Selection squeeze looms for Blues; Daicos just gets better; and, the Dogs fitness is questioned

All the fallout from round one, including injury carnage, MRO news and expert analysis.

Upsets, nailbiters, a blackout and more – there was plenty to talk about in round two. Our experts analyse the action and tell you all you need to know about a big weekend of football.

Carlton d Geelong

There was an outcry among the Blues faithful when Jack Silvagni was dropped late last year. His place in the team is again in question. The son (and grandson) of a gun was subbed out at three-quarter-time, with Michael Voss preferring to keep specialist ruck pair Tom De Koning and Marc Pittonet, who is nearing full fitness. Silvagni competes admirably as an undersized ruck but is not a ruckman, and, though serviceable with 13 possessions, needs to do more as the third forward to be picked ahead of De Koning. Can the Blues play all three? Maybe, but with George Hewett and Sam Walsh due back soon, the selection squeeze is on.

What to make of the Cats? If you’re in the camp they’re due for a fall, you’ll be emboldened by the first two rounds: beaten on the inside and outside, unable to regain possession or to shield their undermanned defence. Even if Chris Scott disagrees with the method, there is a blueprint. An alternative view is the Cats, underdone and undermanned, pushed two clubs expected to feature in September to play near their best to beat them. The cavalry starts returning this week, with Jake Kolodjashnij expected to play. Mitch Duncan is about two weeks away and Tom Stewart should return about the same time. Gold Coast away isn’t straightforward but with games to follow against Hawthorn and West Coast the Cats should be 3-2 or, at worst, 2-3. They’ll be right. – Andrew Wu

Patrick Dangerfield and the Cats are without a win in 2023.Credit:Getty Images

Brisbane d Melbourne

The Lions’ victory over the Dees was literally overshadowed by the power blackout that engulfed the Gabba midway through the final quarter – and perhaps coach Chris Fagan was right to suggest the match should have been called then and there. To that point, it had been a solid response from the Lions after a dreadful first-round performance against Port Adelaide. Will Ashcroft was outstanding in his second game, and so too was ex-Bulldog Josh Dunkley, giving the Lions far more bite around the clearances. The Demons were upset early by the loss of Max Gawn, whose knee injury is thankfully short-term. It represents a big opportunity for recruit Brodie Grundy to step up in his absence. – Andrew Stafford

A power outage halted play at the Gabba.Credit:Getty Images

Collingwood d Port Adelaide

What we had confirmed at the MCG on Saturday was that Nick Daicos has a date with the Brownlow Medal in his future. The manner in which he found and used the ball, and the creativity behind that stunning goal after a no-look handball from Scott Pendlebury, surely had last year’s Rising Star winner pocketing three votes. He could very well claim the sport’s highest individual honour in only his second year. The unbeaten Magpies, as Power coach Ken Hinkley said, are the team to beat. They have depth, class and power, can now dominate contested ball, and are playing in the “fun” manner Craig McRae wants. Will this last? There’s no reason – yet – to think it won’t stand the test of a long season. Ruckman Darcy Cameron again justified why Brodie Grundy was let go, while Josh Daicos also deserves plaudits. Bring on the Tigers. As for the Power, the Showdown cannot come quickly enough. They were handed a reality check by the Magpies. Jason Horne-Francis, Connor Rozee and Zak Butters were disappointing on the big stage. – Jon Pierik

Richmond d Adelaide

Richmond will enter Friday’s MCG blockbuster against high-flying Collingwood with plenty of question marks despite overwhelming Adelaide by 32 points. The Tigers’ new-look midfield took it to another level in the first half but their third-quarter slumber was so abjectly protracted that they easily could have been mown down completely had the Crows kicked straighter. If defender Nathan Broad accepts the two-match ban for his sling tackle on Adelaide youngster Patrick Parnell, he will miss matches against Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. Richmond believe prized recruit Jacob Hopper has escaped serious injury after his right ankle crumpled in a Rory Laird tackle in the fourth term. Scans will reveal if their optimism is justified. Superstar Dustin Martin was subbed out of the match midway through the last quarter – with the Tigers leading by one point – to manage a niggle, later revealed to be a low-level hamstring issue. With a six-day turnaround, he will be touch-and-go to take on the Pies. Winless Adelaide’s second successive Jekyll-and-Hyde performance left their fans feeling bewildered. The Crows have shown their best is good enough but they need to deliver it in more than sporadic spurts. What better time to put the pieces together than in Saturday night’s Showdown against arch-enemies Port Adelaide? – Steve Barrett

St Kilda d Western Bulldogs

Do the Dogs have a fitness issue? If they do, it’s damning on their conditioning staff for drawing up a pre-season that has not given players their best chance of success. If they do not, then it does not reflect well on the work ethic of Luke Beveridge’s men. The scoreboard suggests they do, the Dogs outscored by 73 points in second halves across the first two games, but defending is more taxing than attacking – and they have done more of the former. Beveridge questioned his team’s work rate, saying data suggested their high-speed running and ground coverage was down. There is a harder edge to the Saints under Ross Lyon, who has his team rock-hard fit and hungry for blue-collar work. Such was their appetite for the contest, they won the possession and tackle count. Brad Hill is not noted for his defensive work, but has stuck eight tackles in the first two games, nearly double his career average. Dan Butler’s run-down tackle on Liam Jones in the third term turned what should have been a dangerous entry inside the Dogs’ forward 50 into a turnover that resulted in a Saints goal. Plays such as that were rare last year for the Saints. – Andrew Wu

North Melbourne d Fremantle

North Melbourne’s 2-0 to start the season is not a situation many would have predicted. But that’s exactly where they find themselves after Saturday night’s thrilling – and controversial – win over Fremantle in the west. Those two wins equal their total of victories for 2022 as they took out the wooden spoon. Despite that, new coach Alastair Clarkson is not getting carried away. “We are under no illusions … we could have quite easily been 0-2,” he said. “Both of those games we won by less than a goal. So, our percentage is hardly startling at this point in time.” Coming up next week is an intriguing clash against Clarkson’s old club, Hawthorn – currently winless and struggling – and the very real possibility that North can go 3-0 on the season. Things are not looking anywhere near as good for the Dockers, who are without a win. In fact, they are yet to win a centre clearance count (St Kilda 37-28 and North Melbourne 44-31) despite boasting a midfield featuring the likes of Andrew Brayshaw, Caleb Serong, Will Brodie and Jaeger O’Meara, along with ruckmen Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson. “Before we went on a little run in the last quarter [against North Melbourne], we were minus 10 centre [clearances],” Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said after the game. “Good luck trying to own field position with that number. We’re better than that, and we’ve got to start showing that.” Fremantle will also be without former skipper Nat Fyfe for the next two weeks at least as he deals with a plantar fascia issue. – AAP

Kangaroos Griffin Logue and Nick Larkey celebrate as Fremantle players appeal for a free kick.Credit:Getty Images

Sydney d Hawthorn

While the Swans are priming themselves for another runs at the finals, Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell is attempting to find a ray of light amid the gloom of 59- and 81-point thrashings over the season’s first two weeks. “If you said you’d come up to Sydney and break even in tackles, and win the clearance counts, then you’d think you’re much closer than we were,” Mitchell lamented after Sunday’s loss. “But we’re our own worst enemies. They’re a very good side, of course. And soon as we made a mistake, they were very quick to pounce on it and put us away. And then it makes it really tough to play with any level of confidence once you’re on the backfoot.” At the same time, Mitchell denied that the 140 points the Hawks have dropped over the past two weeks indicated the size of the mountain the club has to climb as it rebuilds. “We played a very good side, and we had a lot of missed opportunities. I think if we play that side again, we can get a lot closer than that,” Mitchell said. The most pleasing thing for the Swans was that two young key forwards, Joel Amartey and Logan McDonald, kicked nine goals between them in the absence of the suspended Lance Franklin, and neither of them were selected in last year’s grand final side. Next Sunday’s match against Melbourne at the MCG will offer a much better indication of where the Swans are at.Malcolm Conn

Essendon v Gold Coast

Although the hierarchy is keen to keep expectations low, belief is growing among Bomber players that they will be a difficult match-up for many teams this season. They beat the Suns with a patched up forward line because they were willing to work for each other and their experienced players knew how to win when the game was up for grabs. Gold Coast dropped their guard and the Bombers made them pay. Under Brad Scott, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher is playing the best football of his career and Kyle Langford is showing why his absence early last season was such a blow. The Suns are promising to have another mediocre season unless they can upset Geelong at their home ground. Lachie Weller’s return from a knee injury was a highlight, but otherwise it was another flat result for a team that has had too many in their short career. All eyes will be on Essendon against St Kilda on Saturday night because the victor will find the hype hard to contain. – Peter Ryan

Jamaine Jones was in devastating form as a rebounding defender for West Coast on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

West Coast v GWS

If West Coast’s win over GWS Giants teaches us nothing else, it’s that running defender Jamaine Jones can’t be left to run amok. Jones scorched across Optus Stadium on Sunday amassing 776 metres gained from his 27 disposals and that run led to inside-50s and goals for the Eagles. Former Demon Jayden Hunt had a similar impact with 566 metres gained and two goals. The jury is still out on whether the Eagles can push for a finals return this year but when their key defenders, including Jeremy McGovern, are stopping the ball and the likes of Jones are driving it forward, they will be competitive. The Giants midfield has been decimated by injuries and departures, but they need to better use the football, especially while Toby Greene (four goals) and Jesse Hogan (three goals) remain dangerous deep targets. Too often the ball wasn’t kicked to advantage and that let the Eagles rebound. A more efficient Giants will be a more successful team. – Roy Ward

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