Heroes & Villains, Round 3: Tigers, Dogs show why they are recent premiers

Just like that we're three rounds into the 2018 season and only Port Adelaide have an unblemished record with wins over Fremantle, Sydney and now Brisbane.

Plenty happened in Round 3 with Melbourne snapping their 17-game hoodoo against the Kangaroos, Sydney prevailing in an entertaining Battle of the Bridge while St Kilda and Carlton continued to struggle for form.

The game of the round was left until last with West Coast and Geelong playing out an absolute thriller at Perth Stadium. The Eagles led by 32 points at the main break before a Dangerfield-inspired Cats comeback saw them hit the lead by 15 points only to be run over in the final minutes.


Dogs, Tigers show flag traits: The two most recent AFL premiers both turned in their best performance of the year on Sunday to record important wins. 2017 premiers Richmond impressed in their 13 point victory over the previously undefeated Hawthorn as their small forwards ran riot early to open up an insurmountable gap. Skipper Trent Cotchin was also back to his best with 31 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles.

Later, for just about the first time since the Dogs won the 2016 flag, we saw their trademark pressure and ferociousness around the ball as they totally outplayed the Bombers to run out 21-point winners at Etihad Stadium, and had it not been for some errant shots on goal the margin could have been much greater. Premiership stars Lachie Hunter, Luke Dahlhaus and Jack Macrae all reached 30 disposals while Marcus Bontempelli played an important role with three goals.

Collingwood's disposal: One constant criticism of Nathan Buckley's Magpies over the past two or three years has been the poor, and often downright ugly, disposal of some of the side's prime movers, but on the biggest stage against winless rivals Carlton, the Pies showed some significant signs of improvement. Collingwood used the ball at a disposal efficiency of almost 79 percent -- far better than Carlton's 72.3 percent and comfortably better than the league's cleanest side, Adelaide (who use the footy at 76.6 percent), while their kicking in front of the big sticks was almost faultless. The Pies finished with 16 goals and four behinds, and didn't kick a minor score after the 13 minute mark of the second quarter. Their last nine scoring shots were all majors, putting the Blues to the sword with clinical ease.

Alex Pearce: If a week is a long time in footy, then two years must be a lifetime. That's basically how long rising Fremantle defender Alex Pearce spent out of the game after two awful leg breaks ruined his 2016-17 seasons. Labelled a future captain by coach Ross Lyon ahead of this year, the athletic 200cm big man has repaid the faith in spades, with his shutdown job on Gold Coast spearhead Tom Lynch paving the way for the Dockers to eclipse the Suns on the way to their second win in three matches. Lynch loomed as the Suns' trump card after his career-best eight majors against Carlton in Round 2 but was held to just one goal by Pearce, who also provided plenty of drive out of the Fremantle backline. It continues a stellar start to the year for the 22-year-old Tasmanian, who has had only two goals kicked on him this season by star forwards Charlie Dixon (one), Joe Daniher (none) and Lynch (one).


St Kilda's second half: Gee, the Saints look ordinary. After last week's shambolic Good Friday effort against North Melbourne, you would have expected Alan Richardson's side to come out against Adelaide eager to make amends, and to their credit they did, it just only lasted one half. St Kilda dominated the contested possessions and inside 50s early but poor execution saw them trail by 10 points at main break, and when last year's grand finalists found their mojo in the second half, the Saints failed to show any resistance and slumped to a disappointing 49-point home loss. It is now the second week in succession St Kilda has recorded the fewest points of any side for the round and it won't get any easier with Geelong, GWS and Hawthorn next up.

Oh no, Joe: Joe Daniher, what were you thinking? Essendon's star forward had a chance to bring his side back to within two straight kicks late in Sunday's game against the Bulldogs when he marked 10m out on a slight angle, before a bizarre brain fade effectively shut the door on the game. With the Bombers running high on momentum, Daniher opted to handball to Josh Green which resulted in a turnover and the Bulldogs running the length of Etihad Stadium to boot a goal through Toby McLean before going on to win by 21 points. It summed up Daniher's day a little as he kicked two goals but struggled to stamp himself on the game.

Jacob Weitering: Make no mistake, Weitering will be a star of the future but right now he's well down on confidence and playing some very uninspiring football. The 20-year-old's start to the season has been one to forget. He struggled to contain Richmond's Jack Riewoldt in the season-opener before failing to fire as a forward in Carlton's second round loss to Gold Coast. On Friday night he proved to be a liability in the back line, turning the ball over a number of times and finishing with five clangers from his 11 disposals as Carlton were beaten by arch-rival Collingwood. Maybe it's time for Brendon Bolton to drop him back to the twos in an effort to rebuild his confidence...