CARLTON midfielder Sam Walsh made a successful return to AFL football last week.
The Cobden export was the one of the Blues best in a disappointing loss to Adelaide, collecting 25 touches and kicking a goal in his first game since returning from off-season back surgery.
The All-Australian slotted straight back into the Blues midfield as the entire competition converged in South Australia’s capital for the inaugural Gather Round which was a huge success for the AFL.
The weekend saw numerous close games, with Fremantle’s Sean Darcy helping his side to a 10 point win over Gold Coast Suns.
Darcy was instrumental in the ruck for the Dockers, finishing with 48 hit-outs, nine clearances and 18 touches as Freo stormed home to triumph at Norwood Oval.
Fellow Cobden product Zach Merrett was also revelling in his club’s success in Adelaide, with the Bombers upstaging Melbourne at Adelaide Oval.
Their match was the first of a Saturday double-header at the ground, with Willem Drew’s Port Adelaide triumphing over the Western Bulldogs, which featured Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.
Merrett put together a huge performance for the Bombers, finishing the night with 35 touches, seven tackles and nine inside 50s but he was later sighted by the Match Review Panel and suspended for one week for a dangerous tackle.
Drew had 10 touches and six tackles in the Power’s victory, while Ugle-Hagan had nine touches in what was a tough night for forwards given the wet conditions.
Hugh McCluggage and the Brisbane Lions proved too strong for Ben Cunnington’s North Melbourne, with the Lions claiming an easy victory at Mount Barker.
McCluggage had 21 possessions and kicked a goal in another consistent performance, while Cunnington was solid for the Kangaroos in a 22 touch and four clearance outing.
St Kilda’s unbeaten run ended at the hands of Collingwood despite a strong display from Portland’s Rowan Marshall.
Marshall was the most dominant big man of the match with 32 hit-outs but it was his work around the ground which impressed as he finished with 25 possessions and seven clearances.
Fellow Portland product Jamaine Jones was the only other Hampden league export to feature at AFL level, with the winger producing an effort that included 25 disposals, eight inside 50s and four clearances in West Coast’s loss to Geelong.
Gary Rohan and Josh Corbett did not feature at AFL level, with Rohan missing due to a one game suspension, while Corbett kicked a goal in Peel Thunder’s WAFL victory against Perth.