Playing yesterday, the two best teams in
the AFL from last year had very different Sunday afternoons.

After unfurling the premiership flag in
front of their home crowd, a moment many thought would kickstart their season,
the Swans ran around the SCG with a half-interested look about them, and were duly thumped by a
so-so Port Adelaide. Although the final winning margin was 26 points, it
was 50 points at the final break, and could have been more had Port not
switched off.

After the game, Sydney coach Paul
Roos, who usually defends his team vigorously from attacks from interstate
clubs and League bosses alike, questioned his players’ commitment, suggesting
the team were paying the price for last year’s success. “When you climb the mountain, you’re not sure what the next stage of the
journey is,” Roos said.
Yep, that’s coach-speak for a premiership hangover.

According to Adam
Goodes
, the Swans, who so proudly “played for each other” last year, are
showing signs of selfishness. Interestingly,
it was Port Adelaide – who failed to back up their 2004 grand final win with
anything like a competitive 2005 – that showed the Swans up yesterday. That
leaves the Swans two-zip and looking for answers.

The Eagles, on the other hand, look a more
dangerous outfit despite having a pre-season many thought might have been the first
signs of the club imploding. Disciplinary action for players, a dumped captain,
a coach angrily calling the media “spastics”; it was looking shaky for the
Eagles before round one, but turning their minds to footy has been just what
the club needed.

Playing the Crows in Adelaide was a
test and the Eagles played gritty, resolute football to win by two points. That’s
two from two, putting them third on the ladder and two games closer to the
finals than the Swans.

Although it’s too early in the season to
make predictions about either team’s prospects, last year’s grand final result has
made the Eagles hungry and the Swans slothful. Maybe there is an argument for
curtailing the month-long post-premiership bender after all.

Peter Fray

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