AFL previews for round three
SWANS V MAGPIES
At the SCG, 7.50pm
RECENT RECORD: Sydney 4 Coll 6
LAST TIME: R1 2016: Sydney 18.25 (133) d Coll 7.11 (53) in Sydney
BARRING a draw, one of these teams will be 0-3 later tonight. And don't discount it being the hosts, who have suffered another injury setback - this time Kurt Tippett (ankle) - while Dan Hannebery remains out of sorts, failing to top 20 disposals two weeks running for the first time since 2014. He will need to lift against a Magpies midfield including Scott Pendlebury and Adam Treloar. There will be plenty of interest in the Swans forward line, where Ben Reid may have the job of curbing younger brother Sam, coming off his six-goal haul.
ROOS V GIANTS
At Blundstone Arena, Hobart, 1.45pm
RECENT RECORD: North 5 GWS 1
LAST TIME: R23 2016: GWS 14.16 (100) d North 9.9 (63) in Melb
THE Giants' last visit to Hobart to play the Roos resulted in GWS getting a 129-point flogging. But a lot's changed in five years, and while the Roos will put up a massive fight if their showing against Geelong was any gauge, GWS should this time register a comfortable win. The suspension of key backman Scott Thompson does not auger well for the Roos' defence against an awesome Giants attack that includes Jeremy Cameron (six goals last week), Toby Greene, Steve Johnson and possibly Jon Patton (hip) if he returns from injury.
TIGERS V EAGLES
At the MCG, 2.10pm
RECENT RECORD: Rich 5 WC 5
LAST TIME: R4 2016: WC 18.17 (125) d Rich 9.3 (57) in Perth
RICHMOND is gunning for a 3-0 start to the season. But the Tigers face a huge task of seeing it through against the Eagles, who have looked impressive in the early rounds as the league's heaviest-scoring team. In what will be a mouth-watering match-up in the Eagles' forward line, the hosts will certainly be hopeful All-Australian fullback Alex Rance can keep reigning Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy quiet to give them some sort of chance. Likewise, the visitors will hope a fractured cheekbone will slow Dustin Martin.
CATS V DEMONS
At Etihad Stadium, 4.35pm
RECENT RECORD: Geelong 9 Melb 1
LAST TIME: R23 2016: Geelong 24.11 (155) d Melb 6.8 (44) in Geelong
MELBOURNE'S bid to go 3-0 for the first the first time in 12 years received a huge blow when midfielder Jordan Lewis and spearhead Jesse Hogan copped bans from the MRP. But, while the Cats should get the four points on their home patch, the result will still be far closer than the 111 points that separated them last time, when Patrick Dangerfield (32 touches) and Tom Hawkins (six goals) were dominant. Young bull Clayton Oliver (71 disposals in the opening two games), for one, will provide "Danger" with a real contest.
POWER V CROWS
At the Adelaide Oval, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Port 4 Adelaide 6
LAST TIME: R22 2016: Adelaide 15.19 (109) d Port 14.10 (94) in Adelaide
WHAT a stage to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Showdown, with the cross-town rivals occupying the top two spots on the ladder. It promises to be a beauty. The Power is finally playing with the intensity expected of it, while the Crows have run the Hawks and Giants off their feet. Having won four of the past five clashes - on the back of the genius of Eddie Betts (24 goals in six Showdowns) - the Crows will start slight favourites. But Josh Jenkins (ribs) is a huge loss. Robbie Gray (30 disposals, six goals last week) is on fire for the Power.
DOCKERS V DOGS
At Domain Stadium, 7.40pm (AEST)
RECENT RECORD: Frem 6 WB 4
LAST TIME: R23 2016: Frem 10.9 (69) d WB 6.13 (49) in Perth
HAVING ended their run of sevens outs in Perth during last year's finals series against West Coast, the reigning premiers will now be looking to beat Freo in WA for the first time since 2009. Interestingly, in stark contrast, the Dockers may be No.1 for clearances and the Bulldogs last, the Bulldogs are No.1 for tackles and the Dockers last. And in the most important stats of all, Freo are dead last for scoring and in turn last on the table.
SAINTS V LIONS
At Etihad Stadium, 1.10pm
RECENT RECORD: StK 6 BL 4
LAST TIME: R23 2016: StK 25.11 (161) d BL 15.13 (103) in Melb
SAINTS great Nick Riewoldt is under a knee injury cloud and the Lions will breathe a sigh of relief if he's not out there. He collected 24 kicks, 21 marks and nine goals the last time these two clashed. Jack Steven (punctured lung) is already a massive out for the Saints with David Armitage (groin) also still in some doubt. The Lions will be ready to pounce, but could do with a lift from Daniel Rich (five touches to three-quarter-time last week).
BLUES V BOMBERS
At the MCG, 3.20pm
RECENT RECORD: Carl 3 Ess 6 Drawn 1
LAST TIME: R23 2016: Ess 15.13 (103) d Carl 10.19 (79) in Melb
ESSENDON can continue its dream start to the 2017 season against a struggling Carlton. Patrick Cripps (fractured jaw) will leave a huge hole in the Blues' midfield. The Bombers are on fire and while Dyson Heppell and Jobe Watson are back, it is reigning best and fairest Zach Merrett (37 and 32 disposals in the first two weeks) and pocket rocket Orazio Fantasia (nine goals) bringing the heat.
SUNS V HAWKS
At Metricon Stadium, 4.40pm
RECENT RECORD: GC 0 Haw 8
LAST TIME: R14 2016: Haw 12.14 (86) d GC 8.12 (60) in Launceston
FACING a Hawthorn side with its back to the wall is not the ideal scenario for Gold Coast, which must respond to its embarrassing showing against GWS. The Hawks will come up ready to put further heat on the Suns after their own dismal start to the season. But the Hawks won't be in great shape, with runners Grant Birchall (jaw) out and Isaac Smith and Liam Shiels hobbled. And the under-fire Gary Ablett does loving playing the Hawks, having gathered disposal hauls of 40, 45, 35, 37 and 43 in his past five against them.