Last week we took a close look at the best individual Round 2 performance of the last two decades.
Naturally, with another week of footy supposed to be upon us, we turn our attention to Round 3.
There's some quality displays in this lot.
1. Brendan Fevola
(CARLTON v Essendon) - 2007
The Blues had never come back from the 48-point margin they at one stage trailed by making this a very special day at the MCG. Fev made life hell for Mal Michael, marking everything in sight and dobbing them from all over to finish with 8.2 from 17 possessions and 11 marks in the eventual three-point triumph. He kicked his first late in the second quarter before terrorising the Bombers with a handful of second-half snags. As Robert Walls so aptly said: “I don’t know if you've ever seen a better half of football played by a forward." It was an extraordinary display.
2. James Hird & Matthew Lloyd
(ESSENDON v West Coast) - 2004
Who could forget this game? It will be fondly recalled by Bombers fans when James Hird hugged a supporter in the crowd. His performance was also astonishing, especially his dazzling final quarter of 15 touches and six clearances. He finished with 34 disposals (27 kicks), eight clearances, seven inside 50s and three goals, including a brilliant snap to win it, sparking the jubilant scenes. But has Matthew Lloyd’s display on that night been overlooked since? The deadly fully-forward booted eight goals straight from nine kicks to attract three Brownlow votes (when Hird received zero). The Dons won 137-131 in one of the very best games of the past 20 years. “The fairy tale is complete.”
3. Troy Wilson
(St Kilda v WEST COAST) - 2001
In just his third game at AFL level, mature age recruit Troy Wilson destroyed the Saints as the Eagles won by 18 points at Colonial Stadium. Wilson, 29 at the time, had been tearing up the WAFL for years and it didn’t take long for him to assert his authority on the AFL. He was absolutely unstoppable kicking 7.5 from 19 kicks, taking 15 marks and hauling in three of his five career Brownlow votes. It was the performance of a lifetime. Unfortunately, a long list of injuries restricted Wilson’s output late in his career and he eventually finished with 83 goals from just 37 AFL games.
4. Matthew Pavlich
(FREMANTLE v Geelong) - 2010
In 2009, Freo had finished 14th while the Cats had won the flag. The two clubs met early in 2010 and the scintillating battle that ensued at Subiaco was certainly unexpected. Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich simply willed and inspired his side over the line. Pav kicked 5.4, racked up 26 touches (17 contested), took six grabs, had six clearances and pumped the ball inside 50 five times in a sublime all-round performance. When the Dockers trailed by 14 points at three-quarter time of their Round 3 clash in 2010, it may have seemed a bridge too far, but the Great Man delivered to inflict one of just five home-and-away defeats on Geelong that year.
5. Jeremy Cameron
(GWS v Richmond) - 2018
Early in 2019, Giants superstar Cameron had an absolute fill-up against 2018 preliminary finalist Richmond. He kicked 7.5 from a remarkable 30 disposals - a colossal return for a key forward. The Tigers were without Dylan Grimes, Alex Rance and Bachar Houli but nonetheless, Cameron had their defence at his mercy and delivered one of the most dominant displays we have seen in recent times. It's a special feat for any player at any level to kick a bag and rack up 30 or touches, let alone in the AFL against high quality opposition.
6. Phil Matera
(WEST COAST v St Kilda) - 2003
When a small forward kicks a bag, it must be recognised. Phil Matera was a wizard for the Eagles and at Subiaco in 2003, he produced one of his best ever displays. From 15 disposals he snagged 7.3 as West Coast crushed the Saints by 70 points. It wasn’t enough for best on ground honours, which went to Michael Gardiner for 24 touches and 39 hit outs, but it was a career-best haul for Matera who kicked 389 goals in 179 games.
7. Brent Harvey
(NORTH MELBOURNE v West Coast) - 2010
& (NORTH MELBOURNE v Melbourne) - 2016
Boomer seemed to enjoy Round 3 and had significant hauls on at least two occasions. The league’s all-time games record holder racked up possessions at will when the Kangas beat the Eagles by 25 points at Etihad in 2010. The diminutive Roo had 44 touches, 11 marks, six inside 50s and a snag roll in a three-vote showing. Six years later, Harvey was at it again as North edged the Demons by five points in Hobart. He returned half a dozen majors to go along with 22 possessions while ruckman Todd Goldstein kicked five goals, had 19 touches and 38 hit outs to join his little mate as the two best players on the ground.
8. Brendan Fevola
(CARLTON v Essendon) - 2008
The Baggers may have gone down to the Dons this time but Fev still had a day out. Just 12 months on from his heroics in the big comeback, he bagged another eight even though his side couldn’t get the job done. The Loosh had 13 kicks, returned 8.4 and took 10 grabs in another stellar forward showing that returned one Brownlow vote. The Bombers did get the win that day, however, so it would be remiss not to mention Mark McVeigh who had 26 touches and kicked four snags to claim best on ground honours. But there’s not much more exciting than watching Fevola in full flight.
9. Lachie Neale
(West Coast v FREMANTLE) - 2015
The first of the 2015 Derbies was won by the Dockers and they have a former midfield favourite to thank. Lachie Neale was absolutely sublime in Freo’s 30-point win over their fiercest rivals. He amassed 42 disposals, took 10 marks, had seven clearances and kicked three goals to win the second of three Glendinning-Allan Medals as well as attracting three Brownlow votes. Neale was the architect for the victory which saw the Dockers ahead by 11 goals at half-time and 10 goals at the final break.
10. Gary Ablett
(Gold Coast v Essendon) - 2012
As far as one man shows go, this would be up there. The Suns had been annihilated in their opening two games of 2012 and the Little Master was sick of it. Ablett racked up 45 touches (27 contested) as the only player to get more than 30 for the game. His 25 kicks alone was a greater number than the total disposal stats of all bar three players on the ground. He also had 13 clearances, nine inside 50s, laid seven tackles and kicked two lovely goals. He did everything he could to get his side over the line but the Dons eventually kicked away to win by 17 points.
- Dustin Martin (RICHMOND v West Coast) - 2017 - (40 disposals, 15 clearances, 9 inside 50s, 2 goals, five tackles)
- Chris Grant (WESTERN BULLDOGS v Port Adelaide) - 2000 - (7 goals, 19 disposals)
- David King (NORTH MELBOURNE v Richmond) - 2000 - (5 goals, 23 disposals, nine inside 50s)
- Michael Voss (North Melbourne v BRISBANE) - 2003 - (5 goals, 23 disposals, nine marks)
- David Neitz (MELBOURNE v Western Bulldogs) - 2003 - (7 goals, nine kicks, nine marks)
- Alastair Lynch (BRISBANE v Collingwood) - 2004 - (7 goals, 11 kicks, eight marks)