AFLX’s ‘tacky bulls***’ backfires
THE AFL debuted its daring plan to spruce up the preseason with a shortened format of Aussie rules on Thursday night to a howling crowd
The newest format of the game, which many have dubbed as the AFL's answer to Cricket Australia's widely successful Big Bash League, was always going to be fighting an uphill battle as the summer comp kicked off.
The three-day trial competition features 21 games, seven of which were completed on Thursday at Adelaide's Hindmarsh Stadium.
The Adelaide Crows were the inaugural victors on night one with a 55-47 victory over the Geelong Cats.
While the shortened format enticed more aggressive gameplay from the seven-a-side teams, players looked a little lost as the "glorified training drill" unfolded.
Essendon great Tim Watson felt it was a lacklustre beginning.
"I was so excited about watching this last night, it was worth the experiment, but the game just left me a little bit cold," he told SEN Breakfast radio.
"I didn't find the excitement levels I thought I would find.
"When I watch the International Rules Series with Ireland v Australia ... we know there is something hinging on that because it's country against country. I thought that game was more exciting than what we watched last night.
"The game itself, it is a completely different game. The great features in our game don't really appear in AFLX.
"No one was kicking the ball long to a contest, because players are programmed to kick the ball to each other, they hit the targets, there is free running and no real tackling pressure."
The league's move to embed itself with the Zooper Dooper brand by naming a 10-point goal outside the 40m mark a "Zooper" also drew the ire of cringing fans as commentator Brian Taylor belted out the repeated phrase: "Zooper specialist".
And as if the young competition couldn't mimic the Big Bash further, there were flashing goalposts a la cricket's flashing zing bails.
But the controversy didn't stop there. Fans sitting at home took aim at the new ball used by the AFLX within the first 10 minutes of play. The matte silver pill had viewers squinting as the similarly-coloured Port Adelaide took the ball.
Organisers later saw the error in their ways and swapped the ball out for a traditional yellow Sherrin instead for the second half of the night.
A crowd of 10,253 witnessed the initial AFLX experiment at Coopers Stadium, the home ground of A-League club Adelaide United.
Both Adelaide and Geelong went through the group stage of the round-robin tournament undefeated before meeting in the finale.
The Crows then claimed the inaugural AFLX trophy, kicking away late in the 20-minute long fixture.
Earlier, Geelong earnt a slice of history by winning the first AFLX game, beating Port Adelaide 72-60.
Adelaide then defeated Collingwood 65-37 before the Cats returned for their last group game to down Fremantle 57-40.
The Crows secured their spot in what was dubbed the grand final with a 53-46 win against West Coast.
In other games, Collingwood beat the Eagles 52-37, and Fremantle eclipsed Port 54-37.
With each team allowed just seven players on-field, matches were largely bruise- free encounters with few contested possessions - there were no apparent injuries to any club.
Players valued finding space and aimed to kick goals from outside the 40m attacking arc worth 10 points.
Another six clubs will contest the same AFLX schedule on Friday night in Melbourne, with the remaining six playing AFLX on Saturday night in Sydney.
- with AAP