AFL Heroes & Villains Round 3: Eddie Everywhere; Jack needs to bounce back

You can't say there isn't drama in the AFL! The Suns smashed the Crows, the Blues shocked the Cats, and Conor McKenna's positive COVID-19 test has some doubting whether the 2020 season will even go ahead.

Here are this week's Heroes & Villains.


Eddie Betts: Just call him Eddie Everywhere. Betts turned back the clock in the Blues' heart-stopping two-point win over the Cats on Saturday, putting in a vintage performance that won Carlton the match - the Blues' first win in Geelong since 1996.

Betts kicked two first half goals to give the Blues a commanding lead, had three direct goal assists and a total of seven score involvements from his 12 touches. A left foot kick to space for Marc Murphy to run into (and then goal) was the highlight until the last minute of play.

With the ball locked in Geelong's forward line and numbers around the ball, a quick handpass was squeezed out of a pack, and Betts, running towards Carlton's goal, managed to get a toe onto it, pushing it 20 metres down the chain ... straight into the path of two retreating Cats. Betts, however, didn't give up on the chase, and his 33-year old legs gave one last effort. He got a hand on a Harry Taylor handpass, which spilled to Jack Henry, but Betts lowered the eyes and tackled, and Henry was pinged for holding the ball.

With 30 seconds left, Eddie then calmly found a target, swanned forward and took the last mark of the match in the pocket as time expired ... not a Cats player within 10 metres. Good on you, Eddie.

Brodie Grundy: He said it himself after the Magpies' 44-point win over the Saints, but Brodie Grundy (well, all ruckmen actually, just ask Goldy!) is really enjoying shorter quarters. With less bash and crash on the body, more recovery time - Grundy is loving it.

With the game in the balance in the second term, Grundy was the man to stand tall - no pun intended. Battling an imposing duo made up of All-Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder and one of the best young ruck talents, Rowan Marshall, Grundy's influence on the game in the air and with ball in hand was a treat to watch.

In the second term alone, when the Pies piled on five goals to St Kilda's two to effectively put it out of the Saints' grasp, Grundy tallied 10 touches (six contested) including five ground ball gets, and had 14 hit outs. He finished the match with 20 touches, three clearances and four tackles. Superb.

The Giants-Dogs rivalry: There aren't many rivalries in modern footy that bring together two teams that genuinely dislike each other. Sure the PIes and Bombers have historical ties, and the Showdown is always highly anticipated, but there's a bit of friction in this Dogs-Giants feud.

It began before the first ball was even bounced. Perennial antagonist Toby Greene was left out of the Giants' team with an injury and the footy world sighed - it's always worth watching the Dogs nip, bump and provoke Greene on the field.

Then, GWS sent Nick Haynes to the coin toss instead of skipper Stephen Coniglio. His clash with Dogs captain Marcus Bontempelli last year was interesting to say the least; the Bont walked away scott-free from an incident which left Haynes with a fractured larynx. The mind games were on.

Then there was the action on the field.

Spotfires ignited around Marvel Stadium throughout the contest, and provided neutrals a spectacle given the Giants' lack of effort in the low-scoring, 24-point loss.

Some may argue it's a bit contrived, and there's no doubt the Giants are doing what they can to manufacture a 'real' rivalry, but it's still entertaining nonetheless.


Jack Riewoldt: Jack Riewoldt hasn't scored a goal in 95 days. Okay, perhaps that's a little cheeky, but Jack has been well off the pace since the competition's restart, and it's little wonder he has struggled and little wonder the Tigers have failed to kick more than five goals in their two matches since the resumption.

Not only was he held goalless on Thursday night against the Hawks, his stat line was ugly; from 11 touches, he went at 27 percent efficiency. Five of those touches were turnovers, two of them behinds.

As a leader of the club, the onus is on Riewoldt to get involved in the game. Push into the backline, get your hands on the footy and try to kickstart some momentum for your side. Just one of his disposals was recorded in the back half of the ground.

We know what a champion Riewoldt is; he kicked three against the Blues in Round 1, so we know he's still got it, but the Tigers need him firing if they're to mount a realistic assault at back-to-back flags.

Geelong's brain fades: Despite trailing by seven goals at stages throughout their loss to Carlton on Saturday night, it's almost hard to believe the Cats didn't walk away with the four points. A series of unGeelong-like errors cost them the match, with some big names making some big mistakes.

In the third quarter, Tom Hawkins was lining up for his first of the match, and with the ball on line, Cats ruckman Esava Ratugolea leaps in front of the goal line and fists the ball away, denying his own teammate what was a much-needed goal.

But it was in the fourth quarter that a series of unfortunate events unfolded.

Mitch Duncan missed a sitter from 10 metres out on a slight angle, Gryan Miers took a bizarre advantage call 10 metres from goal and kicked it into the path of Sam Docherty who touched the ball over the line, another Duncan shot at goal was touched, and then, most mystifying of all, Gary Ablett missed a set shot from 25 out in front with just two minutes left. It would have had his side within a goal, and who knows what could have happened.

Sometimes the footy gods just aren't on your side.

Lethargic Crows: It's hard to believe just how low the Crows have fallen since the 2017 Grand Final, when they were an offensive powerhouse averaging north of 110 points per game.

But this 2020 iteration, under the watch of new coach Matthew Nicks, might be the worst Adelaide has trotted out since the club's inception. So dire is the situation, that footy commentators and analysts scrambled to find out two things; the Crows' lowest score ever (3.6 [24] vs. St Kilda in 2011), and their lowest finish on the ladder (14th in the same year).

They narrowly avoided posting their lowest score, managing 29 points (their second lowest ever), but there is real cause for concern that the West Lakes trophy cabinet may soon add a wooden spoon to its ranks.

What would be most disheartening to Crows fans would be that they were second to contests. The two-way running was reminiscent of a Sunday stroll. They were treated like witches hats as the Suns zipped, ran and carved their way through the middle of the ground with ease.

Don't take away from the Suns' electric play - they were very good, but the Crows were second rate. Nicks has a lot of work to do.