Yes… it’s only February, but the Dons first competitive hit-out of the season provided plenty of talking points.
Young stars continue their progress
Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish were two of the Bombers shining lights from 2016.
Last night they were the Dons leading ball winners, amassing 49 possessions between them in the shortened pre-season format (no time-on in first 15 mins of each quarter).
Ambrose shut down role
Patrick Ambrose was moved to defence last year after spending the first two seasons of his career in attack.
He matched it with some of the best in the competition;
Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle) round 11 – 1 goal (after Ambrose was moved onto him)
Jeremy Cameron (GWS) round 13 – 2 goals
Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda) round 16 – 1 goal
Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) round 17 – 0 goals
Tom Lynch (Adelaide) round 19 – 0 goals
Tom Lynch (Gold Coast) round 21 – 2 goals
And last night restricted Collingwood forward Darcy Moore to six disposals, one mark and one goal.
Mark Harvey enjoyed the composure displayed by the Bombers first ever number one draft pick.
McGrath had nine possessions at 100% efficiency in an encouraging first up display.
The returning players
Only Travis Colyer played out a full match, but all six returning players contributed and will be better with a game under their belts.
Colyer has been a standout throughout the pre-season and finished the night with two goals.
Jobe Watson collected his first disposal in the opening seconds and ended his night at three quarter time with 19 possessions and four tackles.
Dyson Heppell (17 disposals, two tackles) linked well with young guns Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett. Ben Howlett (eight disposals, two tackles and a goal) and David Myers (eight possessions) played three quarters. While Michael Hurley (seven disposals), only played the first half, but kept Collingwood’s Jesse White goalless in that time.
A new look attack
Despite Cale Hooker and Joe Daniher watching on from the sidelines, the Bombers front half looked threating against the Pies.
The Dons kicked 14.10.94 - a score they bettered on just two occasions during last year's home and away season.
After 29 goals in 2016, Orazio Fantasia picked up where he left off with four goals. His mix of pace and endurance, as well as a handy sidestep, is set to cause problems for opposition defences this season.
Travis Colyer, Josh Green and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti provided further pace which helps the team not only create goals when the ball gets over the back of the opposition defence, but also enables to Dons to provide significant forward half pressure.
The four small forwards had 16 tackles between them.
Shaun McKernan (three goals) and James Stewart (one goal) added to the potency.