MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Nathan Hrovat of the Kangaroos looks on during a Noth Melbourne training session at Arden Street Ground on April 11, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The beginning of the AFL season has seen a number of players across all sides become struck with injury. Whilst most unfortunate, state league players look to not only secure a win for their side but also secure a spot in their affiliated AFL teams.

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VFL

Coburg 11.7 (73) def. by Collingwood 11.10 (76)

A thrilling game that left everyone on the edge of their seats saw Collingwood come from behind to defeat Coburg by only three points. After being three goals down at three-quarter time, Collingwood kicked three while holding Coburg goalless in the nail-biting final term.

Ben Reid returned from a soft-tissue injury scare and opened up his 2019 season with an outstanding three goals, 20 disposals and four marks. Had his goal kicking been more accurate, Reid could have secured another couple goals, none-the-less; his efforts down forward earned him a spot in Collingwood’s best.

Ben Crocker and Rupert Williams both put forward strong cases for senior selection as they both went to work in the midfield finishing with 33 and 26 disposals respectively.

Brothers Callum and Tyler Brown finished strongly as they collected 25 and 16 disposals respectively, whilst Callum also kicked a goal and found himself amongst Collingwood’s best.

Whilst the game saw Reid and Tim Broomhead, both returning from injury, finish unscathed, defender Nathan Murphy finished his game shortly after starting, as he exited the field early in the first with an injury to his right ankle.

Collingwood will host Footscray next week, both sides looking to follow up on their round 1 wins.

Frankston 3.6 (24) def. by Essendon 22.13 (145)

Essendon thrashed Frankston by 121 points on Sunday, not allowing them to score in the second and third terms. Exceptional across all areas of the ground, the Bombers perfectly executed their game plan, leading from start to finish.

With senior player Shaun McKernan injured, forwards Mitch Brown and James Stewart placed themselves into contention as a replacement in the senior AFL side, bagging nine goals (Brown five, Stewart four) between them in Essendon’s victory over the weekend.

After a poor performance against St Kilda in the AFL last week, Kyle Langford was demoted to the VFL side. He responded strongly and found himself amongst the leading ball-getters, finishing with 25 possessions.

Senior coach Dan Jordan was impressed with the team’s efforts across the field, particularly the midfield.

“The guys in the middle really set that tone. I thought big Sam Draper was outstanding the whole day, and then all of our mids including Langford, Mynott and Clarke found plenty of the ball but were also really good in tight” he told the club’s website.

Essendon has to opportunity to relish in their victory with a bye in round two. They’ll come back in round 3 to face North Melbourne in the hopes of another victory.

Geelong 12.11 (83) def. by Richmond 14.13 (97)

The opening round of the 2019 VFL season saw Geelong fall short to Richmond, finishing with a 14-point loss against the Tigers. Despite holding them scoreless for a majority of the third term, Geelong’s lead was short lived as the Tigers ran away with the win in the final term, opening with four quick goals, “the first ten minutes of the last quarter, they just wanted it more” Geelong coach Shane O’Bree said.

Whilst the loss was not a part of the plan, Geelong players showed positive signs with young players stepping up and taking on more responsibility on the field.

20-year-old Zach Guthrie has played 16 AFL games for the Cats since being drafted in 2017. Guthrie’s efforts over the weekend saw him finish with 16 touches and six marks, landing him in the side’s best. His solid performance showed the intent to return to the AFL side. This could soon be a reality, as the Cats continue to search for a replacement for Mark O’Connor who injured his hip against Adelaide.

Also showing promise was James Parsons and Sam Simpson. The pair kept busy, collecting 18 and 14 disposals respectively, as they continue to push for selection in the AFL side.

Geelong will continue to work hard as they come up against the well-rested Northern Blues in round two of the VFL 2019 season.

Richmond’s AFL side has been cursed with injuries this season, leaving the door wide open for many VFL players to inch themselves closer to senior selection.

After falling short in the third term, Richmond kicked into high gear and storm past Geelong, kicking six goals in the final term to earn themselves a spot at the winner’s table.

Premiership player Josh Caddy returned from an ankle injury to play his first game for the season. Despite only playing three quarters, Caddy’s experience and class saw him finish with 17 disposals as he continues to work through his injury.

Youngster Callum Coleman-Jones fought hard in an impressive game that saw him kick two goals and earn a spot in the best.

Other notable mentions include draftee Jack Ross who finished with 21 disposals and small forward Shai Bolton who continues to be consistent, impressing once again with 22 disposals, eight marks and six tackles.

In round two of the VFL competition, Richmond will host Port Melbourne in the hopes of securing their second win.

Box Hill Hawks 15.14 (104) def. Casey Demons 4.18 (42)

Leading at every break, Box Hill held Casey to only four goals for the match. The Hawks have begun their premiership defending campaign with a massive 62-point victory over the weekend. The match saw seven debutants from Box Hill, all playing key roles in the win over Casey Demons.

The Hawks controlled the inside contest, allowing them to move the ball quickly and efficiently. Jackson Ross and Mitch Lewis emerged as leading goalkickers, slotting a combined total of nine goals. Their efforts saw them rightfully earn spots amongst the Hawks’ best.

Working diligently around stoppages, ruckman Marc Pittonet remained solid with 44 hit-outs whilst new recruit Harry Jones played a pivotal role in the midfield. Brayden Kilpatrick was the leading ball-getter for the Hawks, collecting 23 disposals and two goals.

Box Hill will continue their premiership defending campaign against Sandringham this Sunday at Marvel Stadium as the curtain raiser for St Kilda and Hawthorn.

Casey’s inaccurate kicking ultimately led to their 62-point loss to Box Hill Hawks. Despite recording 22 scoring shots, the Demons finished with four goals and 18 behinds. Debutant Kade Chandler kicked half of his side’s goals, finishing an impressive first game with 17 disposals.

“Young Chandler did well as a first-year player and as a forward, especially getting not very good service” Coach Jade Rawlings told Melbourne Media.

Corey Maynard was a diamond in the rough over the weekend. Hard at the ball, Maynard recorded a game-high 27 disposals, putting his name into the mix for senior selection. Maynard has played one game in each of the 2017 and 2018 AFL Premiership seasons for Demons.

Casey Demons will look to improve on their goal kicking efficiency and ability to stay composed under pressure as they face the also winless North Melbourne this Saturday.

Werribee 14.14 (98) def. North Melbourne 8.11 (59)

Despite having 12 AFL-listed players on their side, North Melbourne was unable to match the pressure presented by Werribee as they suffer a 39-point loss. Whilst they led early, North was unable to sustain their 25-point lead after the first term.

Small forward Nathan Hrovat produced a strong audition for selection in the senior side. Setting the tone for the night, Hrovat was dominant in the first quarter and finished with 26 disposals, goal and best on ground performance.

Forward duo Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar were strong down forward, with Larkey making most of the limited opportunity, securing three goals whilst Zurhaar finished with 19 disposals.

Jed Anderson only played three quarters as he returned from a hamstring injury. An impressive comeback saw Anderson lay eight tackles and 11 disposals.

Looking to redeem themselves in round two, North Melbourne will travel to Casey Fields as they face Casey who is also after their first win of the 2019 VFL season.

Footscray 16.12 (108) def. Sandringham 9.11 (65)

As Sandringham trailed at every break, Footscray ran circles around the Zebras, ending the match with a 43-point victory. A sizable breeze helped Footscray take the lead early, and whilst the Zebras fought hard they were unable to keep up.

After being sidelined with a neck injury for the past seven months, midfielder Lukas Webb made his return. Webb’s first game back saw him gather 24 disposals and a goal in what was an outstanding return.

A change in position saw forward Pat Lipinski move into the midfield for the clash against Sandringham. This move proved effective as Lipinski found himself leading the disposal count with 26 whilst also laying eight tackles, placing him in Footscray’s best.

Bailey Williams dominated in defence, remaining solid as he collected 19 disposals and seven marks, putting a halt to Sandringham’s early forward pressure.

Footscray will take on Collingwood this week at Olympic Park ahead of the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood match at the MCG.

Despite being presented with many chances, Sandringham was unable to convert their scoring opportunities to the scoreboard, ultimately leading to their defeat.

Saints veteran David Armitage, who has not yet appeared in the senior side for 2019, had a best on ground performance on Friday night. Finishing with 20 disposals and 10 tackles, Armitage puts his name in the frame for contention this week.

Young duo Ben Long and Ed Phillips put on an impressive performance despite losing, both finishing with 17 disposals and a goal.

Sandringham will open for the St Kilda and Hawthorn AFL match at Marvel stadium. The Zebras will take on Box Hill Hawks this Sunday.

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