AFL Pre-Season Finally Arrives, Some Bad News From The West

Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Richmond kick off the AFL season; injuries for West Coast and Fremantle

Robert Whiteby Robert White

The AFL’s pre-season competition, the NAB Cup kicked off Friday night with Richmond, North Melbourne and Hawthorn all facing each other in the odd three-way format.

North defeated Richmond 44-41 in the first match, the Hawks destroyed North in the second 53-28, but then lost the final match to Richmond on a late goal by nobody Matt White, 40-37.

The NAB Cup features a strange format. The first two weeks sees the league's 18 teams split into six pools of three teams and each team plays one another from their pool in two 20 minute halved outings.

Robbie Tarrent of North kicked the winner in the first game as he looks to get more a consistent run in 2012 while getting his first opportunity in the forward line rather than his usual role down back. The youngster played a blinder in round-one last year but did little else in the following months until he eventually fell out of the team’s best 22.

Brent Harvey was also in good form, but key defender Nathan Grima suffered a knee injury that is believed to be a strained medial ligament.

Hawks stars Sam Mitchell and Buddy Franklin were terrific in their thrashing of North with Buddy playing well during his first stint in the midfield. Mitchell was the leading possession getter in both Hawks matchups.

Matt Suckling had a great evening and fans should expect more to come after a wonderful 2011 campaign.

For the Tigers, Reece Conca looks sets to cop a ban for his high hit on North’s Leigh Adams, which happened behind the play. Ivan Maric, Dustin Martin and Nathan Foley had good outings as well.

Some bad news has emerged out the west ahead on Sunday’s NAB opener between the Fremantle Dockers, West Coast Eagles and Essendon Bombers.

Mark LeCras, the Eagles star small forward and a 2010 All-Australian, went down with a serious knee injury at training mid-week and will miss the entire season.

LeCras chose not to go for the quick healing Lars procedure and will instead have a regular reconstruction, a huge blow to the Eagles, a team that came from nowhere last season to finish fourth on the ladder.

Fremantle’s Michael Barlow was named as a late withdrawal from Sunday’s games due to some reoccurring soreness in the leg he broke back in 2010.

Barlow returned last season after missing half of his rookie campaign but has not looked the same since and will be shelved for three weeks in a bid to give the star some needed recovery time.

Barlow looked like a perennial All-Australian during his debutant campaign but may never reach that level again, much to the distress of the ever distraught Freo fan base.