: Sydney 4.7.6 (88) def Western Bulldogs 1.4.2 (36)
Game 2: Gold Coast 2.10.8 (88) def Western Bulldogs 0.3.4 (22)

With just 65 senior games between them the Dogs went into the tournament undermanned and it showed in two big losses. Jack Redpath's form was solid and the big man was constantly presented himself as a target, while Aaron Naughton showed plenty playing as a forward, as did fellow draftee Ed Richards, who impressed with his speed. Ruckman Tim English had his moments although he was clearly not suited by the format, Lewis Young stood out in defence, as did Lukas Webb through the midfield, and Roarke Smith in defence. The day was a good opportunity for the likes of Patrick Lipinski, Callum Porter, Billy Gowers, Fergus Greene and Nathan Mullenger-McHugh, who will all benefit from the opportunity.