We are now at the halfway point in the AFL season. Who has stepped up and who has fallen short of the mark?
Here is my review and a score at out of 10 for the season to date.
1. Geelong (40 points)
The Cats have confirmed their evergreen status with a fine start to season 2013. Despite being patchy in many of their wins, the fact they have only dropped one game demonstrates what a class side they are. Another flag is certainly on the cards
2. Hawthorn (36 points, game in hand)
If the Hawks are carrying any mental scars from their grand final loss last year is certainly isn’t showing on the field.
Winning nine out of 10 games is always good, but the fact they achieved it playing all of last year’s finalists is outstanding.
They are class unit and will once again be at the pointy end come September
3. Sydney (34 points)
So far, so good for the Swans in their quest for back to back flags.
They notched early wins, albeit against less-fancied opposition.
Below-par performances against the Cats, Hawks and Dockers had some questioning their credentials, but they have turned it up a notch in the past month with emphatic wins over the Pies, Bombers and Crows.
With several key players set to return, the biggest problem for John Longmire will be deciding who to leave out.
4. Essendon (32 points)
The controversy surrounding the 2012 supplements program was either going to destroy the playing group or galvanise them. So far it has been the latter.
They won their first seven games and a come-from-behind win against Carlton showed their steel and resolve.
Bomber fans may still be feeling nervous due to what happened in the second half of last year, but is unlikely they will allow that to happen again.
Likely to make finals and may push for a top four finish.
5. Fremantle (30 points, game in hand)
If the premiership was decided by handicap, the Dockers would be leading comfortably.
Despite a multitude of injuries to key players, they find themselves just outside the top four with a game in hand.
Statistically the Dockers have the best defence in the league, and with Mathew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands set to return in the second half of the year, Dockers fans must be believing a maiden flag is a real possibility.
6. Collingwood (28 points)
The ‘Pies have been a bit erratic in their start to 2013. Good wins against Richmond and Geelong have been tempered with heavy defeats at the hands of Hawthorn, Sydney and Essendon.
At their best they are a top four side, at their worst they are an also-ran. This issue will want be addressed by Nathan Buckley in the second half of the year.
Likely to make the finals, but another top four finish may be beyond them.
7. Carlton (24 points)
After a slow start, the Blues have found a bit of form although narrow losses to Richmond in the opening round and Essendon (despite at one stage having a five-goal lead) could hurt them at the end of the season.
It seems they are still adjusting to Mick Malthouse’s gameplan. Their next match against the Hawks will determine where they currently stand.
Will be in a dogfight to make the eight.
8. West Coast (24 points)
Big things were expected of the Eagles at the start of the season, but so far they haven’t met those expectations.
Their once impenetrable fortress of Patersons Stadium is looking decidedly vulnerable having lost four matches there already this season.
The top four is probably beyond them and they will be in a fight to make the eight.