AFL 2023 Round 3: Saints 150th anniversary, van Rooyen dream debut, Showdown 53, Dimma’s 300th, Western Derby 56

AFL 2023 Round 24

St.Kilda marked its 150th anniversary by getting up over Essendon, in an exciting contest, played before one of their biggest ever home-and-away crowds at the MCG.

Jack Higgins and Dan Butler kicked four goals apiece as they maintained their perfect start, at three-zip, and finish the weekend at the top of the ladder.

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Former club legends Tony Lockett, Ian Stewart, Ross Smith, Barry Breen, Robert Harvey and Nicky Winmar were all in attendance, as part of the celebrations, while Leigh Montanga and Nick Dal Santo were also inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.

Blogging on the club’s website about the milestone, Chief Executive Officer Simon Lethlean wrote “Heading into our 150th year, it was important for us to ensure that our fans were at the forefront of this important occasion, not only in this campaign video, but throughout all of our activities across 2023.”

He added “They have proven to be the backbone of our club, staying steadfast through all the ups and downs a sporting organisation could ever imagine.”

Collingwood are the only other team with a 100 percent record, after three rounds, by managing to get the job done against Richmond in a low scoring affair.

Although not the result he wanted, it was still a special night for Tigers three-time Premiership coach Damien Hardwick (pictured below) as it was his 300th in charge, joining a prestigious group, and he is also the longest serving gaffer ever at Punt Road.

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The Western Bulldogs are finally on the board as forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (five snags) shone with a powerful display in helping his side to defeat Brisbane.

Subjected to horrific racial abuse, in a disgraceful incident that is still under investigation, he was able to put that behind him and respond in the perfect manner.

Speaking on ground to Channel 7, the 20-year-old said “Obviously what happened last weekend was a pretty hard time. I was just going out there and proving the point – I’m just a boy trying to play some football, so are the other Indigenous boys.”

Jacob van Rooyen made a dream debut for Melbourne that put the rest of the competition on notice by hammering Sydney, by a 50-point margin, in clinical style.

The 19-year-old forward (pictured below), pick 19 in 2021 National Draft and recruited from Claremont, has had to bide his time, having spent the whole of last year in the reserves, but bagged three goals to now give Simon Goodwin a selection headache.

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No doubting the shock of the weekend where Jack Lukosius booted a career-high five majors as Gold Coast sprung a real upset with a 19-point win over Geelong.

It leaves the Cats as the first premier since North Melbourne in 1976 to start a season 0-3, although fans will point out that they still made the Grannie that year.

Adelaide produced a stirring last quarter in running over the top of their arch-rivals Port Adelaide, in the Showdown 53 Derby, before a jam-packed crowd at the Oval.

Riley Thilthorpe scored five goals, Izak Rankine endeared himself to Crows fans, experiencing his first South Australian grudge match, with four of his own whilst captain Jordan Dawson (pictured below) picked up the Showdown Medal for a best on ground effort.

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Speaking in the presser, coach Matthew Nicks said “We probably struggled a little in that first quarter but we were able to right the ship and get the game back on our terms, so I am really proud of the guys. It is what we have been working on as a group; to put together a full game.”

He continued “The guys have done a lot of work, over the months in pre-season, on how do you win tight games of footy like that, how do you get the job done, what is everyone’s role in that and I thought they did that outstandingly well today, led by our captain, and we got the result.”

Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps registered a career-high 42 disposals in leading his troops to a controversial and much debated victory over Greater Western Sydney.

Midway through the fourth, they were trailing when awarded a highly contentious free-kick; it was given against Giants midfielder Stephen Coniglio for dissent, in the goal square, which the Blues scored to grab back the momentum and then get up.

It was certainly one of the big talking points from the round amongst all the pundits, sparked numerous articles and eventually led to AFL Head of Umpiring Dan Richardson making an official statement in which he ultimately backed the decision.

Down in Tasmania, it was Sam Mitchell putting one over on his old mentor and 4xPremiership coach Alistair Clarkson as Hawthorn beat North Melbourne.

It was the first meeting between the two since the latter’s awkward departure at the Hawks – it had been announced Mitchell would take over from him, as part of a long-term succession plan but that changed, within weeks, and he took over a lot sooner.

Fremantle supporters have the bragging rights this week after watching their side overcome the challenge of a plucky West Coast and triumph in the Western Derby.

The Eagles weren’t helped losing the quartet of Luke Shuey (hamstring), Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), Jamie Cripps (ankle) and Alex Witherden (head knock) during the contest, which meant that they had no rotations in the latter stages, and it was only then that the Dockers were able to get on top and run out the game.

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Midfielder Caleb Serong (pictured above), (35 disposals, 20 kicks and eight tackles) picked up the second Glendinning-Allan Medal of his career for an inspired performance.

It was also a big afternoon for debutant Matthew Johnson (pictured below), who was called up to the senior side following a good run of form in the WAFL with Peel; the 20-year-old playing in one of the biggest matches and in front of 56,090 at Optus Stadium.

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Speaking in the rooms, post-match, he said “It was an amazing atmosphere and taking it all in was overwhelming; it was great to be part of the win as well.”

He continued “It was nice to get my hands on the ball but just being out there, running around was an insane feeling and I loved every minute of it.”

Round 3 Results

Western Bulldogs 10.7 (67)
Brisbane 7.11 (53)

Collingwood 8.15 (63)
Richmond 7.7 (49)

Hawthorn 11.14 (80)
North Melbourne 9.7 (61)

GWS 9.10 (64)
Carlton 9.20 (74)

St.Kilda 14.8 (92)
Essendon 11.8 (74)

Port Adelaide 13.8 (86)
Adelaide 18.9 (117)

Gold Coast 10.13 (73)
Geelong 7.12 (54)

Melbourne 21.8 (134)
Sydney 12.12 (84)

Fremantle 16.12 (108)
West Coast 9.13 (67)

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