Internationals Take Lower Profile – NAB Challenge
Monday, March 07 2016 @ 08:06 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
With just five matches played over the course of the third weekend of NAB Challenge games there was less international talent on show. Maybe the tempo went up a notch, or opposition teams had put their homework into the internationals, but overall it was a quieter output across the board.
The washout of the Mackay match between the Lions and the Saints robbed fans of seeing the likes of Pearce Hanley (Brisbane) and Jason Holmes (St Kilda). A massive 200mm of rain, courtesy of ex-Tropical Cyclone Winston, fell leading up to the game forcing the AFL to abandon the match.
Perhaps the North Melbourne coaches had already put homework into Collingwood’s Mason Cox. After an impressive debut, Cox was quieter this weekend, though hardly inactive. He still managed to hurl his massive frame about Collingwood’s forward zone to collect five possessions, a couple of marks, four hitouts and five tackles to give the Kangaroos’ defenders enough anxious moments.
North’s Majak Daw was kept quiet with limited game time. His return saw three handpasses and six hitouts, but little influence on the game.
In a match where little else went right for the Bombers, Irish rookie Conor McKenna managed arguably his best game for the club. Quite apart from giving cheek to all and sundry Geelong players, he also triggered a number of forward moves, and some dash out of the defensive 50, for the Bombers. Finding the 40 degree Shepparton heat a foreign condition for football, McKenna still managed eleven possessions and a couple of handy tackles. Whilst not hitting the scoreboard himself, McKenna managed a couple of score assists, including two possessions in the one passage of play leading to a Bomber score. The performance hasn’t done any harm to his chances of another senior match in the not-too-distant future.
Next weekend’s matches in the NAB Challenge present a final chance to fine tune performances leading up to Round One. There is a chance that internationals at Richmond, Sydney, Carlton, Collingwood, North Melbourne and Hawthorn may get their chance to shine before the season proper gets under way.