Young AFL stars face years in battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Young AFL stars face years in battle

By Sam Lienert 07/08/2010 10:31:00 AM Comments (0)

An expected duel between Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt and Melbourne defender James Frawley looms as pivotal not only at the MCG on Sunday, but for years to come.

Since they were taken a pick apart at the 2006 national draft - Frawley at No.12, Riewoldt at 13 - their two clubs have shared the wooden spoons, Richmond in 2007 and the Demons in 2008 and 2009.

But both teams have made significant strides since battling for bottom spot this time last year, with Melbourne still in finals contention if they beat Richmond, while the Tigers are chasing their seventh win in 10 rounds.

The superb form of the two 21-year-olds has been a major factor, Riewoldt equal top of the AFL goal-kicking tally and Frawley regularly restricting the game's top forwards, while providing great defensive rebound.

If those two players and their clubs continue on their current path, the Riewoldt-Frawley duel will be a feature of the coming decade.

The Demons belted Richmond by 55 points in round four, but Frawley, who kept Brisbane's Jonathan Brown in check last weekend, acknowledged he found Riewoldt - who kicked 3.4 and took nine marks on him - a handful.

"I've played on him a couple times, and he's improved out of sight this year," Frawley said.

"I played on him (in round four) and he got the honours ... he's a very good one-on-one mark, a very good contested player and just a smart footballer."

He said combating the star Tiger took a team effort.

"Nearly 60 per cent of the time they go inside 50 they go to Riewoldt, so it's probably a good opportunity for blokes to come and help out," he said.

Frawley said the Melbourne defence prided themselves on their unity, which he put down partly to developing together while the club was struggling.

"The experience of the dark days, when the ball was coming in a lot, probably helps out a fair bit," he said.

"Over the last couple of years we've all started to gel together, we know each other's game a bit better, know each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Youngster Jack Trengove and experienced midfielder Brent Moloney will return from injury against Richmond, further strengthening a Demons midfield that has benefited hugely from the return of Colin Sylvia from a foot injury over the past month.

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