ROUND two provided many young draftees with the chance to improve upon their debut games. With nine clubs playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in 2018, fans finally got to see their new players up close. Many of the draftees put in some greatly improved performances this Easter Weekend.
Davies-Uniacke impressed for North Melbourne in their Good Friday victory over St.Kilda. In what was certainly a scrappy game, ‘LDU’ laid five tackles, had 16 disposals and took three marks. His delivery by foot was excellent, recording a disposal efficiency of 75 per cent. Having spent time as an outside and inside midfielder, Davies-Uniacke’s in-and-under stoppage work was a highlight, totalling four clearances whilst also managing nine contested possessions. In what could be a tough year for the Kangaroos, Luke Davies-Uniacke will certainly give fans something to get excited about for the future.
Taken with pick five of last year’s national draft, Fremantle’s Adam Cerra made his debut in Optus Stadium’s purple christening. The classy onballer showcased why clubs rated him so highly as he collected nine disposals at 78 pe rcent efficiency and did not record a turnover. Spending most of the night up forward, Cerra kicked two goals and took three marks inside 50, proving his ability in attack. He seemed to make a positive impact with every possession against Essendon and will no-doubt continue to feature for Fremantle in 2018.
After a heavy debut loss to Port at the Adelaide Oval, Brayshaw appeared more comfortable in front of the Dockers faithful. Playing on-ball in his 65 percent time on ground, he was not flashy but recorded 16 disposals, had 23 pressure acts (second for the Dockers behind debutant Mitch Crowden), four intercept possessions, five tackles and six inside 50s. As he looks to spend more time on ground in the coming weeks, expect Brayshaw to continue to fit in well at AFL level.
Darcy Fogarty also made his home debut this round, in what was one of the biggest games of the season. In trademark fashion, Fogarty crashed plenty of packs, applied serious forward pressure and certainly let the Tigers defenders know of his presence. One particular incident saw ‘Fog’ hit premiership player Josh Caddy, making him earn his mark. As the game progressed, Fogarty was involved in a number of fiery incidents and he certainly did not back down. He calmly slotted two set shots which never looked like missing, demonstrating his terrific foot skills. Only recorded the seven disposals, but Fogarty took five marks and looks set to wreck havoc for opposition defences, building a formidable partnership with skipper Taylor Walker.
The Bulldogs key defender had his work cut out for him in round one, opposed to Giants forwards Jeremy Cameron for parts of the day. However, with superstar Josh Kennedy out for the Eagles, Naughton’s second game proved to be an easier one. He collected 12 disposals at 67 percent efficiency, six intercept possessions, seven marks (including two contested marks), 10 score involvements and sent the ball inside 50 on three occasions. For a key position player, Naughton has made a good, solid start to his AFL career, There’s little doubt he will continue to improve as he gains further experience.
In just his second game, Liam Ryan starred in what was a fantastic victory for the West Coast Eagles. Ryan, taken from WAFL club Subiaco with pick 26 in the 2017 AFL National Draft, recorded 93 per cent of his 14 disposals in the attacking half, finishing the game with three majors. His aerial prowess was on display with three of his six marks being contested, including one screamer late in the opening quarter. The day could’ve been even more productive, considering he totalled three behinds. After years of being looked over by AFL clubs, Ryan is beginning to repay the Eagles recruiters. He has slotted seamlessly into the Eagles forward line, forming one half of a dangerous, electrifying duo with Willie Rioli, who made his debut on Sunday afternoon.
The mature-aged recruit continued his great form from round one with a sensational game against Hawthorn in the Easter Monday blockbuster. Kelly amasssed 27 disposals, six marks, four tackles and booted a goal, to be one of Geelong’s best in a high-pressure game. His 13 contested possessions were telling, also finishing the match with four clearances and seven inside 50s, looking as if he was more a 10-year veteran than a first year player.