North Melbourne ruckman Braydon Preuss won glowing praise from coach Brad Scott as he confirmed his standing as one of the most promising young ruckmen in the competition on Sunday.
In just his second AFL game against Geelong after being called into the North side as a late replacement for the injured Todd Goldstein, Preuss grabbed a place on the Queensland AFL statistical honour roll with 13 possessions, four marks, five tackles and a whopping 46 hit-outs in his side’s one-point loss.
His hit-out tally claimed equal fifth spot on the all-time list for performances by Queenslanders.
Only Tom Hickey (53), Shaun Hampson (52 and 51) and Kurt Tippett (50) have had more.
Preuss, originally dropped from the North side after his promising Round 1 debut, gave the Kangaroos a 54-21 advantage in hit-outs against Cats pair Rhys Stanley and Marc Blicavs which saw them hold the upper hand against the Cats until the last minute of the game.
Ironically, it was a tackling free kick against Preuss which presented Geelong’s George Horlin-Smith with the chance to kick the match winning goal, but coach Scott was still a big Preuss fan in his post-match media conference.
“I thought Braydon Preuss emerged today,” Scott said. “People probably thought through the JLT series that he emerged, but this is a different game, the AFL regular season.
“He got his hand to the ball really well. I think we were roughly plus-33 or something in hit-outs and minus-three in first possession, so you put that down to a little bit of synergy with Preussy.
“Our inside mids haven’t played a lot of footy with Preussy, or do you put it down to (Joel) Selwood and (Patrick) Dangerfield reading the ball pretty much as well as anyone.”
Scott did not rule out Preuss remaining in the side alongside Majak Daw and if, as expected, Goldstein returns against Greater Western Sydney next week.
But first the big ruckman will have to beat an AFL match day report for rough conduct on Geelong’s Jackson Thurlow in a marking contest.
Preuss, who will be hoping to escape with a fine, earned 111 Champion Data points for his big-hearted performance to head a good list of standout Queensland performances in Round 2 of the Toyota AFL premiership.
Charlie Dixon, too, won big praise for his powerhouse effort as Port Adelaide made it two wins from two starts with a demolition job on Fremantle at Adelaide Oval.
Dixon had 12 possessions, seven marks and kicked four goals to earn 108 Champion Data points.
The AFL website suggested Dixon had made a strong start to the season and is beginning to become more comfortable as the main target of the Power’s forward line, and demanding the ball more.
They reported that Dixon’s clean hands were a highlight, together with his combination with Robbie Gray, who kicked six goals.
They noted, too, that the former Gold Coast Suns spearhead also spent good time in the ruck to give Paddy Ryder a spell and was even deployed briefly at centre half back when the Dockers made a rare surge.
Brisbane captain Dayne Beams continued his brilliant start to the season with 33 disposals and two goals in the Lions’ brave Gabba showing against Essendon, in which they hit the front in the last quarter after being 42 points down shortly before halftime only to go down by 27.
Beams earned 120 Champion Data points to head the Queensland list for Round 2.
Teammate Dayne Zorko, too, continued his good form with 29 possessions, a goal and 112 Champion Data points.
Zorko is the only Queenslander to have started the season with two 100-point CD games.
St.Kilda ruckman Tom Hickey hit back brilliantly after a poor game in Round 1 with a stellar showing against West Coast in Perth.
Hickey, the Saints best in a narrow loss after they’d controlled the game all day, had 14 possessions, seven clearances and 44 hit-outs to collect 98 Champion Data points.
Also in Round 2, Sydney’s Aliir Aliir made a fantastic return after a disrupted pre-season in the grand final replay against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
Called into the side as a late replacement after coach John Longmire had originally planned to give him another run in the NEAFL, Aliir looked right at home with 14 disposals and three marks.
Teammate Kurt Tippett was out of the game before quarter time with a nasty ankle ligament injury.
It was originally feared Tippett had broken his leg but scans confirmed no structural damage.
Eric Hipwood looked a real excitement machine for the Lions against Essendon, leaping high at the ball in marking contests.
He kicked a long bomb goal to put his side ahead in the final term, and finished with eight disposals, five marks and two goals.
Harris Andrews hade 15 possessions, five marks and a goal, and Tom Bell picked up 15 possessions.
Rory Thompson had a busy day in defence for the Gold Coast Suns in their 102-point loss to the GWS Giants in Sydney, earning 80 Champion Data points for 16 disposals and 10 one-percenters.
Jesse Joyce had 16 disposals, Alex Sexton 12 disposals, and Jack Bowes seven disposals.
GWS veteran Sam Reid got a late selection call-up and helped himself to 10 disposals and a goal.
Sam Gilbert had 16 disposals and seven tackles for St.Kilda, while Josh Smith had 19 disposals for Collingwood in their loss to Richmond and teammate Jesse White 11 disposals and two goals.
In lower level football, Zac Smith returned from injury with the Geelong VFL side, earning best afield honors for 25 possessions, 48 hit-outs and seven clearances, Josh Thomas impressed with the Collingwood Reserves, Josh Wagner made a successful comeback from injury with Melbourne affiliate Casey, and Corey Wagner kicked two goals for Werribee.
Mabior Chol was knockout playing with Richmond in the VFL, while Archie Smith was among the best for the Lions’ Reserves against GWS Giants as Jono Freeman kicked three goals, and Jarrod Harbrow made a successful return from injury for the Suns Reserves.
By Peter Blucher