Thanks to the Easter long weekend, round three of the AFL 2021 season was an elongated affair, with matches taking place over five separate days.

Though it’s still early in the season, round three was important for a range of teams. Brisbane had to win to keep its top four hopes alive; the Bombers and Giants needed to get a win on the board to start their expected finals pushes; the surprising Swans and Demons looked to maintain their perfect starts to the season; the Crows were hoping to consolidate their astonishing start to the campaign.

Here at Vendetta Sports Media we’ll be covering the entire AFL season for you. In case you missed it, all our team previews, and this writers ladder predictions can be found here.

Match of the Week: Collingwood Magpies vs Brisbane Lions

The AFL script writers showed their hand this week. After Lions utility Zac Bailey was robbed of the chance to win last week’s contest against Geelong at the death, he was the hero this time around with an after the siren goal to steal a win from the Magpies.

After a disappointing loss in round one and the controversial heart breaker in round two, the Lions needed a result to maintain their hopes of a top four finish. Unfortunately for them, the COVID outbreak in Brisbane saw the game moved from their home ground of the Gabba, down to Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

Given their less than ideal lead-in, a strong start from the Magpies could have seen the Lions drop their heads. After Lions full forward Joe Daniher kicked the opener, the Magpies responded with four of the next 5 to open up a 25 point lead. To their credit, the young Lions were able to regroup and ease themselves back into the contest with a goal to Eric Hipwood, a brilliant snap from Charlie Cameron and a second to Daniher.

A pair of high flying marks from Daniher and Cameron saw the Lions close to within two points early in the third term and from there the sides effectively traded goals.

Despite an even free kick count, a typically raucous Magpie crowd got stuck into the umpires over various perceived slights – which led to an unsightly incident post match. Ironically it was a free kick to Brodie Mihocek that saw run of four Lions goals snapped, before Jeremy Howe stepped out of defense to kick a rare goal for Collingwood. Daniher snared his third in response before Daniel Rich kicked a rare goal of his own to cut the margin to a single point. A gem of a goal from son-of-a-gun Josh Daicos pushed the lead out to out to seven with ten minutes still to play.

The game turned into a high intensity arm wrestle from that point, with the Lions storming forward at every opportunity whilst the Magpies fought gamely to protect their slender lead. Rather than descending into a slog, though, both teams maintained their skill and composure despite the amped up pressure.

Both teams had chances to score, with the Lions scoring behinds to crucially bring the margin to within a goal. With less than 30 seconds left, the Lions broke from half back and Rich, with typical precision, speared the ball to Bailey. With time expiring as he approached goal, the 21 year old nervelessly steered his kick through the big sticks, turning to scream with joy and celebrate with his teammates before the ball had even crossed the goal line.

With Lions ruck Oscar McInerney withdrawing with injury shortly before the game, Magpies star Brodie Grundy dominated. The All Australian amassed 28 disposals and a whopping 54 hitouts (23 to advantage) in a best on ground performance. Veterans Steele Sidebottom and skipper Scott Pendlebury were their usual cool and calm selves, dictating play all over the ground. Young defender Isaac Quaynor shaded his contest with Lions star Cameron, despite the latter’s pair of goals.

With 28 disposals and numerous ions hard man Mitch Robinson played his best game of the young season, as did Hugh McLuggage. Rich and Jarryd Lyons were both huge in the Lions 4th quarter push.

The win kick starts the Lions campaign ahead of their clash with the top-of-the-table Bulldogs next week. A win in that game will see Brisbane back on track, though a loss – with tricky games against the Bombers, Blues and Power to follow – puts them straight back in the mire.

For the Magpies, the loss will hurt. They’ll surely feel that they should have put the game away earlier, with the side multiple wasting opportunities, especially early in the game. They take on the winless and desperate Giants in round four.

Collingwood Magpies: 11 goals, behinds (72)

Brisbane Lions: 11 goals, 7 behinds (73)

Goals

Collingwood: Cox 2, Daicos 2, Mihocek 2, Howe, DeGoey, Sier, Sidebottom, Thomas

Brisbane: Daniher 3, Cameron 2, Bailey, Berry, Hipwood, Rich, McLuggage

Best

Collingwood: Grundy, Quaynor, Pendlebury, Howe, Sidebottom, Adams

Brisbane: Rich, McLuggage, Lyons, Robinson, Adams, Zorko

Onto the other games of round three of the AFL season.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 5 goals, 9 behinds (39) lost to Western Bulldogs 25 goals, 17 behinds (167)

Goals

North Melbourne: Stephenson 2, Hall, Larkey, Lazzaro

Western Bulldogs: Bruce 10, Treloar 3, English 3, Naughton 2, Dale 2, Lipinski, Dunkley, McNeil, Scott, Bontompelli

Best

North Melbourne: Ziebell, Stephenson, Hall, Simpkin

Western Bulldogs: Bruce, Dunkley, Treloar, Macrae, Smith, English, Daniel

This. Was. A. Massacre.

The Kangaroos were somewhat competitive in the first quarter, but conceded 21 goals to three over the final three quarters. Sadly for the Roos, the final 128 point margin did not flatter the Bulldogs at all. Josh Bruce kicked a career high 10 goals for the Dogs; his personal tally of 62 points comfortably outscoring the entire Kangaroos outfit. The Roos didn’t have a winner across the park, though Jack Ziebell fought bravely. The win takes the Bulldogs to the top of the AFL ladder.

Adelaide Crows 14 goals, 11 behinds (95) defeated Gold Coast Suns 12 goals, 13 behinds (85)

Goals

Adelaide: Walker 6, Rowe 2, McAdam 2, Berry, Keays, McHenry, Schoenberg

Gold Coast: King 4, Burgess 2, Holman 2, Rankine, MacPherson, Weller, Ellis

Best

Adelaide: Walker, Sloane, Laird, Smith, O’Brien

Gold Coast: Greenwood, Bowes, Ellis, King, Lukosius

A much tighter contest at Adelaide Oval, where the Suns threatened to take hold of the game early with the opening three goals, before the home side steadied. An entertaining final term saw Nick Holman kick a pair of goals for the Suns, threatening to steal the game back, before Taylor Walker led the Crosws to a tight victory. Crows skipper Rory Sloane was magnificent, gathering 35 possessions including 11 clearances. Walker continued his renaissance with another haul of six goals, Ben King slotting four of his own at the other end. Unfortunately, Suns ruckman Jarrod Witts went down with what looks to be an ACL injury.

Richmond Tigers 10 goals, 12 behinds (72) lost to Sydney Swans 17 goals, 15 behinds (117)

Goals

Richmond: Lynch 3, Castagna 2, Rioli, 2, Aarts, Riewoldt, Edwards

Sydney: Papley 4, Wicks 3, Heeney 2, Hickey 2, McDonald 2, Warner 2, Parker, McLean

Best

Richmond: Baker, Short, Castagna, Lambert, Lynch

Sydney: Wicks, Papley, Parker, Kennedy, Florent, Mills

Sunday was a day of upsets, led by the Swans upsetting the reigning premiers on their own turf. The Swans had eased out to an almost comfortable 15 point lead when a bust of four goals in seven minutes late in the first half broke the game open. Swans veteran Luke Parker slotted a goal a minute into the third quarter – the Swans expertly managed the match from there, holding the Tigers at arms length. Sydney had winners all over the park. Veterans Parker and Josh Kennedy were prolific, as was star man Callum Mills. Errol Gulden continued his fine start the the campaign, and ruckman Tom Hickey was a constant menace when floating forward.

Essendon Bombers 22 goals 11 behinds (143) defeated St Kilda Saints 9 goals, 14 behinds (68)

Goals

Essendon: Hooker 5, Stringer 4, McDonald-Tipungwuti 3, Snelling 2, Waterman 2, Jones 2, Cox, McGrath, Redman, Smith

St Kilda: Higgins 3, Billings 2, Membrey, Crouch, Steele, King

Best

Essendon: Parish, Merrett, Stringer, Hooker, Smith, Ridley, Ham

St Kilda: Steele, Membrey

Perhaps an even bigger upset – certainly when the scale of the margin is factored in – was the Bombers tearing apart a moribund Saints lineup. The Bombers never trailed in a match that was far more routine for the underdog than it should have been. Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett each gathered 34 possessions, feeding Cale Hooker (a career high five goals) and the mercurial Jake Stringer, who played his best match in years. The already injury ravaged Saints lost Jade Gresham to a ruptured achillies, but that was no excuse for a lacklustre performance. Jack Steele – as he has all season – played a lone hand for the Saints.

West Coast Eagles 16 goals, 12 behinds (108) defeated Port Adelaide Power 11 goals, 5 behinds (71)

Goals

West Coast: Kennedy 3, Darling 3, Cripps 2, Ryan 2, Allen, Kelly, Brander, Petrucelle, Sheed

Port Adelaide: Gray 3, Marshall 3, Fantasia 2, Georgiades 2, Drew

Best

West Coast: Shuey, Gaff, Kennedy, Darling, Kelly, Naitanui, McGovern, Redden

Port Adelaide: Houston, Duursma, Boak, Georgiades, Byrne-Jones

This wasn’t an upset as such – both teams are fairly evenly matched – but the margin was startling. A powerhouse match-up that ultimately fizzled, West Coast kicked the match’s first four goals and never looked back. The Eagles old firm starred: Andrew Gaff amassed 36 disposals, captain Luke Shuey had 28 of his own before limping off late in the game. Nic Naitanui was imperious in the ruck, Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling dominated up forward, whilst Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass bossed the back line for the Eagles. Power coach Ken Hinkley might just chalk this up to an off night for his star studded group, who had looked in fine nick in their previous outings.

Carlton Blues 16 goals, 13 behinds (109) defeated Fremantle Dockers 9 goals, 10 behinds (64)

Goals

Carlton: McKay 7, Cripps 2, Newnes, Fogarty, Curnow, Betts, Silvagni, Murphy, Gibbons

Fremantle: Walters 2, Taberner 2, Coyler, Darcy, Frederick, Giro, Switkowski

Best

Carlton: McKay, Cripps, Walsh, Fogarty, Curnow, Jones, Docherty

Fremantle: Mundy, Ryan, Serong, Giro, Chapman

The injury depleted Dockers were always up against it facing the Blues in Melbourne. After a tight first quarter, the Blues slammed on 10 goals to one either side of half time to open the game up – from there it was a damage limitation exercise for Fremantle. Young Carlton forward Harry McKay kicked a career high seven goals in the sort of performance that he has been threatening to produce for a long time. Sam Walsh had his own footy with 37 disposals, and Liam Jones amassed 15 interceptions among his 20 possessions. In his 200th game for the Blues, veteran forward Eddie Betts produced a little of his trademark magic from the left forward pocket.

Greater Western Sydney Giants 11 goals, 2 behinds (68) lost to Melbourne Demons 15 goals 12 behinds (102)

Goals

Giants: Greene 5, Kelly 2, Himmelberg, Hopper, O’Halloran, Greene

Melbourne: Pickett 4, Fritsch 3, Gawn, 2, Jackson, Petracca, Neal-Bullen, Spargo, Brayshaw, Jordan

Best

Giants: Greene, Taranto, Hopper, Kelly, Ash, Haynes

Melbourne: Petracca, Pickett, Gawn, Langdon, Lever, Hunt, Viney

A match full of contradictions saw the Demons win somewhat comfortably, moving to a 3-0 for the first time since 2006. The final margin somewhat flattered the Demons when compared to the general flow of play; yet the Giants unerringly accurate kicking for goal perhaps kept the margin closer than it would usually have been. Undefeated and playing a winless opponent, this is exactly the sort of game the Demons routinely mess up. Concerning for the Melbourne, the Giants opened up an early lead before the Demons managed to claw their way back into the contest by half time, despite playing well below their best. The Dees started to wrest control of the match after half time, as big name Giants started to fall by the wayside: Phil Davis, Matt DeBoer and captain Stephen Coniglio all felled by leg injuries. Toby Greene, who again made his claim as the best small forward in the AFL, kicked a pair of quick goals to open the final quarter and put a scare into the Demons. However, Melbourne steadied to kick away late in the game. Teenage sensation Kysaiah Pickett and skipper Max Gawn led the way for the Demons.

Geelong Cats 10 goals, 9 points (69) defeated Hawthorn Hawks 9 goals, 10 behinds (64)

Goals

Geelong: Hawkins 2, Henry 2, Parfitt, Tuohy, Constable, Blicavs, Clark, Miers

Hawthorn: Breust 2, Lewis 2, Wingard, McEvoy, Moore, Brockman, Koschitzke

Best

Geelong: Guthrie, Henderson, Blicavs, Duncan, O’Connor, Henry

Hawthorn: Wingard, Shiels, Phillips, Jiath, O’Meara, Scrimshaw

These two modern arch rivals always put on a show, though this one took a while to come to heat. A tense and tight final quarter just about made us all forget that the first three quarters were a ponderous, messy affair. The Hawks trailed by 24 points at the final change, but stormed home to make this a nail-biter. Goals to Mitch Clark and Dylan Moore had the Cats swaying, but a counter punching goal to Jordan Clark gave Geelong a little breathing space. Relentless pressure from the Hawks led to another two goals but the Cats were able to stay standing. For the second week running, the Cats were somewhat lucky to escape with the win.

Coleman Medal leader board (League’s leading goal kicker)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 17 goals

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 14

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 13

Ben King (Gold Coast) – 10

Josh Kennedy (West Coast) – 10

Cale Hooker (Essendon) – 9

Jack Reiwoldt (Richmond) – 9

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1W Bulldogs312181.6 %336185Won @ N.M.
167 β€“ 39
1st: 64– pts, 128 %Saturday
vs B.L.
2Sydney312142.9 %363254Won @ Rich
117 β€“ 72
3rd: 56 pts, 115 %Thursday
vs Ess
3Melbourne312137.2 %273199Won @ GWS
102 β€“ 68
4th: 56 pts, 114 %Sunday
vs Geel
4Port Adel38129.0 %307238Lost @ WCE
71 β€“ 108
5th: 52 pts, 110 %Friday
vs Rich
5WC Eagles38124.0 %284229Won vs P.A.
108 β€“ 71
8th: 48 pts, 107 %Saturday
@ St.K
6Richmond38103.7 %255246Lost vs Syd
72 β€“ 117
2nd: 56 pts, 116 %Friday
@ P.A.
7Geelong3897.6 %241247Won vs Haw
69 β€“ 64
7th: 52 pts, 109 %Sunday
@ Melb
8Adelaide3896.3 %286297Won vs G.C.
95 β€“ 85
14th: 40 pts, 92 %Sunday
@ N.M.
9Gold Coast34111.1 %241217Lost @ Adel
85 β€“ 95
17th: 32 pts, 91 %Saturday
vs Carl
10Essendon34107.2 %299279Won vs St.K
143 β€“ 68
9th: 40 pts, 100 %Thursday
@ Syd
11Collingwood34101.8 %231227Lost vs B.L.
72 β€“ 73
11th: 40 pts, 98 %Saturday
vs GWS
12Carlton3499.6 %274275Won vs Freo
109 β€“ 64
10th: 40 pts, 99 %Saturday
@ G.C.
13Brisbane3488.8 %247278Won @ Coll
73 β€“ 72
6th: 52 pts, 110 %Saturday
@ W.B.
14Hawthorn3486.1 %205238Lost @ Geel
64 β€“ 69
13th: 40– pts, 93 %Sunday
@ Freo
15Fremantle3485.3 %209245Lost @ Carl
64 β€“ 109
12th: 40– pts, 94 %Sunday
vs Haw
16St Kilda3472.8 %227312Lost @ Ess
68 β€“ 143
15th: 36 pts, 89 %Saturday
vs WCE
17GWS Giants3073.5 %202275Lost vs Melb
68 β€“ 102
16th: 32 pts, 91 %Saturday
@ Coll
18North Melb3037.4 %143382Lost vs W.B.
39 β€“ 167
18th: 16 pts, 65 %Sunday
vs Adel