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Hysteria, AFL style: Round 4 wrap

Will Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick still be in charge at the end of 2019? (AAP Image/Joe Castro)
Roar Guru
18th April, 2016
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We have only one unbeaten team and a couple without a win, but a bunch in between. So we can make massive calls at every turn with a month’s worth of evidence, right?

Here’s Round 4 of the AFL hysteria series.

Nathan Buckley and Damien Hardwick are dead men walking
Arguably the two most famous clubs in the AFL are facing uncertainty and potentially wasted years as it currently stands. Both have bewilderingly extended the contracts of their head coaches and are now facing the reality that neither are any good, being heard by their players, or both.

In a day and age where contracts are not worth the paper they are written on, both executive teams would already be nervous at the recent coaching extensions and investigating how they can get out.

Richmond will look at the next fortnight against Melbourne and Port as imminently winnable, but Hawthorn and Sydney are to follow. Collingwood play Essendon, Carlton and Brisbane over the next month but wouldn’t start prohibitive favourites against any of them, which reflects very poorly on them.

We are talking about two popular coaches but if their clubs are serious about winning they are simply not the answer and will be moving into media jobs before 2016 is done.

An era is going down the drain at Alberton
There are no excuses at Alberton as the Power are headed towards a 2016 that may even match 2015 for disappointment. The more we see of this team, the more it looks certain that 2014 was one of the great flukes of the modern game.

The gameplan implemented by Ken Hinkley a few years back took advantage of speed, dare and seemingly endless run and teams couldn’t unlock the puzzle that was Port Adelaide. Come 2015, it looked as though they haven’t changed a thing, or even made the slightest tweak but the other teams had scouted them and worked them out.

Come 2016 and one of the easiest draws in the AFL had plenty thinking Port could replicate 2014. After a month, it is becoming clear that it was misguided confidence. They have unconvincingly defeated Essendon and St. Kilda and been slaughtered by Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney. More concerning is the fact that they have conceded 144 and 151 points in those losses.

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Port’s defence, inconsistent attack, midfielders seemingly interested in statistical numbers than working hard. The immediate future looks bleak for the Power with a rare positive being the exposure they will get next season playing in the most populated nation in the world.

Footy has never been more entertaining
Every season there are rule changes made, some for the sake of it and some are well needed. This season, the deliberate out of bounds has been the effective rule change needed and the interchange cap, while obvious, was a great move.

We have never asked more of the players but clubs have never been more resourced or more professional. All these things add up to giving us the most entertaining brand of footy we have seen. Old timers will claim the game isn’t hard, but that’s rubbish – toughness isn’t sniping someone, it’s putting your head over the ball or running back with the flight and there have never been more of those acts than there are today.

It is still early in the season but North, the Bulldogs, Adelaide, West Coast, Hawthorn and Sydney are playing footy worth watching. Even strugglers like Melbourne, Brisbane and St.Kilda have embraced a more attacking style and are subsequently realising some benefits.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the trend is that slow, boring football will no longer cut it. The teams who continue attacking and taking the game on look likely to be successful than those who play drab, dull footy. The one exception is Hawthorn; they can play whatever style they wish and they will win, they are simply that good.

Adelaide are bound for the top two
No professional sporting organisation in memory has had a tougher year than the Crows had in 2015. They have rebounded in an impressive manner, playing a bold and daring game style that leverages he league’s best forward line.

In Eddie Betts, Tom Lynch, Josh Jenkins and Taylor Walker there are four legitimate goal-kickers who pose a myriad of challenges to the opposition. Sydney have been the benchmark for defensive intensity and they were dominated by the Crows who rank third in inside 50s.

The draw is brutal and the next month sees them face the Hawks, Dockers, Bulldogs and Cats. If they can win three of those games and be 6-2 it would set them up perfectly for an assault on a top two finish.

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Expansion teams are relevant for the first time
The Suns and Giants have faces growing pains, which is hardly surprising given their list profiles. That hard work looks to be paying dividends now as both seem set to serious push for spots in the top eight in 2016.

Despite sitting lower on the ladder, the Giants have been the more impressive of the teams despite being without star toward Jeremy Cameron. The Giants have thrived through a reasonably tough early season schedule, having a strong contested possession and inside 50 differential.

The Suns have had the league’s easiest schedule and have made the most of it, ranking fourth in scoring and third in marks inside 50. The mix of speed and forward strength will be put to the test with games against North Melbourne and Geelong in the next fortnight – a split would have the Suns confident of pushing on and continuing their rise up the ladder.

Agree? Disagree? Comment and let me know!

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