The completion of Round 6 sees us a quarter of the way through the 23-round AFL home-and-away season. It’s enough of a time to do a stocktake and see were each team sits.
It’s clear now that at least two of last year’s finalists will be taking September holidays.
Sydney are every inch a bottom-six side, somehow looking both young and stale at the same time. Buddy Franklin, such a key to their forward-line functionality, has looked slower and less damaging than ever before.
Melbourne’s record after six rounds isn’t that far removed from what they were in the Mark Neeld days. How is it possible that a team can be so far off the pace in terms of ground coverage, especially a preliminary finalist from the previous year?
The Dees will possibly click at some stage and go on a run, but they are woefully out of sync at this stage, and finals don’t look a possibility.
It would also be a surprise to see Hawthorn feature in the finals, so they should be the third team that drops out from 2019. They have a 3-3 record, but two of their wins have been less than convincing against the likes of North Melbourne and Carlton. Losses to the Bulldogs and St Kilda don’t augur well for their overall chances.
Geelong is the clear pace-setter after being tipped as a likely slider. Chris Scott has rejuvenated and revitalized his team, with a host of new faces in the side and older ones taking on different roles. The Cats are ranked number one in both attack and defence at this stage, and are playing with all-important balance.
Collingwood have done a lot right to be sitting third on the ladder, indicating that they will once again be a contender. A deep midfield and forward-line sees them very formidable.
Amidst significant injuries to Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin, Jayden Short and Shaun Grigg, Richmond have revealed a player depth that most didn’t believe existed. With three wins in a row and a 4-2 record, it’s a platform that should see finals action once again.
Greater Western Sydney are on track to play finals for the fourth consecutive season. Their best has been stunning, as seen in wins over Essendon, Richmond and Geelong, but losses to West Coast and Fremantle were on the weak side and lacking heart. So, business as usual for the Giants.
West Coast are a bit of a crossroads in their premiership defence, standing at 3-3. Their three losses have been by 44, 42 and 58 points, and from a scoring perspective they’ve averaged only 52 points in these matches. It’s an ugly set of numbers.
The Eagles are losing the midfield battle, which in turn isn’t allowing them to dictate matches from their half of the ground and set up their back half intercept game.
Essendon and Adelaide were the most heavily tipped to jump into the eight after missing out last year, and both sides have shown reasons for and against that line of thinking.
The Bombers stood in the gates in the first two rounds, but have since corrected to a 3-3 record. While not winning, they showed their run and gun game style could stand up against a quality opponent on Anzac Day, but it must be noted their three wins have come against teams all ranked in the bottom four for defence.
The Crows looked turgid in the first month, but two wins in a row may have sparked their confidence. An easy kill at home against the Gold Coast Suns was perhaps just the tonic, which they followed up with a good away win over a St Kilda side that had been in good form. They may be up and running now, but the jury is still out.
A number of bottom sides from last year have improved, including Brisbane, Carlton, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide and St Kilda.
The Lions play an unapologetically attacking game, and are always great fun to watch accordingly. There is nothing to be afraid of in their run up to the Round 13 bye either, so their 4-2 record could double. It’s a base from which they can target finals.
The Blues have been in every game, despite only claiming victory once. They’re on the right track. The Suns shocked most with their 3-1 start to the season, but reality has struck in the last two weeks with losses to Adelaide and Brisbane by 73 and 49 points respectively. Still, already they’ve defied expectations.
Fremantle and Port should be knocking on the door of finals all year, and at least one of them could be featuring in September.
The Dockers have won their three games against visitors at home, indicating Optus Stadium can be a stronghold for them. An important away win over GWS showed the type of steel they often haven’t on the road, but that must be coupled with a loss to the Suns as well. Their next three matches see Adelaide (away), Richmond (home) and Essendon (away). Let’s see where they sit after those three tests.
The Power have been quite consistent across six weeks. Remarkably, their lowest score has been 87 and their highest 95. They are making teams beat them, which a couple have, but in each of those losses they were in front with 10 minutes to go. Similar to Brisbane, they want to take the game on and hit the scoreboard, and so far it is serving them well.
The Saints have also been a feelgood story, taking advantage of striking teams at the right time. They are certainly more organised and disciplined than they showed last year, playing with a sense of purpose.
North Melbourne have put in two of the worst performances from any side this year, an 82 point loss to Freo in Round 1 and a 58 point loss to Essendon on Good Friday. Both losses felt double to what the margin actually was. They’re conceding 100 points per game and scoring only 70 themselves. There is no star factor and no hope.
The Western Bulldogs got off to a 2-0 start, but have since faltered with four losses in a row. They’ve averaged 64.5 points per game in these losses, kicking more behinds than goals each time. This is symbolic of their skill level overall, which can kindly be called atrocious.
Is anyone game to pick a final eight this far out?
Let’s go with Geelong, Collingwood, Richmond, GWS, Essendon, Port, West Coast, and… the winner of Fremantle vs Adelaide this week.