2014 AFL Round 3 Preview

AFL 2017

Welcome to the Round 3 AFL preview. After a couple of rounds footy we haven’t learned too much more than we already knew. Hawthorn and Fremantle still appear to be the teams to beat and will play off in the Grand Final rematch on Friday night. Unfortunately, both sides will be without key personnel which will make it difficult to take much out of the encounter. There has been a general consensus around media and supporters that the season has started off rather flat, with low attendances and TV audiences supporting the theory. Whether last season’s drug saga is taking its toll or not, the opening rounds certainly haven’t generated the interest of previous years.

We currently have six undefeated sides going into Round 3, with West Coast, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Hawthorn and St Kilda leading the pack. Carlton, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, the Dogs and Melbourne are all yet to register points and will be desperate to gain their first victories as history does not paint a pretty picture for sides who are 0-3.

BEST BET

Essendon to win @ the $2.10 -18.5 point line.

HAWTHORN ($1.70) vs FREMANTLE ($2.20)

AT THE MCG, FRIDAY 04/04/14, 19:50

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: GF   2013   Hawthorn   11.11   (77)   dftd   Fremantle   8.14   (62)   at the MCG 

Line: Hawthorn -6.5, Fremantle +6.5

The Grand Final rematch was beginning to create some serious hype, but unfortunately a host of unavailable stars from each side has lowered the expectations of the contest.

Hawthorn had a serious scare against Essendon before Cyril Rioli kicked the match winning goal to keep the Hawks undefeated. Hawthorn started the night with former captain Sam Mitchell being a late withdrawal after failing a fitness test, while matters got worse in the third quarter when current captain Luke Hodge limped off the ground with a groin injury. Hodge has ruled himself out for Friday night, while Mitchell trained well on Thursday and has been named.

The Dockers have had to deal with their own star casualty list. Nat Fyfe and Zac Dawson were hit with stiff suspensions from the Match Review Panel, while Michael Barlow has been diagnosed with a left knee sprain which will keep him sidelined for up to 6 weeks. Before the disappointing news, Fremantle had been flying with convincing victories against Collingwood and the Gold Coast Suns. Ross Lyon’s men have only conceded 10 goals over the first two rounds, confirming that there is daylight between them and any other side defensively.

The Dockers usually deal well with key omissions, but Fyfe, Barlow and Dawson are big holes to fill. Hodge is obviously a big loss for the Hawks, but the inclusion of Mitchell certainly helps. I liked the chances of Fremantle earlier in the week, but my interest has eased slightly. This is a genuine 50-50 contest.

HAWTHORN TO WIN BY 3 POINTS

WESTERN BULLDOGS ($3.30) vs RICHMOND ($1.34)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SATURDAY 05/04/14, 13:45

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R13   2013   Western Bulldogs   8.13   (61)   lost to   Richmond   17.19   (121)   at Etihad.

Line: Dogs +18.5, Richmond -18.5

The Western Bulldogs have started the season in disappointing fashion. The red hot West Coast Eagles dealt with them comfortably in Round 1, while it let a good opportunity against North Melbourne slip in the second half last week. Winning the footy first was the obvious strength of the Doggies in 2013, but it has dropped off dramatically early in 2014. It is currently ranked 17th for contested possessions over the first two rounds (averaging only 124), while clearances aren’t much better with an average of 37 a game (14th overall). Tom Liberatore hasn’t been bad over the first two weeks, but he has only gathered 10 clearances overall after averaging more than 8 a game last season. Ryan Griffen started off slowly, but will improve as he gets further minutes in the legs, while no one else has put the hand up to fill the stoppage void. The numbers are concerning for Brendan McCartney, but at least he knows what they are capable of producing.

The Tigers were jittery against Carlton after giving up a lead that has been so familiar in encounters between those sides, but ultimately got the job done. Richmond will be pleased to have passed two bogey sides with at least one win and now come up against a Bulldogs team that it has had recent success against with an average winning margin of 65.66 points over the last three contests. Brett Deledio has developed a habit of mauling the Dogs, but will miss the clash with an ankle injury.

The Dogs just look off at the moment. Richmond should win comfortably.

RICHMOND TO WIN BY 34 POINTS

ADELAIDE ($2.25) vs SYDNEY ($1.64)

AT ADELAIDE OVAL, SATURDAY 05/04/14, 14:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R11   2013   Adelaide   6.14   (50)   lost to   Sydney   19.13   (127)   at AAMI

Line: Adelaide +6.5, Sydney -6.5

Now this is an extremely important result for both sides. They currently sit at 0-2 apiece, with the loser obviously left in the difficult situation of 0-3. Not many sides make the finals from 0-3 and even though it is very early in the season, the game has a bit of a make or break feel about it.

The Adelaide Crows have been better than their 38 and 54 point losses suggest. The Crows led early in the final quarter against Geelong, while it appeared to hold all the momentum when it hit the lead halfway through the third quarter against Port Adelaide. But Adelaide have conceded 13 goals in its two fourth quarters, blowing the margins out and creating doubts as to whether the group is fit enough to run out games. They have also conceded a ridiculous 194 points from turnovers over the two rounds, which suggests the aggressive movement needs to be wound down. Brad Crouch will miss 6 weeks with a fibula fracture.

There won’t be any other side in the competition more desperate for a victory than the Sydney Swans. Things didn’t get any better on Saturday night as another last quarter lapse saw the Pies run away to a 20 point victory. Positively, the Swans come into this encounter having won 3 of the last 4 contests in Adelaide against the Crows, but of course they have never set foot on Adelaide Oval. Buddy Franklin showed some signs of why he was signed to a nine year contract with two goals, but he’ll need to produce more than that to get to knockers off his back.

Both sides have struggled to run games out, but the Crows at least showed promising signs against quality opposition. The Crows will be determined to get off the mark at Adelaide Oval.

ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 7 POINTS

GOLD COAST ($1.62) vs BRISBANE ($2.30)

AT METRICON STADIUM, SATURDAY 05/04/14, 16:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R15   2013   Brisbane Lions   17.14   (116)   dftd   Gold Coast   12.11   (83)   at GABBA

Line: Gold Coast -7.5, Brisbane +7.5

The seventh instalment of the Q Clash sees the two Queensland sides in intriguing positions of their development. Gold Coast won the first ever Q Clash, but since then Brisbane have dominated by winning the last five contests.

Taking on the experienced Fremantle side in Perth was always going to be a difficult task, but the Suns hardly disgraced itself. The wet conditions would have suited last year’s grand finalist and restricted the away sides run, but the Suns still managed to win the clearances despite the dominance of Aaron Sandilands in the ruck who recorded 58 hit outs. Unfortunately Harley Bennell has suffered another setback with his calf injury which is set to see him miss a further 2-3 weeks.

The Brisbane Lions couldn’t replicate the heroics against Geelong last year. There was plenty to be pleased about though as youngsters Sam Mayes (4 goals), Lewis Taylor (19 disposals) and James Aish (15 disposals) all had impacts on the game at different times. The major positive for the Lions will be the inclusion of Tom Rockliff who missed the Geelong game through suspension.

Brisbane have won the last 5 encounters, but the Suns look ready to overtake its big brother. The midfield of Ablett, Prestia, Swallow and Rischitelli has been outstanding and looks too strong for the Lions to cover.

GOLD COAST TO WIN BY 24 POINTS

COLLINGWOOD ($2.33) vs GEELONG ($1.60)

AT THE MCG, SATURDAY 05/04/14, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R8   2013   Collingwood   15.12   (102)   dftd   Geelong   14.12   (96)   at MCG

Line: Collingwood +8.5, Geelong -8.5

Nathan Buckley looked a relieved man as Collingwood continued its successful record at ANZ Stadium against the Swans. Coming into Round 3 at 0-2 against a strong Geelong side wouldn’t have been the nicest situation to be fronted with. Scott Pendlebury looks to have lifted his game to another level with the responsibility of the captaincy and had one of his best games for Collingwood, collecting 33 possessions on top of 9 clearances, 11 inside 50s and 10 tackles. He also has an outstanding record against the Cats averaging 32.5 possessions over the last 5 encounters. The form of Dane Swan is concerning, as he had his lowest return of disposals in six years on Saturday night. He looked sore and at times unfit due to a poor work rate, but they are deceiving characteristics we have become accustomed to with Swanny. Nathan Brown misses due to a dislocated shoulder.

Geelong had another comfortable victory on Sunday and are making some experts question the opinion that they could be finished. The introduction of Hamish McIntosh has seen the Cats far more competitive at the stoppages than last year. If the injury prone tall can stay out on the park, the midfield we find itself so much more dangerous. Taylor Hunt will miss through suspension, while Corey Enright has been named but faces a race against time to be fit after sustaining an ankle injury against Brisbane. Jared Rivers returns for the Cats.

Collingwood have won the last three encounters in tight tussles, but the Cats look far sharper at this early stage of the season.

GEELONG TO WIN BY 19 POINTS.

WEST COAST ($1.02) vs ST KILDA ($14.00)

AT PATERSONS STADIUM, SATURDAY 05/04/2014, 19:40

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R11   2013   St Kilda   11.14   (80)   lost to   West Coast   12.12   (84)   at ETIHAD

Line: West Coast -63.5, St Kilda, +63.5

The West Coast Eagles are the form side of the competition. In saying that, they have only managed to defeat bottom four contenders Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in extremely one sided matches. They again find themselves up against a side with low expectations, albeit one that is undefeated after two rounds. The win against Melbourne didn’t come without consequence though, as big kicking defender Shannon Hurn went down with a knee injury that will see him miss 4-6 weeks.

Many didn’t expect the Saints to be 2-0 after Round 2, but they have only come up against Melbourne and GWS thus far. The test against West Coast is a massive step up in quality and we’ll get a greater indication of where St Kilda are at. Nick Riewoldt has started the season potentially as well as ever, as he leads the Coleman and most likely the Brownlow after two outstanding performances. He will have to produce similar outputs if the Saints are going to be competitive.

West Coast are fit and firing. The line looks about right for this game.

WEST COAST TO WIN BY 65 POINTS

GWS ($1.30) vs MELBOURNE ($3.55)

AT SPOTLESS STADIUM, SUNDAY 06/04/2014, 13.10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R19   2013   GWS Giants   19.10   (124)   dftd   Melbourne   12.15   (87)   at SPOTLESS

Line: GWS -22.5, Melbourne +22.5

All the teams expected to finish low on the ladder appear to be playing each other early in the season and this encounter is no exception. This match could well determine the wooden spoon, especially considering the Saints are undefeated.

It so could have been a 2-0 for the Giants to start the year, but it couldn’t quite take advantage of a dominant final quarter possession percentage in its forward half. The signs are extremely positive though as the Leon Cameron game plan continues to take shape in front of our eyes. The likes of Stephen Conliglo, Toby Green, Devon Smith and Curly Hampton are looking more comfortable at the highest level with every appearance, while the injection of experience has made an immediate impact.

Melbourne were back to the old atrocious ways. It had only scored 1.3.9 until late in the third quarter before 3 latish goals made an ugly scoreboard somewhat more respectable. The 93 point loss was actually the largest loss in Paul Roos’ decorated coaching career and is sure to rest uneasily with him. The Dees somehow managed more disposals than West Coast and only had 14 less inside 50s, but couldn’t find the required options up forward. They desperately need Dawes and Hogan in the side.

The Dees will continue to lose games with no forward options. GWS are justified $1.30 favourites.

GWS TO WIN BY 16 POINTS

NORTH MELBOURNE ($2.10) vs PORT ADELAIDE ($1.73)

AT ETIHAD STADIUM, SUNDAY 06/04/2014, 16:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R6   2013   North Melbourne   14.9   (93)   dftd   Port Adelaide   12.11   (83)   at BLUNDSTONE

Line: North +4.5, Port -4.5

This is probably the game I’m most looking forward too. The result of this match answers plenty of questions and you get the feeling the winner could get the momentum boast to really enhance its season.

It was a far more impressive display by North Melbourne against the Western Bulldogs. While the match had a notably ugly first half, both sides were always going to go into the encounter with contested and congested agendas, which ultimately saw the Roos came out on top. Brad Scott’s men won the clearance and contested ball counts which set the tone of the victory, but they did need a final quarter master class from the soon to be 36 year old Brent Harvey. The little fellow finished with 25 touches and 3 goals and proved to still be one of the best line-breaking players in the competition despite his age.

Not only are people discussing finals for Port Adelaide, but there are some quiet murmurs of this side being a contender. I think that is premature as it needs to be remembered Port Adelaide are still one of the youngest lists in the competition and Premierships are generally dominated by the matured sides. What they have proven is that they are one of the best running sides getting around and Ken Hinkley has actually challenged opposition sides to try outrun his team. It is bold stuff.

I like North’s chances here, but the Port Adelaide form is difficult to ignore.

PORT ADELAIDE TO WIN BY 11 POINTS

ESSENDON ($1.48) vs CARLTON ($2.65)

AT THE MCG, SUNDAY 06/04/2014, 19:10

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTER: R22   2013   Carlton   9.22   (76)   lost to   Essendon   12.10   (82)   at MCG 

Line: Essendon -14.5, Carlton +14.5

Essendon nearly pulled off an early season upset against the reigning premier after the newly crowned crowd favourite Paul Chapman put his new side up with just minutes left. Optimism was quickly overtaken by disappointment as Cyril Rioli kicked the winning goal, but Mark Thompson was fast in taking a glass half full approach to the result. The Bombers didn’t get the points, but the positives were there for all to see.  They currently lead the competition for disposals, disposal efficiency, clearances and are high in many other categories. The immediate issue is finding a ruck solution while Ryder and Bellchambers recover from ankle injuries.

It is do or die time for the Blues as 0-3 generally equates to trouble as I discussed earlier. Admittedly, Carlton were 0-3 in 2013, but we can’t forget that the Blues made the finals due to the poor management of another club. There were so many frustrating moments for Mick Malthouse on Thursday night that it was little wonder he was pulling his hair out. The missed shots at goal were deplorable, while some of the turnovers in the defensive half were embarrassing. The excuses are running thin on Carlton and it time for some of the senior players to meet expectations. Matthew Kreuzer has finally succumbed to that foot injury which requires surgery, keeping him off the field for 12-14 weeks. Andrew Walker is a welcomed inclusion.

Essendon have won 3 of the last 4 encounters against Carlton by slim margins, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see this blow out. The $2.10 -18.5 Essendon points line looks potentially charitable based on the form lines.

ESSENDON TO WIN 38 POINTS

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Author

mm

Rover

Covering all things Australian Rules Football for The Profits. I’ve been a passionate supporter and follower of AFL for as long as I can remember. Having been born into a family with deep football history and tradition on both sides, you can say it runs through my blood. I’ve got a keen interest in the stats and analysis of the game, which helped me finish in the top 100 of fantasy competitions DreamTeam and Supercoach last year. While my own local football career was cut short due to injury at 22, it has created an opportunity for me to frequently watch and build a deep knowledge of the sport at its highest level. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and views throughout the season.

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