AFL Round Three Performance Reviews – Part One

Part One


The season is flying by and so too are the chances of some of the league’s biggest clubs. Round Three has affirmed that the 2016 season is going to be one of the most evenly contested in recent memory and a nightmare for footy tippers all-round the country. Let’s have a close look at how the season is progressing for the 18 AFL clubs. For some footy fans this is going to hurt.


PORT ADELAIDE: Except for banking four points not much else could be gained for the Power in Round Three. Last week’s dismal performance against the Crows will be a dark cloud that hovers over the club for many weeks to come. A block of solid consistent performances is what the club and supporters will be looking for.

There is no doubt that if the whole teams performances mirrored that of their superstar midfielder Robbie Gray, then the Power would be one tough team to beat. Gray consistently plays at a level that is unattainable for most players, and will be high in Brownlow Medal contention for the next few years.

After last weeks justified criticism Charlie Dixon put his head down and worked hard to provide a target for his teammates. Dixon is a man mountain and has a real presence in the Power forward line and make no mistake this guy can really play. His performances will be vital in the resurgence of the Port Adelaide Football Club.

There is a good test awaiting the Power in Round Four with a clash against GWS at Manuka Oval. This is a great opportunity for Port Adelaide to claw back some respect from the Football Community, GWS are a tough competitive side but one that the Power should beat if they are to join the competitions elite.

ESSENDON: There was hint of unrealistic expectations placed on the Bombers this week. Last week’s inspiring performance against Melbourne was always going to be hard to replicate for a young Bombers outfit playing away from home. Prime Time games involving the Bombers were always going to be a problem for the AFL and footy fans in general, a Friday Night Game where the result is seemingly already determined is of no benefit to anyone. Which I think is where this unrealistic opiumism around the Bombers came from this week, for the sake of a good game footy fans were willing the Bombers to perform at a level they just aren’t capable of this year.

As poor as Port Adelaide were last week, beating them at home this week was always going to be like climbing Mount Everest for the young Bombers players. By no means were the Bombers embarrassed on Friday Night, they showed all the courage and commitment Coach John Worsfold would have asked from them. Their midfield are a hard working competitive unit lead by David Zaharakis and young gun Zach Merrett who are both playing at a consistently high level. The problem for the Bombers really lies in the Forward line, generating shots at goals is a painfully hard exercise for an Essendon team that relies so heavily on young tall Joe Daniher to kick their goals. Although limited in his options John Worsfold has to construct a functioning Forward set up that is capable of rewarding the tireless hard working performances from the midfield and turning it into numbers on the scoreboard.

Where is Matthew Leuenberger and who is the imposter wearing his jumper? At the beginning of the season the Ruck position would have been seen as one of strength for the Bombers, after a smooth pre season Leuenberger would have been expected to grab his opportunity to be the number one ruckmen in the team and be amongst the best bigmen in the league, but at the moment he will be lucky to keep his spot in the team.

A big plus for the Bombers next week is they will be back home at the MCG against the Geelong Cats. I think Essendon’s better performances this year will come at the MCG, interstate away from home is where the problems will arise for the young Bombers team.

STKILDA: Teams rebuilding their list like the Saints are, need these types of wins to give the club and its fans the confidence and belief that they are on the right track. Drawing inspiration from the clubs legendary players from the 1966 premiership team that were in the stands the current day Saints ran Collingwood off their legs at the MCG. The most pleasing thing for Saints fans is that the win was built on the back of performances from their young running brigade. Jack Billings, Jack Newnes, Seb Ross,Jimmy Webster and Luke Dunstan all played big parts in the win and you got the feeling pretty early on that their effort and commitment was going to remain at a high level for the duration of the game. It was almost as if the Magpies were waiting for what they thought would be an inevitable drop off in intensity from the young Saints, that would allow them to get back into the game. The drop off never came, even with their two key forwards Nick Riewoldt and Patty McCartin seating out the remainder of the game through injury the Saints belief never wavered. Although young forward Paddy McCartin didn’t get much of the ball, there was a few signs during the game that he will be everything the Saints hope he will be. In many ways he is the key pillar to the future success of the St Kilda Football Club, the Saints have compiled a promising group of ball winners and runners but they need a big monster forward to grab the baton off club legend Nick Riewoldt and be the main target up forward.

The recovery of Riewoldt and McCartin will be a massive priority for the Saints this week, as it will be all hands on deck this weekend when they face the toughest challenge in footy , a trip to Aurora Stadium to play the mighty Hawks.

COLLINGWOOD: Houston we have a problem!! I for one was guilty of getting sucked into the Magpies hype this year, some key editions over the last couple have years had given Collingwood a very complete looking list. A top four spot looked a realistic goal for the Magpies this season, but after three rounds they aren’t playing well enough to even make the finals. Injuries are now starting to add to their problems but they are by no means the reason they find themselves in this position. Injuries weren’t a factor in its humiliating performance against the Swans in round one and although there was a few key players missing on the weekend, the team sent out looked more than capable of beating the Saints. Collingwood are a big club and they demand on field success, this is something Coach Nathan Buckley fully understands. Even the fact that Buckley is a favourite son of the Collingwood Football Club won’t save him from the inevitable scrutiny he is about to be put under. A real disappointment for the Magpies in the first three games is despite the midfield talent that has been brought into the club over the last few years it is still Captain Scott Pendelbury that is left to do much off the teams heavy lifting and who’s foot skills stand out like a beacon in a team that continually turns the ball over gifting scoring opportunities to its opposition. The good thing is it is only early in the season but a sense of urgency is needed to turn their form around and get their season back on track.

A game against Melbourne at the MCG is a very winnable game for the Magpies. But it also represents a big danger, throwing away anymore wins against the bottom half sides would put more pressure on them to win the harder games that will inevitably come. Breaking point has been reached and no more mistakes can be tolerated.

RICHMOND: Another big Melbourne club in an early season form slump. After three seasons of finals footy Tigers supporters were expected their team to take the next step and contend for a premiership this season, but that looks a million miles away at the moment. Not yet knowing the full capabilities of the Adelaide Crows this year makes this Tigers performance hard to rate, the crows have shown good early season form and it may be the case that they are just a better team than the Tigers this year. This fact would be heart breaking for the Tigers faithful as it would mean they are heading in the wrong direction, a season of going backwards wasn’t in this years script. One of the main problems of the Tigers haven’t been able to properly fix over the last couple of years is the contribution they get from their bottom five or six players. Richmond have had a very talented core group of players that have won the club plenty of games over the last three seasons, but against the top echelon of teams that have a greater spread of talent the Tigers are sometimes exposed. An honest look at the Richmond team that took on the Crows show that there was five or six players that would struggle to get regular games in the competitions best sides. The inclusions of Chris Yarran, Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric are very much needed to get their season back on track. Along with a couple of surprise packets, a couple of hidden gems that can put their hand up this year and boost the level of output across the whole team.

Games don’t get much harder than the West Coast Eagles at Domain Stadium. But the Tigers must simply find a way to win because a 1-3 start to the season leaves them a big mountain to climb. I think the boys better put their hiking boots on!!

ADELAIDE: The surprise packet of the season so far. The Forward line options the Crows have is almost unfair, with a number of AFL clubs struggling to find forwards to kick their goals the Crows seem to have a production line full of them. Even the late withdrawal of the lead up machine Tom Lynch didn’t diminish the scoring power of the Crows. Mitch McGovern continues to develop with every game he plays, his marking is a real feature of his game and he could become a big weapon for the Crows as a swingman. Eddie Betts continues to dazzle the Crows fans with his sublime skills, but Betts’ all-round game has improved over the last couple of seasons with the little magician leading up the ground to provide a target for his teammates to help cover the loss of Tom Lynch. One of the highlights of the Richmond vs Adelaide game was a couple of the goals kicked by Richard Douglas. The ball comes off Douglas’ boot like it has been shot out of gun, and he unloaded a couple of cannon shots that blew through the goals, it was a pleasure to watch.

The blockbuster match of round four is the game at the Adelaide oval between the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans. This match will give an early indication into the credentials of both these in form teams.






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