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Tigers should set sights high

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Carlton are good, the Tigers are better

The Tigers were the better team for three quarters of Friday night's clash at the MCG but they still only won by five points and they could easily have lost had Chris Yarran's radar been calibrated properly in the final couple of minutes. That won't be enough to placate new coach Mick Malthouse but it gives Carlton fans a glimpse of what their side will be capable of when it clicks. Bryce Gibbs starred through the midfield, Chris Judd was outstanding across half-forward and Matthew Kreuzer has improved his rucking to match his excellent ground work.

Now, all Malthouse needs is a full-back who isn't so easily exploited up the ground (someone who isn't Michael Jamison) and a full-forward who can kick straight (someone who isn't Shaun Hampson). Jarrad Waite's eventual return should fix the latter, but the former could be more problematic. Ty Vickery was too good for Lachie Henderson, who is Jamison's back-up. Regardless, Carlton showed enough to suggest they should make the eight. Meanwhile, the Tigers should have greater aspirations than just returning to September action.

It's going to be a long year...

...for Saints fans. The pre-season forecasts of doom-and-gloom looked right on the money on Saturday night, as St Kilda were slowly picked apart by Gold Coast for an opening 13-point loss. That number is significant – the Saints lost five games by 13 points or less in 2012, prompting hopeful fans to point out that the club were 'near enough' to the eight last year. Forgive us for being pessimistic, but it's a false dawn. What was there to like about the Saints at Metricon? They lacked run and spread, there's a gulf in class between the veterans and the kids, their midfield is slow, their forwards were ineffective and their backline is being held together with sticky tape. The Saints may jag a few wins here and there but bookmark it – the slide is on this year.

It might be Majak time already

For reasons best left unexplored, much of the footy world – and a significant portion of its media - is clamouring for Majak Daw to make his debut in the blue-and-white. It might happen earlier than anticipated – given the way North's talls failed to fire a shot against Collingwood on Sunday, it's possible Brad Scott will throw his Sudanese debutant into the mix for Geelong next weekend. Lachie Hansen, Drew Petrie and Robbie Tarrant were found wanting against the Pies, booting a collective total of four goals from North's 53 inside-50 entries. In fairness they were poorly served by their teammates up the ground, but the lack of fire (particularly from Petrie, who looked disinterested or unfit) should concern the Kangas. Daw, an emergency for Sunday's game, had a solid two goals and 27 hit-outs against Port Melbourne on Saturday. Given Geelong's ruck crisis he could slot in for Petrie or Tarrant as a ruck/forward and help Todd Goldstein control the air at Etihad.

Long live the Kennett curse

Geelong's hold over Hawthorn has probably now stretched for so long that it has less to do with the mental fragility of the Hawks and more to do with a team that just doesn't know how to give up when it is beaten. Geelong's fightback from being 32 points down late in the second quarter was as remarkable as it was expected. What wasn't expected was the former Hawthorn president responsible for the curse hitting the airwaves to so blatantly sink his boots into the Hawks. Kennett, whose main legacy in AFL will be the curse he created when he called Geelong mentally fragile against Hawthorn, blamed the coaching for the inability to beat Geelong and insisted that this should be Alastair Clarkson's last year as Hawthorn coach. This, as we have come to expect from the former Victorian premier is complete lunacy. Clarkson is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the competition, took his side within an inch of a premiership just last year and may very well go one better this season. Calling for his head would be one sure way to send the club backwards and ensure the curse continues for a long time yet.

Stray thoughts

- In round one last year it was Chris Scott firing up in his press conference after Matthew Scarlett belted Hayden Ballantyne. This time around it was his brother's turn.

- Jeers to Fox Sports News for splicing in footage of Nathan Buckley smashing his telephone – an incident which occurred in the first quarter – into their vision of Lindsay Thomas' hit on Ben Reid. That's bush-league reporting.

- Good to see the umpires in the Melbourne-Port Adelaide game had a sense of theatre. They could easily have ruled Jay Schulz's towering goal-line grab invalid; instead, they opted to give the Port forward the benefit of the doubt. It was great for the game.

- The new sliding rule is eminently sensible, designed to protect players' heads and legs. When it is applied in the fashion that penalised Lenny Hayes against Gold Coast, it becomes high farce.

- The AFL is failing in its attempts to grow an organic rivalry between Sydney and GWS. For a "derby" there was a distinct lack of intensity about the game. Even the crowd didn't want a bar of it.

- Someone might want to have a word to Jeremy Cameron about punching fences. Someone like this guy.

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