If you were relying on the Easter Saturday games of Round 3 to give a bit more shape to your predicted finals make up, then – like me – the eraser got more of a workout than the heavy lead pencil.
Two of the teams I had penciled in as most likely top-four were beaten in such a way by teams considered less likely to make the eight that a major rethink may be necessary.
It is not uncommon for leading teams to have one or two ‘off days’ a year, so it is not panic stations yet, but the way in which the defeats were inflicted – and the personnel who were responsible – suggests that it may be more than an aberration and some serious contenders are putting their hands up for a finals berth come September.
Ten minutes into the first quarter, the Swans were never headed, and continued to build their lead until Richmond gave a little yelp in the last quarter. With a sound mix of new blood and quality big-game players, the Swans out muscled the Tigers in every aspect of the game, with six multiple goal scorers (plus two others) more than making up for the MIA Lance Franklin.
Richmond’s ten goals were contributed by Tom Lynch, whose 3 goals made him a centurion at the Tigers, joining three others who kicked goals this week. Daniel Rioli’s two goals took him to 84 and a potential ton before season’s end, while Jake Aarts was the odd one out.
Sydney also had three centurions among their goal scorers, with Tom Papley bringing up his 150 goals but none of their other five goal scorers have even made it to ten goals yet, underlining the depth of their new talent.
Injury-ridden Essendon showed that we may have overestimated the improvement at the Saints, and that St Kilda’s bad form last week was not a one-off.
Jake Stringer is not quite a top-100 goal scorer at the Bombers but is fast becoming one, Cale Hooker is now only two goals away from the century and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwati keeps on keeping on, playing his 98th consecutive game (second only to Collingwood’s Jack Crisp among current players) and kicking three goals to take his total to 127.
West Coast showed that Port Adelaide will not dominate the home-and-away series this year and that the twin towers of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling will be hard to combat, especially when Oscar Allen is on hand to help.
Jamie Cripps added two goals, and in doing so, passed former captain Ben Cousins as the 11th-greatest goalkicker of all time at the Eagles.
Robbie Grey, already the second-greatest goalkicker at the Power, added another three goals to his tally, as did Todd Marshall, who now finds himself in a four-way shootout with teammates Karl Amon, Sam Powell-Pepper and Connor Rozee.
No doubt coach Ken Hinkley would love to see all four move up the Power’s top-100 goal scorers list in what is turning out to be a fascinating and closely competitive year.