AdelaideDocker is away for a couple of weeks so I’ve been asked to fill in.
It’s a brave call, handing this responsibility to a jaded Bombers fan who is old enough to reminisce about when his side was actually good, but let’s see how we go.
1. Geelong (last week: 1)
The Cats have just enough credits in the bank to narrowly hold onto the number one ranking, despite a second surprise loss in three matches.
Their sudden mortality is tempered by the fact that they are still a game and percentage clear of second spot. They’ll want to rediscover their mojo soon, though.
2. West Coast (last week: 2)
Last week’s scrappy win over the Hawks was the ’89 Land Cruiser of victories. Saturday’s demolition of arch-rivals Fremantle was the Formula One.
With the wets on, of course. Jonathan Brown’s suggestion three weeks ago that the Eagles are no longer the best team in Western Australia has gone from questionable to laughable.
3. Brisbane (last week: 3)
This wasn’t the first time Brisbane has knocked off a contender this year. It was comfortably their most impressive win of the season to date, though.
The Lions became the first side to beat GWS in Sydney in 2019 and, in doing so, they leapfrogged their conquered opponent into the top four. They have every right to believe they will do some damage come September.
4. GWS Giants (last week: 4)
The Giants had a perfect opportunity to jump into third spot and give themselves a buffer on the teams in the lower reaches of the eight.
Instead, they stumbled for the second week in a row. The knock on the Giants going into this season was that they lacked the work rate to supplement their class, and their latest efforts have done nothing to convince anyone otherwise.
The next fortnight against Richmond and Collingwood becomes season-defining.
5. North Melbourne (last week: 7)
The Kangaroos continue to go from strength to strength under interim coach Rhys Shaw. Their first quarter blitz against a stagnant St Kilda set up a comfortable win, even though they were perhaps guilty of taking their foot off the gas through the middle of the game.
Whatever Shaw is putting in the Gatorade is clearly working.
6. Collingwood (last week: 5)
The Pies are currently a top four side in name only. Yes, they have injury issues, but they look alarmingly flat. Conceding an 18-point lead in the final term was a bitterly disappointing response to their capitulation to the Kangaroos last week. Collingwood’s next fortnight is a doozy, too, with a brace of away games against West Coast and GWS.
7. Essendon (last week: 8)
There hasn’t been anything pretty about the Bombers’ last month of football but they’ve ground out four vital wins from five starts.
And for a side that has regularly struggled to win games when they can’t play their preferred free-flowing style of football, learning to win ugly is a step in the right direction. A red-hot North Melbourne next week will test them.
8. Richmond (last week: 10)
Sure, it was against a struggling Suns outfit, but a team can only play they side in front of them. That was as emphatic a statement as the Tigers could have made on Saturday. The return of Riewoldt and Nankervis in the next few weeks bodes well for their 2019 aspirations.
9. Adelaide (last week: 6)
Crows fans will want to wipe that horror show from their minds as quickly as possible. Tex Walker converted to put his wasteful side three points up 20 seconds into the third quarter. From that point, Adelaide conceded nine goals to zip.
Yuck. In their two second halves since the bye the Crows have now given up 16 goals while kicking just four of their own.
10. Port Adelaide (last week: 11)
This team is up and down like a yo-yo. When they get on a scoring run, though, the Power can be hard to stop. With an 8-7 record and a healthy percentage they’re as well-placed as anyone outside the current top five. They’d be higher on this list, if not for the fact that three of their four closest competitors on the ladder also won.
11. Fremantle (last week: 9)
Oh dear. The fact that Fremantle lost the tackle count 48-69 and the clearances 31-48 on a wet day is almost as disheartening as the final scoreline. Three progressively-worse defeats in a row has left the Dockers’ finals hopes hanging by a thread.
Mercifully, AD didn’t have to deliver the verdict this week.
12. Hawthorn (last week: 13)
Spurred on by a heartbreaking loss to the Eagles six days earlier, the Hawks went one better against the Magpies under the Friday night lights. Youngsters Oliver Hanrahan and Mitchell Lewis stepped up for clutch goals in a big final term. Alastair Clarkson’s side looked out of gas only a fortnight ago; suddenly, they look competitive again.
13. Western Bulldogs (last week: 14)
The Bulldogs are such an enigma. In 2019 they have lost to Gold Coast (at Marvel Stadium) and Carlton (almost twice), while towelling up Richmond, out-pointing the Power in the wet at Adelaide Oval and – in comfortably their best win of the season – knocking off the ladder-leading Cats.
Luke Beveridge’s young side has the talent to compete with anyone. All that’s missing is any semblance of consistency.
14. Sydney Swans (last week: 12)
It was a fighting effort from the Swans but in the end, turnovers and inaccurate kicking proved costly.
Their remarkable 96-year drought against Essendon at the MCG will continue for at least another season. Stand-in ruckman Aliir Aliir was a revelation in the middle of the ground, giving Zac Clarke a bath for the first three quarters.
15. St Kilda (last week: 15)
If teams were allowed a mulligan for one quarter each match, the Saints could be a very competitive outfit.
Unfortunately for them that’s not how footy works. The previous week it was a final-term capitulation to the Tigers; this time it was a non-existent first quarter against North Melbourne. Josh Bruce deserves a mention for his stellar game – 17 touches, seven marks, four tackles and six goals straight. He could be a star in a stronger side.
16. Melbourne (last week: 17)
The Dees’ nail-biting win over Carlton came at a cost, with match-winner Tom McDonald sidelined for the final term with a knee issue. His injury left Melbourne with only one rotation on the bench as the Blues stormed back to temporarily hit the lead. All things considered, it was a gutsy win.
17. Carlton (last week: 16)
We apologise for interrupting our regular scheduling with a last-gasp win over Fremantle. We now return you to this week’s episode of ‘Close, but no Cigar’. Seriously though, this sort of result must feel frustratingly familiar to Blues fans.
18. Gold Coast (last week: 18)
The best thing you can say about this loss is that the final margin didn’t quite reach triple-figures. The Suns have shown plenty of grit at times this season but it’s hard to expect a raw young side to keep fighting as the losses mount.