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AFL – Round 3 in Review

Round 3 of the 2023 AFL season saw Geelong’s premiership hangover worsen, while Melbourne secured a statement win over the Swans.

Here’s how it looked for punters: 

End of an era?

In recent years, some have questioned whether Geelong’s current crop of experienced players were ‘done’. Those same people ending up with egg on their face as the Cats stormed home to win the 2022 AFL Premiership. But six months after that big day in September, it seems the right time to ask those questions again. And for good reason. After two lacklustre defeats in the opening two rounds, Geelong started $1.30 favourites to get their season back on track against Gold Coast ($3.11) on Sunday afternoon. But the Suns didn’t read that script, finishing 19-point victors in a seismic result for the competition.

First and foremost, Stuart Dew’s men are on the board. The win represented a 35-point swing on the pre-game line (Suns +16.5). More notably, however, is the now serious concerns surrounding Geelong. Chris Scott’s men are the first premier since North Melbourne in 1976 to start 0-3. And in just three games, the Cats have gone from $5.50 AFL premiership favourites with Palmerbet, now out to sixth-favourites (behind Melbourne, Collingwood, Sydney, Carlton and Brisbane) at $10. It’s a sharp fall.

Dees send statement

Geelong’s opponent in last year’s AFL Grand Final, Sydney, fared similarly poorly just hours later. In their return to the MCG after the 2022 showpiece humbling, the Swans ($2.10) were lacklustre and indecisive for large parts of their clash against a conversely impressive Melbourne ($1.77), missing targets out of defensive 50 and generally unable to stop the dual midfield dominance of Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver. The 50-point humbling blew the pre-game line of -4.5 out of the water.

Significantly, Brodie Grundy (25 hitouts, 21 disposals, four clearances) was dominant for the Dees in Max Gawn’s absence. His acquisition in the off-season is proving more important by the week. The win saw Melbourne propelled into equal AFL premiership favouritism at $5.00 alongside the equally impressive Collingwood. For Sydney, after two easy wins to open the 2023 season, they failed dismally at their first real test.

Jamarra stands tall

After a week in which he was subject to racial abuse, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan delivered the defining moment of AFL Round 3 by recreating the famous Nicky Winwar stance in 1993 against Collingwood fans at Victoria Park. The gesture came after his first goal at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night. And he would go on to kick four more; his five-goal haul an incredible $51 pre-game. More importantly, the superb individual effort singlehandedly dragged his Western Bulldogs side ($2.40 pre-game) over the line.

Staring down the barrel of a 0-3 start, Ugle-Hagan was clinical in front of the sticks when other key forward (namely teammate Aaron Naughton) wasn’t, and has got the Dogs’ season back on track. It was a scrappy affair highlighted by the fact that the total points tally (120) was well below the pre-game line of 173.5. But importantly for Luke Beveridge, his side are on the board in AFL season 2023. Despite the win, they remain finals outsiders at $2.75 Top 8 hopes with Palmerbet.

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