It is round 3. The competition sits poised after 3 weeks of competition with an unlikely and unpredictable landscape. As we look at the ladder a few things leap out to the average punter.
Gary Ablett – sorry, I mean the Gold Coast Suns, had their first win of the season, against the Dynasty of Hawthorn which seems all too much like it is at it’s end. After what was a tumultuous week of speculation and talk regarding where the club is at and what has gone wrong, it was a pleasure to see the side go out and stun the Hawks early with the opening 3 goals. More importantly than that, Ablett struck back with 36 disposals and two goals to leave a lasting mark on the media as he aided his side to the win. The other notables are Matera with six goals, Jack Martin 23 disposals and three goals, Touk Miller, Aaron Hall and Adam Saad who basically took the game away from them on the back of some fantastic tap work from the Collingwood import, Jarrod Witts. The flip-side of that, is the Hawks.
It is territory virtually unheard of for a club which has won four Premierships in ten years. The axe was swung by the Suns and the aggressive and fast-paced nature with which the game was played, was all too intense for the men of brown and gold. The contested possession debate has raged on with Hawthorn for a number of years, that the stat isn’t of key interest for them due to the way they set up behind the ball and effectively counter through their elite foot skills. Sunday was one for the books, 62 contested possessions less than the Gold Coast Suns and to go with it 25 more clearances on the back of a stellar performance from Jarrod Witts. They were slow, and fragile at the cold-face, and had trouble converting their D50 ball into attacking options in transition. Outscored by 42 from turnovers to round out being 0-3 staring down the barrel of Geelong – unbeaten – on Easter Monday.
Sydney, less of a hole at 0-3 when you can reel off the names – and they’re all out – Tippett, Heeney, Papley, McVeigh, Rohan, Rampe. That is an injury list reminiscent of the Gold Coast Suns of a few years ago, where more than 6 first team selection players were unavailable. They’ve fought gallantly though, being runover by Port in week one, edged out by the Dogs last week and then beaten by one point against Collingwood, where if they had an extra minute were on the verge of coming out on top. The young players they have in now getting experience is vital as their stars sit out, and I believe it will hold them in good stead for the future. Names which we will become all too familiar with in the coming months and years to follow; Will Hayward, Robbie Fox, Oliver Florent, Nic Newman (a personal favourite of mine being a huge Seinfeld buff), Jordan Foote, Harrison Marsh. Bright future, but they will be more than likely falling deeper as they face West Coast in Perth this week, followed by GWS in a fortnight for the ‘Battle of the Bridge’.
Richmond have three wins… Let that sink in for a moment. THREE WINS. Truly, an emphatic start for them this year, and it comes down to several things but the main one being, they’re moving the ball a lot faster. The chip, chip, chip garbage has been thrown out it seems, as Richmond are averaging over 100 points per week. I don’t think anyone at the start of the year would have had them in this type of position. Comfortable against the Blues, weathered the storm against Collingwood early to come out on top, and made West Coast look slow running the other way as the Eagles continued a run of missing opportunities at early stages at the ‘G. Dustin Martin has been nothing short of electrifying, 40 disposals on the weekend and two goals with 15 clearances including 5 from the centre bounce. Daniel Rioli is showing shades of Cyril every week, not impacting the stats sheet heavily with touches, but having a few strokes of genius each game, he finished with two goals as Richmond ride out to 3-0 in, unheard of this century, and will face Brisbane in Brisbane this week.