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  • Rikki Lambert

AFL sides tune up before round 1

Footy fans were thrilled to be able to attend en masse to see their heroes again

St Kilda has held off a wayward Essendon by 11 points at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night in the AAMI community series 12.10 to 9.17 as the Power, Tigers, Lions and Blues emerged victors in their final hit-outs before the AFL season begins on 16 March.

The Saints' Hunter Clark will miss round 1, though, after sustaining a shoulder injury in the match whilst Jack Billings is in doubt with a hamstring strain.

Sunday's matches saw the GWS Giants trounce visitors Collingwood in a double-header followed by the Swans playing North Melbourne.

The Giants were never headed in the match, running out 15.10 (100) to 8.11 (59) winners boosted by a big performance by Josh Kelly, who collected 41 possessions - 23 in the first half - as well as eight clearances. 2021 Number 4 draft pick and son of legend Peter Daicos, Nick Daicos was a shining light for the Pies claiming 31 possessions.

The Dockers and Eagles play a western derby at Optus Stadium with fans barred due to COVID-19 restrictions. On Monday a soggy Gold Coast Suns will be hoping for some sunshine as they host Geelong at Metricon Stadium.

Also on Saturday, Richmond was never challenged in their 14.10 (94) to 9.15 (69) win over Hawthorn before a sold-out 8,412 strong Devonport Oval.

Jayden Short had 31 disposals for the Tigers, Liam Baker 26 and 2 goals and Trent Cotchin 26 whilst for the Hawks, NAB draft #7 pick Josh Ward starred with 29 touches, Conor Nash 24 and Tom Phillips 22.

At Richmond Oval in inner western Adelaide, Port Adelaide kicked away after halftime from the Adelaide Crows 17.9 (111) to 11.8 (74).

The Power kicked 13.4 to 6.4 after halftime despite losing the contested possessions count 156-147, the Crows' disposal less efficient and Port dominating with 281 uncontested possessions for an overall 435-336 balance in their favour. Ollie Wines was irrepressible for Port Adelaide, with 37 disposals, Mitch Georgiades kicked 4 goals, Zak Butters collected 32 possessions and 1 goal, Riley Bonner 31 and Ryan Burton 30. Number 6 draft pick Josh Rachele continues to impress in his Crows debut, scoring 3 goals from his 12 touches whilst Matt Crouch's steady comeback yielded 31 touches, Rory Sloane 28. The Crows woes were compounded by Rory Laird emerging with a suspected broken hand that will rule him out of round 1 action. By contrast, hamstring concerns for Power talisman Robbie Gray look insufficient to keep him out of Saturday 19 March's big clash at the 'Gabba against the Lions.

The Brisbane Lions' strong pre-season form continued, defeating the Western Bulldogs 12.14 (86) to 11.14 (80) on Friday night. The Bulldogs led by 2 points at quarter-time but Brisbane's four unanswered second-half goals opened up a margin that proved too hard to recover from for the tri-colours. Jack Macrae (33 disposals), Adam Treloar (29, 2 goals) and Marcus Bontempelli (22) starred for the Dogs while Lachie Neale (30, 1 .1) and Charlie Cameron (20, 2.1) led the way for the Lions. Brisbane emerged with injury concerns with Darcy Gardiner ruled out pre-match with a quadriceps strain and Coleman, Irishman James Madden and Robertson leaving the field during the match with injury concerns. The Bulldogs' Alex Keath will be watched after sustaining a knock to his shin in the first half.

On Thursday night, Carlton hung on against fast-finishing reigning premiers Melbourne by 5 points, 15.8 (98) to 14.9 (93). The Demons kicked 5.2 to 1.5 in the final quarter but were unable to restore the lead they lost mid-way through the first quarter. Bayley Fritsch kicked 5.2 and Tom McDonald 2, whilst for Melbourne while Carlton's Patrick Cripps collected 30 disposals and 4 goals, supported by Matthew Kennedy with 37 disposals and 2 goals.


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