Main content

Nine things we learned: Disaster looms for Crows

The 10: round one's best moments Watch the best highlights from a big opening round of the season
1. Sloppy Crows must rebound quickly to avoid disaster

All the external hype around a fit and firing Adelaide fell flat in a disappointing round-one loss to Hawthorn. The Crows overused the ball by hand and turned the ball over countless times going forward. With defender Tom Doedee out for the season with a torn ACL and veteran Richard Douglas sidelined with an ankle injury, the Crows must turn things around in a hurry ahead of consecutive six-day breaks – first, a trip to Sydney to face the equally desperate Swans at the SCG on Friday night, before they host Geelong in a Thursday night encounter. Starting the season 0-3 would be a disaster. - Lee Gaskin

 
2. Tiger Tom is going to be a handful for opposition teams in 2019

He looked rusty and double-clunked balls throughout Thursday night's season opener, but marquee recruit Tom Lynch showed enough to suggest he will have a major impact on how Richmond fares this season. Lynch kicked three goals from four kicks against the Blues, but took just one mark in his first competitive hit-out for seven months. The significant changes to Richmond's forward line personnel will also take some time to settle, with Lynch learning to co-exist alongside Jack Riewoldt. As Damien Hardwick noted after the game, Lynch's ability to create an aerial contest was important on Thursday night. Richmond's small forwards Jack Higgins, Dan Butler and Dan Rioli could be the major beneficiary when he brings balls to the deck. When Lynch begins to find his touch and motors around the ground in characteristic style, whenever that comes, look out to those defenders trying to contain him. - Ben Guthrie

ANALYSIS Promising signs as Lynch works into Tiger debut 

3. Billy is back in town

If there was one positive for Collingwood fans to take from Friday night's loss to Geelong, it's the return of star forward Jamie Elliott. Lively throughout an encouraging first half, Elliott kicked three of the side's four goals prior to the main break. He zipped around the forward line with electric speed, led hard up the field and worried gifted opponent Mark Blicavs with his subtle strength in the contest. His influence might have waned as the match wore on, as you would expect from someone playing his first game in 18 months, but he looks back to his exciting best. The potential of a blossoming Elliott-De Goey partnership in Collingwood's forward 50 is enough for rival clubs to be sweating. - Riley Beveridge

4. Bombers got spooked once they entered 'the graveyard'

Ex-GWS star Devon Smith couldn't help but have a dig at his former club in the lead-up to the season opener, labelling his old home ground 'the graveyard' in reference to the smaller crowds attracted to Giants Stadium. It was all in good fun and a bit of cheek, but if you're going to trash talk, you need to back it up. Smith and his Essendon teammates played more like corpses than premiership contenders in a 12-goal smashing in front of over 15,000 fans, a record non-Sydney derby crowd for the Giants. The season obviously isn't dead and buried for the Bombers, but they'd want to respond against the Saints next week. - Adam Curley

5. The Power might have worked the Dees out

Port Adelaide went into last year's draft period intent on adding genuine speed to their mix and that was on show against Melbourne on Saturday. Their three first-round picks from last year's intake – Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma – all showed their dash at the MCG, and changed the look and feel of the Power line-up. The bold and quick ball movement that coach Ken Hinkley wants to instill in his teams was back, and the three youngsters were valuable contributors to that. It also showed that if a side combats Melbourne at the coalface and with contested ball, which Port did without co-captain and gun midfielder Ollie Wines, then the Dees can be a little susceptible on the outside with their run. It was only one game, but Port might have added to a blueprint to beat one of the premiership fancies. - Callum Twomey

6. Libba could be the Dogs' missing link

Tom Liberatore hadn't completed an AFL game in 19 months – in fact, he'd basically missed two of the past four seasons after undergoing knee reconstructions – which made his return against Sydney all the more praiseworthy. The 2016 premiership hero was typically at his best in the clinches, accumulating 28 possessions (13 contested) and game-high tallies of clearances (eight) and centre clearances (five) – the latter becoming increasingly vital given the new 6-6-6 rule – to be a key contributor to a stirring 17-point win. The 26-year-old adds considerable grunt to the Dogs midfield, enabling the brilliant Marcus Bontempelli to spend more time in the forward half and complementing fellow runners in Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter, Toby McLean and Mitch Wallis. - Ben Collins

7. The pre-season hype for Brisbane is justified

Their own supporters are excited, the media have hyped them and even AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said there was a "feel good" factor around the Lions entering 2019. On the evidence of one round, Chris Fagan's men are up to the task. They got premier West Coast at a good time, undermanned and on a terribly humid night in Brisbane, but the 14 goals to two demolition after quarter-time could hardly have been more impressive. Gone are the days of one or two standouts trying to carry the team – this performance was based on a collective effort. From Harris Andrews in defence to a midfield effort led by Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage and a dangerous forward line highlighted by Charlie Cameron, the Lions proved they're good enough to march up the ladder this year. - Michael Whiting

ANALYSIS The Linc and Charlie Show is an instant hit

8. New year means new Newnes

This season is crucial for St Kilda wingman Jack Newnes. He's coming into free agency, which wouldn't have meant much if he had continued his 2018 form. Hampered by knee surgery in the pre-season, he didn't have the influence that saw him finish top-10 in the preceding two best and fairest awards. Based on Sunday's showing against Gold Coast though, the 26-year-old is back. Running hard all game, he finished with 23 disposals, eight inside-50s and five rebound-50s. A couple of goal assists, via a left-foot pass to Tim Membrey and a drilling ball to Jack Steele, showed his polish. Saints coach Alan Richardson was emphatic in his praise: "He's been an inspiration really, because he had a year below his own expectations. Newnesy looks like he's back to his best. It's only really early but he's got his energy and his life (back), and he's very aggressive in terms of the way he's hitting the opposition." Richardson said. - Dinny Navaratnam

9. The Dockers have a selection squeeze in attack

It seemed unfathomable before round one, but the Dockers now have tough selection decisions to make when it comes to their key attacking posts. Big-name recruits Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb shaped as a long-term double act, but Cam McCarthy announced he is not yet done with on Sunday, booting five goals in his best game in purple. He is not just keeping the seat warm for Hogan, with his smart movement off the ball and pure kicking action the signs of a player in good touch. So where does he fit? When Hogan will return is not yet known, and the Dockers also have Brennan Cox (hamstring) to fit back in. With Matt Taberner (18 disposals, nine marks and a goal) also playing an important role on Sunday, the Dockers face the luxury of serious selection dilemmas. - Nathan Schmook

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs