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Dons' win Merrettless yet meritorious

Highlights: Essendon v Adelaide The Bombers and Crows clash in round 1

Without Merrett
Match Review Officer Michael Christian was installed in the newly developed role for cases like this. Adelaide midfielder Richard Douglas will come under Christian's microscope for a bump he laid on Essendon star Zach Merrett in the first quarter, which he was reported for. The case will be tricky to determine, because contact appeared to come to the shoulder and neck region of Merrett's body. However, after being assessed by the club's medical staff, the 2016 best and fairest winner was taken out of the game after the incident and did not return to the field of play. Merrett also sustained a head knock in the club's first JLT Community Series game against Richmond on February 23, which may have factored into the club's thinking. Douglas' first intention appeared to win the ball, but at the last moment he had to change that decision and brace himself for impact.

WATCH: Douglas reported for big hit on Merrett

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Gibbs does not disappoint in Adelaide debut
Bryce Gibbs has always been a classy footballer and his two goals at the start of the third quarter smacked of exactly that. The flat Crows needed someone to stand up and spark them and Gibbs answered the call, as the Crows booted seven goals to three in the third term to open up a 20-point buffer at three-quarter time. The former Blue asked for a trade at the end of last season and with a swapping of picks and future picks, the move, that was 12 months in the making after the Crows failed to land their target a year before, became a reality. Despite not having the man bun (Gibbs shaved it off for charity) he wore at Carlton, the 29-year-old starred in his first game in the red, blue and gold with 35 disposals, seven clearances, eight inside 50s and two majors. 

WATCH: Bryce Gibbs turns it on in game one as a Crow


The Bomber recruits stand up when needed
Much was made over the summer of Essendon's prized recruits and how they would fit in and make the side better. Former Giant Devon Smith was the pick of the bunch in the Bombers' win over Adelaide, with his class with ball in hand (21 touches at 85.7 per cent efficiency) and pressure around the ball standing out. Ex-Dog Jake Stringer made plenty of headlines over the pre-season but the Bombers' wanted him to be judged on what happened on the field. And they would have been quite pleased with what they saw, with the dynamic forward/midfielder doing his bit without kicking a goal. Former Sun Adam Saad's run out of defence was significant late in the game as the Crows fatigued, with he, David Zaharakis and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti all generating that all-important drive. 

WATCH: 'The Package' delivers early

  Crow reported as star Don down and out early

Murphy's Law
Adelaide debutant Lachlan Murphy had to wait patiently, to say the least, to register his first goal in the AFL. And then there was still debate as to whether it was a legitimate score. The young Crow thought he had kicked a goal when he got his boot to a ball in the goal square in the second quarter. However, following a score review, which determined the ball was touched by an Essendon opponent, he was denied that achievement. A quarter later, Murphy's squeezed boot to ball, with the hand of Essendon opponent Michael Hartley in the vicinity, was again reviewed. But, after multiple replays, this time the result was different and the forward celebrated accordingly. Murphy's unique celebration was probably justified after some pent-up frustration followed by overwhelming joy. 

WATCH: Murphy finally gets his goal


Gibson's impressive streak comes to an end
Adelaide recruit Sam Gibson's impressive feat of 130-straight matches played was supposed to continue at his new club. However, a bout of hamstring tightness brought the league-leading active games streak to an end. Gibson, who played all 130 of those matches at North Melbourne, was replaced in the selected side by Hugh Greenwood. The ex-Kangaroo played six seasons at North Melbourne before being delisted as the club decided to commit to its rebuild. Gibson was picked up as a delisted free agent by the Crows. Geelong's Zach Tuohy (115 games) now holds the streak for most games played in succession among active players.

Hugh Greenwood may be thanking the gods for his late inclusion after Sam Gibson was ruled out. Picture: AFL Photos