The subject of Tasmania’s AFL expansion bid goes back 30 years to when the league was founded and it’s popped up in the news yet again.
Based on current form, ladder standing, past results, injuries and a little bit of bias, I think the 2012 AFL Premiership race is down to just two competitors.
Now before you jump down my throat, just have a listen to my reasoning.
Firstly, who do I realistically think will make up the top eight at the end of the season?
I think Sydney, Hawthorn, Collingwood, Adelaide, West Coast, Geelong, North Melbourne, Fremantle will play in September.
With what could be considered an easy run home and some fantastic form, I’m backing North to finally get out of that ninth spot and hit the finals hard.
Now, If I’m wrong (I am human after all) it won’t change what I think will be the end result.
Firstly, let’s look at the bookmakers favourite and the most in-form team right now, the Hawthorn Hawks.
With a good list, few serious injuries, Hodge and Buddy back and plenty of players who have been there, done that, the Hawks are the natural choice for the flag. The majority of people in the media and in online forums tend to agree.
My other candidate is the Sydney Swans.
With all the talk of them flying under the radar, they are top of the ladder for a reason. They win games. They may not have the prettiest style of play (although looking at Lewis Jetta highlights might make you think otherwise) but they get the job done, at home and away.
While most people think it will be the Hawks who lift the cup, Sydney was the last team in premiership contention to beat them. And they did so convincingly too.
I just don’t think any of the others can compete with these two at the business end of the season.
West Coast have too many injuries. Even if they do get some of their forward line back, are they going to get enough match fitness in time to handle finals intensity?
Collingwood is right up there, but I just don’t feel the chemistry is there this year. The ‘Pies stars are playing well, for instance Dane Swan has been winning 35-50 possessions every week. But their younger players and lesser lights just aren’t standing up.
Another wildcard is Adelaide. They could do it, but I don’t feel they have enough big name players to carry them over the line when under real pressure. Take last week against Geelong as an example of their inexperience.
Geelong are a chance because they have done it before. But, unlike last year, the cries of “too old, too slow” actually apply. With a tough run in, they need all their good players, so no resting them this year.
The final contenders, North and Fremantle are too young. They will be a force in the next few years, but their rookies need more time before they can challenge the big guys.
What do you think, Roarers? Is it a two-horse race for the AFL premiership this year?