24/05/2024

Collingwood were back to business in week two of the practice games. Winning a six-point thriller over the Hawks. (Image: Collingwood/Twitter)

All 18 clubs were back in action over the weekend as we got our first taste of round-by-round footy for 2023. We saw our usual shock pre-season results, as well as some flag contenders strengthen their case, but what can we take out of the final rehearsal?

Stats were back this weekend which was a welcome relief for the hardcore fans, and The Inner Sanctum has once again compiled all the key information in one place. Including the key performers, notable omissions and who’s a chance for a round one debut.

Here is The Inner Sanctum’s 2023 Practice match analysis, including who’s at the Centre Bounce, taking Kick-in’s and who missed out for your club:

Hawthorn 14.16 (100) def by Collingwood 15.16 (106)

New season, same Collingwood.

The Pies managed to pull of another close win, this time against the Hawks. After a strong start, Collingwood couldn’t seem to break away from the young Hawthorn outfit, who had a spirited showing following last week’s demolition by Geelong.

Cam Mackenzie was outstanding for the Hawks and looks locked into their round one team. Jai Newcombe was strong inside the contest again, leading the way for the Hawks’ young midfield. Fergus Greene kicked three and could be a bolter for an early season debut as well.

Josh Daicos seems to have taken another step with a classy performance on the wing, Taylor Adams kicked two goals to be one of the best afield for the Pies. They lost Patrick Lipinski to a dislocated shoulder which will leave a spot for likely Reef McInnes or Beau McCreery in round one.

Total Centre Bounces – 31

Hawthorn

77.4% – Jai Newcombe

61.3% – Cam Mackenzie

58.1% – James Worpel

51.6% – Will Day

29% – Josh Ward

12.9% – Connor MacDonald

9.7% – Conor Nash

Very similar to last week, Newcombe leading the way with Worpel in behind. Mackenzie’s burst of CBAs look promising for his chances at round one. Will Day had plenty of time in the middle again but couldn’t quite replicate his performance from last week.  Ward and Nash looked good as the minor rotations

Collingwood

64.5% – Jack Crisp

64.5% – Jordan De Goey

61.3% – Tom Mitchell

51.6% – Scott Pendlebury

35.5% – Taylor Adams

6.5% – Nick Daicos

6.5% – Josh Daicos

6.5% – Patrick Lipinski

If there’s anything you can take out of Collingwood’s two practice games, it’s that you can’t pick their rotation. Although it looks more settled, it was confirmed during the week that they’ll plan to have a large pot of names running through.

Mitchell had a much better game with almost double his time in the middle, proving once again where he should be played. De Goey worked hard for his game-high 31 disposals, Nick Daicos struggled with a tag for most of the game.

Kick ins (play on percentage)

Hawthorn

6 – Lachlan Bramble (50%)

5 – James Sicily (80%)

4 – Blake Hardwick (75%)

1 – Jarman Impey (100%)

Collingwood

6 – Darcy Moore (83.3%)

3 – John Noble (100%)

3 – Nick Daicos (100%)

2 – Jeremy Howe (100%)

1 – Billy Frampton (100%)

Fremantle, 13.14 (92) def Port Adelaide, 8.13 (61)

Old wounds re-opened

Port Adelaide struggled to get goals on the board despite dominating the inside 50 count. They generated 58 forward 50 entries for the game for 22 shots on goal.

Miles Bergman had a fantastic outing off the half-back line, kickstarting a lot of the Power’s counter-attack and ball movement. Connor Rozee was the other man to fly the flag for Port, last year’s All-Australian looks prime for another strong season.

Francis Evans capitalised on the absence of Junior Rioli, putting pressure on the Powers’ selectors for round one. While forgotten man Sam Sturt kicked two for Fremantle to raise his hand for the opening game against St Kilda.

The Dockers’ midfield was nothing short of phenomenal, a well-rounded stoppage machine with the ability to run out a full game. Nat Fyfe kicked another three goals and is finding some dangerous consistency after well-documented goal-kicking struggles.

Ethan Hughes was stuck in the backline, missing out on the wing spot he’d trained for. Hayden Young had another quiet performance, lacking the game-breaking kicks we’d expected this season.

Total Centre bounces – 25

Fremantle

80% – Jaeger O’Meara

80% – Caleb Serong

76% – Andrew Brayshaw

64% – Will Brodie

Fremantle are set to have an extremely settled midfield mix this season. No input from Aish this week who was running as a defensive mid last week. Expect to see these four win plenty of the ball this season, and a large portion of Fremantle possessions.

Brayshaw and Brodie were exceptional, picking up 36 disposals each despite having the lowest midfield time, utilising their incredible work rate. Will Brodie’s fitness issues seem to be a thing of the past.

Port Adelaide

80% – Connor Rozee

64% – Jason Horne-Francis

60% – Ollie Wines

40% – Willem Drew

28% – Lachie Jones

24% – Zak Butters

4% – Sam Powell-Pepper

Zak Butters had 83 per cent game time and was still behind Lachie Jones (54 per cent time on ground) in the rotation. It could just be precautionary on his return or perhaps Horne-Francis’ addition has come at the cost of Butters’ midfield time.

Rozee had another strong game, filling the stat sheet and looking to get on the scoreboard. Horne-Francis found a lot of the ball but wasn’t super clean with his disposal. Travis Boak potentially to come back in round one.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

Fremantle

4 – Hayden Young (75%)

3 – Nathan Wilson (100%)

2 – Brennan Cox (100%)

2 – Jordan Clark (0%)

1 – Ethan Hughes (100%)

1 – Heath Chapman (0%)

Port Adelaide

6 – Dan Houston (66.7%)

6 – Ryan Burton (50%)

1 – Kane Farrell (100%)

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Brisbane 13.13 (91) def Geelong 6.9 (45)

They look scary

The Lions are shaping up to be a very, very strong force in 2023. Geelong’s results in pre-season games are well documented, but that shouldn’t take away the manner in which Brisbane dismantled them on Thursday night.

Josh Dunkley is the man, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he becomes the best player in the league if he moves this form into the season. Will Ashcroft reached out one hand for the rising star with a 26 disposal performance in the heart of Brisbane’s midfield.

Cam Rayner split his time between forward and back, having another quiet day out. Darcy Wilmot and Conor McKenna had alarmingly similar games as they battle for a round one spot with no clear standout. Jack Gunston was wasteful but still ended up with four shots on goal.

Tyson Stengle and Gryan Miers were both impressive for the Cats with the scoreline considered, both small forwards registered 20+ disposals and were integral to Geelong’s ball movement. Jeremy Cameron to come back in may limit their chances with his work up the ground.

Jhye Clark missed after a comfortable showing last week, may be asked to wait for his debut. Tanner Bruhn another strong performance, making a big claim to be in the week one side.

Total Centre Bounces – 23

Brisbane

82.6% – Josh Dunkley

78.3% – Lachie Neale

56.5% – Will Ashcroft

47.8% – Hugh McCluggage

30.4% – Zac Bailey

4.3% – James Tunstill

Assistant coach Jed Adcock said last week they were looking to have a small midfield rotation, and it looks to be pretty set. Berry has lost his rotation in favour of Ashcroft, who looked silky moving out the back of stoppages on Thursday night.

Dunkley showed exactly why Brisbane wanted him, with 31 disposals and seven tackles. While Neale comfortably went about his business, cruising to 31 and a goal.

Geelong

60.9% – Patrick Dangerfield

60.9% – Tom Atkins

47.8% – Brandon Parfitt

47.8% – Cameron Guthrie

47.8% – Tanner Bruhn

34.8% – Max Holmes

Matching the worry from last week, in a proper dress rehearsal, the experienced heads ran through the middle a lot more. Dangerfield eased to 20 touches from his 59 per cent game time, focusing on getting some run in the legs before the season.

Bruhn still made sure to find plenty of the footy, getting involved with seven tackles as well. Bowes missed out due to load management and is expected to be there round one.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

Brisbane

5 – Daniel Rich (100%)

2 – Conor McKenna (50%)

1 – Keidean Coleman (100%)

1 – Brandon Starcevich (100%)

Geelong

5 – Tom Stewart (100%)

3 – Zac Tuohy (100%)

3 – Cooper Whyte (66.7%)

1 – Zach Guthrie (100%)

1 – Mark O’Connor (100%)

St Kilda 10.7 (67) def Essendon 3.14 (32)

The elements won

Gale force winds at Moorabin were a huge factor as the Dons’ woeful kicking saw them slump to a five-goal defeat to the Saints.

Rowan Marshall hit his straps in his final start before round one, the Saints’ ruckman had 24 disposals to go along with 18 hitouts and a goal. Mason Wood was the star for St Kilda, finishing the day with 28 disposals and 15 marks.

Young stars Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Anthony Caminiti had impressive showings and will push for round one selection.

Jordan Ridley took advantage of the Saints’ poor delivery inside 50, having nine intercept possessions. Archie Perkins and Massimo D’Ambrosio continued their progression, combining for almost 700 metres gained.

Nic Martin was wasteful with his chances but can’t be blamed for Essendon’s 13.6 per cent goal accuracy on the day. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera led the Saints for metres gained with 572, and generated most of their drive out of the back half.

Total Centre Bounces – 17

St Kilda

88.2% – Jack Steele

82.4% – Brad Crouch

58.8% – Jack Bytel

41.2% – Hunter Clark

17.6% – Jack Sinclair

11.8% – Marcus Windhager

Windhager was out of the game early, opening the rotation of Sinclair and Clark to receive a boost in numbers. The 19-year-old broke his right hand and underwent surgery on Saturday, he’s still expected to play in round one.

Gresham found himself out of the mix, making way for Bytel. His defensive pressure at the contest helped the Saints control the coalface.

Essendon

70.6% – Dylan Shiel

64.7% – Darcy Parish

58.8% – Zac Merrett

47% – Archie Perkins

47% – Will Setterfield

11.8% – Jye Caldwell

Parish struggled on Saturday, finishing with 10 disposals on a tough day at Moorabin. McGrath led from the back with 10 marks and almost 600 metres gained. Setterfield earnt himself 25 possessions in another good showing.

Alwyn Davey Jr and Jye Menzie had six score involvements between them and worked tirelessly to create chances in a struggling forward line. Caldwell was helped from the field with an ankle problem and was sent for scans.

Kick ins (Play on Percentage)

St Kilda

7 – Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (71%)

6 – Jack Sinclair (100%)

1 – Dougal Howard (0%)

Essendon

2 – Jordan Ridley (100%)

2 – Mason Redman (100%)

1 – Andrew McGrath (100%)

1 – Jake Kelly (100%)

1 – Brandon Zerk-Thatcher (100%)

Sydney 15.7 (97) def Carlton 7.12 (54)

Caught off guard

The Swans relentlessly attacked the contest from the first bounce, beating Carlton at their own game to help themselves to a six-goal lead at the quarter-time break. The Blues hit back in the second but couldn’t pull back the margin.

Errol Gulden had one of the all-time great performances, finishing with 45 disposals and three goals on a historic night in Blacktown. He kicked both the opening and closing goals of the game, and worked tirelessly to find space around the ground.

Chad Warner looked more like himself, earning almost 400 metres gained from his 25 possessions. Nick Blakey made an instant impact in his return, creating the drive off half back with 650 metres gained.

Carlton rookie Alex Cincotta had six intercepts and looked incredibly comfortable moving the ball out of the back half. Meanwhile, Ollie Hollands had another strong performance on the wing opposite Blake Acres.

Kennedy stood up in the absence of Cripps, working through the midfield and pushing forward to kick a goal. Sam Docherty was easily the Blues’ best player, finishing with 34 disposals and over 700 metres gained.

Total Centre Bounces – 26

Sydney

84.6% – Luke Parker

69.2% – Errol Gulden

65.4% – James Rowbottom

65.4% – Chad Warner

11.5% – Matt Roberts

3.8% – Isaac Heeney

Mills was out with a finger injury he picked up against Brisbane last week, he’s likely to maintain a 50 per cent CBA average through the year. It will likely see an even drop across the board, with Roberts unlikely to be in the side for the opening round.

Gulden had another week with 70 per cent midfield time, showing how high his ceiling can be with the opportunity. Parker played his usual game, recording 27 and a goal, working himself into the season well.

Carlton

69.2% – Matt Kennedy

69.2% – George Hewett

61.5% – Adam Cerra

50% – Paddy Dow

34.6% – Sam Docherty

7.7% – Jack Carroll

7.7% – Zac Fisher

The key names featured heavily, with Cripps’ numbers being shared around a few of the younger players. Dow is likely to miss, with the return of Walsh in the early rounds leaving the Blues with a 5-6 man rotation.

Hewett dominated in Cripps’ absence, finishing with 13 tackles in just 76 per cent game time. Docherty returned to the middle after half-time for the second week in a row to help himself to 34 touches.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

Sydney

4 – Nick Blakey (100%)

4 – Jake Lloyd (100%)

2 – Oliver Florent (50%)

1 – Braeden Campbell (100%)

1 – Paddy McCartin (100%)

Carlton

3 – Sam Docherty (100%)

3 – Adam Saad (66.7%)

1 – Adam Cerra (100%)

West Coast 7.10 (52) def by Adelaide 17.9 (111)

Outran, outplayed, outclassed

Adelaide had no issues disposing of West Coast on Friday night, they were barely hampered on their way to a 10-goal victory at Mineral Resources Park. After a solid win last week, the Eagles worryingly resembles their 2022 form, looking slow around the ground and struggling to move the ball.

Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern were West Coast’s best, combining for 18 intercepts and 800 metres gained. They were heavily assisted by Adelaide’s 65 inside 50’s, taking 23 marks between them.

Elliot Yeo and Dom Sheed battled away in the midfield against a clinical Crows setup, both having at least 20 disposals. Rueben Ginbey was very impressive working through the midfield and the back flank, he led the Eagles for contested possessions in his first competitive game.

Rory Laird stuffed the stat sheet once again, 32 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals to round out his day. Reilly O’Brien had a great day in the ruck against the Eagles’ inexperienced rotation, finishing with 35 hitouts and 17 touches.

Darcy Fogarty and Taylor Walker combined for seven goals, Ben Keays kicked four to validate his move out of the middle. Max Michalanney didn’t set the world on fire but will be better for a taste of senior footy.

Total Centre Bounces – 28

West Coast

67.9% – Tim Kelly

60.7% – Dom Sheed

42.9% – Elliott Yeo

42.9% – Reuben Ginbey

39.2% – Xavier O’Neill

25% – Luke Shuey

10.7% – Campbell Chesser

10.7% – Elijah Hewett

Tim Kelly had a very quiet day despite his heavy midfield attendance, was outplayed by most of the other names to run through the centre. Getting a few more games under his belt could see Ginbey become a first choice midfielder.

Chesser switched between the backline and midfield withought having too much of an impact, while Hewett only played 31% game time.

Adelaide

71.4% – Rory Laird

60.7% – Sam Berry

32.1% – Josh Rachele

32.1% – Harry Schoenberg

28.6% – Jake Soligo

21.4% – Tyler Brown

21.4% – Ben Keays

17.9% – Matt Crouch

10.7% – Izak Rankine

3.6% – Rory Sloane

Another week with a long list of rotations for the crows, the names are almost identical to the game against the Dockers. Rachele and Crouch swapped roles, with the young star injected with a lot more freedom due to the result of the game.

Keays received a larger chunk, can’t be sure what his splits will be going into the season. Sam Berry found more of the ball than usual, but lacked the tackle pressure he usually produces in the middle.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

West Coast

5 – Shannon Hurn (80%)

2 – Jeremy McGovern (100%)

2 – Alex Witherdon (50%)

Adelaide

5 – Jordan Dawson (100%)

2 – Brodie Smith (100%)

2 – Tom Doedee (100%)

GWS 19.8 (122) def Gold Coast 12.5 (77)

Wave of orange

Kingsley has brought a clear Richmond influence into his time with GWS, their run and carry swept Gold Coast of their feet and clear difference in fitness levels helped them run away in the second half.

Admittedly, the Giants consistently rotated their bench and made use of the extended interchange, while the Suns stuck with a 22-man rotation early to emulate a game.

Tom Green was everywhere on Saturday, picking up another 34 disposals working in and around the contest. Finn Callaghan was the early candidate for best on ground before he rested in the second half.

Lachie Whitfield was back to his best at home on the back flank, working as a key piece in the running chains out of the defensive halves. His paring with Lachie Ash is a season-long plan that has a heavy focus on quickly moving the ball into the front half.

Sam Flanders had another standout performance with 30 disposals and seven marks. Charlie Constable is an almost certainty for round one after his showing at half back, leading the Suns in metres gained despite only having 19 touches.

Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson put up a good fight in the middle but clearly lacked having Miller alongside them. Both still impressed but didn’t look comfortable without the number one man.

Total Centre Bounces – 34

GWS

76.5% – Josh Kelly

73.5% – Tom Green

67.6% – Harry Perryman

61.8% – Stephen Coniglio

17.6% – Xavier O’Halloran

2.9% – Callan Ward

Callaghan will feature at the centre bounce this season, has been training as an inside mid. Aside from that, this will be the main setup for the Giants, Kingsley doesn’t want to waste time with rotations. Coniglio will see a boost when playing a full game.

Gold Coast

76.5% – Matt Rowell

61.8% – David Swallow

58.8% – Alex Davies

47.1% – Noah Anderson

29.4% – Brayden Fiorini (Only played second half)

17.6% – Sam Flanders

8.8% – Elijah Hollands

Miller to come back in, probably takes the chances away from Fiorini and Davies. Sam Flanders looked very comfortable rotating through and received high praises from Stuart Dew after the match.

Anderson only had 64 per cent game time, numbers will increase once the season rolls in.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

GWS

3 – Lachie Whitfield (100%)

1 – Isaac Cumming (100%)

1 – Lachie Ash (100%)

Gold Coast

4 – Ben Long (75%)

2 – Charlie Constable (100%)

1 – Darcy Macpherson (100%)

1 – Jy Farrar (100%)

Western Bulldogs 22.11 (143) def North Melbourne 13.7 (85)

Good Friday special

There were no problems for the Dogs as the dismantled Alastair Clarkson’s Kangaroos on Saturday afternoon. Opting to miss the competitive game last weekend clearly had no lasting issues as they looked fit and ready to go.

Tom Liberatore was phenomenal, racking up 33 disposals and two goals to go with his usual eight tackles. The Dogs shared possessions for fun, having six players get 27 or more.

Toby McLean had his role on the wing, but struggled to get into it early, found a bit of the ball late to finish with 15 touches. Tim English was solid in the ruck without setting the world on fire. While Liam Jones returned to the game with 13 intercept possessions and 11 marks.

Tom Powell and Harry Sheezel were standouts for North, both working hard forward and Powell getting a run through the centre, will feature heavily throughout 2023. Jy SImpkin was their best, finishing with 31 touches and a goal after missing last week against the Tigers.

Cunnington was back to business as usual, having 16 contested possessions as he worked through the contest. Will Phillips was around the ball, but struggled to beat the Dogs’ experienced line-up.

Total Centre Bounces – 39

Western Bulldogs

69.2% – Tom Liberatore

64.1% – Marcus Bontempelli

61.5% – Bailey Smith

59% – Jack Macrae

46.1% – Adam Treloar

The omission of Dunkley gives plenty of space to share the centre bounce, with the obvious flag of the pure volume of goals in this game giving a lot more room to rotate. Macrae still the fourth choice in the line-up.

Can’t imagine too many other names run through unless the game-situation asks for a certain player, Luke Beveridge should run with the big names for the vast majority of the season.

North Melbourne

87.2% – Luke Davies-Uniacke

69.2% – Ben Cunnington

61.5% – Will Phillips

48.7% – Jy Simpkin

23.1% – Tom Powell

10.3% – Cam Zurhaar

Exactly as flagged last week, Cunnington and Simpkin returned to even the spread. Zurhaar played 46 per cent game time before he was sat out with calf tightness. Clarkson looks to be developing the younger talent alongside the key midfield posts of the last few years.

Tom Powell was one of the Kangaroos best and should hopefully see a slight increase in his numbers to get him around the ball more.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

Western Bulldogs

4 – Caleb Daniel (75%)

2 – Bailey Dale (100%)

North Melbourne

5 – Luke McDonald (100%)

4 – Jack Ziebell (100%)

1 – Harry Sheezel (100%)

1 – Josh Goater (100%)

Melbourne 18.13 (121) def Richmond 10.11 (71)

Six-goal Grawndy

Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy silenced the doubters, combining for six goals in the first half on Saturday evening. The elite ruck pairing along with a star-studded midfield looms as one of the scariest prospects for 2023.

Christian Petracca had 32 touches and a goal in his final practice before the round one clash with the Bulldogs. His partner in crime Clayton Oliver had 31 as the pair dominated the contested possession count.

Kysaiah Pickett had four tackles inside forward 50, continuing to improve his pressure-based game after a strong 2022 season.

Liam Baker and Tim Taranto starred for the Tigers in the loss, both kicked a goal with Baker racking up 36 disposals out of the back half and Taranto having 33 working through the centre.

Thomson Dow made the most of his chance through the middle, putting together 15 touched to go with his goal, putting his hand up for round one.

Total Centre Bounces – 31

Melbourne

64.5% – Clayton Oliver

64.5% – James Harmes

48.4% – Christian Petracca

41.9% – Kysaiah Pickett

38.7% – Tom Sparrow

22.6% – Alex Neal-Bullen

12.9% – Angus Brayshaw

3.2% – Taj Woewodin

3.2% – Trent Rivers

Plenty of additions to last week’s rotation against the Saints, with Sparrow, Neal-Bullen and Brayshaw all having extended runs in the place of Jack Viney who missed this week. Expected Viney to return and take a lot of those rotations, with small impact roles likely to be used.

Oliver, Harmes, Petracca and Pickett did themselves no harm and will clearly be consistently used as switches in 2023.

Richmond

80.6% – Jacob Hopper

64.5% – Shai Bolton

64.5% – Tim Taranto

38.7% – Thomson Dow

35.5% – Trent Cotchin

12.9% – Dion Prestia

3.2% – Dustin Martin

Shai Bolton returned to the squad with an instant impact, showing clear development after a strong off-season. Prestia strained a pectoral muscle after only 22 per cent game time and will likely spend a while on the sidelines.

Jack Graham missed again, will likely push through the middle. Cotchin only came through the middle in the second half as the rotation got thin.

Kick ins (Play on percentage)

Melbourne

8 – Steven May (62.5%)

2 – Jake Bowey (50%)

Richmond

4 – Nick Vlaustin (100%)

3 – Liam Baker (100%)

2 – Nathan Broad (100%)

1 – Daniel Rioli (100%)

1 – Noah Balta (100%)

1 – Dylan Grimes (0%)

1 – Tylar Young (100%)

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