Expansion teams cost us quality finals
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As the finals series rapidly approaches, it appears that we lack many sides of real quality to contest this year’s premiership decider. And the reason for this lays squarely at the feet of the expansion teams.
If we go through the top eight as it stands, we see Sydney sit nicely on top, but at almost full strength they were less than impressive in defeating a Carlton side missing the likes of Judd, Robinson, Walker, Laidler and Henderson with the returning Waite and Simpson playing their first games after extended layoffs.
Adelaide are next and this young side is showing the signs of a long AFL season. They got beaten convincingly by Geelong last week and struggled to beat a below strength Essendon at home; hardly the signs of a premiership threat.
Collingwood sit third and given their dominance of previous seasons actually benefit from the dilution of talent the new teams have caused as it restricts contenders’ abilities to top up and challenge, but they are hardly setting the world on fire, just getting past 10th placed St Kilda, beaten twice by 11th placed Carlton, and being brushed aside by a Buddy-less Hawthorn.
Hawthorn to me are the real deal and are the exception to the norm.
West Coast are fifth and have finally succumbed to injuries; won’t be a contender unless they get a lot of players back quickly.
Geelong sit sixth and as with Collingwood have had their period of dominance extended by the Suns and Giants taking all the premium talent.
North are seventh and are one of the form sides of the comp but will owe their finals spot as much to the easiest draw, which includes six games against the bottom four sides as it does to their potent forward setup.
And questions are still to answered as to whether this inexperienced side can maintain their form and compete against the likes of Hawthorn, who demolished them in Tassie. The signs against the Bulldogs weren’t great, either.
And finally we have Essendon, who could possibly go into finals losing their last seven games and only beating Port Adelaide since Round 14; hardly the strongest eighth team in recent history.
So while this season has been incredibly even, it has lacked top-class teams and the fact that it has come about after two compromised drafts is no coincidence.