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Round 3 Preview: Luke Ball and Saints to produce fireworks

Our AFL writer Ben Waterworth previews round three, which begins tonight with a clash between Collingwood and St Kilda.

So you thought last weekend’s AFL round was good?  Well this weekend’s will be even better. Out of the eight games to be decided, six of them could go either way. But before we delve into round three, let’s look back at round two.

Five things we learnt from Round 2:

  1. Jonathan Brown and Nick Riewoldt can now be compared with Wayne Carey. The two centre half forwards were outstanding last round, leading their respective teams to convincing victories. Their brilliant performances raise the question if they are now worthy and skilled enough to be compared to Carey, the man whom many consider the best player of all time. Brown’s domination of Carlton kick-started the debate, as he booted seven goals from 12 marks and 21 possessions. But it was almost as if Riewoldt said to the football world that he shouldn’t be left out of the debate. He also kicked seven goals and took 15 marks and gathered 23 possessions against North Melbourne.
  2. Melbourne has potential. They pushed a confident Collingwood outfit right to the very end, eventually going down by one point after a dropped mark on the siren by Ricky Petterd in the goal square. It was an unfortunate way to end the game for Petterd, as many considered him to be the best player on the ground with four goals from nine marks and 17 possessions. The young Demons deserved to win because they were the better team on the day. But they simply couldn’t handle the big-game pressure and the Magpies pounced when given the opportunity.
  3. Something’s wrong with Adelaide. The Crows have been thrashed in their first two games and have looked unconvincing to say the least. They went down to an impressive Sydney side by 43 points last week, led by Ryan O’Keefe who continues to improve every time he takes to the field. Adelaide does have a long injury list, which includes key players such as Simon Goodwin and Graham Johncock. But they have only kicked 20 goals in two games, meaning their forward line is not functioning well. You just can’t win a game of football averaging 10 goals a game.
  4. Fremantle are no joke. After defeating Adelaide in round one, the Dockers outclassed and outplayed Essendon with a 44 point win at Etihad Stadium. Remarkably, it was the first time the Dockers had won in Melbourne since 2007. Michael Barlow backed up his superb round one performance with another 34 possessions, while Aaron Sandilands continues to dictate terms in the ruck. It’s now actually worth paying money to go and and watch the Dockers live.
  5. Geelong still knows how to win. A gallant Hawthorn led for most  of Easter Monday’s clash. But the Cats were once again able to get their noses in front when it mattered most, winning by nine points at the MCG. Gary Ablett dominated the stats sheet once again and gathered 38 possessions. But during the week, he said to his coaches that he thought he was rusty and that he needed to do extra work before his next game. Crazy. Geelong’s win and Ablett’s almost unnecessary self-criticism  show how determined Geelong are  to stay at the top of end of the competition for a little while longer.


What to look forward to in Round 3:

–          Luke Ball will go up against his old side tonight and there could be some fireworks. The now Collingwood midfielder will take on St Kilda, the club he walked out on at the end of last year. In my opinion, Ball didn’t suit the game style that the Saints played. In the 2009 AFL grand final, Ball only spent 46% of the match on the field. He says that the Saints never did anything wrong and that he just needed a change of club. You be the judge.

–          Essendon take on Carlton at the MCG on Saturday night in a match that may determine who has the best chance to sneak into the eight at the end of this year. However, things can change dramatically. No matter where the two sides are on the ladder at the time, they always produce 120 minutes of gruelling and entertaining football. The Bombers have swung the axe at the selection table this week with six changes after last week’s ordinary performance against Fremantle. Unlike last week, Carlton won’t have a fired-up Jonathan Brown to contend with. Should be a close one.

–          Brisbane has started the season in fine style with two home wins at the Gabba. But Port Adelaide has surprised many, including me, with victories over North Melbourne and West Coast. The two face off in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon in what should be an interesting match. Brisbane have been criticised over recent years for not being able to win away from home. The Lions are a better side on paper, but if the Power can lift and play above themselves once again, this match could go down right to the wire.

Ben’s Tip Tally for 2010: 10 out of 16

Ben’s Tips for Round 3:

St Kilda to beat Collingwood

North Melbourne to beat West Coast

Brisbane to beat Port Adelaide

Sydney to beat Richmond

Carlton to beat Essendon

Adelaide to beat Melbourne

Western Bulldogs to beat Hawthorn

Geelong to beat Fremantle

Ben Waterworth is a second-year  Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University.  You can read more of Ben’s work at A short sport thought.

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