Published on April 12, 2018 8:24 pm

VFL preview – Round 2

Peter Jackson VFL Round 2 features the first two games to be played at the redeveloped Avalon Airport Oval, including our game of the week – Werribee hosting the Casey Demons under lights on Saturday night.


WERRIBEE vs CASEY DEMONS – Saturday 7pm @ Avalon Airport Oval


2017 Rd 19 @ Casey Fields: Casey Demons 11.15 (81) d Werribee 9.12 (66)



Werribee began life as a newly-standalone VFL club with a heart-breaking last-gasp loss by four points to Geelong in Torquay two weeks ago. Casey started its season by putting up 28 goals against Coburg in a 107-point win at Piranha Park.



Can Werribee’s midfield blunt the influence of Casey’s fleet of ball-winners? The Demons dominated Coburg in the contests in Round 1 as the likes of Angus Brayshaw, Corey Maynard and Mitch Hannan ran riot over the Lions to set up an avalanche of scoring opportunities for their forwards.

Will the Demons be able to keep Werribee intercept specialist Sam Collins accountable? Collins was close to impassable in defence against Geelong in Round 1, racking up 27 disposals, 14 marks (seven contested) and seven rebound-50s. Casey’s taller forwards Cam Pedersen, Sam Weideman and Tim Smith will need to be on guard.



Werribee senior coach John Lamont on the lessons learned from the Round 1 loss to Geelong:

“We created scoring opportunities early but just didn’t take them, and we also weren’t able to defend Geelong well enough when they got off to a flyer. We clawed our way back into the game but made a series of errors in those final five minutes and Geelong capitalised (with two late goals). Our take-aways are that we need to start better and hold our nerve when the pressure’s on. We had eight club debutants though, and we’ll be looking for more cohesion as the season unfolds.”

On the impact of off-season recruit and ex-Fremantle defender Sam Collins:

“Sam’s at an age now (23) where he has relevant football experience and understands the value of leading younger players. He’s played well in the practice matches and in Round 1, but he’s also provided good support for our players on the training track. We’re trying to work on a team defence and Sam will play his natural game – with his ability to take contested marks – within our set-up.”

On which other players will be important to Werribee’s chances on Saturday night:

“Ryley Barrack didn’t play in Round 1 and hopefully he can work in well with the other defenders. It all starts in the midfield though, so the likes of Matt Hanson, Tom Gribble and Ben Moloney will be really important against a Casey midfield that was super impressive against Coburg last week.”

On one of the keys to victory against Casey:

“It’s about pressure around the ball. Geelong had a number of easy take-aways from stoppages against us (in Round 1), so we have to make sure we win our share of clearances but also that Casey isn’t just waltzing out of the contest when they win the ball.”

FOOTSCRAY vs COBURG – Saturday 12pm @ VU Whitten Oval


2017 Rd 14 @ VU Whitten Oval: Footscray 18.9 (117) d Coburg 8.9 (57)



Footscray suffered a 21-point defeat to Sandringham that was only sealed late in the game at Trevor Barker Beach Oval last week. Coburg were outclassed by the Casey Demons to the tune of 107 points at Piranha Park in Round 1.



Can the Bulldogs rectify their contested-ball woes from Round 1? Footscray was handsomely beaten in the contests by the Zebras last week, with 2017 Western Bulldogs draftee Callum Porter the team’s leading clearance winner. VFL-listed hard-nuts like Will Hayes and Liam Nash will have to step up in order to change things.

How will a young Coburg list respond to a big defeat? With Peter McEvoy and Luke Bunker out for the early parts of the season through injury, Lions captain Tom Goodwin and fellow experienced players like Ben Allan, Liam Hunt and Nick Mellington will need to help their younger teammates move past their loss to the Casey Demons.

COLLINGWOOD vs PORT MELBOURNE – Saturday 12.30pm @ Olympic Park Oval


2017 Rd 19 @ Olympic Park Oval: Port Melbourne 9.11 (65) d Collingwood 8.11 (59)



Collingwood was dominant from start to finish in a 130-point defeat of the Northern Blues at Preston City Oval in Round 1. Port Melbourne’s premiership defence got off to a rocky start with a 55-point loss to Richmond at the Swinburne Centre last week.



How long will Collingwood have access to gun AFL-listed players? Magpies with plenty of AFL experience helped the VFL team boot its highest-ever score last week, including those on the way back from injury like Jamie Elliott (five goals) and Alex Fasolo (three), as well as Jordan De Goey (four) and Chris Mayne (two).

Who’s putting their hand up to replace Port Melbourne’s departed stars? The Borough looked to be sorely missing names like Pinwill, Cain and Dwyer when Richmond built a 40-point lead by quarter time last week, but impressive developing players Ash Krakauer, Harvey Hooper and Daniel Beddison will have learnt plenty from the defeat. The club will aim to salute in coach Gary Ayre’s 700th as a player or coach in football.

FRANKSTON vs BOX HILL HAWKS – Saturday 2pm @ SkyBus Stadium


2016 Rd 4 @ Box Hill City Oval: Box Hill Hawks 14.14 (98) d Frankston 5.9 (39)



Frankston was highly competitive until half time against Essendon at SkyBus Stadium last week before ultimately losing by 102 points. Box Hill recovered from a sluggish first half to overrun Williamstown by 37 points at Williamstown Football Ground in Round 1.



Can Frankston’s young players learn to run out games? An inexperienced Dolphins list will have its problems performing over the full four quarters of games – evident against the Bombers last week – but the lessons from players with AFL conditioning like Lewis Pierce and Will Fordham should prove valuable as the season progresses.

Can Box Hill’s young brigade take the team back to the pinnacle this year? The Hawks fell just short of last year’s grand final following a rare poor season in 2016 but a host of young talent looks like continuing the club’s regeneration in 2018, with Hawthorn-listers James Cousins, Mitch Lewis and Dylan Moore starring against Williamstown last week.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs ESSENDON – Saturday 2pm @ Williamstown Football Ground


2017 Rd 10 @ Windy Hill: Essendon 15.7 (97) d Williamstown 12.10 (82)



Williamstown started its season with a loss to the Box Hill Hawks by 37 points at Williamstown Football Ground. Essendon accelerated away from Frankston in the second half to win by 102 points at SkyBus Stadium last week.



Can Williamstown rediscover its contested-ball-winning ability? The Seagulls struggled to control the contests in their usual fashion against Box Hill last week, with Michael Gibbons and Willie Wheeler kept unusually quiet in the engine room. New captain Adam Marcon and ruckman Nick Meese will need extra help this week.

Can the Bombers continue their form in the contests from Round 1? If Williamstown’s midfield is off their game, Essendon has a wealth of ball-winners who could prove game-breakers if Round 1 is any indication: Dylan Clarke, Matt Guelfi, Nick Hind and Jayden Laverde all had five clearances against Frankston.

GEELONG vs SANDRINGHAM – Sunday 1pm @ GMHBA Stadium


2017 Rd 14 @ GMHBA Stadium: Sandringham 16.17 (113) d Geelong 13.8 (86)



Geelong snatched a memorable four-point victory with two late goals against Werribee in Torquay two weeks ago. Sandringham got the best of Footscray in the last quarter of their Round 1 clash, winning by 21 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.



Will Geelong have too many taller forwards for the Zebras to handle? The Cats will likely boast Aaron Black, Wylie Buzza and Stewart Crameri inside 50, while ruckman Zac Smith could also float through. Their height leaves quite a task for inexperienced Sandringham defenders like Logan Austin, Oscar Clavarino and Hugh Goddard.

Can the Cats handle Sandringham’s tackling pressure? The Zebras have some of the competition’s best tacklers in their team, including Kade Answerth (16 tackles against Footscray last week), Jack Steele (11), Jack Lonie (11) and Dylan Weickhardt (nine). Geelong’s runners will need composure with the ball to withstand the pressure.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs NORTHERN BLUES – Sunday 1pm @ Avalon Airport Oval


Never played



North Melbourne scored wins over Williamstown, Coburg and Collingwood in its practice matches before losing to an AFL Academy team at the MCG last week. Northern suffered a 130-point defeat at the hands of Collingwood at Preston City Oval in Round 1.



What style of football will senior coach David Loader’s North Melbourne team play? The Kangaroos enter their own team in the VFL for the first time in 2018 and Loader recently said his group would “hopefully play an exciting brand of football”. The club has recruited the likes of ex-Brisbane AFL forward Michael Close and North Ballarat’s 2015 JJ Liston Trophy winner Nick Rippon in an effort to do so.

Can the Blues stop the opposition’s efficiency once inside 50 this week? Northern’s defence leaked a goal from just over half the occasions Collingwood went inside its 50m arc last week (31 goals from 60 entries) and a score over three quarters of the time (46 scoring shots from 60 entries) – both extremely high efficiency numbers for the Magpies.


* ROUND 2 BYE – Richmond

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