10 Lessons From One-Third of the 2019 AFL Season

IT’S crazy to think that a third of the AFL season is already behind us. With 72 games in the books, we have already been treated to some crazy results and some fantastic matches. While there is still a ton of footy left to be played, these 10 takeaways stand out from the first big portion of the season.

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Stuart Dew is pointing the Gold Coast Suns in the right direction
IN the preseason I wrote a piece highlighting a few bold predictions, one of which was that the Gold Coast Suns would win more games in 2019 than they did in 2018. After their depth took a severe hit over the summer Stuart Dew was left with a monumental task to try and steer the side back to relevance. Through the early portion of the season, not only have they claimed three wins already, but they have learnt the respect of their peers and the AFL community with their efforts through the first chunk of the season. Not all hope is lost.

Harry McKay CAN play
IT’S no secret to state that Carlton has had severe goal kicking issues in recent times. It has been a glaring issue that has led to the Blues winning just 16 games in 58 tries since Harry McKay was drafted in 2015. Since then, McKay has slowly developed his game, taking his talents to new heights this season as Carlton reinvigorates their forward line. His leap in production can be highlighted by his 20-disposal game against the Bulldogs when he registered seven shots on goal. It’s no coincidence that in that game the Blues kicked for the first time in 1051 days.

Melbourne is falling to pieces
IN the same bold prediction piece I mentioned earlier I estimated the Melbourne Demons would be premiers in 2019. Whoops. I’ll be honest it’s a prediction that may not have even been viewed as bold, with the Dees a popular pick in the eyes of many. Some injuries to key personnel and their offense is killing them, going from being the best scoring team in the comp (104.5 points per game) to the second-worst behind the Suns (69.5 points per game). Things may already be broken beyond repair, but Melbourne needs to find a way to solve their issues if they want to make anything out of this season.

And Richmond isn’t far behind
IF you take away any club’s best four players, chances are they’re going to struggle. Alex Rance, Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt to injuries/suspensions at times this season has derailed the Tiger Army and yet, they’re still clinging to hope. Last year’s minor premiers are in solid stead, but they face a testing five weeks before their bye highlighted by games against Hawthorn, Geelong and Adelaide (in Adelaide). I’m not about to declare Richmond in trouble, but if they manage 2-3 split heading into their Round 14 week off and you’ll be hearing from a lot of naysayers.

A 100-goal season is still an achievable feat
BEFORE Round 8, Jeremy Cameron had kicked 30 goals from just seven games, including a streak of at least three in every contest. Despite kicking 0.4 against Hawthorn on the weekend, Cameron still sits atop the Coleman Medal race, nine goals clear of his next closest opponent in Ben Brown. His average took a hit following his rough outing and if he maintains his 3.75 goals a game he’ll top 80 for the season. However, there’s every chance he keeps bagging 6-7 goals in a few matches and can vault into the 90’s and sniff a 100 for the season.

Jeremy Cameron

West Coast’s premiership defense is under the pump
THINGS are far from over for the Eagles, but through eight games they look like a shadow of their premiership selves. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly where things are going wrong for Adam Simpson’s men right now with teams approaching every week hungry to take down the reigning champions. The fact that West Coast is struggling to put their best product on the park and they still sit 7th on the ladder at 5-3 is a good sign though and I have faith they’ll find their mojo as their schedule becomes a touch easier.

Let’s not engrave Sam Walsh’s name on the Rising Star Award just yet
WHILE Walsh’s start to the season has been breathtaking, don’t go handing him any silverware just yet. We expected this rookie class to be special and there are a few youngsters out there, embedded in the Rising Star Award conversation through one-third of the season. Names like Connor Rozee, Charlie Constable, Sydney Stack and Gryan Miers have all contributed early and a big month of footy could see them seriously change Walsh for the award.

Moving to the Lions was the right choice for Lachie Neale
IT came with plenty of speculation last off-season, but the early signs are showing Lachie Neale made the right decision. Escaping the WA footy bubble was behind Neale’s move across the country and the dual best and fairest winner at Fremantle has gathered more disposals to start the season than any other player in the league. Currently averaging a career-high 20.6 handballs per game, Neale is doing the dirty work inside the trenches for Brisbane and has become an integral part of their early success this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes a club captain at the Lions before it’s all said and done.

lachie nealeImage from wwos.nine.com.au

Travis Boak is an All-Australian shoe in
TRAVIS Boak looks set to smash his personal record for average disposals this season, with the Port stud chalking up 32.0 of them a game through eight matches. His move back into the midfield has been a blessing for the Power and AFL Fantasy coaches alike, with Boak gathering steam as a potential All-Australian member this season. There’s still a long way to go, and I doubt he’ll maintain an average of 32 touches per outing. that being said, if Tom Rockliff doesn’t steal away too many of his possessions, Boak should be in the best-22 for 2019 when the season concludes.

The competition is more wide open than ever
REMEMBER when after five rounds of footy Fremantle and St Kilda were sitting in the top 3? Or how Gold Coast Suns had more wins than Adelaide and Melbourne? 2019 has thrown us plenty of curveballs in the early innings and there is still plenty of uncertainty around who is a contender and who is just making up numbers. In the last three Grand Finals we have had six different teams compete, illustrating just how close the race for a flag has been in recent times. We could be in for something similar this year and the next month of footy will be very telling indeed.

Peace ✌

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