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AFL Power Rankings: Round 5

Isaac Heeney is one of many young guns impressing for the Sydney Swans. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Expert
26th April, 2016
101
2918 Reads

Round 5 started with a bang and ended with a fizzer, and somewhere in the middle of it all the stage was set for a top-two battle this Friday night.

Hawthorn-Adelaide will be a hard act to follow for North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, but it’s fair to say blockbusters and Friday nights have been reunited. That can only be a good thing.

North haven’t been the darlings of these Power Rankings, but they’ve been climbing slowly. The Western Bulldogs have been accumulating injuries, but so far they’ve shown impressive depth.

It’s definitely a fixture to look forward to.

There was plenty of movement over the weekend in the Power Rankings. Indeed, only one side remained in the same spot.

Some teams, like Adelaide, didn’t do a lot wrong but fell due the improvement of others — and regression among teams they’d played previously.

Others, like Collingwood, showed that maybe they didn’t belong where they were placed last week — or at least don’t belong there any more.


1.Sydney Swans

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No change // Ladder: 3rd (4W, 1L)

Strong win over a well-regarded opponent? Tick, the Swans stay on top. They only won the inside 50 count against West Coast by four, but their defenders offered plenty of run back the other way.

2.Western Bulldogs

+1 // Ladder: 2nd (4W, 1L)

The Dogs keep on keeping on, but this week it was Matt Suckling’s name being added to the injury list. Ouch, again. Big one to look forward to with a Friday night blockbuster against North Melbourne.

3.Geelong

+3 // Ladder: 4th (4W, 1L)

Hey there, new top four side. The Cats started slow against Port Adelaide, until Port poked the bear at quarter time. The rotating ruck set-up had a big win, smashing Port 60-28 in the hitouts.

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4.GWS Giants

+3 // Ladder: 6th (3W, 2L)

Hey there, other new top four side. If you’re wondering what’s behind the Giants’ rapid rise, it’s a combination of things. Good football is one part. Also one of their two losses was against the Swans (forgivable) and the other one was against Melbourne (increasingly more forgivable than it appeared to be at the time). They’re also the only team to have beaten Geelong (increasingly more impressive).

5.Hawthorn

-1 // Ladder: 5th (4W, 1L)

Hawthorn’s narrow wins are just another reason to give Alastair Clarkson a great big tick for his preparation. By all reports he loves throwing different late-game scenarios at his players on the training track, and it shows. The Hawks aren’t quite doing it convincingly enough right now to be a powerhouse in these rankings, but they’d be on top in the entertainment value rankings based on the last three weeks. Shout out to Paul Puopolo.

6.North Melbourne

+2 // Ladder: 1st (5W, 0L)

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It’s hard not to be a Ben Brown fan. He kicked four against the Suns and continues to nudge forward in his development. Getting a win on the Gold Coast was also nothing to be sneezed at. Bring on Friday night.

7.Adelaide

-5 // Ladder: 9th (3W, 2L)

Some good fortune would have seen the Crows knock over Hawthorn on Friday, which makes the size of their slide this week a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. But, it must be remembered their only wins by significant margins were against Port Adelaide and Richmond. Those wins continue to lose value and therefore affect their ranking. They are also 1-2 against the sides above them. Hence, no more top four spot.

8.West Coast

-3 // Ladder: 8th (3W, 2L)

That’s the second time this year West Coast have been exposed on the road against a likely contender. They’re not playing at a level that will return them to a grand final.

9.Melbourne

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+1 // Ladder: 10th (3W, 2L)

“Melbourne has won consecutive matches for the first time since 2011.” That opening to the AFL’s match report says all you need to know. This is not the Melbourne of recent years. No one would be getting ahead of themselves, or at least you’d hope that’s the case, but it’s brighter days for the Demons faithful. Plenty to like about Max Gawn’s form in the ruck this season.

10.Gold Coast

-1 // Ladder: 7th (3W, 2L)

The Suns have been punished for a so-so fortnight, where they picked up their first two losses of the season. There were five changes this week, including the loss of Steven May and Dion Prestia, which muddies the normally-quite-beautiful Gold Coast waters. Having said that, the inclusion of Peter Wright against North Melbourne did seem to pay dividends.

11.Collingwood

+7 // Ladder: 11th (2W, 3L)

Most Pies fans would’ve taken ‘avoiding the worst case scenario’ yesterday afternoon. Instead, they got a surprisingly powerful display kick-started by an eight goals to one first quarter. And what about Mason Cox? If other clubs are comfortable dedicating a couple of years development, they’d might be well advised to take a closer look at the American ranks.

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12.Brisbane Lions

-1 // Ladder: 16th (1W, 4L)

I said this after St Kilda suffered a similar fate, but there’s going to be a few teams made to feel pretty embarrassed playing the Western Bulldogs this season. The Lions’ fixture so far this season has been tough: West Coast, North Melbourne, Geelong, Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs. It doesn’t get any easier with the Sydney Swans visiting the Gabba this week.

13.St Kilda

+1 // Ladder: 13th (1W, 4L)

The Saints get a +1 to replace the harsh -1 of last week, but it wasn’t the most memorable of weekends. A travelling GWS got the better of them.

14.Port Adelaide

-2 // Ladder: 12th (2W, 3L)

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It continues to get worse for Port. David Koch’s “disgrace” comment was a big source of debate last week, with a fair bit of pushback from ex-players. Perhaps they were right and it affected the playing group. Still, if a bit of honesty isn’t needed right now I’m not sure what is.

15.Carlton

+2 // Ladder: 15th (1W, 4L)

A young team making the trip to Perth and returning home with the four points … that’s worthy of pushing the Blues up the rankings. It wasn’t the prettiest affair, but the Blues got strong contributions from their experienced players (Kade Simpson, Dale Thomas et al) to go with bright patches from the youngsters.

16.Richmond

-1 // Ladder: 14th (1W, 4L)

Melbourne were too good on Sunday night and the task will get harder with Alex Rance out for two weeks (and he was lucky it wasn’t more). That said, another winnable game is on the horizon: Port Adelaide at the MCG is a timely opportunity.

17.Fremantle

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-4 // Ladder: 18th (0W, 5L)

Now you really worry. This could’ve been the week the drought broke. It could’ve been the start of a turnaround. But such turnarounds can be ruled out after performances like the loss to Carlton on Sunday. Add Nat Fyfe’s injury into the mix and it’s all over, drop the anchor.

18.Essendon

-2 // Ladder: 17th (1W, 4L)

That … put a halt to things. The Anzac Day resulted ended up a lot closer to the pre-season expectations than last week’s expectations.