AFL 2012: Who will make the eight?

The Doss Roar Rookie

By The Doss, The Doss is a Roar Rookie

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    With the ‘rookie’ cup being played out across the rural parts of our country, it is time to focus on the 2012 AFL season. Looking at how the teams are panning out, ultimately there is really two final spots up for grabs come finals.

    I’m certainly no psychic and my atheist views mean that God will play no part in which team plays finals – no matter how much some of my Richmond supporter friends pray.

    The 18 teams can be broken down the following way:

    The top-six is almost a certainty. Collingwood, Geelong, Hawthorn, Carlton, West Coast and (via a coin toss) Sydney to cement my top-six.

    The bottom part of the ladder is almost a given. GWS at the bottom with perhaps 3-4 wins, and Gold Coast to win a game or so more. When Jonathan Brown levels out on the karma front, Brisbane might streak together a half dozen wins and as for Port? Port will be down the bottom once again.

    So who does this leave and who will grab those precious two spots?

    Immediately Essendon, St Kilda, North and Fremantle are your obvious choices. Keeping my feelings neutral to my team, I think Fremantle are leading the way out of these teams.

    They had a shocking run with injuries in 2011. In the final couple of rounds, they had to get an AFL exemption to elevate rookies to even field a side!

    There is no doubt that when Sandilands, Hayden, Barlow and Morabito are fit, Fremantle are a good side. Avoiding the Harvey issue in this article, having Lyon coaching will only help Fremantle.

    Their ball movement in 2011 was appalling and disadvantaged so many key players. In particular Stephen Hill, whose amazing run off half back in 2010 became nothing but a man running a beep test up and down the ground with no reward.

    Fremantle, well coached, are a dangerous side and can hurt many good sides with good periods of football. The only thing that still worries me with Fremantle is their lack of key forwards. Kepler Bradley, while great in Supercoach, doesn’t have the same impact in real life.

    Essendon has a tough draw this year and can ill afford to drop winnable games like last year, losing to both Richmond and Melbourne in a month. They were lucky to draw with Carlton and this ultimately helped their ladder position.

    Still, they have many players under 50 games and as an Essendon supporter I can see the tremendous potential over the next 5 years. However, I know inconsistencies will appear throughout the season. How many inconsistencies will ultimately decide the fate of Essendon?

    North Melbourne, Melbourne, Richmond and the Bulldogs will be the unlucky teams. I think North, Melbourne and Richmond will have similar seasons to 2011.

    They will show good signs but not quite make it over the line. I think Richmond supporters should be very excited about the look of their side and will no doubt be playing finals in the next couple of years if the great progress of Martin, Cotchin and other youngsters continue under Hardwick’s tutelage.

    I think the surprise of the season will be the competitiveness of the Bulldogs. Many have written off the Bulldogs in 2012, however, being a glass half full man, I still see potential down at the kennel.

    Their midfield, even without Ward still poses some key players. Boyd is a superstar and I have not met one AFL supporter who disagrees. Griffen, Cross and a well managed Cooney can cause grief for many midfield coaches.

    The young Liberatore and Wallis will step up once again with a season under their belts. Even around the ground they possess great strength. Bob Murphy is all class and his ball use is fantastic down back.

    Morris was a huge loss and his return will strengthen their backline. Positive signs with Lake having a relatively unhampered pre-season means their backline, along with Giansiracusa, can threaten in the middle and back of the ground.

    The trouble is can Will Minson step up into the number one role in the ruck and can Jarrod Grant stamp his authority playing centre half forward? The loss of Hall and Hudson will no doubt hurt them.

    I believe they won’t play finals, however I think they will be finishing well above the expected finish many have predicted.

    I really don’t know about the Saints. They no doubt have some terrific players across the ground, and under new coach Scott Watters they will be rejuvenated. However, a new coach and game plan it leaves a huge question mark on their performance for 2012.

    All I know is their backline has been significantly improved with the loss of Zac Dawson.

    So after all this evaluation I am going to say Fremantle and Essendon to make up the final two spots for season 2012. It literally was a toss of the coin whether the Saints or Essendon will make my final two spots in the finals.

    No seriously I tossed a coin!

    Enjoy the 2012 season everyone!

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      March 2nd 2012 @ 8:24am
      Lachlan said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      I agree with a lot of what you wrote.

      I think it’ll be a Hawthorn – Collingwood Grand Final.
      With West Coast finishing a close 3rd.
      And with Geelong, Carlton, Sydney and Fremantle fighting for the last spot.
      North Melbourne, St. Kilda and Essendon looking to sneak into 8th position.

      Id expect Melbourne, Richmond and Adelaide to round out the top 13.
      Followed by Brisbane, Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide.
      Then Gold Coast to finish ahead of the Giants by 3 or 4 wins.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:56am
      Gucci said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:56am | ! Report

      For Fremantle, you’ve overlooked the factor of having to adjust to Ross Lyon’s game plan like the Saints had to. Having said that, one would have thought Ross Lyon is now a better coach than he was when first coached the Saints. So it’s tough to predict how the Dockers will go.

      Kangaroos, Brent Harvey has been their best player by a mile for a few years. Problem is, he’s not getting any younger, and as good as their next tier is, nobody looks like they can be half the player Boomer is. So they’ll go down further.

      St Kilda always a chance with the quality of their players.

      Essendon as you say has a tough draw, and I can’t see that many surprise packets.

      So I’m going to go with St Kilda and Richmond for 7 and 8.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:04am
      stabpass said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      My prediction is that the Dockers will make the 8, in fact that is my prediction every year, and sooner or later, (most likely later) i will be correct.

      Subi is a big ground, and Lyons flooding defensive game will probably come undone.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:09am
      Greg Mac said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

      Nice Summary – I particularly agree with how you’ve broken up the ladder into premiership contenders, those aiming for the last 2 spots in the 8, and the clear bottom 4…

      But given that the difference between 7th-10th is usually only split by a couple of games, I think a major factor in who’ll claim those 2 finals spots is how many “Free” games those sides fighting for their finals spot (Melb, Rich, Crows, Dons, Freo, Saints, North, Dogs) get against those bottom 4 sides (Port, Bris, GWS, Suns).

      Adelaide – 7 Free games (out of a maximum of 8 free games)
      Melbourne – 6 Free Games
      North – 6 Free games
      Everyone else – 5 Free Games

      Its not the be all and end all, but I think the Crows definitely have a head start on the race for the 8…

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:38am
        Matt F said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        The Crows do have a nice draw, then again they had a nice draw last year and it didn’t help them that much

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:52pm
        TomC said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

        Well the Crows lost to both Port and the Lions last season so I doubt they see them as free games.

        The Lions also beat the Roos and ran the Demons to within two goals at the MCG. The Power beat Melbourne in round 24.

        Port and Brisbane won’t challenge for the eight, but they’re hardly so bad that they can’t possibly beat anyone above them.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:08pm
          Greg Mac said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

          Certainly not the be all and end all… But you’d probably prefer to play these teams twice than any other.

          You make a good point about Adelaide and Port though – Showdowns are hardly “free games”…
          I think the crows are the only side to play both GWS and Gold Coast twice though.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:14am
      Brian said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:14am | ! Report

      Historically it is fairly consistent that usually 3 teams go out of the 8 and three come in so the 5 to stay will be: Geel, Carl, Coll, haw & WCE. These 5 were a fair way ahead of the rest last year. I’d tip Sydney, St Kilda & essendon to drop out. The replacements to be:
      An improving Richmond, a resurgent Freo and one of Melb or NM young list to come good. Don’t really know who but I’ll tip the Dees.

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 1:00pm
        Lachlan said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        Sydney can and will match it with the big teams Hawthorn, Collingwood and West Coast this year and so will Fremantle. Geelong and Carlton will be there as well. They will be the top 6 and i believe there will be a significant gap between them and the next two teams to sneak in.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 7:32pm
      Norm said | March 2nd 2012 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

      Watch out for the 2 Adelaide clubs!

      • March 7th 2012 @ 12:06am
        amazonfan said | March 7th 2012 @ 12:06am | ! Report

        I think that Adelaide can certainly challenge for the top 8, but Port? No, I don’t think they will have a particularly memorable season.

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