Hi everyone,

This week’s AFL Club Power Rankings can be found here.

Any comments, let me know.

Luke

Hey y’all,

Managed to catch Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Saturday, at iMax in Melbourne.  So much to like (and also a bit to dislike) – so let me get straight into it:

Likes:

  • Shia LaBeouf (‘Sam Witwicky’) – Say what you will about Shia, he is no Matt Damon in terms of acting chops (and Transformers is not exactly ‘Good Will Hunting’) – but Shia effortlessly gets the job done.  He has his detractors (many, in fact) but I can’t imagine the franchise without him these days. A good performance here by Shia. His parents on the other hand, we’ll come to them later.
  • Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (‘Carly’) – The new and improved Megan Fox? Yes! Apart from the obvious, there is a fair bit to like about Rosie.  In her first main acting gig, she held her own alongside Shia and Optimus. The comment I’m hearing most from people is how she was able to run around Chicago in heels. Apparently that would be difficult? Anyway, she was fine in this role – no obvious issues (remember, let’s keep everything in context – I realise Dark of the Moon is no potential Academy Award nominee!).
  • 3D – I watched Tramsformers: Dark of the Moon in glorious 3D at iMAx Melbourne. Needless to say, it was beautiful. I would never have thought, 20 years ago, that I’d be watching a modern day remake of Transformers on the “big screen” (let alone the third instalment in the current franchise).
  • Optimus Prime – Optimus is (surprisingly) both a like and dislike this time around – you’ll find out why a bit later on. How can you not like Optimus, anyway? Voiced brilliantly once again by Peter Cullen.
  • Sentinel Prime – A nice (seemingly temporary) addition to the Transformers franchise.  I mostly loved what they did with this character. Kudos to the writers for acknowledging Generation 1 Transformers here – they should have done a whole lot more of that. I’ve also read that Sam Witwicky actually uttered “Sentinel Prime” in one of his ramblings in ‘Revenge of the Fallen’. Kudos again! Loved the twist mid-movie, with Sentinel turning against the Autobots and obliterating Ironhide (perhaps I would have liked Ironhide to be given more of a chance, but he didn’t see the twist coming either).
  • Megatron – I loved the “new-look” Megatron. In rags and chains, with half a head missing (carry-over from ‘Revenge of the Fallen’?) – his attitude seemed more like the Megatron of old (Generation 1), including being subject to mind games toward the end of the movie (although usually it was Starscream going back and forth with him, not a human character as in this case – Carly). Loved Megatron coming to the aid of Optimus, but just didn’t like where this ultimately ended up.
  • Bumblebee – Solid.  I’m pretty content with what the writers have done with Bumblebee throughout this latest movie franchise.  Was happy for “Bee” (as Sam calls him) to say a bit more in Dark of the Moon, too.
  • Ken Jeong (‘Jerry Wang’) – I hadn’t checked any spoilers at all for this movie, so the cameo of Ken Jeong was quite a pleasing one.  Though, I would have favoured he stick around a bit longer.
  • Alan Tudyk (‘Dutch’) – Provided a few laughs, quite funny actually. Another that I would have liked to see more of throughout the movie. Perhaps he could have replaced John Turturro (‘Simmons’) all together, as I thought he was relatively over-used and may have been best left out of this one.
  • Thank you Michael Bay – no “Twins” (from ‘Revenge of the Fallen’).  Worst. Characters. Ever.

Dislikes:

  • The Autobots are always outnumbered – Historically, there have always been more Decepticons than Autobots.  For whatever reason, my memory tells me that this was the case even back in Generation 1 days.  In ‘Dark of the Moon’, especially in the Chicago battle scene over the final 45 minutes – it seemed to me that there were hundreds of Decepticons (including droids from the large “mothership” that was ultimately taken down by a pair of small, battery-powered Autobots.  You’re telling me there was no defence mechanism built to defend the mothership from Autobot intruders?).
  • Whilst the numbers (of Autobots and Decepticons) may be about equal if you look through the IMDB voice cast, it seems like it is just Optimus, Bumblebee and Ironhide.  The Decepticons feature Megatron, Starscream, Sentinel Prime (well, he was a bad guy!), Soundwave, Shockwave, Laserbeak.
  • I thought there was the perfect opportunity in this film, for Optimus Prime to call in “re-enforcements” after being banished from Earth.  The Decepticons, and Sentinel Prime, had taken control of Earth.  In fact, when I first saw the “space shuttle” the Autobots were leaving Earth on – I immediately thought of Omega Supreme and hoped it would be revelaed that the Autobots had brought Omega to earth in case of Decepticon attack, ready for activation upon Optimus’ command.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.
  • I guess my point is – the Decepticons have had some bad-ass robots feature in at least a couple of these films (Devastator in ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ and Shockwave here in ‘Dark of the Moon’).  Why aren’t the Autobots allowed to have their own super robots?  Where was Omega Supreme (as mentioned above), Metroplex, Sky Lynx, Superior, Defensor etc, to name but a few?
  • It was unrealistic for the small group of surviving Autobots to defeat the entire Decepticon stronghold in Chicago.  Some kind of back-up/re-enforcement would have been just the tonic to make for a far more realistic (and believable) final battle scene.
  • And what of the Dinobots?  They remain the most obvious/easiest inclusions for future movies (if there are any).  I would love to see Grimlock, for example.  Whilst I’m at it, what about Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Blaster, Perceptor?
  • Where was Starscream in ‘Dark of the Moon’?  Upon first viewing (I plan to go again), he had a minimal part to play.  I would have preferred Starscream have the conversation with Megatron toward the end of the film (about challenging Sentinel Prime), instead of the human character Carly having that conversation.  It would have had more impact and played into the leadership battle dynamic that has played out between Megatron and Starscream since Generation 1 in the 1980’s.
  • Since when can ropes contain the greatest Transformer of them all, Optimus Prime?  I was shocked to see Optimus tangled up in ropes atop one of the sky scrapers late in the movie.  Surely he is powerful enough to cut the ropes or simply break them by transforming etc.  Was anyone else surprised by this?
  • Since when does Optimus Prime execute Decepticons?  Another shock, first to see Optimus destroy Megatron when he was pleading for his life (only to shoot him point blank) – and then to take out Sentinel Prime, who was similarly pleading for forgiveness from Optimus – but it was not forthcoming.  Was this not totally out of character for Optimus?
  • I wasn’t opposed to the introduction of “Que/Wheeljack”, but I felt there could have been some kind of background given as to where and how he originated.  I initially thought it was ‘Cup’ (Generation 1 Transformer).  I think I should basically forget Generation 1 at this stage.  It seems the writers/makers of this franchise have no intention to give us original 1980’s Transformers fans much love.
  • Sam Witwicky’s parents.  Seriously, why even have them in this film?  They were somewhat required in ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ but in this movie they were absolutely not needed.  Please, no more!
  • You can’t tell me they couldn’t have worked “The Touch” by Stan Bush into this film somewhere.  This gets back to a previous point about the Generation 1 TF fans, but this song is synonymous with Transformers, yet it’s been overlooked in each film.

It feels as though I’ve “disliked” a lot but I think most of it stems from my desire for Generation 1 Transformers to be acknowledged in these movies more often.

Overall, I loved ‘Dark of the Moon’.  Coming out of the movie, I think I gave it a rating of 9.3 out of 10 (a solid 4.5 out of 5).  As I said earlier, I’ll go back for another look very soon.  I’d rate ‘Dark of the Moon’ well ahead of ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ and at least on par with the first (2007) movie.  The original 1986 Transformers movie, of course, remains my all-time favourite.

Thanks for reading everyone!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Hey there,

Ever wondered how things might turn out if #twitterhomes was an actual basketball competition and not purely for fantasy purposes? No? Well, strangely enough – I thought about it the other day and have spent a few hours making the appropriate adjustments to an NBA 2K11 roster to reflect the Twitterhomes rosters as at 1 January 2011 (yes, my Christmas break recently has been on the quiet side).

It didn’t take too long, actually. I wasn’t able to create just a 15-team league, so instead I adjusted the rosters and inserted the 15 #twitterhomes teams in the “Eastern Conference” and ran a single season of 82 NBA games. Now, because the 15 other sides were left dramatically weakened by the strength of the #twitterhomes conference, obviously the results are to be taken with a grain of salt.

The spreadsheet (linked below) summaries the statistical end-of-year results in the relevant categories:

Twitterhomes 2010/11 stats

Of particular interest:
– Hashtag It #callanshimmy recorded the best overall win/loss record at 62-20;
– The current 4th place #twitterhomes team, West Brunswick Wildebeest, were statistically the best team based on rankings across the 8 statistical categories (as used in #twitterhomes);
– Gallinari-Licious came in ranked 4th in the 2K11 simulation at 81 points overall, however their current standing is last on 39 points in #twitterhomes as at 1 January 2011;
– At the opposite end of the spectrum, Chris Kaman his Pants, was ranked 12th on the 2K11 simulation (46 points) even though they sit comfortably in second position in #twitterhomes at 107 points overall. Bad Boys for Life also took a similar “negative” hit using 2K11 despite racking up good stats in the real thing.

Also:

MVP: LBJ
All-NBA 1st team: Wade, Rose, LBJ, Dirk & Dwight Howard.
All-NBA Defensive: Wade, Rondo, J.Smith, Durant & Camby.
John Wall (Rookie of the Year), Gilbert Arenas (Best 6th Man)

Personally, the simulation indicates that all else being equal, the Bendigo Chuckers should continue to improve in the FT% category, but will worsen in the Blocks category. One must remember also that the simulation is based on current line-ups only and of course, doesn’t reflect how our respective line-ups have changed since October.

Oh, for what it’s worth, I also simulated the playoffs out of curiosity. Hashtag It #callanshimmy won the NBA Championship in a surprising struggle (4-3) over the Milwaukee Bucks (a team of no-names because the talent was stacked in the Twitterhomes conference). Balls Deep were defeated, 4-3, in the conference finals by #callanshimmy. The Wildebeest and Ballers made conference semi-finals, whilst the Chuckers, Moustache United and Gallinari-licious were all first round losers in the Twitterhomes conference.

So, make of the above what you will, but I’ve found it to be a relatively worthwhile experiment, despite it meaning little in the grand scheme of things!

To all my fellow #twitterhomes GM’s, happy new year and I hope you have a fantastic 2011!

Cheers,

Luke.

Hey everyone,

So, I’ll be doing a bit of AFL writing throughout 2011 over at AFL Space.

Not that this is a new thing, because I submitted weekly round reviews throughout 2010 on the same site. But, in 2011, my Club Rankings will be a feature of sorts on AFL Space and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) a bit of interaction with the AFL Space, and specifically the Twitter community, during the year.

Jump over and check out my inaugural rankings for 2011 when you have a chance. Let me know your thoughts.

Cheers,

Luke.

Hey y’all,

We’re a few weeks into the NBA season and the #twitterhomes fantasy league. I’ve had a lot of fun with it thus far, with my position in the league starting around mid-table, before rising to the top and more recently dropping a peg or two.

The Bendigo Chuckers line-up has changed dramatically since draft day, with a number of moves causing a few raised eyebrows around the league I’m sure. Here’s what’s changed since the draft:

Post-draft line-up:
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Stephen Curry
SF Lamar Odom
PF Kevin Love
C Andrew Bogut

Key Reserves:
Vince Carter
Javale McGee
J.J. Hickson
Charlie Villanueva

Others:
Kirk Hinrich
Richard Jefferson (added to roster after G.Dragic was dropped)
J.J. Reddick
Amir Johnson

Trading

Surprisingly, I’ve just made the 2 trades – though it feels more like 10 (but I guess unsuccessful/declined trades make the number feel higher than it is).

Here are the two trading moves I’ve made:

Bendigo Chuckers traded to Orange Peels:
Rajon Rondo & Lamar Odom

Bendigo Chuckers received:
Kevin Durant

Rationale – It’s Kevin Durant. To be clear, I happen to think Rondo and Odom are terrific players and great for fantasy. I gave up my number #24 & #67 selections, for the #1 overall. I felt the opportunity to receive Durant was an opportunity I could not pass up, even though I will miss Rondo’s amazing assist rate and Odom’s versatility. I will NOT miss their respective FT% rates, the major deficiency of my squad so far this season. Durant shoots the ball nicely from the free throw line.

Bendigo Chuckers traded to West Brusnwick Wildebeest (pending league approval):
Stephen Curry & Andrew Bogut

Bendigo Chuckers received (pending league approval):
Roy Hibbert, O.J. Mayo & Beno Udrih

Rationale – I never set out to trade Steph Curry. Or Bogut for that matter. Curry is the all round guy that is perfect for the fantasy game and whilst he hasn’t been at his best so far in 2010/11, he will be better as the season progresses (scary thought). Bogut has also had a sluggish kind of start, and appears seriously hampered by the shocking elbow injury he sustained last season. In my mind, the Hibbert-to-Bogut swap is a slight “win” to the Chuckers, mainly due to the query over Bogut staying on the court all season. Then again, has Hibbert played above himself so far this season? Probably, but I seriously rate him and his numbers tell the story.

Mayo has not had the best start to the season, especially in terms of FG%. I expect his shot to improve from this point on, which should translate into better numbers. He may even push his PPG into the high teens (currently hovering around 15ppg). Mayo is averaging more 3PM than Curry, has a better 3PFG% and the rebound rate is identical to date. I also have a hunch he may be more durable, but time will tell (Mayo has not missed a regular season game in his career, though Curry has only missed a handful).

Beno Udrih adds depth to the squad (after the 2-for-1 trade I made to secure Durant) but also should add solid points per game and assist numbers, everything being equal. Of course, I’d love him to do more but Tyreke Evans is the man in Sac-town so it may prove difficult.

Overall, most may view this trade as a “win” to the Wildebeest on the surface – especially if Curry takes his game to the next level (which may depend on Monta Ellis also). It also depends on the health of Andrew Bogut, so it may be better to revisit this trade at the end of the season.

Current line-up as at 18th November 2010:
PG Beno Udrih
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Kevin Durant
PF Kevin Love
C Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves:
Vince Carter
Javale McGee
J.J. Hickson
Charlie Villanueva
Kirk Hinrich
Richard Jefferson

Others:
Sonny Weems (20+ ppg, 3.5 rpg & 2 apg in 2 outings with the Chuckers)
Luke Ridnour (speculative selection)

What was made abundantly clear by the early season statistics was a severe FT% deficiency. This has now been rectified (Rondo, Bogut & Odom being the main culprits), so I hope in a matter of a few weeks the standing of the Chuckers in this category will be on the up. I’ve also improved total points and 3PM through my early season moves, whilst taking a slight hit in the rebounding and assist categories.

Above all else, the start to the 2010-11 NBA season has been an enjoyable one – with an active group of guys involved and the friendly banter on Twitter (refer #twitterhomes) is always fun.

Currently, my cousin Conor (@conorVryan on Twitter) and his team – ‘Balls Deep’ – is atop the #twitterhomes standings, overtaking me in the rankings today.

Hopefully some of the above moves I’ve made will restore order once again to the #twitterhomes league and return the Bendigo Chucks to the top of the leaderboard.

Thanks for reading!

Hey all,

It’s been a long while between posts, however I thought I’d follow the trend of several other fantasy coaches (check out ‘Hogg Blog‘ and ‘Everyone else has a blog…‘) and post an update to mark the commencement of the 2010-11 (NBA Fantasy) Season.  From memory, this is my first ‘real’ involvement in an NBA Fantasy League of any particular note.  A tweet from Anthony (League Commissioner) a few weeks back set the ball rolling, plus since that time I’ve also started another ESPN NBA Fantasy League with some friends.  It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, with the much anticipated live draft happening last Sunday.

Here’s my initial squad, complete with a short reasoning behind each selection (the team page can also be accessed here):

Round 1 – Stephen Curry PG, SG (Of course I was hoping to land a Kevin Durant or LeBron James with my first pick but starting at selection #7 was always going to make that difficult. Having said that, I was quite pleased to get Curry here, especially in a ‘rotisserie’ league where every number matters.  Curry is sure to put up numbers in a lot of categories in 10/11).

Round 2 – Rajon Rondo PG (It didn’t take long for the nerves to kick in, especially with a 30 second window to make a selection on draft day, but I took a player at pick #24 that I thought would rack up some awesome numbers in 10/11, in Rondo.  The selection also gives me two of the best options at PG in the league – I’ll play Rondo at PG and Curry at SG.  Barring injury, Curry and Rondo will rack up some nice point, assist and steal numbers for me this season).

Round 3 –Kevin Love PF (With my guard positions taken care of, I desperately needed to focus on snaring a “big” or two with my next couple of picks.  I feel I was extremely fortunate to land Kevin Love with the 37th pick overall, as I’m sure he would not have lasted to my next selection at pick #54.  Love should fill up the points and rebounds categories this season, not to mention his crazy range out to the 3-point line for a big fellow.  I loved this selection).

Round 4 – Andrew Bogut C (Speaking of selections I loved, I was over the moon for Bogut to fall to me at pick #54.  It may be considered somewhat of a “reach”, given his horrendous injury last season, but on the back of a slow and steady pre-season, I see no reason he can’t get back to his 09/10 form within a month or so.  Considering what he’s been through, he’s looked good in pre-season and has a bit more help around him this year also.  And if nothing else, he’s an Aussie and we’re going to see plenty of him on OneHD this season).

Round 5 – Lamar Odom PF, SF (Here’s where I started to reach – with all my starting positions other than SF taken care of, I desperately needed cover at the position and subsequently selected Lamar Odom at pick #67.  Odom is ranked at #81 in a recent fantasy listing on ESPN, so it’s fair to say this pick wasn’t my best.  On the plus side, he played all 82 games last season with averages of near 11ppg, 10rpg, 4apg, 1bpg and 1spg.  On the back of his success with Team USA at the World Championships, he is primed for (hopefully) another solid season).

Round 6 – Vince Carter SG, SF (I was looking for a bit more cover at SF here, however Carter’s versatility will be handy at SG also.  We all know Carter is not quite what he was in the early 2000’s, but his stats are still decent, sitting around 16ppg, 5rpg, 4apg and 1spg.  Could be a useful trade piece this year as well depending on how things turn out).

Round 7 – Javale McGee C, PF (Bit of a speculative pick this one, but the word around the traps is that McGee will start the season as the Wizards #1 center and his pre-season has been a promising one – I’m loving the block numbers from the big guy).

Round 8 – J.J. Hickson PF (It’s unknown whether LBJ’s departure from the Cavs will help or hurt Hickson’s numbers in 10/11.  I’m hoping it’s the former, and I’ve liked this guy for a few seasons now.  Hickson is currently slotted as the starting PF for the Cavs, but I’m not convinced he will keep Jamison out of the starting 5 for too long).

Round 9 – Charlie Villanueva PF, SF (Another multi-positional player – something I paid some attention to when drafting.  I guess this pick, at #127, is another speculative selection given Charlie’s numbers weren’t great in 09/10 (12ppg, 5rpg).  I’m hoping he can add at least a block and a steal to those numbers this season).

Round 10 – Kirk Hinrich SG, PG (Yep, another multi-positional guy and another player I am hoping for good things from this season.  Hinrich can shoot the ball although he would want to improve his percentages from last season.  Hinrich adds almost 5 assists per game and 4 rebounds).

Round 11 – Goran Dragic PG (Dropped from the roster since the draft, but acquired Richard Jefferson SF.  I’m actually quite happy with this free agency pick-up, although I’m fully aware Jefferson’s numbers were way down in 09/10, yet he still contributed 12ppg, 4rpg and 2apg.  Coming into only his second season at San Antonio, I’d expect Jefferson to settle into a more productive pattern and I fully expect his numbers to improve).

Round 12 – J.J. Reddick SG (I’m a big fan of Reddick as a player, though I’d like to see him receive more minutes than the 22 he received last season on average, playing 82 games over the year.  If he gets more minutes, he’ll be handy at the bottom of the roster).

Round 13 – Amir Johnson PF (Can’t expect too much at #187, so I looked “big” and went for Amir Johnson, Toronto’s starting PF who has looked promising in pre-season.  Without Bosh in the middle, I’d suggest and hope Johnson would improve his rather modest numbers from 09/10 considerably).

So that’s the squad as at the opening tip of the 2010/11 NBA Season.  How will it look in 6 months?  Well, that’s the fun part.  Let the wheeling and dealing begin!  Thanks for reading – let’s go Bucks!

Hey all,

After a long wait, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen hit Australian cinemas recently (24 June 2009) – a sequel to the hugely successful 2007 blockbuster.  Of course, both movies are based on the classic cult cartoon of the same name by Hasbro which originally aired in the mid to late 1980’s.

I’ll just say it now – I am a massive fan of the franchise.  But I should clarify that by saying I am a fan of the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon series, as well as my favourite film ever – Transformers: The Movie (1986).  I watched very little of Transformers once it branched off into Generation 2, Beast Wars etc – as they strayed too far from the original basic premise of the cartoon.  Even to this day, I would love someone to “start-over” from the end of season 3 of the cartoon series.

But that’s beside the point.  Needless to say, I loved the 2007 Transformers movie – effectively the “re-boot” of the franchise (on the big screen at least).  As with most movies, it had it’s problems (much like the 2009 follow-up, which I’ll get into later) – but the pure nostalgia of seeing Optimus and others on the big screen alone, made it a great movie in my eyes, yet still not as good as the original 1986 film.

Okay so I should move onto Revenge of the Fallen.  When we left the Transformers universe in the 2007 film, Optimus Prime had “destroyed” Megatron – whose dead robot carcus was plunged into the depths of the ocean – hopefully, never to be seen again (though we really knew that wouldn’t be the case).

The Autobots – Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Ironhide and Ratchet – had won their battle with the Decepticons – leaving Starscream, Bonecrusher, Devastator, Blackout, Scorpinok and others to lick their wounds.  At the end of the film, Optimus Prime sent a message out to all surviving Autobots in space, calling them to Earth.

And so we get to the 2009 film – where I’ll use point form to summarise the best and worst of the latest Transformers movie.

Things I liked:

  • Addition of new Transformers – I was pleased to see new Transformers added to the cast.  I specifically enjoyed Jetfire (though I don’t believe he should have been written off towards the end), Wheelie, Soundwave (& Ravage), the Constructicons (and of course Devastator).  I thought the movie really needed new characters – so this was a great thing – but with more Transformers there are issues with character development (read below).
  • Optimus Prime – What can I say, I love the guy.  The fact Peter Cullen voiced Prime once again was huge for the movie and I only hope it continues for as long as possible.
  • The interplay/dialogue between Megatron and Starscream was a nice touch and a nod to the original G1 cartoon series (and movie).  This interplay is essential as it is a long-running issue between the two.
  • Soundwave, as a satellite, worked for me – though I wanted to see him come to Earth and join in the battle towards the end, however it seemed the Decepticons outnumbered the Autobots as it was (which always appears to be the case, even going back to the G1 cartoon series).
  • And, Frank Welker voicing Soundwave was awesome.  I can’t wait to see this movie again as I actually wasn’t aware it was Welker voicing Soundwave until after I saw it.
  • I liked that the movie followed somewhat of a similar storyline to the 1986 movie (okay, rather loosely but elements of it were there – such as Optimus biting the dust, the Matrix etc).
  • As stated above, Wheelie was a nice addition to this movie (similar to Frenzy from the first film).  Whilst I would have liked the character of Wheelie to resemble the character of the same name from the G1 cartoons, he was a good character and this is mainly due to the amount of time being invested in him throughout the movie.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Under development of Transformers characters.  Most of the time, even being the Transformers fan I am, I didn’t know who I was watching – especially the Decepticons.  In various battle scenes, I honestly didn’t know who was fighting and/or who was being destroyed.  This was a big problem – I thought Michael Bay should have focused on a smaller group of Transformers so we could differentiate them as the movie went on.  Or at least, Bay should have given more screen time to the Transformers to develop their characters more.
  • Specifically, I’ve only seen the movie once – but I can’t immediately picture Sideswipe, Jolt, The Doctor, Sideways, Grindor and many of the Constructicons.
  • There wasn’t enough Ironhide and Ratchet in this movie.  Given they were major characters in the first film, they were barely shown here.
  • The female Autobot Transformer, Arcee, was under-used.  Her addition to the case was a good idea but her minimum screen time (and subsequent death) was a mistake.  This character should have been a character to progress to the next film.
  • When Optimus Prime died, I can’t recall any of the Autobots “grieving”.  That that I expected tears (although Bumblebee showed earlier in the movie that this is possible!) – but I would have thought some kind of Autobot  “round table discussion” would have been appropriate in the circumstances.  After all, they had just lost their fearless leader and appeared to be heavily outnumbered as it was.  I just would have liked some “distress” after Prime’s death.
  • Devastator, from what we were shown, looked great.  But he should have been used (and shown) much more.  Specifically, there was not enough reaction from the Autobots when “Devastator” was formed.  Obviously, he is quite easily the biggest of all of the Transformers and I would have liked the Autobots to react to the fact that Devastator had showed up on the scene.
  • For example, it would have been simple for one of the Autobots (even Wheelie or one the twins) to say “Oh $@#%, it’s Devastator!“.  And as a result, Optimus or another of the Autobots should have called in support from an Autobot such as Omega Supreme, Grimlock, Hot Rod or Metroplex, for example.  My preference would have been for Omega Supreme to show up and provide support against Devastator, given not only because he is my favourite Transformer after Optimus, but also because one of his forms is as a space ship/rocket and it would have been logical for him to arrive quickly.
  • Speaking of Grimlock, why wasn’t he in this movie?  From what I understand, he would have to be the most popular Autobot Transformer amongst fans and surely there were calls for him to be included (maybe in place of the time wasted on Mudflap & Skids).  I only hope Grimlock finally makes an appearance in the third instalment, if there is to be one.
  • Fallen should have been made a more formidable character, given he was above Megatron on the Decepticon pecking order.  In the end, he was killed off a bit too easily.
  • Mudflap and Skids – the Autobot “twin cars” – were useless.  Absolutely innefectual no matter what way you look at it and only inserted for comedic value.  Not to mention the recent outcry surrounding the racial allegations about this two characters, but I’m not going there.
  • The Matrix of Leadership was too “pointy” on each of its sides – and should have closer resembled the Autobot Matrix of Leadership from the original G1 Transformers movie.
  • Too many humping jokes (including a scene featuring an Autobot, Wheelie, humping Mikaela’s leg).  Was there a need for two scenes of dogs humping each other?
  • This time around, I didn’t enjoy the human characters as much as I did in the 2007 Transformers film.  There is little time invested in developing these characters, and nor does there need to be I suppose – because it’s meant to be a film about robots.
  • Megan Fox, as Mikaela, was essentially a prop in this film and not a character (I refer to the “straddling of the motorbike” scene near the beginning).  I preferred Shia LaBeouf, as Sam, in the first movie – and just didn’t click with him in this one.  Sam’s parents were over-used – especially the scene at college involving Sam’s mother and the “cookies” – absolutely ridiculous.
  • Of the human characters, John Turturro – playing Seymour Simmons (former Sector 7 agent) was probably the best used and speaking of human characters, there was no need for Sam’s college room-mate (Leo) at all in this movie.  Totally useless I’m afraid.

Having said all this, I’m not sure whether I’d rate Revenge of the Fallen above the 2007 original.  I’ll save this decision for once I’ve watched it a few more times, which I certainly plan to do. It seems there was quite a bit about the movie I didn’t like, but that’s the Transformers geek in me coming out a bit and I’m probably being over critical as a result.

My rating (after 1 viewing)– 4 / 5 stars

There were a number of inconsistencies in the film (which are highlighted nicely in this rather blunt review) which prevent me from saying it’s the best Transformers film I’ve seen.  At this stage, the original 1986 Transformers movie is still the best I’ve seen.

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments to add, please leave a message below.

Luke.

Rounds 1-8, 2009 – AFL Review

With a third of the home-and-away season completed, it’s time to have a closer look at each club and summarise their efforts thus far in 2009, as well as their prospects for the immediate future.  A second report will come after round 15 and a final report at the end of the season.  So, let’s begin – I’ll start at the top of the premiership ladder and work my way down.

1st – St. Kilda (8 wins, 0 losses – 195.32%)

Highlight: Being on top of the ladder after 8 rounds is the most obvious highlight – with 8 wins, no losses and a record setting percentage – they have demolished their opposition on an almost routine and repetitive basis each week – although they haven’t faced 4 of the current Top 8 sides yet this season.  Riewoldt, Dal Santo, Hayes and Goddard are all enjoying superb seasons.

Lowlight: None to speak of at this stage of the season.

Final 8 Prospects: A top 4 position is locked away – however with their current percentage and 10 games remaining in Melbourne – a top 2 spot would be their major objective.

2nd – Geelong (8 wins, 0 losses – 161.64%)

Highlight: Geelong is enjoying a stellar season of its own – and if it wasn’t for St.Kilda’s sensational start to 2009 – I’d be writing about Geelong’s opening 8 rounds instead.  The Cats have rarely been challenged, apart from their opening round defeat of Hawthorn.  The form of Tom Hawkins has been pleasing.

Lowlight: Similarly to the Saints, there are no real significant lowlights – except for the injury scare to Gary Ablett a couple of weeks ago, however he is due back next round and will hopefully continue to play some blistering footy.

Final 8 Prospects: As with St.Kilda, they would be aiming at a top 2 spot at worst.  It would be considered a minor disaster if the Cats were to not finish top 2 after this start.

3rd – Western Bulldogs (5 wins, 3 losses – 107.92%)

Highlight: An excellent start – with three consecutive wins – to open the season had the experts pencilling them in as legitimate premiership contenders.  Whilst it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing since then, the Dogs would be ecstatic with the form of Jason Akermanis – whilst midfielder Shaun Higgins has met most of the lofty expectations placed upon his young shoulders so far this season.

Lowlight: The Dogs have 5 wins – all against teams currently ranked 12th to 16th on the premiership ladder (even Bruce McAvaney would be pleased with that little nugget of a statistic).  Their defeats have come against St.Kilda, Carlton and West Coast – 3 teams that are up and about this year.  Are the Dogs “flat-track bullies” (pun intended) or are they the real deal?

Final 8 Prospects: They will play finals, with a likely finish anywhere between third of fifth.

4th – Port Adelaide (5 wins, 3 losses – 104.67%)

Highlight: A win in the Showdown against Adelaide (round 6) would rank as the clubs best win of 2009; however wins against the Hawks and their last gasp win over the Tigers are also right up there.  Warren Tredrea, with 27 goals already this season, has been a revelation.

Lowlight: “Fremantle-like” inconsistency – up one week, down the next.  The return to the club of 2004 premiership player, Josh Carr, has not worked – resulting in him being dropped recently to find a bit of form.  Shaun Burgoyne needs to get back on the park and stay there for the Power to be any chance later this season.

Final 8 Prospects: Their finals chances are more than likely, however a current placing of 4th flatters them somewhat.  A finish anywhere between fifth and eighth is my tip.

5th – Brisbane (5 wins, 3 losses – 102.54%)

Highlight: The remarkable coaching debut of Michael Voss in 2009.  He has the players onside and he has even extracted a bunch of excellent games from Travis Johnstone, which is no mean feat.  2008 Draftee Daniel Rich looks like an absolute gem, whilst Power, Black and Brown are playing some good footy.

Lowlight: A 93-point loss to the Cats in round 5 threatened to derail their season, however three straight wins since that defeat have them sitting fifth, which very few would have predicted pre-season.  Like the Dogs, their wins have not come against any top sides – with their big test to come in round 9 against the Saints.

Final 8 Prospects: Very good, although they’ve already played five games at the Gabba, with just six more to come in the remaining 14 rounds.  A probable finish somewhere between sixth to eighth would be a good result.

6th – Carlton (4 wins, 4 losses – 123.30%)

Highlight: A barnstorming start to 2009, with a much discussed belting of the Tigers in round 1, followed by a convincing win over the Lions in round 2.  Chris Judd has been in scintillating form and will certainly be in contention come Brownlow night later this year.  The continued development of Gibbs, Murphy and Kreuzer is a delight to watch.

Lowlight: Essendon knew they were coming in round 3 – and took the opportunity to puncture a couple of tyres on the Blues bandwagon – which led to Carlton losing three of its next four games.  Brendan Fevola, seemingly, is never going to be a true leader – and the death of Richard Pratt must also be mentioned as a lowlight for the club.

Final 8 Prospects: If the Blues can start winning the close games, they will be there come finals time.  However the loss to Essendon in round 3, not to mention the last second loss to the Hawks in round 6, may yet cost them a finals position – however I’ll stick my neck out and predict a finish in the bottom half of the eight for Carlton.


7th – Hawthorn (4 wins, 4 losses – 97.17%)

Highlight: The highlight is winning four games out of eight – with the Hawks yet to field anything close to their premiership winning outfit of 2008.  The play of Brad Sewell in a more attacking role has been a standout, whilst Cyril Rioli continues to show his class in one of the few positives for Hawthorn so far.  Roughead also deserves a mention for his efforts this season.

Lowlight: Just ask the club – injuries, injuries and more injuries – although I’m growing a little tired of that excuse.  Franklin doesn’t look great, let’s be honest, but he is doing enough to stay out on the park.  I wouldn’t call it a premiership hangover just yet, but it’s awfully close.

Final 8 Prospects: It would be a shock if they missed finals; however I expect them to slip into the bottom half of the final eight.

8th – Essendon (4 wins, 4 losses – 96.67%)

Highlight: The Anzac Day classic against Collingwood, their memorable wins over Carlton in round 3 and Hawthorn in round 6 and most recently, pushing St.Kilda all the way in round 8.  The form of Brent Stanton and Jobe Watson is encouraging, but it is the emergence of David Zaharakis, Heath Hocking and a rejuvenated Paddy Ryder that would be exciting Bombers fans the most.  The non-appearance of Jason Laycock has also been a highlight for Essendon supporters.

Lowlight: The severe, long-term knee injury to David Hille was a devastating blow and will keep the ruckman out until 2010.  Scotty Lucas is struggling and is now trying to find some form in a Bendigo Bombers side that is getting flogged most weeks.

Final 8 Prospects: Surprisingly, the Bombers have a shot at finals in what is shaping as a very even season.  10 or 11 wins will most likely get you into finals and with a reasonable fixture, the Dons are every chance to snare one of the last couple of finals places if they continue to play their adventurous, exciting brand of footy.

9th – Sydney (4 wins, 4 losses – 94.64%)

Highlight: Outside of another classic against the Eagles in round 8, the highlights for the Swans have been few and far between.  Credit where it’s due – wins against the Hawks and Blues were handy – but they seem to be lacking the edge they had in 2005/06.  No individual players have stood out from the pack this season.

Lowlight: Losing to Fremantle would be a lowlight.  Barry Hall has been down in form and Michael O’Loughlin has been out of the line-up for most of the season.  The Swans have not really done anything to indicate they will be thereabouts come finals time.

Final 8 Prospects: I’m calling it now – they won’t make it.  They’re not good enough to climb much higher than their current position, but they are also not bad enough to drop much further.  In the current landscape of new clubs entering the competition very soon, finishing 9th on the ladder has never been as undesirable as it will be in ’09 and ’10.

10th – West Coast (3 wins, 5 losses – 93.32%)

Highlight: The Coasters would most likely view three wins from eight games as a positive start to their 2009 campaign – and I would agree.  Apart from their thumping against the Saints, their losses have been admirable, plus they’ve beaten a couple of pretty good clubs in the Dogs and the Power (both at Subiaco, however).  Dean Cox continues to dominate in the ruck whilst their other top contributors have included Selwood and Priddis.

Lowlight: Their performance against the Saints in round 3 was as bad a showing as you will ever see.  Daniel Kerr has been mostly ineffectual and appears lost in a midfield that does not include Judd and Cousins.

Final 8 Prospects: The Eagles will not play finals in 2009, however with some more games pumped into their promising youngsters – playing finals is not out of the question over the next couple of years, especially if their first round draft selection, Nick Naitanui, can get onto the field for 5-10 games before their season is done.

11th – Collingwood (3 wins, 5 losses – 92.92%)

Highlight: There has been very little to write home about for the Pies in 2009.  The highlights are honestly hard to find.  Scott Pendlebury has been the one beacon of light for the club in 2009 – averaging close to 30 disposals per contest.

Lowlight: Where to begin?  I was a first hand witness to their defeat to Carlton in round 8 and I would suggest it’s one of the worst showings I’ve seen from a Magpies team in many years.  Sorry Pies fans, but names like O’Bree, Wood, Toovey, Leigh Brown and Corrie don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.  All spuds of the highest order.

As for the Malthouse vs Buckley coaching debate that continues to rage – I would say the pendulum has now tipped into Buckley’s favour – given Malthouse declared post-match that he felt they were still in with a chance with 5 minutes left in the final quarter.  Was he watching the Carlton game or the 2002 Grand Final?

Final 8 Prospects: I don’t exactly know how they’ll do it, but I’m not counting the Pies out just yet.  If they can get their best 22 on the park, that would be a good start.  And get Leigh Brown out of that side right now!

12th – Adelaide (3 wins, 5 losses – 83.40%)

Highlight: From this point on, I may forget about the highlights because it’s like extracting teeth for some of these clubs. Perhaps the only highlight for the Crows so far would be their round 1 surprise victory over the Pies.  Patrick Dangerfield looks like a promising type.

Lowlight: The Crows are yet to be blown right out of the water (their largest defeat is 48 points to the Cats), however their five losses have been by an average losing margin of almost 35 points.  The “old guard” of McLeod, Goodwin, Edwards and Thompson aren’t having the same impact they once did, which is a worry for Neil Craig.

Final 8 Prospects: From what I’ve seen, the Crows are gone.  Their lack of a true key forward target is an ongoing problem.

13th – North Melbourne (3 wins, 5 losses – 77.64%)

Highlight: There have been very few highlights for the Kangaroos; however youngster Jack Ziebell is showing some very encouraging signs as a real player of the future.

Lowlight: The devastating arm injury suffered by Brent Harvey was a cruel blow to a side needing everything going for it right about now.  And as mentioned in a previous report, their newly designed “clash strips” are rather woeful.  What was wrong with that mostly royal blue jumper they used to wear sometimes?

Final 8 Prospects: Zilch – there’s nothing more to say.

14th – Fremantle (3 wins, 5 losses – 77.04%)

Highlight: Three consecutive wins in rounds 5, 6 and 7 against decent opposition has been the highlight of 2009 for the Dockers.  Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands have been very good so far this season.  Chris Tarrant has looked rejuvenated in his role down back.

Lowlight: Fremantle looked dead and buried (with Mark Harvey a quintessential dead man walking) following the 83-point demolition at the hands of the Saints in round 4, but they somehow lifted themselves off the canvas to string a few wins together after that loss.  But that’s what this club does – they suck you in, make you tip them, and spit you straight back out again.  Anyone who tipped the Dockers on Friday night must be livid, but if I remember correctly, I think I warned you…

Final 8 Prospects: They’ve been playing better footy but finals are not a realistic goal in ’09.


15th – Richmond (1 win, 7 losses – 79.17%)

Highlight: Their one victory – against the Kangaroos in round 5 – is the obvious choice.  It’s also been positive to see Ben Cousins get through consecutive games recently.

Lowlight: The opening round 83-point loss to Carlton was the most devastating of blows for a Richmond side that had, on the not so quiet, been considered a “finals fancy” in 2009.  I was at that game – and I’ve never seen a collective group of supporters go from excited and confident, to deflated and pessimistic, so quickly.  The defeat sent the club, and the media, into frenzy.  When you add the circus following the coaching career of Terry Wallace into the mix, not to mention the whole Ben Cousins saga and Richardson’s serious injury, 2009 has been a shocker no matter which way you look at it.

Final 8 Prospects: Yes, I’m sorry but it’s already curtains for the Tigers in 2009.  In fact you could argue it was curtains after round 1 – when the Richmond faithful realised that Joel Bowden racking up 40 uncontested possessions in the backline isn’t really taking them anywhere anytime soon… but it works wonders if you have Bowden in your DreamTeam!

16th – Melbourne (1 wins, 7 losses – 74.05%)

Highlight: A few highlights for the Demons – obviously their sole win for 2009 against the Tigers in round 4 – but also the form of Aaron Davey as well as youngster Cale Morton.  Melbourne has gone very close to snaring another win recently, falling short by just over a kick against the Eagles (round 7) and Dogs (round 8).

Lowlight: A couple of 50+ point defeats and some poor attendances are the main lowlights for the Dees.  Memo to AFL: Twilight matches on a Sunday against an interstate club on a wet and freezing Melbourne day will usually result in poor crowd figures.

Final 8 Prospects: Like the Tigers, there is no chance for the Demons this year.  The Demons must stick with their youth policy – but I like their list (more than Richmond’s playing list if I’m being honest) and can see some light at the end of the tunnel for a team that has missed finals for the last couple of years.

Thanks for reading.  Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Cheers,

Luke.

Adelaide (69) lost to St.Kilda (101), AAMI Stadium

In the first of three match-ups between Round 1 winners, the Crows and the Saints opened proceedings in Round 2 at AAMI Stadium. Adelaide overcame Collingwood last week to cause the upset of the round, whilst the Saints had some trouble early but eventually accounted for a lacklustre Swans outfit.

With Adelaide the hot tip here, especially with the match being on their home turf, the Crows were expected to get over the line. However it was the Saints who had the better of the contest, gaining the ascendancy early and never really letting it slip – applying tenacious pressure all over the ground to record their third consecutive victory at AAMI (impressive stat!).

Another prolific ball-getting performance from Dal Santo and improved output from Nick Riewoldt were the catalysts for the Saints, who remain undefeated after 2 rounds – with a third straight win likely as they face the Eagles in Melbourne next week.

The Crows long-term search for a Tony Modra replacement continues; with no-one seemingly ready to assume the “go-to” role in the forward 50.

Geelong (105) defeated Richmond (85), Skilled Stadium

This was a much talked about game, for all of the wrong reasons. After marginally getting the better of the Hawks in Round 1, most experts predicted that the Cats would trounce the struggling Tigers at Skilled on Saturday afternoon. After all, the Tigers copped an 83 point hammering last week at the hands of the Blues in what could only be labelled an inept performance, so a follow-up encounter with the best team over the past 2 or 3 seasons would not have been their first preference.

And early on at least, it looked as though the Cats were predictably going to have their way with a struggling Tigers side, building a 26 point lead by the first change. Only a brave person would have suggested the Tigers would outscore the Cats over the final three quarters, but that is exactly what they did.

With the influence of Ablett, Bartel and Corey being kept in check somewhat by the Tigers, they amazingly clawed their way into the lead in the final term – before Steve Johnson stepped up with a bag of final quarter goals to swing the momentum back over the Cats way.

Geelong held on for a second consecutive win, but they must be concerned by an early trend that has seen them outscored in the second half of both matches to begin 2009. Their goal kicking also remains a concern, having kicked 30 goals and 36 behinds so far this season. At least the 8 premiership points are safely tucked away – whilst I’m sure the kicking inaccuracy will resolve itself over the season.

Unlike last week, the Tigers will take something from the improved performance but they must find a way to win soon or else their finals hopes will be all but gone.

Collingwood (117) defeated Melbourne (64), MCG

At least one of these clubs was going to have its first win of 2009, with both coming off defeats in the opening round.

Collingwood, quite rightly, went into this match as favourites even after their surprise Round 1 loss to the Crows – whilst the Demons were solid for three quarters last week before falling away against the Roos.

Melbourne looked impressive early, particularly in the first quarter as they jumped out of the blocks to catch the Pies off guard. But it was to be short lived, with Collingwood kicking 5 goals to 2 in the second term to take a 7 point lead into the half time break.

After the break, it was all Collingwood – as they showed the kind of form most were expecting from them last week. The Pies, led by Anthony, Didak and Cloke in the goal stakes, kicked 9 majors to just 3 for the Demons in the second half to run out easy winners by 53 points. Josh Fraser was excellent for Collingwood, as were the ever reliable pair of Dane Swan and Tarkyn Lockyer.

Carlton (119) defeated Brisbane (100), Etihad Stadium

Much has been written and spoken of the Blues in the last week, ever since their dismantling of the Tigers in Round 1 – with the punters going as far as backing Carlton into the third line of betting for the 2009 Premiership. Whilst I’d usually be the first to try and talk up the Blues, I honestly don’t think we’re sitting only behind the Cats and Hawks as flag favourites. I’d safely suggest the Saints and the Pies would be better chances at this point.

The Lions clawed their way to a win in Round 1 over a surprisingly gallant West Coast side, and they would have been very eager to burst the Blues bubble in front of an adoring Carlton home crowd in Melbourne.

An even opening quarter was followed by a Carlton landslide in the second term, with the Blues showing the kind of form that will may see them contend for a Premiership this year in the seasons to follow. Carlton kicked 9 goals to 1 for the period, to open an imposing 41 point break at half-time.

The Lions showed tremendous character in the second half, doing the bulk of the scoring to bring the deficit back to just a couple of kicks.

It took some late goal-kicking brilliance from Fevola and some more than handy contributions from Betts and Murphy to seal the match. The Blues won a lively contest by 19 points.

Sydney (143) defeated Hawthorn (105), ANZ Stadium

Even with up to 10 names missing from the 2008 Premiership winning line-up, the Hawks were relatively warm favourites against Sydney. The Swans looked woeful last week, whilst Hawthorn pushed the Cats to the limit – so the favouritism was understandable.

Hawthorn started strongly, with 5 goals to 3 in the first term however it was evident from the outset that the Swans had their heads in the game this week. This was made clear by a second term resurgence which saw the teams essentially locked together at the half.

The second half belonged to Sydney, as the more experienced and battle-hardened bodies of the Swans wore down the largely inexperienced Hawks side.

The Swans dominated the disposal count and showed terrific efficiency in averaging just 11 disposals per goal scored on the night. The Hawks are now 0-2 – and with a match-up against the Kangaroos to come in Round 3, there is no clear sign that things will get better in a hurry, especially given their injury situation.


Essendon (109) defeated Fremantle (71), Etihad Stadium

With both of these sides struggling in Round 1, this match asked the hard question of tipsters everywhere… And that question was: which side is least likely to stink?

We all know Fremantle’s tendency to “put the queue in the rack” away from the comforts of Subiaco – however even that theory was proven incorrect last week, as they were smacked by the Dogs at home. And sorry Bomber fans, but I can’t see a lot to be excited about down at Windy Hill, either.

To the credit of both sides, there at least appears to be a considerable youth movement in the works – with the knowledge that finals footy is most likely out of the question in 2009. The “youth movement” is arguably less evident at Windy Hill – with Lloyd, Lucas and Fletcher nearing the end of their respective careers. Even David Hille and Adam McPhee are approaching 30. Jason Laycock is also on the Essendon playing list. Yes, I know he is only 24, but it’s still a negative.

Whilst they may have had the elder legs of the two clubs, it may just have been the previously mentioned experience and wiser heads that saw the Dons home against the Dockers. It could also be that the Dockers are terrible. Take your pick!

Western Bulldogs (80) defeated North Melbourne (65), MCG

The wet weather hit Melbourne on Sunday meaning the first half of this match between the Dogs and the Roos was played out in difficult conditions for the players. Another match featuring winners from Round 1, the winner of this contest would find themselves well placed, admittedly very early in the season still.

The Dogs were out of the blocks the fastest, holding onto a slight lead at the first change, despite both clubs wasting several opportunities around goal. The poor conditions again hampered play in the second term, with only a further 3 goals being added to the scoreboard in a low-scoring and hard fought contest.

The game opened up in the third term as the weather improved – as the Dogs jumped out to almost a 5 goal lead and looked in control. However a typically gritty comeback from Roos (I believe I’m contracted to mention the “Shinboner spirit” somewhere here?) in the final term saw them climb within just 2 points – only for the Dogs to seal the game with a couple of late goals to secure an important victory.

Brad Johnson led from the front for the Bulldogs, as Boyd, Cross and Griffen again controlled the middle of the ground. The Dogs could make it 3 wins from as many starts next week against the Tigers, whilst the Roos face a Hawthorn side desperate to open its account for 2009 in the first of 5 consecutive home games for the club. In fact, with a “Collingwood-esque” fixture – they don’t leave Victoria in the first half of the season.

West Coast (125) defeated Port Adelaide (75), Subiaco

The final game of Round 3 pitted the 1-0 Power against the 0-1 Eagles. Coming off a horror, injury-ravaged 2008, the Power are tipped by many to make huge strides this year, whilst the Eagles are expected to languish towards the bottom of the ladder.

The Eagles started strongly and the Power simply could not recover. A small lead at quarter time increased at each interval, with the Eagles eventually belting the Power into submission with a staggering 50 point victory by the final siren.

The Eagles face some tough challenges in the form of the Saints, Dogs and Hawks over the next 3 rounds – whilst the Power will be keen to get back on track against the Dees next week back in the confines of AAMI Stadium.

Please feel free to leave a comment about any of the action from Round 2.

Cheers,

Luke.

Good evening all,

Here is my review of Round 1 of the AFL.  These will be posted after each round, so come back regularly and feel free to leave a comment.

Carlton v Richmond, MCG

Rarely can I remember a season opener as keenly anticipated as this one, with fierce rivals Richmond and Carlton playing in front of more than 86,000 people at the MCG on Thursday night. Of course, most of the anticipation in the lead up was focused on the return to AFL football of Ben Cousins, and the potential match-up with his former team-mate, Carlton captain Chris Judd.

In the end, the Cousins v Judd contest didn’t eventuate. In fact, the Richmond v Carlton contest didn’t exactly eventuate either, with the Blues jumping out to a quick 5-goal lead at quarter time and the Tigers never looking interested from that point on. Carlton won every quarter comfortably to trounce Richmond by 83 points.

And sadly, there was no fairytale comeback for Ben Cousins. His night ended with another hamstring tear, which will sideline him for about a month. Richmond’s decision to play Cousins once the game was lost (arguably 25 minutes into the first quarter) was a staggering one, given the obvious leg/hamstring issues he was having.

Carlton kicked their highest score since round 13, 2001 – and the winning margin of 83 points was their largest since round 10, 2001. With the emphatic victory, Carlton ended round 1 on top of the ladder – much to the pleasure of their success-starved supporters.

Hawthorn v Geelong, MCG

In a game more fitting of the anticipation and build-up from a night earlier, Hawthorn and Geelong met in a rematch of the 2008 Grand Final in front of almost 70,000. Geelong has had a faultless pre-season, culminating in another pre-season premiership, whilst the Hawks have been trying to manage multiple injuries to several of their big names but came into round 1 confident they could get the job done.

Much like last years Grand Final, Geelong were wasteful in front of goal, having 12 more scoring shots than the Hawks up to half time, yet they only led by 12 points.

The third quarter was a big one for the Cats, kicking 6 goals to 2, building a potential match winning lead and looking comfortable. Despite looking all but gone, the Hawks rallied in the last quarter, outscoring the Cats by almost 30 points – but Geelong did enough to hold on for the opening round victory, extracting just a small amount of revenge from last year’s premiership defeat in the process.

Collingwood v Adelaide, MCG

In the third match in as many days at the MCG, Collingwood and Adelaide opened their respective 2009 seasons in one of the most exciting matches of the round.

Collingwood, trying to block out their drubbing at the hands of the Cats in the pre-season decider, were surprisingly caught off guard early – as Adelaide jumped out of the blocks with 10 scoring shots (including 5 goals) to just 2 in the first quarter, to lead by 23 points at the first change.

Collingwood hit back strongly in the second and third quarter, to tie the scores heading into the final change. In a low-scoring and tense last quarter, Adelaide dug deep to be in front at the final siren in what was at times a “last man standing” type of game. The Crows have had a quiet off-season, yet they appear to be well placed to launch another tilt at finals football, with their talented mix of young and old.

Collingwood fans need not worry; with news filtering through over the weekend that Anthony Rocca is in line for a call-up to the senior side – after he kicked a bag of goals for the Collingwood little league side at half-time. Yes, that’s an ideal preparation if you ask me!

Brisbane v West Coast, Gabba

The interest in this match was largely due to the long awaited coaching debut of Michael Voss, with the exit last season of four-time premiership coach and AFL legend, Leigh Matthews. As we know, Voss has some serious credentials as a player in his own right, but his challenge now is to deliver as head coach of the club he captained to three consecutive premierships.

West Coast basically bottomed out last year, feeling not only the loss of Judd and Cousins but also injuries to several of their big names. With essentially a full list at their disposal, the Eagles started superbly to build a good early lead that would have made Voss and co. very nervous.

Still 4 goals down at the half, a massive 9 goal third quarter by the Lions turned their fortunes around completely and gave them a 3 goal lead heading into the final quarter.

Despite not scoring a goal in the final term, the Lions managed to hold off a gallant West Coast side who will still take plenty from the eventual 9 point defeat.

St.Kilda v Sydney, Etihad Stadium

Many are expecting these two sides to head in opposite directions this season – with St.Kilda predicted to remain in top 4 calculations whilst the experts say Sydney will be “older and slower” this year (I think I also heard that in 2005) – with the suggestion we will see them slip down the ladder.

Early in this match, the Swans did their utmost to show they are not done with just yet, opening a 4 goal lead by quarter time against a sluggish Saints outfit.

But that’s where the good news ended for the Swans – as over the next 2 quarters they failed to even register a single goal, whilst their opponents managed 8 of their own during the same period to all but seal the contest, even without a significant contribution from Nick Riewoldt.

Late goals to the Swans did little but add respectability to the scoreboard, with the contest done and dusted well before full-time.

Melbourne v North Melbourne, MCG

Determined to rebound after another undignified exit from the finals, the Kangaroos performed below expectations in the pre-season, suffering a heavy loss to Carlton in the first round of the NAB Cup and regrouping from that point forward. Melbourne too, didn’t make many waves in the pre-season, but at least have most of their list healthy heading into the season proper, except for entertainer slash full-forward Russell Robertson, who is hopeful of returning in the first month of the season.

The Demons, last year’s wooden spoon “winner”, were surprisingly quite competitive for three quarters of this contest before the more seasoned Kangaroos outfit asserted their authority in the final term. Melbourne should take something from the contest, whilst the Roos would have relished a competitive opening round hit-out having secured the all-important 4 premiership points.

Port Adelaide v Essendon, AAMI Stadium

Two teams that were disappointing throughout most of 2008 faced off in their opening round encounter – Port Adelaide and Essendon.

The Power are tipped to jump a few spots up the ladder this year given a good run with injury, whilst very little is expected of the Dons – who are still very much in ‘rebuild mode’ and in my opinion, have a few years of rebuilding left before finals are a reality.

Despite some early resistance from Essendon, the Power got on top in the middle stages of the contest and won comfortably by 41 points.

Only time will tell whether Matthew Knights has Essendon on the right track, but if we’re looking to the future, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I’d rather be a Melbourne or Essendon supporter right now.

Fremantle v Western Bulldogs, Subiaco

The final match of round 1 saw the Dockers and Doggies battle it out in Perth on Sunday evening. There is no reason to expect the Doggies to fall out of the top 4 this season, especially with no clear challenger coming up through the AFL ranks looking to take their spot. Their core midfield group of Cross, Boyd, Cooney, Gilbee, Griffen and the improving Higgins is amongst the best going around.

The Dockers will be aiming to improve this season after their up and (mostly) down 2008, but it is hard to see them back in finals contention after making very few off-season changes.

After a tight opening term, the Bulldogs gained control of the match in the second quarter, booting 7 goals compared to the Dockers 3.

That margin was cut by the Dockers to just under 4 goals by three quarter time, but the Dogs booted away in the final term, showing their class by kicking a further 8 goals to record an impressive 63 point victory.

Please feel free to leave a comment about any of the action from Round 1.

Cheers,

Luke.

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