The Western Bulldogs’ Jake Stringer lit up many AFL grounds last season and, if his early form is anything to go by, there’s plenty more to come in 2016.
The powerful All-Australian forward starred in his side’s 31-point win over Greater Western Sydney in their first NAB Challenge match on a steamy Thursday night at Manuka Oval.
After a somewhat wayward start, Stringer helped steady the ship – kicking three goals from 17 touches and six marks in the 1.13.17 (104) to 11.7 (73) victory.
It came as little surprise, with the versatile 21-year-old star enjoying a flawless pre-season and motivated by the Bulldogs’ 2015 finals defeat.
Stringer, together with midfielder Koby Stevens (29 disposals, one goal), ran an inexperienced Giants outfit ragged – as did the heat – in the nation’s capital.
The temperature hit 38 degrees during the day and barely dropped below 30 throughout the game.
It might have been what affected the Bulldogs’ accuracy early, kicking 2.7 in the opening quarter.
The Giants matched their first-term goal tally, but could add just three more in the next two quarters.
They stepped it up after the final break with six majors.
GWS coach Leon Cameron opted to rest his best this week, keeping recruit Steve Johnson, Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw, Callan Ward, Ryan Griffen and Phil Davis all in Sydney.
Most, if not all, are expected to return in next week’s clash with Sydney in Drummoyne.
But Cameron wanted to put his youngest charges to the test as they fought for a spot in his best 22.
And they showed glimpses of promise.
Youngster Rory Lobb continued to impress with two goals and 13 disposals, while stand-in skipper Stephen Coniglio, James Stewart and Will Hoskin-Elliott each booted two majors.
Rhys Palmer, who had to manage Stringer, led the disposal (20) and mark (9) count for the Giants.
High draftees Jacob Hopper and Matthew Kennedy put in plenty of effort but saw little of the ball.
Hopper capped off his debut in orange with a goal in the final quarter.
Jonathon Patton continued his comeback from two knee reconstructions with six disposals and four marks.