Fremantle and North Melbourne wrap up the opening round in Perth after the Giants made a mess of Essendon and St Kilda pipped Gold Coast by a point.
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Dockers v Kangaroos
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Giants dismantle worryingly poor Bombers
GWS has spanked a poor Essendon side by 72 points in their AFL clash, making it a wretched homecoming for a couple of former Giants.
Playing at the newly rebranded Giants Stadium on Sunday, GWS cruised to a 16.16 (112) to 5.10 (40) win in front of 15,424 fans, the largest non Sydney-derby regular season crowd at the venue.
It was a dark day for a Bombers side including former Giants Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel, who were booed by some of their old supporters, but that was the least of their problems.
The large contingent of Essendon supporters would have left disappointed by the lack of fight from their side following the optimistic pre-season expectations.
Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals, and Lachie Keefe and Stephen Coniglio three each, with the latter adding 31 possessions.
Keefe, who limped off the ground in the first quarter after landing awkwardly following a marking contest, returned in the second term with a heavily strapped left knee and thigh and equalled his best goal haul from eight years ago.
Tim Taranto logged two goals and 31 touches for a GWS side that won the contested possessions count 157-118 and were far more consistent with their pressure and ball movement.
The Bombers lacked presence up forward without Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker and kicked just two goals in the first half and three in the second.
GWS booted the first five goals to lead 35-4 early in the second quarter, before the Bombers landed successive majors to cut the gap to 20.
That was as close as they got, as GWS slammed on the next five goals either side of half-time to lead 73-19 .
The Giants piled on the first six goals of the final quarter to lead by as much as 85.
Shiel, Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis all collected 25 disposals and Smith 24 for Essendon, who had two more inside 50s in the first quarter, but trailed by 16 after logging just four behinds.
Giants youngster Harry Perryman didn’t return for the second half after taking a couple of big knocks in the second quarter.
Saints hold on for one-point win over Suns
St Kilda has rallied to record a one-point AFL victory over Gold Coast, holding off the Suns with a somewhat unconvincing performance.
The nailbiter was memorable for the mediocrity of both play and the pitch, with a late Jack Lonie behind proving the difference between the two sides.
St Kilda prevailed 13.7 (85) to 13.6 (84) in the battle of two teams tipped to struggle in 2019.
With just two minutes remaining after a see-sawing afternoon, Suns forward Peter Wright, in his 50th game, won a free kick in sight of goal with his team down by a solitary point.
Staggeringly, he chose to centre the ball rather than shoot for goal, ensuring the Saints would claim a tightest of victories.
St Kilda had more of the ball, more tackles and more inside-50s but were so error-plagued that they couldn’t find clean routes to goal.
Two of the last year’s worst sides combined with round one rustiness to almost comical effect.
Out-on-the-full efforts were almost as prevalent as goals in the first half, while the first 13 minutes of the third term produced just one point as teams struggled to gel.
Gold Coast was fielding seven new faces, St Kilda three, with both sides handing two players their AFL debuts.
The pick of the bunch was St Kilda’s Matt Parker, who kicked two first-half goals in a livewire display that drew comparisons to an early-career Dustin Martin.
The 22-year-old West Australian also put his first kick out of bounds and missed another second-quarter snap St Kilda legend and ABC commentator Nathan Burke described as the “biggest miss I’ve ever seen on this ground”.
Players weren’t helped by an atrocious Docklands Stadium surface at its worst just in front of the team benches.
The AFL-owned venue’s turf was so poor, the emergency umpire spent time walking on the ground to replace sandy divots.
An early 17-point lead to Gold Coast was as wide as the margin got all afternoon.
Two final quarter majors to Suns captain David Swallow looked to have tipped the contest in favour of his side before Dean Kent, in his first game for St Kilda, returned the Saints to the front.
Josh Bruce, who kicked three goals on his return to senior football after 11 months out of the game, took a terrific mark in defence to preserve St Kilda’s advantage.
Bruce, Jack Billings, Seb Ross and Jarrod Witts were among St Kilda’s best.
For Gold Coast, Brayden Fiorini had a game-high 30 possessions, Touk Miller had eight tackles and Alex Sexton kicked four goals.
Topics: sport, australian-football-league, st-kilda-3182, carrara-4211, homebush-2140, essendon-3040, fremantle-6160, north-melbourne-3051
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