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AFL Power Rankings: Round 21

Coach Justin Leppitsch has been handed his marching orders. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)
Expert
14th August, 2016
23
2296 Reads

Disastrous wouldn’t be the right word, but it was an underwhelming weekend for a handful of AFL clubs.

Certainly, when both the Brisbane Lions and Essendon are on the winners list, there’s bound to be ramifications elsewhere. This was the case for both Carlton and Gold Coast, but perhaps they should be thankful they weren’t the only sides missing the mark.

At the higher end of the ladder, the GWS Giants lost to a West Coast side that struggles on the road. Geelong very nearly lost to a Richmond side that struggles everywhere.

» The Roar’s comprehensive guide to the 2016 AFL Finals

Joining them in the not-doing-it-comfortably club was the Western Bulldogs, who beat Collingwood by three points. The side below them on the ladder, North Melbourne, had a genuinely forgettable weekend after losing to Hawthorn.

All this left a bunch of clubs wishing they could rewind the clock to last week and start over.

For all that though, three sides at the top actually played as though finals are just around the corner – the Hawks, Sydney Swans and Adelaide did exactly what they needed to do.

No surprise, then, they share the top three both on the ladder and in these rankings.


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1.Adelaide

No change // Ladder: 3rd (15W, 5L)
Parallels can be drawn to Geelong here, but in their own right Adelaide have handled the task of securing percentage-boosting wins quite well. Three weeks against the bottom three resulted in 462 points for, 170 points against.

2.Sydney Swans

No change // Ladder: 2nd (15W, 5L)
Take out two losses by less than a goal and it’s been a superb two months for the Swans. And seeing off two sides meant to be chasing eighth spot by 67 and 70 points during the past fortnight has added to that.

3.Hawthorn

+1 // Ladder: 1st (16W, 4L)
You can apply similar thinking to the Hawks. Take out the Melbourne loss and the last three months have been hard to fault for Hawthorn. We’re itching for finals so that these teams can have a crack at each other.

4.Geelong

-1 // Ladder: 4th (15W, 5L)
Chris Scott wondered after the game whether the glass was half-full or half-empty. While it was a nice comeback, in the context of needing percentage in a tight race for double chances, being down by so much against Richmond with a quarter to play made things seem a lot more than half-empty.

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5.West Coast

+2 // Ladder: 6th (14W, 6L)
Nic Naitanui! The moment called for some class and he delivered. It was hard not to appreciate the cheek from Adam Simpson post-game: “Six-day break, top-four side, interstate, so hopefully we’ve answered a couple of questions there.”

6.Western Bulldogs

-1 // Ladder: 7th (14W, 6L)
It was a close game throughout, but the Dogs secured the four points and will continue to eye off a home final. For them, percentage won’t get them there so it’s a case of getting the wins. With Essendon and Fremantle to come, you’d think they are well placed.

7.Melbourne

+2 // Ladder: 9th (10W, 10L)
The Demons backed up their win over Hawthorn with a 40-point victory over Port Adelaide and suddenly they’re the team outside the eight best placed to sneak into finals. Can they do it? Carlton and Geelong await in the next fortnight, and North Melbourne will need to lose to Sydney and GWS.

8.GWS Giants

-2 // Ladder: 5th (14W, 6L)
The Giants aren’t playing their best footy right now, following up a narrow win over Gold Coast – which looks especially bad after the weekend – with a home loss to West Coast, albeit at the death. Despite being a fortress earlier in the season, the Giants have lost their last two at Spotless Stadium.

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9.North Melbourne

+1 // Ladder: 8th (12W, 8L)
The Hawks outgunned the Roos from the start with an 8.4 to 1.0 first term. Though there was some life after that, it’s safe to say North were a little off the pace. Will they hold on to eighth? It’s still in doubt.

10.St Kilda

-2 // Ladder: 10th (10W, 10L)
After threatening to make a finals run, perhaps now the Saints have gone back to their earlier season form of beating teams below them handily and losing to those in the eight? The tough reality after losing to North Melbourne three rounds ago was that the Sydney fixture became a must-win. They couldn’t do it.

11.Collingwood

+2 // Ladder: 12th (8W, 12L)
A competitive performance against the Western Bulldogs, a good response to the Richmond loss on the Friday night stage a week earlier.

12.Port Adelaide

-1 // Ladder: 11th (9W, 11L)
Whatever life remained in the Power’s season has well and truly fizzled after the 40-point home loss to Melbourne, in which Port kicked just two goals during the first half. And to think the Dees hadn’t beaten Port in Adelaide for 16 years.

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13.Gold Coast

-1 // Ladder: 14th (6W, 14L)
Given many had basically written off the idea of Essendon picking up a second win, this was a bad loss for the Suns. There was a huge discrepancy in ball use. The Bombers went at 80 per cent disposal efficiency, while the Suns went at 74 per cent.

14.Richmond

+1 // Ladder: 13th (8W, 12L)
Take the first three quarters against Geelong in isolation and it was an incredible performance by the Tigers. Of course, we all know football is a game of four quarters. They just didn’t look likely when the crunch came.

15.Carlton

-1 // Ladder: 15th (6W, 14L)
Much like with the Bombers, people had pretty much dismissed Brisbane’s chances of another win, making this a bad loss for the Blues. There was a positive in the way the team recovered from a poor start.

16.Fremantle

No change // Ladder: 16th (3W, 17L)
Can Matthew Pavlich kick his 700th goal in his final match? After the loss to Adelaide, he’s on 699. The scene is set for the home game farewell against the Western Bulldogs.

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17.Essendon

+1 // Ladder: 18th (2W, 18L)
It hasn’t been an easy year for Essendon supporters, so it was good for them to be able to enjoy another win.

18.Brisbane Lions

-1 // Ladder: 17th (3W, 17L)
The musical chairs between Essendon and Brisbane in these rankings has been carrying on all season, so it should come as no surprise that even a win can’t guarantee 17th spot. The Lions were coming off a particularly brutal few weeks in a poor season, so the win over Carlton does take the pressure off.