The next team in my look at the AFL is the current champion, and this year’s favourite, Collingwood.
Currently: 2nd. 12 wins, 1 loss. 170 percent.
Collingwood has gone from strength to strength in season 2011. The 2010 AFL Premiers have continued to breed success, losing only one game so far this year.
The reigning premiers got off to a flying start with convincing wins over Port Adelaide and North Melbourne, both at Etihad Stadium.
The Pies then won their next four, beating Carlton, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs in that stretch, before falling to The Cats by three points in front of 81,000 people in round eight.
Since then the Magpies have only once been truly tested, in round 14 when they narrowly got over the Swans by six points at Stadium Australia. They have beaten fellow top-four opponents by 40 points (West Coast) and 45 points (Hawthorn).
On the run home the Magpies may be tested on a few occasions. In two weeks’ time they take on a rampaging Carlton, followed a fortnight later by the ‘in-form’ Bombers.
Then in round 24 they will look to make amends for their round eight loss as they take on Geelong in what is sure to be a finals preview.
The Pies travel more in the last nine weeks than in their first 15, with matches at Metricon Stadium (Gold Coast), Paterson’s Stadium (Fremantle) and AAMI Stadium (Port Adelaide).
You would expect Collingwood to win through most of their games, although I would think that the Cats will be too good in round 24.
Prediction: 1st. 20 wins, two losses. 160.7 percent.
It’s hard to go past the Magpies as flag favourites for season 2011. They haven’t missed a beat and have kept a reasonably healthy list to this point in the season.
Any deficiency that was going to be a problem from last season has been quickly fixed and the Pies look to be cruising along.
Looking ahead to next season, they will need to start investing in small forwards. Both Davis and Didak have played for most of their careers in the forward half and they’re both staring down the barrel of 30.
With Cloke finding form of recent months, the need for a key forward has gone out the window.
Their centre line is as potent as ever, the only thing that the Pies lack is a secondary ruckman. With Darren Jolly missing most of the season, in fact only managing five games this year, Cameron Wood has been found out.
He doesn’t have the ability to play first ruck, and with Fraser gone and Jolly spending time on the sidelines it will become a weakness in the Collingwood midfield.
In conclusion, expect big things from the Pies. Whether they will hear the calls of their fans and manage two or even three in a row is yet to be determined, but from a list management point of view the Pies have done everything right to call themselves contenders, for this year, and probably the next two.
Premiership window: 2009-2013