MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 03: James Harmes of the Demons is tackled by Noah Balta of the Tigers during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at Deakin Reserve on March 03, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Footy was back in earnest over the weekend, and although the results should be taken with a mountain of salt, the opening acts of a number of potentially season-defining stories were written.

As always, the first games of the JLT Community Series gave us our first look at new rules, new faces in new jumpers, positional changes and new draftees.

Here are the major takeaways from the weekend’s action:

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1. New rules have an immediate impact

The opening round of the JLT Community Series was the first opportunity for players, coaches, umpires and fans alike to evaluate the impact of rules changes in formal games. Despite something of a debacle in the West Coast vs Geelong game in which it took almost a full minute to reset positions after a free kick was paid in the middle of the ground for a positional zone infringement, the feedback from players and coaches was largely positive.

What was most noticeable to fans watching on television was the amount of space in the centre square immediately after a centre bounce, which allowed midfielders to generate damaging clearances via run-and-carry followed by a penetrating kick to one-on-one contests inside 50. Also prevalent was the instance of players using the extra room afforded to them when kicking in after a behind to gain extra metres before roosting the ball downfield, which prevented play from being bogged down inside defensive 50.

Of course, coaches will adjust to the new environment and implement more preventative mechanisms as the season goes on, but it appears that for now at least, the new rules are having the desired effects on the look of the game.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 28: the umpire warns Patrick Cripps of the Blues for breaking the 6-6-6 rule during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Essendon Bombers at Ikon Park on February 28, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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