You have to go all the way back to 2009 for the last time both the Swans and the Hawks missed finals action, but one decade on it’s looking like we’re heading that way again.
These are the players that each team could least afford to lose in their Round 3 match as far as team structure is concerned.
Brad Crouch continues to go under the radar; most people probably consider Rory Sloane or Matt Crouch to be the most damaging Crows midfielder, but Brad Crouch shows the opposition needs to put more time into stopping him.
Tom Lynch played a great game in Round 3 as he not only marked the ball well, but hit the scoreboard with two goals.
Reilly O’Brien may have been playing his first game in a long time, but he only lost the aggregate hit outs by a small amount, with Cats’ ruckman Rhys Stanley having just four more hit-outs than O’Brien.
There is a strong chance that O’Brien may lose his spot on the team to Sam Jacobs, as Jacobs holds the numbers one ruck mantle, but he may challenge Josh Jenkins for his spot as the Crows second ruck.
Sam Menegola showed why he is one of the most underrated players in the competition with Menegola making a difference every time he won possession of the ball.
Gryan Miers provided some youthful exuberance, as the youngster kicked three goals for the Cats.
Mitch Duncan also plays his role for the team with no fuss every week and rarely gets the plaudits that he deserves as he showed against the Crows in Round 3. Duncan can play on the half-back, half-forward flank or even on a wing.
Angus Brayshaw has to be regarded as one of the best players in the competition and his performance in Round 3 substantiates that. Brayshaw not only wins a lot of the ball, but shows great endeavour and helps the morale of the team with his ‘never give up’ attitude.
Jayden Hunt proved why he should be one of the first picks for the Demons with three goals playing on a wing. Hunt is extremely fast and takes the game on.
Jay Lockhart never stopped trying, kicking two goals for the game. He definitely added some youthful exuberance to the Demons team.
Shaun Mckernan was outstanding for the Bombers with four goals. He provided a target for the Bombers and if he didn’t mark the ball, he at least halved the contest.
Andrew Mcgrath made a difference for the Bombers side every time he won possession of the ball. He even managed to hit the scoreboard.
Dyson Heppell led from the front as he always does with 27 crucial possessions.
Sam Walsh proved that the good form that he displayed in the first two rounds was no fluke. Walsh finished the game with 28 possessions and a goal.
Harry Mckay may have only taken six marks, but Mckay always endeavoured to halve the contest and bring the ball to the ground. He was also forced to be the main tall target in the absence of Charlie Curnow through injury.
Marc Murphy was fantastic, kicking a goal and showing great endeavour. Murphy may not be the captain anymore, but he still leads from the front.
Tom Papley kicked two goals for the Swans. Papley often goes under the radar, but soon he will have to cop some attention from opponents if he keeps playing the way he did in Round 3.
Any time that Callum Mills accumulates 28 disposals there is a good chance that you are going to win the game and Round 3 was no exception, as Mills makes a difference every time he touches the ball.
Josh Kennedy was an integral part of the Swans team in Round 3 collecting 31 possessions, leading from the front for the Swans.
Jeremy Cameron was a no-brainer as he finished with seven goals and provided a target all day for the Giants.
Lachie Whitfield won plenty of the ball and was one of the reasons why the Giants had such a comprehensive victory over last season’s Preliminary Finalists.
Jacob Hopper has had to step up in the absence of Callum Ward, the Giants midfielder finished the game with an impressive 29 disposals and two goals.
Kane Lambert displayed why he should be a permanent part of the Tigers’ midfield with what was practically a lone-hand finishing the game with over 30 possessions.
Sydney Stack should be guaranteed a spot in the best 22 for Tigers in Round 4 as Stack added some youthful exuberance to his side.
Shane Edwards does what he always does, which is make other players on the team better. Edwards was forced to play a different role for the Tigers this week, taking the kickouts and featuring on the half-back line.
Eric Hipwood has the potential to win the Coleman Medal by his performance in Round 3. Hipwood not only kicks goals but is an important part of the Lions structure.
Josh Walker was incredible in Round 3 as he accumulated a total of 16 marks.
Alex Witherden could well be an All Australian half-back flanker this season, as he wins plenty of the ball and uses it pretty well.
Travis Boak leads from the front even though he isn’t captain of the footy club anymore.
Ryan Burton provided plenty of run-off the half-back line for the Power. It was clearly the right decision to recruit him from the Hawks.
Paddy Ryder not only won plenty of hit outs, but kicked three goals for the Power.
Taylor Adams was a welcome addition to the Magpies midfield, helping them to be competitive against the Eagles in Round 3.
Brodie Grundy had 22 possessions to go with his elite ruck work and had five tackles on top of that.
Brayden Maynard never stopped trying, providing run out of the back line for the Magpies.
Andrew Gaff didn’t put a foot wrong in his return for the Eagles, finishing the game with 35 possessions.
Brad Sheppard was fantastic taking a total of 13 marks, Sheppard helped curtail the impact of the Magpies forward line.
Josh Kennedy kicked three goals for the birds, leading from the front.
Mitch Wallis has become a leader of the Bulldogs footy club and his display in Round 3 was indicative of that growth both as a person and as a footballer. Wallis helped get the Bulldogs back into the contest.
Tom Liberatore finished the game with nine tackles and accumulated plenty of the ball.
Lachie Hunter displayed why he was given a five-year contract by the Bulldogs earlier this year with a solid performance.
Anthony Miles kicked a pivotal goal for the Suns in the second half and Miles gave the Suns the ascendancy every time he touched the ball, despite the fact that he barely got over 20 possessions.
Jack Martin played a quality game taking seven marks and laying six tackles.
Jarrod Witts had a total of 52 hit outs compared to Tim English of the Bulldogs who had just 15. Witts was a big reason why the Suns have won two of their first three games.
James Worpel accumulated 13 contested possessions, the most of anyone on the Hawks team in Round 3. Worpel has been a revelation for the Hawks this season. He has benefited from the unfortunate injury suffered by Tom Mitchell, which has led Worpel to play more time in the midfield.
Jaeger O’Meara worked hard collecting 31 disposals and laying a total of 12 tackles.
Ben McEvoy worked hard around the ground showing his mobility getting the ball 16 times, laying five tackles and kicking two goals. McEvoy did an outstanding job on both ends.
If Shaun Higgins can perform the way he did in Round 3 then he will be considered one of the elite players of the competition.
Ben Cunnington continued his form from Round 2. In Round 3 Cunnington had 23 contested possessions, most comfortable of anyone on the ground.
Trent Dumont showed that he should be a permanent part of the Kangaroos best 22 kicking two goals.
Luke Ryan played to the best of his ability and to be truthful, Ryan probably got the Dockers over the line with an outstanding performance.
Michael Walters used the ball well and kicked two goals.
Brandon Matera kicked three goals for the Dockers to help them win the game.
Rowan Marshall proved that he may warrant a spot as the Saints’ permanent number-one ruckman with a total of 40 hit outs.
Jack Billings was prolific, winning a lot of the ball and kicking two goals.
Jarryn Geary displayed why he is one of the most underrated leaders in the competition, playing a different role, on the wing.