We wouldn’t be saying anything new by declaring it’s tight at the top this AFL season, but here goes anyway: there ain’t much breathing space up there.
Adelaide, who have been in the top two of these rankings for the past six weeks, are playing the competition’s best football right now. North Melbourne seem to be the weakest of the top eight sides after five losses in six starts.
In between, little separates.
This weekend we had the GWS Giants stumbling to Collingwood while Geelong confirmed they were in something of a funk. The Western Bulldogs survived a challenge from the Western Bulldogs.
Some question marks were thrown up.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn have won six in a row and their most recent, against Port Adelaide on Thursday, was the pick of the bunch. You only have to look to 2015 to see how the Hawks can turn things up a notch with the bye out the way.
These rankings don’t yet have the Hawks in a commanding position, but that may well happen sooner rather than later if the weekend was any guide.
Certainly, any team that seizes their opportunities from here out should be rewarded. The spots between third and seventh are probably as tight as they’ve been all season, meaning poor showings will be costly.
Bring on the run home.
No change // Ladder: 3rd (11W, 4L)
Plenty of wraps on Daniel Talia after yesterday’s game and rightly so after hurting Carlton the other way. Rory Laird had an impressive 35 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency.
+3 // Ladder: 2nd (11W, 4L)
That the Swans won by 38 points despite having nine fewer inside 50s speaks volumes about the impact of Dane Rampe’s performance against Geelong. Took five intercept marks and had 23 touches at 91 per cent efficiency to lead an impressive defence. Overall, a strong win in enemy territory.
+3 // Ladder: 5th (10W, 5L)
Finally ticked the ‘win against top eight’ box, albeit at home and against North Melbourne. It will be five weeks before we see the Eagles against another top eight side, though their final three games should be interesting (GWS away, Hawthorn home, Adelaide away).
-2 // Ladder: 7th (10W, 5L)
A slip-up from the Giants was bound to happen. Their run home just seemed too straightforward, the path to a home final too safe, for everything to go to plan. It was a complacency loss. Stephen Coniglio had 30 diposals, but at 53 per cent. Josh Kelly had 23 at 48 per cent. Lachie Whitfield had 22 at 55 per cent. Only Dylan Shiel had more than 20 touches at a decent clip (77 per cent).
-1 // Ladder: 4th (11W, 4L)
The Dogs got into a pickle against Richmond, but the likes of Marcus Bontempelli and Jake Stringer proved the difference. The Bont is having a top season for a 20 year-old.
+1 // Ladder: 1st (12W, 3L)
Impressive performance against Port Adelaide and you sense the Hawks are starting to click. A funny comment perhaps for a team that’s won six in a row, but this was more significant than thrashing Essendon or eking out a win against Gold Coast. Now we can’t wait for the blockbuster against Sydney on Thursday night.
-4 // Ladder: 6th (10W, 5L)
Patrick Dangerfield burst out of the blocks with 18 first-quarter disposals, but the warning sign was there when not even that effort gave the Cats the lead at the first break. The Swans were too good and the Cats still have some figuring out to do.
No change // Ladder: 9th (7W, 8L)
The Power didn’t embarrass themselves in the loss to Hawthorn and Robbie Gray had a huge influence. Interesting fixture this week when they play North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
+2 // Ladder: 11th (7W, 8L)
Travis Cloke was back with his four-goal, 12-mark, 20-disposal performance. Should be good for the confidence. The entire club will be taking confidence from the win over GWS, a superb outcome after being down four goals at quarter time.
-1 // Ladder: 8th (10W, 5L)
Despite Todd Goldstein dominating a Naitanui-less West Coast in the ruck, the Eagles scored six more goals from stoppages than the Roos. A couple of injury concerns, particularly Mason Wood’s knee, rubbed salt into the wound.
-1 // Ladder: 10th (7W, 8L)
The Demons showed Dockers fans what a young team heading in the other direction looks like. Who will get the last laugh though? Jesse Hogan had his eighth haul of three or more goals from 15 starts this season.
+3 // Ladder: 13th (6W, 9L)
Promising performance against a good team in the Dogs. A couple of blokes by the names of Jason Castagna and Oleg Markov looked alright. Some signs for the future.
No change // Ladder: 14th (6W, 9L)
The Blues are in the middle of a tough patch in the fixture, with West Coast, Sydney and Hawthorn to come in the next three weeks. So it’s fair to say the run home won’t be about getting the wins, it will be about glimpses at the future.
-2 // Ladder: 12th (7W, 8L)
Pushed to the very end by Essendon, we’re again left to question what the real St Kilda looks like. Or, maybe, we got closer to an answer. Nonetheless, a massive game from Jack Steven – 41 disposals, 22 contested, 12 clearances, 12 tackles and a desperately needed late goal. Lock in the three votes.
-1 // Ladder: 15th (5W, 10L)
The Suns got the win against Brisbane in what was in some ways an evening to forget. Potentially serious injuries to Gary Ablett and Michael Rischitelli aren’t what fans would’ve wanted. Same goes for letting the Lions back into the contest. Peter Wright a positive.
No change // Ladder: 16th (3W, 12L)
A poor first half showing against Melbourne by the Dockers before saving some face in the second half, albeit playing a team coming off a six-day break in Darwin.
No change // Ladder: 17th (1W, 14L)
A competitive showing at the Q-Clash, but here are the real positives: third-gamer Eric Hipwood kicked four goals, fourth-gamer Rhys Mathieson had 24 disposals, fifth-gamer Jarrad Jansen kicked two goals.
No change // Ladder: 18th (1W, 14L)
The Bombers gave it a fair shake against St Kilda. While coaches will tell you they aren’t satisfied with noble losses, it seems like a reasonable thing to be happy with for this team.