With the AFL season now underway, state leagues around Australia are beginning to ramp up ahead of their season openers in the coming weeks.
With a number of senior players getting injured, suspended or dropping in form at most AFL clubs, here are some of the players pressing their claims for a spot in the senior side for round two.
Richmond 19.13.127 def. Northern Blues 11.7.73
Last year’s runner up Richmond continued their fine form with a dominant display, finishing 54-point victors against the Northern Bules. Draftee Jack Higgins continued his form in the pre-season with a solid outing, knocking on Hardwick’s door for a debut jumper in Adelaide.
He, along with Liam Baker, each kicked two goals in an electrifying display in the third term, adding to the depth the Tigers have in the small forward roles.
Mabior Chol looked lively, finishing with two majors and being plan B if the Tigers decide to take a second tall for Riewoldt and Nankervis against the Crows.
For the Northern Blues, midfield Nick Graham pressed his claim with a 26 disposal game, however will likely have to wait for his time in the Carlton jumper in 2018. Young draftees, Lochie O’Brien and Tom De Koning put together lively performances, proving their worth early in the Carlton season.
Collingwood 13.11.89 def. Box Hill Hawks 9.12.66
A restricted Daniel Wells looked lively in his first hit-out for the Magpies in season 2018. He was restricted to limited game time, sitting out the second half, but will likely play more again next week.
After a restricted 2017, Alex Fasolo looked lively up forward with two goals, and will probably be included in the Magpies’ squad to face GWS this weekend, likely to replace suspended tall forward, Mason Cox.
For the Hawks, second year forward Mitchell Lewis booted three majors, and could be an option against the Cats on Easter Monday. However, with a dominant display in round one, Clarkson will unlikely change anything, keeping the likes of James Worpel and Jono O’Rourke at bay in the VFL for another week.
Werribee 2.11.23 def by. Essendon 9.5.59
With the Bombers having clear advantages against the standalone Werribee side, they were able to run out 36 point winners.
After a comprehensive win over Adelaide, changes are unlikely to be made to their best 22. Matthew Leungberger was among Essendon’s best, but will need consistent form to fit into the Bombers’ 22 for the remainder of the season.
North Melbourne 15.11.101 def. Coburg 8.14.62
North Melbourne finally have a standalone club in the VFL, and they did not disappoint in their practice match against Coburg.
Nick Larkey performed strongly for the Kangaroos, while Ben McKay and Will Walker also pressed their claims for a birth in the senior side.
With the wet conditions in Cairns being a factor, the Roos may looked to add some height against the Saints for the Good Friday clash, with Majak Daw and Mason Wood being emergencies.
Sandringham 5.11.41 def by. Williamstown 12.18.90
The Sandringham Dragons were outclassed from start to finish against Williamstown, falling by 49 points.
St. Kilda players were impressive however, with unlucky midfielder, Luke Dunstan, pushing his claim for Alan Richardson to include against North on Good Friday.
Young half-back, Bailey Rice, was among the best for Sandy, collecting a team-high 24 disposals, while Dunstan, second year player Ed Phillips and young draftee, Nick Coffield, all impressed in a disappointing display for the Zebras.
Frankston 17.5.107 def. Port Melbourne 12.14.86
The return has arrived, and while it may only be a practice match, it is great to see Frankston back into the VFL competition. With no affiliations for either club, it will be interesting to see how they go throughout the season, with Port Melbourne being one of the contenders for the premiership this season.
Footscray 15.4.94 def by. Geelong 16.16.112
There will be at least one inclusion for this week’s game against the Eagles, with midfielder Tom Liberatore injuring his ACL in the 82-point demolition at the hands of the GWS Giants.
Luke Beveridge may also look to swing the axe in a statement, with the Dogs struggling to find their form of 2016. Key forwards Tom Boyd and Josh Schache could be an option, paving the way for Easton Wood to return to the defence and control the back six.
Midfielders, Lin Jong and Mitch Wallis will be hoping to fill that void left by Liberatore with strong displays, as well as Caleb Daniel who was an emergency for the Dogs in Canberra.
For Geelong, Dangerfield will be an automatic selection for Easter Monday against the Hawks, while Rhys Stanley also put in a strong performance, kicking four goals as he looks to return to the Cats’ lineup.