Less than a month ago I suggested that while Port Adelaide were many rungs off the top teams on the ladder, they still had the potential to make the top four. But alas, two more weeks for two more losses, and the Power will be hoping for September football of any type at this stage.
So who will step in and fill the void they leave. And are they good enough to trouble the big three of Sydney, Hawthorn and Fremantle?
The three likely candidates are the West Coast Eagles, somehow still getting under the radars of many despite sitting second on the ladder, the Richmond Tigers, who notched wins over the Swans and Dockers in successive rounds, and we can’t forget Collingwood.
Yes, Collingwood. There are plenty of arguments as to why they aren’t a serious contender: notably the fact their eight wins have all come against teams below them on the ladder and ones they are expected to beat.
But their two losses in the past two weeks told me that while they aren’t quite there yet, the Pies are getting very close to being one of the elite teams.
Collingwood sit just one game out of the top four, and while they don’t have an easy run home (they meet Sydney and the West Coast), they have plenty of winnable matches.
The Pies are doing all the little things right at the moment, all the effort things, it’s just execution in some areas which is costing them, and that could snap into place at any time.
To get within 10 points of the defending premiers, a week after running Fremantle to a seven points in Perth, says a lot about the Magpies, and while that 2015 big scalp still awaits, if I was the Eagles or Swans fans, I’d be a little concerned.
What about the Eagles? I know they only beat Melbourne on the weekend but the Dees have improved, and considering the extreme emotional side of the situation, for West Coast to produce was impressive.
The Eagles have been rolling along, winning both away and at home, but their litmus test is to come. In a five-week stretch they meet Collingwood away, then Sydney, Hawthorn, and Fremantle in Perth. Survive that and stay in the top four and we’ll be taking about the Eagles as legitimate too.
Then there’s the Tigers.
Oh the Tigers. Getting up and beating the big guns is one thing, as they did against Freo and Sydney, but getting the job done in tough conditions, and winning “ugly” as coach Damien Hardwick put it, is another.
It keeps the Tigers moving in the right direction, and shows they might be a bit stronger mentally now in not switching off and dropping games they shouldn’t as sometimes they did in the past.
They have Fremantle, Hawthorn and Collingwood to come, but only leave Victoria once in their final nine games.
At the moment you can get around $8.50 about the Eagles, and $17 about the other pair, and while I’m not for one minute saying the trio are as good as the ‘other’ trio, funny things happen in football, and there’s a lot of footy to be played before September arrives.