I headed down to the Port Melbourne v Casey game yesterday for the annual Burra burger and chips. The day was perfect for footy with a one to two goal wind in the first half but it virtually disappeared in the second. The ground was in great condition and the PM crowd are a lot of fun as long as you don't take your support for their opponent too seriously.
This is how I thought the Demons went:
Dom Tyson: There has been much talk about his game and like most things it's probably somewhere in the middle of discussions. He got the ball a lot. He was the main clearance player for us on the day and he bullocked and pushed and competed for everything. He was off the pace early, got caught once or twice and kicked poorly into the wind at times. As the game went on he got lots better and by the last part of the game he was close to the most influential but that is not to say he's a walk up start next week. On form ANB and Harmes have gone past him and he is down on form but he can play.
Billy Stretch: BOG for mine. Got it lots, used it pretty well (with a cavaet I'll come to) and was clean and pretty strong in the clinches. I'm a fan of Billy so keep that in mind when you read these comments. I've seen Billy in his last three games and he's been BOG twice IMO. He's played all games as an inside mid and he's done well against the strong opposition and poorly against the poor opposition. Interestingly in the game he was poor in we were killed in the ruck and he was the number one mid. Billy knows where to run and can run all day. He sees options and makes good decisions. He was very clean with his hands yesterday which is not always the case and his handballing was good. He kicks it well in most cases but yesterday in both practice before the game and in the game itself he repeatedly left his passes a metre short of his target. Very frustrating because those easy 25 metre passes have to be bread and butter at AFL level. But good signs for Billy and if his opportunity comes he will at least be in good form.
Sam Frost: Good and solid. He's really too big and strong for his opposition at this level but it's his execution and decision making that can go astray. He's in good form at this level and like many will wait his chance.
Jay Kennedy Harris: I thought Jay played a solid game, found plenty of it, ran well and generally disposed of it well. He's come good in the last 6 quarters he's played but he's down the pecking order in getting a game in the seniors. He's pretty good at this level.
Harley Balic: Not as prominant as some other weeks but dangerous around goal and doesn't need many opportunities to hurt you. Kicked a fantastic goal in the last from a very tight angle to get us going when we needed it. He's got sure hands and is good above his head for his height and he knows how to find space and link play. He's a smart player and in previous years at the club would have been quite valuable but where he fits with Kent to come back and Garlett still in the seconds who knows. He has a little bit of that trait basketballers have when they convert to footy - that ability to find time and space. Was he a BBer before footy? Looks like it to me. If he played today I'd be confident he'd competently play his role.
Tomas Bugg: Quite early but played a fair game by his standards. He played quite deep forward for most of the day and it really didn't work. But when he moved up the ground a bit we got involved and was always a danger although he didn't get it a lot. He's a bit quicker than I thought too and his kicking was good yesterday.
Oscar Baker: Good game overall and fantastic second half, particularly third quarter where he really dominated. Quick, clean hands, runs hard and provided options. Not sure his possessions really hurt the opposition yet but he is improving. I don't think he's really close to getting a game but he's certainly showing some AFL attributes.
Mitch King: First game back and just went. Started forward and didn't have much impact and then shared rucking duties.
Harrison Petty: I thought he was good. Was outmarked in the goal square in the first and lost another marking contest later in the game. Had one of his kicks intercepted later in the game but otherwise was terrific. He's really good in the air and kicks very well. This kid is just a guaranteed AFL footballer of the future and to me is showing more than Oscar did in his first year. Already a favourite of mine.
Jeff Garlett: I thought he was alright but only alright but do we expect too much of players when they go to VFL level. He did some very good things, kicked a lovely goal and had a hand on some others but also had a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. Not banging the door down.
Josh Wagner: Just a game. Solid and reliable but didn't catch the eye all that much. He's a good size and athlete but just doesn't impose himself on games at the moment.
Joel Smith: Didn't have a high possession game but looked very good in what he did. Can't remember any clangers and he kicked a nice goal. I liked the comparison to Jeremy Howe, very similar athletic abilities. He looked a class above in what he did but he didn't do a whole lot.
Dec Keilty: Solid game from Dec and like others have trouble separating him and Petty, they look very similar and being such a fan of Petty I might have attributed some good Dec things to Harrison. But Dec went forward in the last and did well I thought. Took some good marks and kicked a goal but more importantly gave us a target that the others hadn't. I don't know where he stands in the pecking order with Frost and Petty but he's a capable and reliable (and brave) footballer.
Lachlan Filipovic: Did quite well in the ruck but very little around the ground.. Seems to be just a young ruckman learning his craft and about 3 or 4 years away from maturity. Watching and judging ruckman at this age must be difficult for supporters and FD alike wondering if they will flurish or fail. It's too early to call for me on both our young rucks.