With the first fortnight of the AFL season done, some have surprised, some have faltered and some have continued on their merry way. Upsets, milestones, and surprising showings were on full display in an exciting round of football.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through round two, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding round two of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.
A is For Another out for West Coast: More bad luck struck the Eagles’ camp this round with a massive 13 changes made before the game on Sunday afternoon against the Kangaroos. This became an AFL record when it went up to 14 with Jackson Nelson suffering a knee injury just minutes before the opening siren of the game. This gave former Roo Declan Mountford his club debut as the club dipped further into their COVID contingency list of players, joining former Docker Stefan Giro, Angus Dewar, and Aaron Black as well as senior listed club debutants Callum Jamieson and Jack Williams.
Mountford had a memorable moment kicking a goal against his former side, and the severely undermanned Eagles were served well by all their debutants.
B is For Brain fade: Commentators, fans, and even teammates had to stop and ask: what was James Stewart thinking?
The Essendon defender watched on as Zac Bailey’s kick rolled through the goals in the third quarter in what proved to be a crucial moment for Brisbane. Just two goals up after going on a massive scoring run, the Lions were in danger of the Bombers wrestling back momentum before Stewart let the ball slip through his fingers and cross the line for a goal.
C is For Coniglio and Cotchin: Coming off difficult 2021 seasons for various reasons, Trent Cotchin and Stephen Coniglio are back doing what they do best: leading by actions and driving their teams forward. Both were amongst their team’s best players on this occasion, Coniglio with 23 possessions and two goals for GWS, and Cotchin instrumental in his team’s victory with 18 disposals of his own for Richmond.
D is For Danger signs: Last week’s collapse for Port Adelaide could be put down to several things, with Aliir Aliir, Trent McKenzie, and others suffering injuries. However, there was nothing to excuse Port’s poor performance against Hawthorn on Saturday night as it won nearly every statistic but was comprehensively smashed by 10 goals.
E is For Evacuation…. almost: On what was a wild and weird weekend of footy for so many reasons, perhaps the weirdest event occurred 30 seconds into the second quarter of the Collingwood versus Adelaide game when a fire alarm went off. Players were escorted to the centre of the ground and all patrons began evacuating the venue. Luckily for fans and players, it was quickly identified as a small fire in a food outlet in the Ponsford Stand, dealt with, and play resumed a few minutes later.
F is For Forward Entries…again: It’s been the theme at Alberton for years now, but it was more evident than ever on Saturday night – forward entries are Port’s biggest problem. Port’s consistent bombing into the forward 50 was easy picking for a dominant James Sicily, further emphasising its issues with dealing with a strong intercept marker. Harris Andrews and Jeremy McGovern have been others to benefit from Port’s poor entries.
G is For Goals to Max King: The stat sheet ticked over for Max King three times in succession in the third quarter just as it seemed like the game was getting away from the Saints. Having been well held with just two disposals to half-time, King’s three consecutive goals, alongside a fourth in the last, proved the difference in St Kilda opening its account in 2022.
H is For Hansen’s Blues on song: After the breakthrough Round 1 win last week to kick off Michael Voss’ second senior coaching stint on the perfect note, Voss was among several Carlton footy staffers and players to be caught up in a COVID cluster in the club, ruling him out of his second game and handing the reigns over to senior assistant Ashley Hansen to coach the team for the night.
Hansen’s Blues were right on song as he got his coaching career in the big chair, while on an interim basis, off to a winning start against the club he had previously spent nine years with as an assistant. There were plenty of reasons for Carlton fans to Mmmbop along too at Marvel Stadium, with the Blues continuing their fine start to the year.
I is For Inaccuracy: After their thumping round one victory against Essendon, Geelong had only itself to blame for its 30 point loss against Sydney. As they say – bad kicking is bad football and the Cats scored 17 behinds to the Swans five. The Cats had five more scoring shots but could not find the middle of the big sticks. The usually reliable Jeremy Cameron finished the game with three behinds: a reflection of Geelong’s inaccuracy.
J is For Jarrod Brander: Many watchers felt that Jarrod Brander was unlucky to be cut from West Coast last season and that he had more to offer the Eagles. With two solid performances in round one against Sydney with 10 possessions and a goal and the same statistics against Richmond, it will be interesting to see whether he makes the undermanned Eagles regret their decision throughout the season.
K is For Ben Keays: On a dark day for the Crows, Keays was everywhere. His 37 disposals matched his tally from round one. This week it consisted of 21 kicks and 16 handballs, as well as nine marks, two tackles, six score involvements, and three clearances. Keays has started the season superbly and is leading the inexperienced Crows outfit well.
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L is For Legend Lance: Against Geelong, Lance Franklin became only the sixth player in AFL history to kick 1,000 goals, and wild scenes erupted as fans ran onto the ground to celebrate the once-in-a-generation forward’s historic kick. He will one day become a legend of the AFL, but, presently, Buddy still has plenty left in the tank for his Sydney Swans who are now 2-0 after defeating the Cats.
M is For Mighty Mitch: As Hawthorn destroyed Port Adelaide on Saturday night, Mitch Lewis was leading the way with five majors. He looks like a new player under coach Sam Mitchell, oozing confidence as he easily accounted for Trent McKenzie.
N is For Next Level: In only two games this season, Isaac Heeney has been showing off his marking and goal-kicking prowess as well as his midfield dominance. Eight goals and a disposal average of 23 in two games suggest his six-year contract extension will reap plenty of match-winning performances.
O is For Ollie Henry: Ollie Henry kicked a super goal late in the game in round 1, earning a nomination for goal of the week, and this week’s goal was even better. Against the boundary line, Henry snapped it over his shoulder from 35 metres out and brought the house down. Henry finished with two goals and 13 disposals in the Pies’ win, helping them go 2-0 under Craig McRae.
P is For Prince Charles and Prince Harry: It was the small forwards and the midfield that got the job done on the scoreboard for Carlton last week against Richmond. This week, the bulk of the damage was done by the two key forwards who combined for nine of the Blues’ 16 goals in the win against the Bulldogs. Harry McKay set the game up with four first-half goals from 10 marks before Curnow re-announced himself as one of the most athletically gifted big men in the game, finishing with five goals, including Carlton’s last three of the game to seal the 12 point victory.
Q is For Quelling the goal-kicking demons: He’s turned himself into one of the most well-rounded wingers in the AFL, but for too long, Hugh McCluggage has suffered from the yips in front of goal. But on Saturday afternoon, for the first time since Round 20, 2018, the 24-year-old kicked three goals straight without a behind. It was also his first multiple-goal haul without a minor score since Round 11, 2020.
R is For Rioli in MRO trouble, again? Star small-forward Willie Rioli overturned a one-match ban to play against the Roos this round but he might miss next week after a tackle on Luke Davies-Uniacke led to Davies-Uniacke being subbed out of the match. Any suspension will be another setback for the Eagles, with Rioli having a great performance against the Kangaroos with four goals, 18 disposals, and four marks.
S is For Super souv-Larkey: Nick Larkey had a field day for the Kangaroos with a bag of six to stun the luckless Eagles. Taking advantage of the fact that he was playing on Eagles’ debutant Callum Jamieson, Larkey kicked two quick goals to give North Melbourne the early lead in the first quarter after the first of four goals for Willie Rioli. He finished with six goals accompanied by 16 disposals and seven marks, three of which were contested.
T is For Touk taking charge: Coming off the back of their first win of the season, Gold Coast was looking to keep up the momentum against reigning premiers Melbourne. Co-captain Touk Miller was at the heart of the game, leading the way with 38 disposals and six marks, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough, as the Suns went down by 13 points at Metricon.
U is For Un-dee-lievable: After last week’s solid start to the season, Christian Petracca proved once again why he’ll be a Brownlow contender, as the reigning Norm Smith medallist gathered a career-high 40 disposals, helping the Dees to a 2-0 start.
V is For Vulnerability: Pertinent to both, Greater Western Sydney and their inspirational leader Phil Davis, the Giants have lost their opening two games this year, as they did in 2021 when they made finals. Whether they can regroup as well as they did back then remains to be seen. As for Davis, he embarked on a long and fruitless chase of Noah Balta in the second term, and immediately after his final lunge raised his arm to the bench and clutched his hamstring. Here’s hoping it’s not the extended spell on the sidelines that it appears it could be.
W is For What syndesmosis injury? 38 days after surgery to repair his syndesmosis, Sam Walsh was back doing Sam Walsh things on a football field, wasting no time to get right back in amongst the prime movers in Carlton’s midfield. He collected 20 disposals in the first half, on the way to finishing with 34 disposals in his return game: only one behind Jack Macrae and Patrick Cripps who finished with 35 each.
X is For X marks the spot: Nathan O’Driscoll, the medical sub for Fremantle against St Kilda, didn’t waste time making an impact on debut, with a goal with his first kick in AFL. A brief pause and score review soon confirmed O’Driscoll’s place in the big time and kept Fremantle in the match late in proceedings.
Y is For Young guns: Melbourne’s youth played a pivotal role in getting their team over the line on Saturday night. After trailing by 15 points early on, Luke Jackson kicked two important goals, whilst Kysaiah Pickett produced a goal of the year contender late in the third quarter. Defender Jake Bowey had 34 disposals, as the Dees handed the Suns their first loss of the season.
Z Is For Zero chance of stopping Neale: After the Bombers looked to put their centre bounce woes behind them with a strong opening term out of the middle, Lachie Neale turned on his class. The 2020 Brownlow Medalist found space at nearly every contest, finishing with a whopping 41 disposals (22 contested), 12 clearances, nine inside the 50s, and nine score involvements. Two stunning goals were just the cherry on top of a clear three-vote game.
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