Winners and Losers: Round 3

Round three had its fair share of milestones and statement games. As always, there are winners and there are losers. Here is everything you need to know about the third round of the 2012 AFL season.

 

Winners

 

Carlton

The Blues went into their Friday night clash with the Magpies with quite a bit to prove. Carlton had failed to beat any top four sides last season, and another failure against a premiership contender would cast doubt over their chances at a 17th flag.

Their performance went a long way to ease those concerns. The Blues put on an emphatic performance and made last year’s runners up look second rate, winning by a 60 point margin that may have actually flattered Collingwood.

As an aside, Carlton’s ascension up the ladder is making first overall draft picks look even shinier. Marc Murphy continues to stake his claim for the title of ‘best midfielder not named Gary’,  Bryce Gibbs put forth an impressive résumé for the position of ‘best utility player not named Brendon’, while Matthew Kreuzer just made Darren Jolly look old.

 

North Melbourne

The mob that calls Arden Street home can lay claim to having an even bigger win than the blues. Similar questions existed over North’s ability to beat good sides heading into the round, and now we know they are capable. The focus must now be on performing at that level consistently.

The shining light of the night was surely the Kangaroos ball movement by hand and their midfield. Led by Jack Ziebell and Ryan Bastinac, who combined for 53 touches and an incredible 8 goals, the Kangaroos cut apart the Cats for most of the game. Fellow midfielders Andrew Swallow, Daniel Wells and Brent Harvey each registered over 30 disposals themselves, speaking volumes about the impressive work rate of the North Melbourne engine room throughout the match.

Up forward it was Aaron Edwards who kicked 4 goals straight. While many players wonder what their post playing career will be, Edwards will surely walk straight into a set shot consulting job, which, judging by most of the league, is sure to be lucrative.

 

Statistics

It was a round for the stat geeks as several notable statistical landmarks were reached.

The Saturday night match between the Suns and the Bombers was the setting for a few statistics of interest. Dustin Fletcher became only the 12th player to play in 350 AFL games, while Gary Ablett became the first player to amass 350 touches in a single game.

Only one of those is true.

While he didn’t quite get 350 touches (maybe next week?), Gary Ablett has started the first three games of the 2012 season with 40 or more touches, the first time this feat has ever been achieved (though I am sure I had a pretty long run of 50+ disposal games in my backyard a few years back. Champion Data mustn’t have been paying attention). In fact, if you include round 24 of last season, Ablett is now on a four game 40+ streak.

So far this season the captain of the Suns has had 128 disposals. Last year it was Matthew Boyd who led the league at the end of round 24 with 701 disposals. If Ablett keeps up this incredible pace, he will top that mark with 6 games to spare.

The clash between the Dockers and the Lions birthed another piece of trivia, as the Brisbane Lions claimed the record for the least amount of forward 50 entries in a game with a paltry 20. The ball spent so little time in the Brisbane forward line than Jonathan Brown can only vaguely recall what it looks like.

 

Karmichael Hunt

Don’t look now, but Karmichael Hunt may be a better version of Campbell Brown than Campbell Brown. The Rugby convert spent Saturday night ferociously attacking the ball and Angus Monfries. Hunt was involved in several impressive segments of play, laid numerous shepherds, collected 16 possessions and was legitimately one of the Sun’s better players on the weekend.

 

Richmond

The Tigers make the winners list simply because they didn’t lose. The facilities at Punt Road remain in good condition as a result.

 

Losers

 

Everyone who supports a team other than Richmond

Let’s be honest, if the Tigers had lost to the Demons, the subsequent meltdown from the Tiger faithful would have been most amusing in a cruel way. We’ll just have to settle for Collingwood eating each other alive instead. Much more rewarding.

 

Western Bulldogs

The St Kilda v Western Bulldogs game was billed as one that would illustrate where both clubs are. While St Kilda remains a bit of an unknown (genuine contenders, or just treading water above the bottom eight?), the Western Bulldogs showed they were closer to the bottom than they are the top. It’s never a good sign if your side has had more brain snaps than wins.

 

Adelaide

In another era it may have been the Adelaide Crows and not an apple that inspired Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation. Brenton Sanderson’s side returned to reality on Sunday with an almighty thump, losing heavily while being thoroughly outclassed by Hawthorn. The Crows remained inexplicably close throughout the first quarter and a half, before their inaccurate set shots (I hope somebody handed Aaron Edwards’ card to Kurt Tippett) and the superior ability of the Hawks took hold. Hawthorn accumulated 103 more disposals than their opponents and took an astonishing 140 marks, compared to only 52 from the Crows.

Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for the Crows their stay in reality will be short lived, as they host the Giants in round four.

 

Retirement Homes

Over the past decade our great game has gotten faster, causing many commentators to predict footballers would be out of the game at an earlier age than in eras gone by.

Apparently some of the guys running around on the weekend didn’t get the memo. As mentioned earlier Dustin Fletcher, who turns 37 next month, played in his 350th game and didn’t look out of place. Indeed, the lanky Bomber was involved in several desperation moments in the fourth quarter as his side held off a valiant effort from the Gold Coast Suns.

In the Sunday twilight game North Melbourne stalwart Brent Harvey outworked any opponent the Cats put on him on his way to 38 touches and a customary goal. After watching his performance you could be forgiven for thinking he was turning 24, not 34, in May.

About Adam Ritchie

My name is Adam. I started watching football with two fellow parapsychologists in an abandoned firehouse. When we’re not watching footy, we’re running our own pest control business. What do you mean I stole that from Ghostbusters?

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