A BAG from a big Eagle, a returning Bomber’s stunning performance and another eye-catching display from last year’s Norm Smith medallist headline the AFL’s round one Team of the Week, brought to you by Accor Hotels.
Seven goals from West Coast’s Josh Kennedy made the two-time Coleman medallist a lock for full-forward, while Dyson Heppell’s inspirational return from a season-long anti-doping ban saw the Essendon captain easily slot into midfield.
And, Western Bulldogs defender Jason Johannisen backed up his best-on-ground performance in last year’s Grand Final with another impressive game.
The opening round traditionally throws up some unexpected results with Port Adelaide, the Brisbane Lions and Adelaide staging upsets.
Driven by the midfield grunt of Ollie Wines and Travis Boak, the Power got over the Sydney Swans, while the defensive work of Harris Andrews and midfield input of Dayne Beams and Stef Martin drove the Lions over Gold Coast.
The Crows were without Taylor Walker, but Charlie Cameron kicked two goals and gave them a spark, while two of their three ‘Rory’s’ – Laird and Atkins – moved the ball with elite precision.
It was also a round for captains with Scott Pendlebury joining Heppell, Beams and Boak as standout leaders for their team.
LACHIE HENDERSON (Geelong) – It was a happier trip to Perth for the defender after he was knocked out cold in his last game at Domain Stadium. This time, he put in a solid performance rotating between Cam McCarthy and the resting ruckmen, and took 11 marks with seven intercept possessions.
HARRIS ANDREWS (Brisbane Lions) – The young defender had the better of Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch in Saturday night’s QClash. Lynch kicked three after half-time but Andrews minimised his impact despite the majority of the traffic directed his way.
ANDREW MACKIE (Geelong) – In an overall solid backline performance, Mackie’s game against Michael Walters was outstanding with the Freo forward managing just eight touches and kicking a late goal. Mackie also had eight intercept possessions – the most of his team.
JASON JOHANNISEN (Western Bulldogs) – The Norm Smith medallist had 30 disposals with an impressive 87 per cent disposal efficiency rating and took seven marks against Collingwood, and even snuck forward for two goals.
BEN REID (Collingwood) – Played on former teammate Travis Cloke, and despite a memorable first-quarter goal from the ex-Pie, Reid had his measure on the night with 12 touches and seven marks.
RORY LAIRD (Adelaide) – A career-high 40 possessions off half-back with an impressive 85 per cent efficiency rate. Was important in driving the Crows out of defence with six rebounds, and was second in the League for intercept possessions with 12.
OLLIE WINES (Port Adelaide) – A dominant midfield display with 33 disposals and nine clearances against the Swans. Also recorded the most metres gained (531m) of any Power player.
ZACH MERRETT (Essendon) – Was best on ground to half-time and helped make the Hawks look slow. Ended with 37 disposals and moved the ball well, with 749m gained (second overall in the League).
DAYNE BEAMS (Brisbane Lions) – Had an incredible first half to set the Lions up with 21 disposals (28 for the match), and found himself in the middle of most things good. Was awarded the Marcus Ashcroft Medal as best afield.
DUSTIN MARTIN (Richmond) – Powerful game from Martin; not only did he boot four goals and gather 33 disposals but he also generated drive, having gained the most metres (816m) in the competition. He was also second for score involvements with 13.
LANCE FRANKLIN (Sydney Swans) – Kicked four, drove the Swans forward, took seven marks and won nine contested possessions. Did a bit of everything in a losing side.
RORY ATKINS (Adelaide) – Played on the wing and was damaging with 10 inside 50s from his 19 disposals. Also laid seven tackles and kicked three goals in the Crows’ big win.
CHARLIE CAMERON (Adelaide) – Big game from the small forward. Kicked two goals but did his best work up the field, where he drove the ball inside 50 six times and won eight clearances. Also laid six tackles and won 14 contested possessions from his 23.
JOSH KENNEDY (West Coast) – Not only kicked seven goals to streak above the field in the race for the Coleman, but was also second in the competition for scoring involvements with 13.
ORAZIO FANTASIA (Essendon) – Lively throughout the whole match to finish with a game-high four goals, including a terrific left-foot snap in the third quarter. Provided plenty of excitement as the most prolific forward on the ground.
MAX GAWN (Melbourne) – The Demons’ midfield dominance over the Saints started here. Monstered Tom Hickey with 49 hit-outs and consistently gave his teammates first use. Had the biggest influence of any big man this round.
SCOTT PENDLEBURY (Collingwood) – His team didn’t win, but the Pies skipper took out the Rose-Sutton Medal as best afield against the Dogs for his 35 possessions – 24 contested – and 10 clearances.
DYSON HEPPELL (Essendon) – Huge game – his first in 566 days as a result of the anti-doping bans – from the Bombers’ new skipper. Kicked three goals but most notably lifted in the third quarter when the game had to be won.
STEF MARTIN (Brisbane Lions) – Influential in the Lions’ win over the Suns with 32 hit-outs against Jarrod Witts, and also contributed around the ground with 23 disposals and seven clearances.
CLAYTON OLIVER (Melbourne) – In just his 14th game, was arguably best on ground against the Saints with 36 possessions (14 contested), nine clearances and eight tackles.
TRAVIS BOAK (Port Adelaide) – Another captain’s game from round one with the Power skipper second only to Wines in disposals with 26. Also booted two goals in his 200th AFL game.
The fans’ pick
SAM MITCHELL* (West Coast) – Every round this season, we’ll invite you to make the call on the final interchange spot in Team of the Week. In this week’s Twitter poll, Mitchell edged out former teammate Jordan Lewis with a decisive 74 per cent of the fans’ vote. Mitchell had 38 touches in his Eagles’ debut against the Roos and was the most influential midfielder on the ground.