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Saturday, April 17, 2021

AFL round 3 review: Upsets and uncertainty

The second week back delivered the league even more upsets and a whole lot of uncertainty.

The future of the Essendon Bombers season is up in the air after Connor McKenna tested positive to COVID-19 with their round 3 match against the Demons postponed.

Meanwhile, the action on the field produced some interesting results with the reigning premiers losing badly and the Carlton Blues producing one of the great upsets.

Richmond Tigers 5.9 (39) lost to Hawthorn Hawks 11.5 (71)

What a difference a week makes

What a turnaround for the Hawks. They were well beaten by Geelong last round but after Alistair Clarkson lashed his midfield following that match, you knew his side would respond.

The addition of Jaeger O’Meara back into the midfield was significant as he slotted in seamlessly with 23 disposals and a goal. Isaac Smith was also outstanding on the wing for the Hawks, racking up a game high 29 touches and one goal.

The Tigers finished the match with 8 more inside 50s than the Hawks but their quality of entry was far inferior.

The usual Richmond pressure just wasn’t there for the first three quarters with the Hawks opening up the Tigers’ defence with ease, particularly in the first half.

Like their game last round, the Tigers played their best footy in the last quarter in a sign that perhaps they’re still adjusting to the shorter matches.

Western Bulldogs 8.9 (57) defeated GWS Giants 4.9 (33)

Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you

The Giants tried the same tactic that worked so well in last year’s final against the Dogs, coming into this match with an aggressive mindset, trying to upset the Bulldogs.

In that final, the Giants got stuck into Marcus Bontempelli from the first bounce and the Dogs couldn’t respond, succumbing to their physicality around the ball.

The Dogs were more than ready for it this time and beat them where it mattered, in the contest and on the scoreboard.

The Dogs’ pressure and quick ball movement saw them dominate the match for large periods and they probably should’ve won by more.

The Giants, on the other hand, moved the ball extremely slowly and never looked like kicking a winning score.

However, they were missing some big names with Toby Greene and Josh Kelly both out, while Lachie Whitfield was ruled out in the first quarter after a heavy knock to the head.

The game never reached great heights in terms of the football that was played, and an all-in melee as the third quarter expired was easily the highlight of the match.

The third quarter melee was one of few highlights for the match.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 8.12 (60) lost to Sydney Swans 10.11 (71)

A good blend of young and old

The Kangaroos came into this match as favourites having beaten the Giants the week before, but couldn’t sustain another four-quarter effort against the Swans.

The Roos started hot with Ben Brown kicking two early goals, but some easy misses at goal allowed the Swans to kick into gear and, once they found the front, they were never seriously challenged.

Jy Simpkin was again superb for the Roos but unfortunately had little help from the rest of his midfield, with star Shaun Higgins held to just 11 disposals.

The Swans had an even contribution from both their senior and less experienced players, with the likes of Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Isaac Heeney and James Rowbottom all starring.

Swans skipper Josh Kennedy showed he’s still got it against the Kangaroos.

Collingwood Magpies 12.9 (81) defeated St Kilda Saints 5.7 (37)

Class is permanent

Nathan Buckley was disappointed with his side’s performance in their 36-all draw against the Tigers but he would’ve been wrapped with this effort.

The Pies burst out of the blocks, leading by 20 points at quarter time and cruised home from there.

The pressure they applied was too much for the Saints and the veterans, Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom, just keep getting better with age.

The Saints came into this clash confident after a big win last week against the Bulldogs but simply couldn’t match it with the Pies.

Max King is still so young, it’s hard to rely on him to carry the role as sole key forward, so they need more out of Tim Membrey, or whoever the resting ruckman is between Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marhsall.

Brisbane Lions 10.14 (74) defeated West Coast Eagles 6.8 (44)

It’s a hub-knock life for the Eagles

Life in the Gold Coast hub goes from bad to worse for the Eagles after back-to-back defeats to the Queensland sides.

The Eagles were in front by 4 points at half-time but just like last week, they fell away badly in the second half to give the Lions a comfortable victory.

The Eagles were beaten in both contested and uncontested footy and lost the inside 50 count by 16, all damning stats that show they’ve restarted the season completely off pace.

For the Lions, again Lachie Neale was superb and surely in contention for the Brownlow Medal after three stellar performances to start the year.

He wasn’t alone in the middle though, with young gun Hugh McCluggage and Jarryd Lyons both playing outstandingly well.

Jarrod Berry was in sublime touch for the Lions as they beat the Eagles.

Geelong Cats 11.11 (77) lost to Carlton Blues 12.7 (79)

It’s the season for upsets

There have been so many upsets already this season, but this one may take the cake as the best.

The Cats were so impressive last week smashing the Hawks and with such a good record down in Geelong, it seemed like this would just be another standard win for them.

Well, the Blues had other ideas. After their starts to games were questioned during the week, the Blues started this one on fire, leading 33 to 8 at quarter time.

They maintained that level of play for three quarters and went into the last quarter with a 35-point lead, but things got tight from there.

The Cats stormed home to get within 2 points with a minute to go but a brilliant tackle from Eddie Betts in the middle of the ground was rewarded with a free kick and the Blues hung on for the win.

Hopefully, the Blues can use the victory as a springboard to greater things in season 2020, while for the Cats, a 1-2 start leaves them vulnerable.

Gold Coast Suns 12.10 (82) defeated Adelaide Crows 4.5 (29)

The Suns are starting to shine

I’m not sure even the most confident Suns fan would’ve thought their team would be in third place on the ladder after three rounds – but that’s where we find ourselves in season 2020.

The Suns absolutely smashed the Crows from start to finish and, with Fremantle to come next week, they have every chance to win 3 in a row.

Matt Rowell is a contender for the Rising Star Award already and showed his class with a goal from outside 50 on his non-dominant left foot. You don’t see that often from AFL players and this guy’s only in his third game. Wow!

After a difficult week in the headlines, it just goes from bad to worse for the Crows with another humiliating loss seeing them sit last on the ladder.

They look devoid of any confidence on the field and face the tough task of playing the Lions in Brisbane next week.

The only positive for them at the moment is the fact they’re in a hub on the Gold Coast and away from the intense scrutiny in Adelaide.

The few Suns fans that were allowed in certainly enjoyed themselves.

Fremantle Dockers 6.5 (41) lost to Port Adelaide Power 10.10 (70)

The Power could be the real deal

After years of promising a lot and failing to deliver, could this be the year the Power finally challenge for a flag?

After being burnt before, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon just yet, but they have easily accounted for their opponents in the first three weeks back.

The only issue is perhaps a lack of competition from those sides, but they face the Eagles and Lions in the next two weeks so we should know a little bit more about the Power in a fortnight.

The Dockers are winless after three weeks but have shown they are a competitive football side.

Their star players in Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters continue to play well but they need more from their younger brigade coming through.

Essendon Bombers vs Melbourne Demons – Game Postponed

The match was postponed due to Essendon’s Conor McKenna testing positive to COVID-19 after breaching AFL protocols.

Whether this game is rescheduled or completely cancelled remains to be seen while we wait and see just how many other Essendon players, if any, also have the virus.

The Essendon Bombers headquarters were closed for cleaning after Conor McKenna tested positive to COVID-19.

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