Could the AFL’s top four be settled? Hawthorn, GWS, Sydney and Geelong occupy the prized spots with five matches to play, and they may just be able to ward off any challenge.
With Adelaide losing to the Cats, the Crows have dropped to sixth – equal on 48 points with the Giants, Swans and Cats but behind on percentage.
West Coast are in fifth, while the Western Bulldogs are also on 48 points but are further behind on percentage.
Hawthorn are safe with a two-game advantage over the pack.
Now, you may think with such congestion, it’s silly to suggest the top four is locked.
But here’s the kicker: the teams currently in the four don’t have any games against each other or the next most dangerous side (Adelaide) in the run home.
There are danger games, of course. Hawthorn and GWS do face West Coast. Geelong will go up against the Western Bulldogs. Three of them play North Melbourne.
However, in each case, the top four side will almost certainly start favourite – perhaps heavy favourite.
The double chances could be sorted.
As for this week’s rankings, there was no change at the top despite Adelaide’s loss.
I was ready to type the words “Meet your new leader” but alas, the Crows had enough credits in the bank from their form leading into the round to maintain top spot in the rankings.
Remember these rankings look further back than just the last week or two, though those matches are given extra importance.
Rest assured, Hawthorn’s case for being on top continues to grow.
No change // Ladder: 6th (12W, 5L)
After the game, Don Pike brought up inside 50s and it’s an interesting point. Every time Adelaide have had fewer than 50 inside 50s, they’ve lost. Only once – in Round 1 – have they been beaten with more than 50. Their best football coincided with a run of games with 60 inside 50s or more. Getting supply to their gun forwards is key.
No change // Ladder: 1st (14W, 3L)
Sam Mitchell was in fine form in his 300th game with 38 disposals as the Hawks again recorded a strong win, this time against Richmond. It feels like the Hawks have hit a switch and are making a very serious run at four flags in a row.
No change // Ladder: 3rd (12W, 5L)
The Swans’ home form looked ominous earlier in the season. Less so now. Since winning their first six at the SCG by an average of 51 points – a run that included worthy opponents like GWS, West Coast and North Melbourne – they’ve now fallen to the Western Bulldogs (by four) and Hawthorn (by five) and survived a threat from Carlton to win by six.
+3 // Ladder: 4th (12W, 5L)
The Cats showed a return to form against Adelaide. Tom Hawkins may have also broken out of a rough patch by kicking four goals.
-1 // Ladder: 2nd (12W, 5L)
The Giants will be hoping there’s not much in Shane Mumford’s knee injury, though apparently the man himself was ready to run back out in the final minutes. Good interstate win against Port Adelaide.
-1 // Ladder: 5th (12W, 5L)
That’s the second week in a row where the Eagles narrowly put away a weaker side. They’re winning, sure, but they’re not playing convincing footy. It may fly against Collingwood and Fremantle in the next fortnight, but GWS, Hawthorn and Adelaide in the final three rounds will most definitely punish it.
+1 // Ladder: 10th (8W, 9L)
The Power have played in six games decided by four goals or less. They’ve won zero. Against GWS, their skills late weren’t up to the task of winning the match. That may well be their season.
-2 // Ladder: 7th (12W, 5L)
Another week where the Bulldogs would like to hit the rewind button and take back some devastating injuries. This time, the seasons of Mitch Wallis and Jack Redpath were ended. Unfortunately, this is the story of the Bulldogs’ year. The bright side is looking at how well they’ve performed in spite of it all.
+1 // Ladder: 8th (11W, 6L)
The Roos needed a win and they delivered against Collingwood, but it’s on again this week with St Kilda coming up. If they win that, the eight should be settled.
-1 // Ladder: 12th (7W, 10L)
The Pies were blitzed 6.5 to 2.2 in the first quarter and fell further behind in the second. Not quite the stuff of a side truly believing in the possibility of playing finals.
+1 // Ladder: 9th (9W, 8L)
The Saints have had some head-scratchers this year but the last fortnight has been positive. Jack Steven continued a good season with 39 disposals in the win over the Western Bulldogs.
-1 // Ladder: 11th (7W, 10L)
You couldn’t ask for much more against West Coast. On the stats front, it’s hard to believe the Demons lost. The ball was in their forward half for 63 per cent of the match.
+1 // Ladder: 14th (6W, 11L)
A competitive effort by the Blues against the Swans, though they fell six points short. Four players had 30 or more touches: Kade Simpson, Patrick Cripps, Bryce Gibbs and Sam Docherty. Ed Curnow went close and also kicked a couple.
-1 // Ladder: 13th (7W, 10L)
Another week, another debate over the value of a Dustin Martin performance. This time, it was a bit shrewd of Damien Hardwick to mention it after a 70-point loss. Attention, consider yourself deflected.
+1 // Ladder: 15th (6W, 11L)
The talls had a big say against Fremantle, with Sam Day and Tom Lynch kicking four along with Peter Wright’s three. In what could’ve been an ugly afternoon, the Suns had a good win.
-1 // Ladder: 16th (3W, 14L)
Freo went into half time ahead but dropped away thereafter, as was the case a week earlier against Geelong.
No change // Ladder: 17th (2W, 15L)
The Lions lost the inside 50 count and had fewer scoring shots but good kicking is good football and the final margin (37 points) was convincing. Good to see leaders come to the fore. Tom Rockliff, Daniel Rich and Dayne Zorko all played well.
No change // Ladder: 18th (1W, 16L)
The wooden spoon is now almost certainly going to the Bombers. Where was the Daniel Rich tag against Brisbane? It might have stopped some of the Lions’ drive (Rich had nine rebound 50s and seven inside 50s).