Round 3 wash-up: Are Port and Essendon the real deal?

Andrew Slevison Roar Rookie

By Andrew Slevison, Andrew Slevison is a Roar Rookie

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    Round 3 saw Essendon and Port Adelaide record character-building victories, whilst Carlton are one of just four teams not to open their winning account this year.

    It’s the week after AFL Round 3 action and here I sit, looking at a ladder that has Essendon and Port Adelaide sitting at the summit. Not many would have picked that this early in the season, but we must look more closely at why these sides are sitting where they are.

    Has it been luck, a favourable draw, under performing opposition or the fact that these two teams are actually the real deal despite nobody backing them in 2013?

    On the other side of the coin, Carlton’s hopes have been battered by an inept beginning to the season and they will be looking to recover quickly in order to restore sanity under Mick Malthouse.

    Positives

    The early-season form of Essendon and Port Adelaide

    The Bombers have shrugged off all the allegations plastered on them by the media to assert their authority on the competition after just three matches.

    A surprising 35-point win over Adelaide away in Round 1 preceded a 148-point annihilation of a pitiful Melbourne side before they showed an enormous amount of character which saw them overcome a six-goal deficit to overrun the more-fancied Fremantle in Perth, kicking nine goals to two in the second-half to win by four points.

    Sure, it may have been a different story if Chris Mayne had not capitulated in front of goal at the death, but the fact is the Bombers got up against the odds to record one of its most stirring wins in recent history.

    Halfway through the second quarter it appeared as though the Dons would struggle to kick a goal, let alone win the game, and credit must go to coach James Hird for handling the off-field situation in the manner he has and shifting focus on his players who were full of spirit and passion to make it three from three to kickstart 2013 in fine fashion.

    It seems as though the Dons are made of much sterner stuff that many outsiders gave them credit for!

    Another team not tipped to trouble the scorers on too many occasions this season are Port Power, but they have handled everything thrown at them, culminating in a hard-fought South Australian derby win over Adelaide on Sunday.

    Many thought the Power would only improve slightly on their mediocre output of 2012 but they have already exceeded expectations by knocking off the Crows who have been tipped as certain finalists and even top-four contenders.

    Big wins over Melbourne and GWS may not seem much but the 79- and 56-point respective margins show that Port aren’t around to make up the numbers this year.

    Justin Westhoff is in career-best form – by a long, long way – and there are plenty of other Power players in brilliant nick including skipper Travis Boak, Hamish Hartlett, Kane Cornes, Chad Wingard and first-year star-in-the-making Ollie Wines.

    Ken Hinkley is showing the football community that he is indeed an extremely capable coach and with the Suns this week, West Coast at home in Round 5, North Melbourne in Round 6 and Richmond at home in Round 7, it could be a dream beginning for the black and teal.

    Sydney’s midfield could be the best in the competition.

    The scary thing is, the 2013 Premiers seem to be getting better and better. They got the job done against Gold Coast and GWS in Rounds 1 and 2 but turned it on in the second half, kicking 15 goals to North’s six to eventually win by 39 points.

    The victory was made possible by the brilliance of the Swans midfield, led by co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, who has started 2013 in absolute career-best form.

    Alongside him in the Sydney engine room is Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, McVeigh’s co-skipper Kieren Jack, Ryan O’Keefe and Dan Hannebery which is a quality group and could quite possibly be the best onball brigade getting around at the moment.

    For some reason, North were backed by many to beat the Swans on Saturday but it would pay to not underestimate the reigning Premiers, especially with their midfielders in such a rich vein of form.

    Hawthorn’s hammering of Collingwood. For the second week in a row I will touch on Hawthorn’s form. Wow! What a win over the Pies.

    I bet at half-time the Hawks players had no notion that they would be triumphing by 55 points after trailing comfortably midway through the second term.

    Captain Luke Hodge was outstanding, Sam Mitchell again prolific, whilst Lance Franklin, Grant Birchall, Cyril Rioli and Shaun Burgoyne all played a significant part in the win which clearly sent another message to the rest of the league after last week’s cruise over West Coast.

    It looks as though Alastair Clarkson and his charges are seeking revenge for last year’s Grand Final loss. This week they head back to their happy hunting ground in Launceston. Look out Fremantle!

    Negatives

    Can Carlton shake off their losers tag? 0-3 is a disastrous beginning for the Blues under new coach Mick Malthouse. Their performances have been ok thus far but close enough is simply not good enough in the AFL and pressure must be mounting on Malthouse and co.

    It doesn’t get any easier after losses to Richmond, Collingwood and Geelong (all under three goals mind you), but they travel to West Coast this weekend before a crucial MCG clash with Adelaide in Round 5.

    After that it gets a bit easier with games against Melbourne, St Kilda, Port Adelaide at home (not so easy now) and the Giants in Round 10 which could resurrect things, but a win is required as soon as possible to change the morale of the Carlton players and fans before it gets too late.

    Western Bulldogs back to their poor ways. The Dogs were extremely average against the Tigers on Sunday. Round 1 they came out and hammered Brisbane before dropping off early against Freo last week and then putting in a decent final three quarters.

    In Round 3 they were devoid of effort, skill, willingness to compete and accountability. The Dogs allowed the Richmond midfield to do as they pleased at Etihad Stadium and it if wasn’t for inaccurate kicking, could have found themselves seven goals down at quarter-time and even more at the main break.

    Injuries to Shaun Higgins, Easton Wood and Tory Dickson certainly does not help but youngster Jake Stringer kicked five for Williamstown and could debut in Adelaide this week, which is a positive.

    Nevertheless, the Bulldogs have to show a bit more against the Crows in Round 4 to give their supporters hope after a truly dismal effort against the Tigers, whom they usually see off without any fuss at Etihad.

    AFL enthusiast. Richmond supporter. Annual September holiday-maker.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • April 17th 2013 @ 2:32am
      dimi said | April 17th 2013 @ 2:32am | ! Report

      You say port have been really good then when referring to carltons draw you say port are an easy opponent. Bit of a contradiction there.

      • April 17th 2013 @ 10:23am
        bp said | April 17th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        he said not so easy now. Pays to read what is in the brackets.

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2013 @ 7:50am
      TomC said | April 17th 2013 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Sydney aren’t 2013 premiers just yet.

      Wait and see with Port. To be honest I’m not all that surprised by their early season form. They’ve been terribly underrated for some years, and people should already have known they were significantly better than Melbourne and GWS. That leaves us with the showdown. I missed the game unfortunately to watch the Victory, but it’s hardly the first upset in the Showdown. And Adelaide were terrible against Essendon and not great against the Lions.

      Port should beat Gold Coast next weekend, but then the draw gets tougher. If they can get to round 10 with a 5-4 record they would start to fancy themselves for an unlikely finals berth.

      I expected GWS to make your negatives list, Andrew, after you were talking up how much they’d improved last week.

      Can’t wait for Sydney v Geelong on Friday.

    • April 17th 2013 @ 10:38am
      Andrew Slevison said | April 17th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Not sure if Port were underrated last year. They won five games! Just saying they have almost equalled that just three rounds into the season suggesting they have improved dramatically. For them to beat Adelaide isn’t a huge upset but just shows, after Melbourne and GWS wins, that they can beat ok sides.

      GWS will certainly be getting some negative feedback if they are beaten easily this week…..

      Sydney looking extremely solid. Clearly an editing mistake the 2013 Premiers call….

      • Roar Guru

        April 17th 2013 @ 6:21pm
        TomC said | April 17th 2013 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

        Shocking, shocking injuries. Plus Primus wasn’t any great shakes as a coach.

        They were underrated, and have been for a couple of years.

    • April 17th 2013 @ 11:04am
      Paul said | April 17th 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Think North Melbourne deserved a whack this week, sure they have played 3 good sides but blown decent leads against the cats and swans. Were pumped up pre season to be the real deal, they cant be accpeting good efforts for 3/4s against good sides. The bombers and Tigers look like they have cleared away from North and Carlton, the sides most tipped to finish 6-10 on the ladder and battle for finals spots.

    • April 17th 2013 @ 11:49am
      Andrew Slevison said | April 17th 2013 @ 11:49am | ! Report

      Yep, North’s leaky defence almost got a mention. Copped 100-plus scores all three weeks thus far.

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2013 @ 11:59am
      Redb said | April 17th 2013 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      How good have Port Adelaide been? Brilliant effort from the top down. They are a real chance to be 6-0 looking at their draw, 8-0 not out of the question.

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