AFL mid-season review: winners and losers
Nick Duigan and Chris Judd head to the rooms (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)
Trying to assess the AFL season this year is a tough ask. Upsets and blowouts seem to be the norm while the ladder is as close as it could be.
This review is looking at a handful of what I feel are the big winners and big losers in the first half of this long and close football season. Naturally, there are some straight forward winners and losers they do not need to be mentioned.
Well let’s start with the winners:
Greater Western Sydney: With one win (against the Suns) you may wonder what makes them worthy of being a winner. However, they defeated the second youngest team in the AFL, a scalp that is instrumental in the development of the club and the hunt for new members.
We have to think that not all members for these new clubs will come from their respective areas. The hunt for new members is tough for some very established clubs, for example North Melbourne who broke their membership record only this year.
So for GWS to beat Gold Coast is a huge plus in terms of membership and bragging rights as they trying to find their feet in the big league. This also boosts player development and media exposure.
Adelaide Crows: This one is pretty straight forward. The Crows finished 14th last season with just seven wins. This season after ten rounds they sit on eight wins and two losses including the scalps of Carlton, Geelong and Sydney, who are all 2011 finals contenders. Sanderson has revitalised the Crows young charges getting a more direct brand of football that is not only getting the points but also exciting the rabid Crows faithful. The resurgence of Taylor Walker and Sam Jacobs has been vital to their good form, along with arguably one of the best midfield line-ups currently going around.
Sydney Swans: As always the Swans have gone under the radar. As of the writing of this article Sydney are perched on the top of the AFL ladder. However, it will not take away from the brilliant work the Swans have done this year, once again going under the radar. They have produced eight impressive wins from eleven games, dropping just three. These wins include thumping Hawthorn down in Tasmania and Essendon in Melbourne. Their ability to win on the road and their ability to recycle and revitalise players has put them in a strong position this season. Shane Mumford is in great form in the ruck and Ted Richards down back is also in great touch along with Ben McGlynn and Josh Kennedy running amok in the middle.
Richmond: No not because they have won a few games, this selection is for their off field achievement. As of last week they broke the 50,000 membership number. A great achievement for a club that has not played finals for years. This result is a combination of on-field success, exciting young players and strong marketing campaigns.
Time to nut out the losers sadly there are a few:
North Melbourne: So much potential for so little return. A year in which they have a membership record would be seen as a win. However, the on field performance of the Kangaroos culminating in their destruction at the boot of Buddy Franklin and the Hawks has left the Kangaroos floating in the realm of utter disaster. This seems a bit extreme? Let’s have a quick look at the stats.
As of the 29th of May, the Kangaroos had kicked more goals than any side in the competition averaging 16 a game. They also lead the league in inside 50s, with 59 a game. They rank second with marks inside 50. While these stats may have changed after the shemozzle that was the Buddy demolition, it clearly highlights the one directional game play that the Kangaroos are using this season. With stats like these you would expect them to be fitting comfortably in the top eight at the very least. Sadly they now sit 12th, three games out of the eight. With a ladder so tight it’ll be tough to battle back into the eight with their style of game play.
Gold Coast: Just not evolving well enough. Well the Suns of the Gold Coast sky are really struggling. They rarely show glimpses of hope or potential. Their game against Essendon in which they lost by only a few goals was a rare exception. Their loss to GWS was an upset and really has set them up to struggle for the remainder of the season. The Suns have looked smaller, slower and less experienced than GWS.
They are getting very little from their crop of the nation’s best young players. Experienced players are also underperforming, with the exception being Ablett who is becoming more of a hindrance than a bonus for the struggling team. Guy McKenna may have renewed his contract but he better find more of his young charges or they could be starring down back to back spoons.
Carlton: The bubble has burst, or to be more accurate, exploded. The Blues had a brilliant start to the season. Rattan came out and proudly announced that this season they would finally finish in the top four and get the most out of their star studded list. A few weeks on they now languish ninth on the ladder.
A team with a hand full of top draft picks and the amazing Judd should be able to maintain a top eight position. People say “No Judd, No Carlton”, but it looks now more like “No Murphy, No Carlton”. The other issue is the inability of Ratten to adapt in game day situations.
Carlton will be lucky to play week one of finals let alone finish in the top four. Dropping the games to Port Adelaide and St Kilda have really put the pump on the Blue boys.
What do you think, Roarers? Who are your winners and losers for season 2012?
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