AFL Round Three
Updated: Feb 4
Adelaide Crows vs Geelong Cats
Geelong and Adelaide oval have a complicated relationship. When they play Port Adelaide there, they tend to win, having a 75% winning record. When they play Adelaide they tend to lose, having a 25% winning record. Adelaide and football have a complicated relationship. They won the minor premiership and made the Grand Final just two years ago, before forgetting how to play for most of last year, and missing finals, before losing their first home game this season despite starting favourites and barely scraping over the line against a struggling Sydney last week.
The Crows fans spent this entire game booing Patrick Dangerfield every time he went near the ball. Luckily for them he went near the ball a lot, racking up 32 disposals and a goal in a clear best on ground performance. Patrick Dangerfield hasn't played for Adelaide since 2015, mind you, so still booing him this much later is like having a breakdown when you run into your ex at a party four years after she left you for someone else.
Geelong were the better team for three quarters of this game, but for the one quarter that Adelaide were better, they were dominant, clawing the lead back to just three points at three quarter time. The last quarter was all Geelong, however, with Adelaide kicking just one more goal, and the man with the most hair on the ground teamed up with the man with the least hair on the ground for two successive goals, before Gary Rohan put the game beyond doubt.
Melbourne vs Essendon
This game was the first time in twelve years teams positioned last and second last on the ladder have played in a Friday night game. To put that into perspective, the last time this occurred the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants didn't exist yet, and Geelong hadn't won a premiership in 44 years.
The quality of football was about what you'd expect from teams that low down on the ladder, and at several points I found myself thinking "I should switch the the other game," only to realise that it was Friday night and there was no other game, I was stuck with this one. Like some kind of awful football purgatory. The umpires seemed to want to one up the players in terms of terrible performance, awarding an astonishing 51 free kicks for the game.
There was a patch in the second quarter of this game, where Melbourne kicked six unanswered goals, and a part of my brain relaxed, and I went; "It's okay, the Melbourne of last year is back," before Essendon piled on the next eight in a row and the thought was; "Oh no, the Melbourne of 2009 is back." Essendon ended up comfortable winners in this high scoring affair, with both teams employing defensive strategies as more of an afterthought than an idea of any importance. The Dees, now 0 - 3 face the harsh reality that maybe they're not very good at all.
Carlton vs Sydney Swans
This whole tipping football thing is getting very difficult. On paper, Carlton have probably looked better than Sydney in the opening two weeks of football, and this is their home game. But in reality, they're still Carlton, playing against Sydney.
Making things difficult for Carlton was losing genuine up and coming star, Charlie Curnow, and replacing him with the imposing, but less game breaking Levi Casboult. Both teams came into this game winless, which isn't unfamiliar territory for either of these teams coming into round two, only the last seven times it's happened to Sydney, they've made finals. It's almost like a good omen for them. Patrick Cripps and Josh Kennedy played on each other in a match-up that involved enough body contact to make a nun blush. It was hard to say who won the battle, but Sydney won the war.
While Carlton challenged all game, you could just tell the more experienced bodies of the Sydney side were going to hold them off. Kind of like when you play your nephew at Mario Kart. He might beat all the computers, and do well enough. But you've got the experience to finish them off.
GWS Giants vs Richmond
"Well, we've lost Alex Rance, and Baschar Houli in round one," thought Richmond fans, "At least it can't get any worse, right?" "Wrong," said Round 2, breaking Jack Riewoldt's wrist. "Not even close," laughed Round 3, dislocating Jayden Short's elbow, and claiming Trent Cotchin's hamstring.
Considering how short on firepower they were, Richmond did an admirable job of staying in this game for as long as they did - which was up until about five minutes after half time. Tom Lynch continued to prove his value, slotting home four goals - almost half of Richmond's total. At the other end Jeremy Cameron and Finlayson put on a clinic, with Cameron slotting 7 majors and amassing 30 disposals. Not since the back of Harris Andrews' head has he done such damage.
The rebound was exactly what GWS needed after a big loss at the hands of West Coast last week, whilst the Tigers will be left licking their wounds, after another loss leaving them with more injuries, and a worrisome 1-2 start to the season.
Brisbane Lions vs Port Adelaide
The Brisbane Lions went into this game in the unfamiliar territory of being firm favourites against a top 8 side, which, I'm sure, must have been very confusing for some of the five or six year players that have spent their entire careers at the club. Brisbane kicked the first four goals of this game, but it never got any more dire than that for Port Adelaide who just kept hanging around, like a bad smell, or Maroon 5, or The Gold Coast Suns. They even hit the lead in the final quarter, threatening to break the hearts of the Brisbane crowd that is growing in size and excitement with every passing round, but thanks to a six goal effort from Eric Hipwood, much like Celine Dion, their hearts will go on. Lachie Neale showed again how good he's feeling about being as far away from Fremantle as possible, racking up another 43 disposals, now leading all comers in the stat for the season. Port fans will at least be buoyed by the performance of first year player Connor Rozee who snagged five goals, becoming the second person for the round to manage five majors and still not be the leading goalscorer for the game.
Collingwood vs West Coast Eagles
Last season, West Coast couldn't win in Melbourne. Then when they won every game they played in Melbourne, they didn't play enough games there. Then they won the Grand Final. Despite all that, Collingwood came into this game favourites, after a dominant performance against Richmond last week. West Coast welcomed back Andrew Gaff and Jamie Cripps, because we all know they needed more depth in the side. Collingwood led at the first change, but from that point on it was all West Coast - except that unlike last year's grand final West Coast didn't give Collingwood a five goal head start this time, only two but the turnaround was much the same. A moment late in the last quarter where Ryan took an absolute hanger before kicking it to Dom Sheed in the right forward pocket, who slotted the sealer must have sent shivers down the spines of Pies fans, and made a lot of Smith St therapists very busy on Monday morning. With this win, West Coast now haven't lost in Melbourne since 2017, and have now won the last three in a row against the Pies at the MCG. It will be interesting to see the Reason of the Week from AFL media this week about why West Coast still won't be able to win the premiership.
Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Suns
I really respect the way the Bulldogs have gone about their football this season. But only because it reminds me of the way that I study. Do just enough that you're not too far out of your depth, and then make a mad dash at the end, by trying to do everything in the last half hour. They even had a shot on goal to level the scores inside the last minute, and as the siren sounded the ball was being launched inside 50 once more. The Suns, however, are fast making us all realise that we clearly know absolutely nothing about football. Is it the rule changes? Has this group of rejects from other clubs galvanised around the biggest unit of a coach we've ever seen, to play with heart and for their careers? Who knows. The only thing we do know is that they go into round four with two wins in the pocket already, and would be considering themselves a real chance to beat Carlton at home. Which would see them in the top 8 after four weeks. I'm sure Gil is sitting at home feeling real chuffed about that one, as if he had something to do with it. "Ah, yes, letting the Suns lose three captains in two years was all a part of my grand plan to build football in Queensland," Steven May came back to Melbourne this year in a state he said he would every year, which apparently the Dees told him wasn't up to scratch. Which makes you wonder what the Suns are up to with their fitness program, before remembering what Stuart Dew looked like in 2008, and then it all makes sense This would also be a timely moment to point out that in 2019, the Gold Coast Suns have two wins already, whilst Steven May and Tom Lynch currently have a combined one win between them. Gold Coast currently sit a solitary point away from being undefeated so far this year.
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne
Before I even talk about this game, can I just say how much I love seeing North Melbourne wearing the old 1990's jumper as their away strip? It conjures up memories of Wayne Carey taking a great contested mark before bombing a fifty meter goal, or Glenn Archer busting through a pack, with no self regard, to kick it into an open forward line thanks to Pagan's Paddock. To any North fans who read all that and now need to go and clean themselves up, I apologise. This game is the first time in Alastair Clarkson's 332 game career where none of Hodge, Mitchell, Roughead or Burgoyne in the line up, thanks to an injury to the latter last week, and Roughead being a late withdrawal before the game. Uncharted territory to the man many consider to be the master coach of the modern game. North Melbourne kicked the first four goals of this game, and it looked like Hawthorn (and my tips) were in trouble again, before the Hawks' engine room got to work allowing North just four of the next sixteen goals. Hawthorn have a habit of being just a little better than everyone expects them to, and it looks like 2019 is going to be no exception, as names such as Cousins, O'Meara and Worpel begin to fill the colossal voids left by Mitchell, Hodge and Lewis. here's hoping the unpredictable St Kilda can beat them next week, and put an end to the cold sweats I'm currently having thinking about another era of Hawks dominance.
Fremantle vs St Kilda
If you had told me before the season started that I would be genuinely interested in this game, I would have scoffed. However, with St Kilda undefeated, and Fremantle having monstered North Melbourne in round one, I was excited to see who would win the Ross Lyon cup. And it started ... about how we would have expected; with a grand total of four goals in the first quarter.
St Kilda, and in particular Tim Membrey, are making a habit of not going away in games at Perth Stadium, and today was no exception, despite Fremantle getting out to a six goal lead St Kilda clawed it back to a kick at half time, and then again at three quarter time, and then again at the final siren, and had they made the most of their chances, they may well have won this. As some hockey or basketball player once said "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take," well today St Kilda missed 60% of the shots they did take, so it still could have gone a little better for them.
In the week of Liam Picken's heartbreaking retirement, spare a thought, for Nat Fyfe, who, without his man bun for protection was the victim of a sickening head clash with Josh Battle left him heavily concussed. Hopefully he'll just need the weeks rest and be good to go. There's no joke here.
And that's round three complete! We only have two teams left undefeated, and three teams winless - who would have thought that Melbourne would be winless and Brisbane undefeated coming in. Robert Walls maybe?