THREE rounds down and the premiership market is starting to take shape.
Adelaide, Fremantle and Sydney all sit atop the ladder without a loss to their names after ultra-impressive performances, top-four aspirants Geelong and Port Adelaide finally got off the mark with spirited come-from-behind victories and the dream of a maiden finals berth seems even more elusive for the Gold Coast Suns after they failed to secure the points for a third consecutive match.
Young Swan Issac Heeney continued to dazzle and capture the eye of Rising Star punters, while Nathan Fyfe, the superstar Docker who is already making a claim for the league’s best player at just 23 years of age, did his Brownlow favouritism no harm with another vote-getting performance.
Let’s take a look at the action from the weekend and how the betting markets look ahead of the big ANZAC Day weekend.
What happened in Round 3?
Saturday afternoon saw the Swans and the Giants clash at the SCG, with last years’ grand finalists claiming the points over their cross-town rivals.
The Swans had winners across the ground, but will be buoyed greatly by the form of midfielder Daniel Hannenbury, who starred for the Swans with a 34-possession, one-goal game that earned him the Brett Kirk medal for best afield.
Hannenbury has strung together three impressive games so far this season, but still represents fantastic value in the Brownlow medal market, paying $34 with Sportsbet to take the medal home.
Another positive for the Swans was the continued brilliance of young gun Isaac Heeney, who busted the game open early with three first half goals, eventually finishing the game with four goals from 10 touches.
Heeney, who was finally nominated for the Rising Star after three eye-catching performances, is the bookies’ favourite to take out the award, with Sportsbet winding the platinum-haired academy prodigy into $4.
The Swans moved to 3-0 on the back of their victory, and are paying $3.25 to be the last remaining team to be undefeated in season 2015. Fremantle, the team the Swans face in round four, are $3, while the Adelaide Crows are favourites – with the benefit a softer draw – at $2.75.
Saturday saw two premiership candidates in Port Adelaide and North Melbourne playing out the game of the round at Etihad Stadium, with the Power prevailing by eight points to register their first win of the season.
The game was a war of attrition with both teams suffering causalities all across the park. Port midfielder Ollie Wines and North on-baller Jack Ziebell were subbed out of the game with injuries that could leave the duo out of the game for extended periods.
The win for the Power places them at 1-2, with a tough run of games ahead. Next week Ken Hinkley’s men face reigning premiers Hawthorn, and following that match they have the Showdown with bitter cross-town rivals the Adelaide Crows. If they are able to register wins against these opponents, the Powers’ premiership tilt is well and truly back in full swing.
The Showdown will be made all the more interesting with Sportsbet currently offering a market for most home and away wins this season between the two South Australian clubs. Port Adelaide is currently at $1.85 to register more wins than the Crows.
Sunday afternoon saw Geelong and the Gold Coast play out an epic game down at Simons Stadium that went down to the wire, with the home team banking their first premiership points of the season, defeating the Suns by nine points.
The Cats looked cooked early in the final term after losing Matthew Stokes, Tom Lonergan and Jimmy Bartel to injury, but the home team found a way to win on the back of a typically-defiant Joel Selwood performance.
The Geelong captain willed his side over the line with a truly inspirational second half of footy, gathering a game-high 38 disposals for the match.
Selwood’s match has propelled him right back into the Brownlow medal betting market, with WilliamHill.com.au moving the Cats skipper to outright fourth to take home Charlie at $13.
Sportsbet are still offering the enticing odds of $19 for Selwood to be the first Geelong player since Gary Ablett Jnr to win the prestigious medal.
The news is not as good for the win-less Suns in the betting world. The team that many pundits thought would be the ones to make their way into the eight after missing the finals last year have blown out to $8.50 with William Hill to make their first ever finals series in 2015.
The Western Derby was the final match of round three, which ended with Ross Lyon’s Fremantle cruising to a 31-point victory after leading by 79 points midway through the third quarter.
The game was over by quarter time, with the men in purple piling on nine goals to nil in a scintillating performance that left their opponents bereft of any answers and completely out of the contest.
After three blistering performances, Fremantle has moved into third favourite with Sportsbet to win the 2015 premiership, paying $5.50 after starting the season at $9.
Fremantle midfielder Lachie Neale put on a clinic, gathering a career-high 40 possessions and kicking three goals on his way to winning the Ross Glendinning medal for best afield.
Neale has been terrific since moving into a permanent midfield role, and after starting the season as a $1000 outsider for the Brownlow medal, has been moved into an enticing $151 to be the first Fremantle player to win the AFL’s premier individual award.
Neale is still shaded by teammate Nathan Fyfe, who is outright favourite at $3.75 with WilliamHill.
Several nasty injuries across the AFL in round three could have serious ramifications in the premiership and final eight markets.
Geelong midfielder Jimmy Bartel is likely to miss up to two months of football after a nasty collision with Gold Coast veteran Michael Rischitelli that left the 2007 Brownlow medallist clutching his knee.
Bartel suffered a medial ligament strain that will cost him at least 8-10 weeks, with the potential of a season ending ACL injury still very much on the cards. Scans taken Monday will unveil the true extent of the damage.
Another midfield star facing a similar stint off the park is Port Adelaide young gun Ollie Wines, who was subbed out of Saturday night’s game with North Melbourne with what appeared to be a broken wrist.
Scans revealed the 20-year-old suffered several dislocated bones, as well as strained ligaments in his wrist that will keep the strongly-built midfielder out for at least two months.
St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt will miss up to a month of football with a lingering calf injury. The Saints skipper was a late withdrawal from the Friday night game against Collingwood, with the injury sustained in round two against the Gold Coast worse than first feared.
In better news, North Melbourne on-baller Jack Ziebell is a chance to play this week against Geelong after leaving the field with a rib related injury that saw the Kangaroos vice-captain taken to hospital after coughing up blood.