The pecking order is always a fascinating exercise.
The AFL has reached the halfway point where 50 per cent of the matches have been completed.
I looked back at the past data until 2000 where the current finals system was put in place and here are all the current summary snippets. For some years where the bye round happens between the 11th and 13th rounds, I took the 12th match for every team for the halftime consolidation.
1. No teams who have occupied the top two positions at the halfway point slipped out of the final eight at the end of the home-and-away rounds.
2. The worst turnaround happened in 2000 where Richmond were third at the halfway point and finished ninth, while WC was fifth at the halfway point and just managed to win one more game in the second half to finish 13th. In 2012, Essendon occupied third and then finished ninth with a disastrous second half to finish just outside the eighth spot.
Similarly, in 2007 Essendon on the third position at the halfway point had a disastrous second half of the season to finish 12th. In 2013 Essendon was fourth at the halfway point and although they did make the last eight they were disqualified due to the ASADA saga. In 2014, Collingwood was fourth at the halfway mark and finished 11th by the end of the home-and-away rounds.
3. On the other spectrum, teams were languishing on the bottom half of the table made a remarkable turnaround in the second half of the season to be in the last eight comes the end of the home-and-away round. In 2014, Richmond was 13th at the halfway mark with three wins and made a remarkable recovery to win nine games in the second half to make the eight.
Similarly, in 2017 Sydney started disastrously losing the first six games, reached the halfway mark at four wins and won nine games out of the next 11 to finish in the top eight.
4. In the history of the AFL system, normally 48 points will secure the eighth spot, although in 2016 St Kilda missed the finals by percentage and in 2017 Melbourne suffered a similar fate losing out the eighth spot to West Coast on percentage. In 2012, North Melbourne secured the final spot with 56 points. In 2003, Essendon had the eighth spot with 52 points, similar to Western Bulldogs in 2006 and Geelong in 2018.
5. In the other extreme, the final eight spot was nailed by Essendon in 2009 with the lowest total at 42 points. All the other years not mentioned above, 44 points was the cutoff for the eighth position and some years it was 46 points.
6. If the ladder at the halfway point was to be used as a yardstick, there are a minimum of six confirmed finalists, although the end positions may be swapped. This only happens on four occasions where two teams managed to sneak into the eight in 2000, 2009, 2012 and 2014 respectively.
For the 2019 season, we have now able to see the three separate tiers, and I am predicting 48 points to lock down the eighth position.
In the top tier, there are six teams Geelong, GWS, Collingwood, West Coast, Richmond and Brisbane.
In the middle tier jostling for the last two positions are Port Adelaide, Adelaide and Fremantle.
In the last tier teams are just going through the motions and can’t wait for the current season to complete.
So in a nutshell, I have locked down six-and-a-half teams which will play finals footy in 2019 with Geelong, Collingwood, Richmond, West
Coast, GWS and Brisbane. Port Adelaide are the other ‘half team’. With Port penned down to win four to five home games, the doubleheader with Fremantle will be the decider to get the sixth win.
Port Adelaide should be able to learn from last year’s collapse where they finished out of the finals.
So the last spot will be between Adelaide and Fremantle. Adelaide has a tougher draw, having to meet the top eight sides in the second half of the season,so they are locked down for five wins against the bottom eight sides. They need to get another win from the top eight sides to sneak in.
Fremantle’s ability to win the last two ‘closed’ games will be tested and with the tough fixtures coming up the doubleheader with Port will determine whether Fremantle can make the finals. I am predicting Fremantle just to miss out on the final.
Last year’s finalists Melbourne and Sydney will not play in this year’s final, and will be the first final John Longmire will miss. I will also predict Hawthorn to miss out the finals due to the poor percentage and they can only win the next six games to finish on 11 wins which will not make the top eight. Essendon and St Kilda will not smell finals football due to their inconsistencies.
Let’s sit tight and follow what is in store for the second half of the AFL 2019 season.