Talking Points, Round 1 analysis, biggest issues, Darcy Moore, Carlton vs Richmond, Jason Horne-Francis, trades
There were some key lessons in Round 1, be it from established stars like Scott Pendlebury or burgeoning young guns like Jason Horne-Francis.
Even in Thursday night’s draw, there were winners and losers.
The big issues from Round 1 of the 2023 AFL season analysed in Talking Points!
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Harry hits new heights with epic grab | 00:24
POWER’S TRADE DREAM PAYS OFF — BUT NORTH CERTAINLY NO LOSER
Prized No. 1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis’ decision to walk out of North Melbourne after just one season became the biggest story of last year’s AFL Trade Period.
On Saturday at his new club, he was breathtaking — but so was the player North Melbourne picked up as a result of the mega four-club trade.
Horne-Francis, citing homesickness, nominated Port Adelaide as his club of choice, ultimately returning to South Australia in a massive win for the Power.
And their efforts to secure Horne-Francis have already paid off in Round 1, with the 19-year-old described by Garry Lyon as “Nathan Buckley-like” and “ultra impressive”.
The 19-year-old was electric, booting one goal from 25 disposals, 10 contested possessions, 10 inside 50s and seven clearances, while he went at 84 per cent by foot. Most impressively, 11 of his 25 disposals ended up in Power scores.
Port dismantle Lions to claim R1 victory | 03:04
Jonathan Brown said it was clear Horne-Francis was in the “right environment” back home, and even liked Port’s young-gun brigade of Horne-Francis, Connor Rozee and Zak Butters as the AFL’s new “Fab Three”.
As pointed out by AFL Media’s Cal Twomey, Port Adelaide dreamt of having the three young guns all in the same side.
Horne-Francis’ game might’ve been a touch hard to swallow for North fans, but the fact the Kangaroos beat West Coast hours earlier at Marvel Stadium — and their top 2022 pick Harry Sheezel had a record-breaking debut — softened the blow dramatically.
Sheezel finished his first AFL game with 34 touches, six intercepts and four inside 50s. His 34 disposals was the third-most by a player disposals on debut in a VFL/AFL match.
“It is so exciting. We haven’t seen a player like this for some time come to the Kangaroos” David King said on Sheezel.
‘FOOTY’S NEW STATESMAN’ EMERGES
It hasn’t taken new Magpies skipper Darcy Moore long to win the hearts of Collingwood fans and the general footy community.
Moore on Friday night led his side to a breathtaking 22-point win over reigning premiers Geelong.
In his first outing since replacing Scott Pendlebury as Collingwood captain Moore played every minute of the pulsating match, finishing with 13 disposals, nine intercepts – including three intercept marks – nine spoils and five rebound 50s, while he also went at 83 per cent by foot.
His run-down tackle on ex-teammate Ollie Henry in the goalsquare – which stopped a certain Geelong goal – inspired his teammates and fans, who roared to life.
But it was minutes after the win where commentators took notice of Moore’s leadership.
Asked to speak about vice-captain and fellow defender Jeremy Howe following his horrific arm injury, Moore told Channel 7: “It’s heartbreaking. We go through so much together as AFL players, you ride the highs and the lows really closely. So to see one of your close teammates in a state like that, it’s pretty distressing and it’s pretty messed up that we then have to forget about it and get on with the job.
“I’m getting a bit emotional just talking about it. It’s a horrible part of our game, but we expect nothing less from Jeremy. He’s just an incredible teammate who puts his body on the line in that contest definitely.”
Moore’s classy and heartfelt tribute was warmly received, with Herald Sun reported Jon Ralph labelling the Collingwood skipper “footy’s new statesman”.
Moore’s former coach Nathan Buckley said the Magpies had made the right choice.
“He’s one of the most intelligent people you’ll ever meet, seems to have a wisdom beyond his years and carries himself brilliantly anywhere, so to be able to take this step is something he’s more than capable of,” Buckley told Fox Footy.
Pendlebury, Moore’s predecessor, said the new skipper looked “so comfortable” in the role, both on and off the field.
Asked if he’d given Moore any advice in the lead-up to his captaincy debut, Pendlebury said: “Darcy’s a capable man … but one thing I did say to him though is I found my first time, it’s really special leading the boys out. So I said to him: ‘You’ll get the first view of 90,000 (fans), so take that in, enjoy it then go do your thing.”
Asked how Moore’s first pre-game speech was, Pendlebury said tongue-in-cheek: “He’s got room to grow … nah he was good.”
Pies & Cats get STUCK IN at quarter time | 00:42
THE ‘WINNER’ AND ‘LOSER’ FROM ROUND 1 DRAW
Whenever there’s a draw in the AFL, it still usually feels like one team ‘lost’ and the other ‘won’.
On Friday night in the first game of the first round of the season, Carlton and Richmond couldn’t be split, finishing on 8.10 (58) apiece.
Both teams walked away with two premiership points. But the sense post-game was the Tigers ‘lost’ and the Blues ‘won’ — although the latter is debatable, considering Carlton’s 2022 close game struggles.
On numbers alone, it was a game the Tigers should’ve won. They had all the momentum in the third quarter when they scored five goals in a hurry, while they finished the game with way more inside 50s than the Blues (+21) – and still didn’t claim victory.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick post-match said it “looked like a Richmond game” for most of the night as their system and defence was strong. But ultimately they “lacked polish” and “couldn’t capitalise when we needed to”.
Carlton coach Michael Voss, conversely, urged his club to “walk away proud” from its pulsating draw.
Asked if he walked away from the contest feeling like his team had either won or lost the match, Voss told reporters post-game: “I don’t know how to answer that, because there was a lot in it that there’s a lot to be proud of and then there’s some other parts where you’re like ‘I wish I had that back’. Both sides had chances to win that game.
“It looked somewhat a different profile to what we’ve normally won games by – and that’s been by clearance dominance and forward-half ball – and we had to do that a different way. All those numbers were against us for most of the day, but what went our way was our effort and intensity across the whole game remained high.”
Voss later added if the same game had been played last year, the Blues would’ve lost “by six goals” as their defensive system wouldn’t have coped with the volume of Richmond forward entries.
The issue for Blues fans is the pain of several close-game losses last year still burns deep.
During Carlton’s late-season collapse in 2022 – the club lost seven of its past 10 games to narrowly miss finals – it lost four games by 15 points or less. That included the last two matches of the season, when the Blues suffered last-gasp defeats at the hands of Melbourne (-5) and, most notably, Collingwood (-1).
With one minute to go on Friday night, Carlton led Richmond by six points. But a Harry McKay drop mark led to a Tom Lynch goal that levelled the scored, before Blake Acres dropped a mark in the dying seconds that could’ve put him in scoring range.
Tigers and Blues open season with DRAW | 02:35
So while Voss believes the 2022 Blues version might’ve lost Friday night’s game by six goals, the reality is Carlton missed another opportunity to close out a tight game.
“Carlton late in the year last year, they lose the unlosable games and cough them up late when they’re in front on the scoreboard,” triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown told Fox Footy. “Was that (Thursday night’s draw) the same thing that happened or have we moved on into a new season?”
Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley responded: “We’ve moved on into a new year, but there’s echoes of that.
Off the ball you saw Jack Silvagni go down on his knees and slap the ground. The Carlton players are going to be smarting from this one because they had it under control, they had it covered.
“But Richmond have gone in 66 times, so they were able to prevent the opposition from scoring. The best thing they’ll take out of this is that for three quarters they kept the highest scoring opposition from last year to three goals … that’s a great defensive effort for that weight of possession.”
‘DANGEROUS’ PIES CAN PULL PENDLES ‘TRUMP CARD’
At age 35, Scott Pendlebury really is like a fine wine.
The former Collingwood skipper was at his masterful best in Friday night’s inspired upset win over Geelong, finishing with 27 disposals, eight tackles one goal and a game-high 129 raking points to get named Fox Footy’s player of the match.
After playing big minutes across half back last season, Pendlebury spent the majority of his time on the ball against the Cats with 23 centre bounce attendances – the third-most of any Magpie.
Not only that, but the 359-game veteran did most of his work in the forward half to consistently help cut through the Cats’ defence.
The Magpies were expected to run a deeper midfield in 2023 with heavy rotations including the likes of Tom Mitchell, Jordan De Goey, Pendlebury, Jack Crisp, Taylor Adams and the Daicos brothers.
Collingwood Magpies Press Conference | 07:22
And for Lions legend Jonathan Brown, Craig McRae’s ability to throw the experienced Pendlebury into the middle at any given time is a valuable “trump card” for the Pies.
“He was awesome, it was great to watch, especially after half-time,” Brown said of Pendlebury post-match on Fox Footy.
“He was predominantly in the midfield … his damage forward of centre was sensational. He had great composure for his younger players … he did it all.
“They wouldn’t have gone in planning Pendlebury to have as many centre bounce attendances as he did. It’s a great trump card to be able to throw in a veteran to be able to settle things down.”
We did of course see McRae deploy Pendlebury into the midfield several times last year in the high-pressure moments and in big games.
If Friday night’s game is any indication, that trend will continue, with Pendlebury’s inside class helping the Magpies win contested possessions (135-130) and clearance (44-37) – areas they struggled in last year.
Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley highlighted that Pendlebury switching into more of an attacking midfielder is another dangerous weapon for the club.
“It wasn’t about the quantity of the touches, it was the quality of the touches,” Buckley told Fox Footy on Friday night,
“Pendles has always been a midfielder who’s gone back to support the defence – nearly a back seven player who sets the team up from the back defensively and offensively.
“Today, he had more than half of his possessions in front of the centre, whereas he was getting only one-third of his possessions in 2022 in front of the centre.
“If we see that trend continue, he’s going to be so dangerous. We’ve already seen in the first two games how important that last kick inside 50 is.
“If Pendlebury is getting more than his fair share of those, or setting someone up to do it, he’s going to have maximum effect.”
DOGS STARS FALTER AMID ‘FAT NUMBERS’ THAT ‘MEAN NOTHING’
The Western Bulldogs finished 50-point losers to Melbourne in Round 1 – but if you looked simply at disposal stats, you wouldn’t know it.
The Dogs had seven of the top 10 ball winners in Saturday night’s clash at the MCG, but they butchered the footy going forward.
Bulldogs club great Brad Johnson said disposal efficiency would be a big concern for coach Luke Beveridge.
“He’s probably thinking the ball use was just terrible tonight in terms of their kicking effectiveness – it was well below par from a couple of their key senior players,” he said on Fox Footy.
“The bottom end – Darcy, Johannisen, Hannen, Lobb, Baker, Keath, Duryea – there’s a third of the team that had no influence on the game.
“But then you go to the top end and seven of the 10 top possession winners were Western Bulldogs players, yet you get smashed on the scoreboard.
“The Bulldogs might get a lot of ball and their midfielders walk off with some fat numbers but at the end of the day, it means nothing because the effect on the game is pretty much zero.”
Fox Footy’s Cameron Mooney agreed the big numbers from Bulldogs stars counted for little.
Western Bulldogs Press Conference | 08:40
“These are numbers we’ve seen from the Bulldogs midfield for a number of years now and clearly it’s not working for them,” he said.
“They need to find another way to bring these other guys into the game or get their numbers up.
“I’ve always been a big believer particularly come finals time and in a grand final it’s not your best players who generally win you the game – your best players are your best players and they generally play pretty well. It’s your bottom half, the bottom six that usually win you the big games.
“The Bulldogs’ bottom six just don’t seem to rise to the occasion.”
Beveridge admitted the Demons loss was “deflating” given the side “poorly used the ball”.
“I think we were in poor form with our ball use,” he said.
“Maybe an element of frustration crept in with our players.
“We’re a lot more capable than that.”
The Dogs, who went into their forward 50 at just 42 per cent efficiency, but had more contested ball (+15) than the Dees and more clearances (+7).
https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/afl-news-2023-talking-points-round-1-analysis-biggest-issues-darcy-moore-carlton-vs-richmond-jason-hornefrancis-trades/news-story/3d44865283f4596e5196328c90cb307c Talking Points, Round 1 analysis, biggest issues, Darcy Moore, Carlton vs Richmond, Jason Horne-Francis, trades