The three remaining undefeated AFL teams heading into round 4, Geelong, Adelaide, and Richmond remained undefeated after the Easter weekend concluded, and they did so in resounding fashion.
Cats and Crows Move to 4-0 and Best in the AFL
Sam Menegola, Mitch Duncan, and Steven Motlop were key for the Geelong Cats, as they thumped struggling Hawthorn 134-48. The Hawks were again sluggish and struggled to produced goals, down four goals at the half, they still had a punchers chance on Easter Monday at the MCG, but the Cats kicked 15 goals compared to just two behinds in the second half, and ended up running away with the contest, showing their class compared to a Hawthorn side that remains adrift, outside of a few standouts such as Tom Mitchell, new in James Sicily, Ryan Burton. With top 8 contenders West Coast Eagles on tap next week, the Hawks look to be staring at an 0-5 start. The Cats will be hoping their star Patrick Dangerfield can recover from a rough knock and won’t have any aftershocks from it.
Adelaide kept their attack rolling at home on the oval, Eddie Betts and Tex Walker combined for 11 goals, almost half of the Crows total, in a 153-88 victory over Essendon. The Crows got out in front early and never looked back, as the Bombers didn’t press them much. Only Zach Merrett and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti were overly impressive for the Melbourne side as they looked out of gas, with Dyson Heppell and Jobe Watson particularly poor, while Orazio Fantasia managed just a goal. Performances like this may not matter much come finals, but the Crows, led by Betts in particular, alongside Rory Sloane in the midfield, really seem to believe in themselves right now and are brimming with confidence. The Crows at the oval look unbeatable right now, while Essendon will need to buck up if they are going to get back on track now at 2-2.
Is Richmond on Level with the Cats and Crows?
Geelong and Adelaide were taken seriously as contenders, while Richmond‘s road win 119-67 over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba has moved the Tigers to a surprising 4-0 start. The Tigers got off to a hot start and took a seven goal lead into halftime, with the Lions never being able to get back in it from that point. Once again the Tigers were not able to get elite performances from all of their players, but enough stepped up against inferior competition. Jason Castagna added four goals, Trent Cotchin and Toby Nankervis were above average, while veteran Jack Riewoldt added another four goals. Shaun Grigg and Dion Prestia were also solid through the middle and led the way in disposals for the Tigers.
By staying healthy the Tigers have set themselves up to perform well in the coming weeks. Josh Caddy and Dustin Martin will need to produce more consistently though, if the Tigers are going to be on the same level as the Cats and Crows.
Brisbane, despite a solid core of Tom Rockliff, Stefan Martin, Dayne Zorko, and Dayne Beams again producing, looks to be returning to their low expectations, as Richmond’s aggressive use of the ball exposed their backline.
Gold Coast and Fremantle Earn Back to Back Wins
Despite trailing at the half, the Gold Coast Suns responded for the second straight week and earned a victory 108-82 over Carlton. Suns young gun forward Tom Lynch kicked seven goals in one of the finest performances yet in his young career. Brandon Matera booted three more goals for the Suns, while Gary Ablett again showed form with 34 disposals, despite facing boos from the crowd.
For their part, Carlton again showed they are missing a piece or two on their best 22. Marc Murphy and Sam Docherty were among the best on the ground, while young Zac Fisher and Jack Silvagni showed off their talent, Silvagni adding three goals to the Blues total. The Blues, who have a host of young players, will get where they need to be in time, but for now the Suns will need to keep winning matches like this if they are going to finish inside the top 10, much less the top 8.
Ross Lyon took a motivated Fremantle Dockers side against Melbourne at the MCG and they came away winners 106-104. Cam McCarthy kicked the winning goal in the most entertaining contest of the weekend, the Dees were up in the second quarter, the Dockers stretched a lead in the third, and in the end despite a Melbourne push to get back on terms, the Dockers edged it with the final goal, after Jack Viney had put the Demons ahead. Nat Fyfe showed great leadership for the Dockers, notching 25 disposals and some great marks. Lachie Neal and Lachie Weller were also difference makers as the Dockers were aggressive in the third term, and then had to scratch and claw to hang on.
The difference for Melbourne was poor goal kicking, as the Demons missed Jesse Hogan, while Jordan Lewis and Max Gawn in the ruck were also absent. Gawn’s replacement Jake Spencer kicked two goals and wasn’t bad at all, but Aaron Sandilands was a difficult assignment for him. The Dockers may not have enough depth to keep this up, but they certainly look to be in better spirits. The Demons meanwhile could be headed for a losing streak.
Between the recent winners, the Dockers have more experience, and Ross Lyon probably gets the edge over Rodney Eade, although neither side is likely to make the top 8 at this point.
West Coast and Western Bulldogs Back to Winning Ways
It wasn’t the highest quality contest, but the West Coast Eagles got back to their winning ways, dumping the 0-4 Sydney Swans 91-65. The Swans again were miserable inside 50, and weren’t helped by the fact Lance Franklin took a big knock early in the contest and limped through the rest of it. Neither Tom Papley, a fresh in, or Sam Reid added much, and young Will Hayward was perhaps Sydney’s best forward with two goals. The Eagles finally opened up the contest in the second half with Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo leading the way. Jeremy McGovern was also brought forward and added two goals.
The Eagles Sam Mitchell suffered a leg injury at the hands of his own teammate, but otherwise West Coast was happy with the win. The true test of this Eagles side is whether they can win away from Perth. Sydney meanwhile needs to hope that returns from injury in their list bring a massive improvement in form.
The Western Bulldogs trailed most of the contest but won their Good Friday clash against North Melbourne 89-86. It was the same sad story for the Kangaroos, as they built a 29 point lead, only to see it evaporate, as they dropped to 0-4, a record that includes two narrow losses. The Bulldogs had a complete team performance in the second half, keyed by Luke Dalhaus, who kicked two goals. 200 gamer Lindsey Thomas had a shot to win the game at the siren for North, but ended up getting yet another behind. Despite escaping with the win, they do need to worry about Travis Cloke, who injured his ribs and will miss a stretch of time, along with Tom Boyd, who suffered a head injury.The jury remains out on whether the reigning premiers are top 4 quality, but no one can deny their fighting spirit.
Nathan Buckley’s Collingwood Back Searching for Answers
7 goals compared to 13 behinds resulted in Collingwood falling 69-55 to St. Kilda. Nathan Buckley is desperate to sort out his forward line blues, as only Will Hoskin-Elliot managed multiple goals (2). The Saints got back in the winners circle by dominating the tackle count and keeping pressure on the Pies, Josh Bruce and Tim Membrey led the way with two goals each for the Saints while Seb Ross, Jack Newnes, and Dylan Roberton all notched over 30 disposals. With less pressure from the Collingwood midfield, their performance dropped off, especially in the second half. The Saints join a mass of teams at 2-2 looking to improve their results further, while Collingwood has gotten to a poor 1-3 start. With out in-season trading, there no easy answers for Collingwood, especially with the likes of Chris Mayne struggling. Perhaps the return of Daniel Wells soon enough will be the boost they need.
GWS Giants Show Separation from Port Adelaide
The Port Adelaide Power had the lead in the third quarter and deserve credit for a competitive showing against the highly touted GWS Giants. That said, the Giants showed their class and separated from the Power over the final turn. Big forward man Jon Patton soared above the pack to kick six goals, while having Josh Kelly and Tom Scully leading the midfield was more than enough to get the Giants a 112-81 win. Toby Greene also added four goals.
The Power just couldn’t match up man to man, as the Giants had the edge in disposals, tackles, and inside 50s, controlling play despite the Power’s attempt to disrupt their gameplan that was working through three quarters. Port were pesky challengers and deserve credit for taking advantage of their opportunities when presented, but the likes of Sam Powell-Pepper will need to perform much better if Port is going to back up their hot start. The Power are in the pack of teams at 2-2, while GWS is now 3-1 and looks to be the strongest one loss team in the competition.