Heroes & Villains, Round 2: The big boys are back

We're two rounds in and already the Bulldogs and Saints are under extreme pressure, the Power and Giants look to be serious premiership contenders and Alastair Clarkson may be adding another chapter to his book on genius coaching.

As for surprise packets, look no further than the Eagles, who demolished the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, while the Suns are unbeaten and the Lions have played some strong footy despite being winless.

Amongst all the storylines from Round 2, there were some major positives and concerning negatives.


The big boys are back: Tom Lynch - eight. Jesse Hogan - five. Ben Brown - six. Josh Jenkins - five.

One of the pitfalls of the modern game is the slow death of the key forward 'bag'. But if the opening two rounds are anything to go by, fans may be treated to a renaissance of the big boys dominating up forward.

In the opening round of the year, Lance Franklin gave us a taste with his eight-goal demolition of West Coast in Perth.

This weekend saw more dominant key forwards imposing themselves, with several -- highlighted by Lynch's almost singlehanded destruction of Carlton -- giving fans a glimpse of what it was like back in the day when Lockett, Dunstall, Ablett, Lloyd and Co terrorised defenders and booted goal after goal.

But these modern key forwards aren't just stand-and-deliver goalsquare behemoths -- rather, huge men with massive tanks who can work their way up the ground and find space well outside of 50.

Hogan, who has trained to spend more time in the midfield this year, accumulated 22 touches and took nine grabs against the Lions, while Lynch tallied 21 touches against the Blues to showcase their versatility around the ground.

Stuart Dew: Gold Coast's new coach has a big job ahead of him; if the expansion club in one of Australia's most fickle sporting cities is to thrive, it needs to start showing results, and the former Hawk and Power player has led his side off to the best possible start.

In Round 1, the footy world wasn't made aware just how Dew had managed to influence his group of players (considering they toiled away in monsoonal conditions in Cairns), but in Round 2 against the Blues, we got a fair idea of the brand of footy the Suns are going to play in 2018.

Like the Swans -- where Dew was an assistant coach -- the Suns are showing a manic intensity around the footy which isn't matched by many other teams, while the tackling pressure was also plainly evident on Saturday (they racked up 93 tackles to Carlton's 67).

At 2-0 and with an air of optimism around the group, maybe, just maybe, Dew might be able to convince star full-forward Tom Lynch to stay in Queensland...

Adelaide's grand redemption: Hopeless. Useless. Chokers. Crows skipper Taylor Walker and forward-line partner Josh Jenkins became the subject of intense criticism after disappearing in Adelaide's grand final humiliation to Richmond.

Neither was able to fire in the biggest game of their careers and many began to question whether they had what it took to lift in crunch moments. However, after what must have been the longest summer of their lives, the pair proved they can be match-winners against the competition's best by combining for nine goals to help Adelaide exact revenge on the Tigers and notch their first win of 2018.

Jenkins presented strongly all evening at Adelaide Oval, using his size to take a number of contested marks against Alex Rance, while Walker lifted enormously in the second half when the game got tight.

The win was made all the more sweet with Tom Lynch and Brad Crouch watching on from the stands while Matt Crouch left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

Make no mistake, the Crows are going to be extremely difficult to beat on their home deck.


Horror injuries: Saturday's clash between the Magpies and Giants wasn't for the faint-hearted.

While the Giants fought their way to a gritty 16-point victory, injuries to the Magpies' Tim Broomhead and Giants' Tom Scully marred the win and those unfortunate to watch vision of the incidents would have needed strong stomachs, such was the severity of each injury.

Both injuries are season-ending: Broomhead suffered a broken leg and Scully a fractured ankle, with both taken to the Epworth Hospital and facing lengthy layoffs.

Later on Saturday, Collingwood cult hero Kayle Kirby was also sent to hospital after collapsing behind play with an irregular heartbeat during a VFL practice match.

Darcy Moore added to Nathan Buckley's injury concerns with his hamstring strain expected to keep him sidelined for a month.

On Thursday night, key Crows onballer Matt Crouch (hamstring) added to his team's worrying injury list, while Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne also suffered a hamstring injury against the Cats and could be out for some time.

The Etihad Stadium roof: It's always been one of the AFL's most divisive questions: to leave the Etihad Stadium roof open, or close it? One one hand, Melburnians are keen to soak up any sun they can before a cold, dark winter, but on the other hand, the blinding contrast from light to dark makes watching the footy a challenge in itself.

Interestingly, and not content with simply announcing whether or not the roof will be open or closed, Etihad Stadium has also employed the use of a novelty Twitter account called @RalfTheRoof to let the punters know whether or not they should pack their sunnies and hats to the footy.

This weekend, three matches were played under the (admittedly) glorious Melbourne sunshine, but the caveat of having such beautiful autumn days is that the spectacle is dimished -- especially on television.

Etihad Stadium differs somewhat from the MCG and other "open air" stadiums. Elsewhere, additional natural light is let in through the translucent roof panels, or through gaps in the stands, making the contrast between light and dark slightly more bearable. At Etihad, it remains as bad as ever -- particularly for those who don't have the opportunity to head down to watch the footy live.

Why not keep the roof closed, except for when clear evenings are forecast?

Alan Richardson's Saints: It's only Round 2 but the warning bells are ringing loudly in Alan Richardson's ears after St Kilda's horror loss against North Melbourne.

Simply put, it was a shocker with few, if any, positives to come from it. The Saints butchered the ball repeatedly against the committed North unit and could only muster five goals for the match, with the three-pronged tall forward line of Paddy McCartin, Josh Bruce and Tim Membrey all going goalless.

Such was Richardson's shock, he called an impromptu meeting for Saturday morning, when the club originally planned for its players to have a break.

"It was important to get back together and make sure that we stick together and identify what happened and probably even more importantly, what we're going to do about it," Richardson said.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is copping all sorts of heat, but he at least has a premiership in the trophy cabinet from 2016 and while the Saints enjoyed a narrow win against Brisbane in Round 1, make no mistake, the pressure is rising on Richardson. His winning percentage of 37.8 percent after 90 games doesn't make for great reading.

With the Saints up against Adelaide, Geelong, GWS, Hawthorn and Melbourne in the next five weeks, that pressure could skyrocket.