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Five things to watch in Round 3

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16th June, 2020
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Here are the things I am keeping an eye on in the AFL this weekend.

Standard of footy to increase
The first round back to resume the season produced some footy that none would have predicted. Collingwood and Richmond kicked things off on Thursday night and fans were left perplexed by how the game played out.

It almost sounded like a rugby or football game at 36-36 as the full-time score. Collingwood hadn’t scored in the second half while the Tigers looked unfamiliar in the first quarter, being beaten four goals to none.

Nevertheless, both teams found their best footy in stages of the game and fans should happily expect to see an improvement in the standard of footy after a rusty comeback round.

This also goes for Carlton and Melbourne, who shocked viewers in a game where both teams found their best and worst footy. The Demons got out to a 42-point lead in the second quarter in a demoralising way for all Carlton people. They dominated. Somehow the tables turned and Carlton managed to completely transition from their worst footy to best to bring the margin down to one point at the final siren.

West Coast disappointed and lost to the Gold Coast Suns by a whopping 44 points. No one would have seen this coming against a West Coast midfield who just had Tim Kelly added to it.

The standard of footy should rise after this comeback round and whirlwind matches like the Tigers versus Pies and Blues versus Demons shouldn’t happen to the extent they did as players get deeper into the season.

How will the Blues, Dees, Eagles and Dogs bounce back?
Carlton, West Coast and Western Bulldogs have the tougher tasks of better opponents this week, although Melbourne get an opportunity in Essendon to perform strongly.


Carlton face Geelong down the highway at GMHBA Stadium and will need to be on top of their game for more than three quarters if they are to win.

They have struggled with this in 2020.

Sam Docherty of the Blues (L) and Jack Newnes of the Blues

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Their biggest issue has been starting games where they have only kicked a total of two goals in first quarters this season. At the same time the opposition has kicked 12 goals on them in total for the first two rounds.

This needs serious fixing as this is killing them of winning games at the moment. The best footy is proving that they are capable of beating teams and playing better than them but these poor starts are hurting them. Their start against the Cats this Saturday night is one to look out for.

I wouldn’t write Carlton off so easily against the Cats even though I will tip the Cats at Kardinia Park.

Surely for the West Coast Eagles there’s only one way up after losing to the Gold Coast Suns by 44 points.


The hub might be affecting them, but they will get a decent opportunity this round in facing Brisbane, who have looked a little shaky this season following their Round 1 loss to the Hawks and 12-point win to the Dockers.

I’m tipping this to be a nail-biter of a match but the Eagles have some work to do from last game if they would like to compete against the Lions. Credit to the Suns. They played terrifically and it is awesome to see them win for the club and their state.

Look out for the Eagles this weekend because another bad performance and they might fall out of the premiership window.

The Western Bulldogs will face the Giants, who will be a tough task, though, at Marvel Stadium. The Dogs might be a sniff to bounce back with a win.

Several calls from fans have been made to bring premiership stars back into the side, who have been surprisingly left out of the team. These include defender Zaine Cordy and midfielder Toby McLean.

Tom Liberatore is suspected to be ready for a call-up as he returns from injury.


The Dogs remain a mystery since their 2016 grand final victory. As a young team winning that incredible flag, many expected them to be contenders in seasons to follow yet they have fallen short in all seasons to date.

The pressure is on the Bulldogs after 52-point and 39-point losses to show their fans some promise this Friday night.

Melbourne singing the song after a one-point win without their captain Max Gawn, who just won his first game as captain, and Adam Tomlinson and Ed Langdon, who won their first games for the club, and a fourth player in Jayden Hunt proves why they almost threw away a 42-point lead.

Max Gawn in a Melbourne Demons huddle

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Are they thinking of and playing for each other or themselves? This question comes to mind after their performance on-field in the second half and off-field in the team song and with their players breaking COVID-19 restrictions.

You have got to have a fair few self-minded and careless players in the team to have sung the song without four players in the huddle let alone your captain and two first-gamers of the club.

The game itself began well for Melbourne where they dominated and looked strong moving the ball. Their second half was horrible however, bringing Carlton right back into the game as Melbourne stopped trying to attack.


They have a good opportunity this week in Essendon to put in a bigger effort than two quarters in for their fans and potentially come out of it with a win. It will be interesting to see how they go next week against the Bombers, which will give a good indication of how their season will go.

Virtual crowd noise
After a round of footy for the operators of the virtual crowd noise to completely take control, they would have learnt and improved their understanding of the job. In comparison to the NRL, the crowd noise was disappointing.

In the Brisbane-Fremantle game, it sounded like it was raining. In other games, celebrations of goals were either too loud or not existent. There weren’t enough stems of crowd noise that were sensible and suitable enough.

My first reaction from the crowd noise on Thursday night was like hearing a crowd watching Test cricket on Boxing Day in the Percy Beames Bar at the MCG. It was off the mark for an AFL crowd.

After one week of it, however, I expect them to improve and perform better in Round 3.

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Will Gold Coast back up their performance from last week?
The Suns got over the line to one of the competition’s best in West Coast. After that, they will go to two wins after Round 3 when they take on the Crows.

The Crows will come out hungry with a coach in Matthew Nicks who would be driving them for improvement every week. In knowing the Suns of the past, the Crows would have the belief that they can beat them.

Whereas expectations are set on the Suns to beat the Crows – and to beat them comfortably. The result of this game might be obvious to the mind but it is still another game of footy, 22 a side, that the Suns will need to win.

A performance like last week and the Suns could win by 50-plus points and have some real momentum facing the Dockers the week after.

The Suns are one team to look out for 2020.

Matthew Rowell of Gold Coast Suns celebrates

(Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Are Essendon and Port Adelaide the real deal?
The Bombers are 2-0 but have only beaten Fremantle and Sydney by six points each. This week they face Carlton, who are capable of beating the Dockers and Swans.


If the Bombers are to prove that they’re a top-eight side, they should go 4-0 to start the season with the Demons to face in Round 4.

A loss in the next two weeks and the Bombers could be fighting for a place in the top eight come Rounds 16 and 17.

Port Adelaide face Fremantle, who put together a strong performance against the Lions in Round 2. At 2-0, if Ken Hinkley’s side are to make the finals in 2020, they should beat a younger side in Fremantle this weekend.

In their first week in the Queensland hub, however, this game could throw a curve ball at them. The Power would be eager to start well with a win.