This was just meant to be a two-week gig, but AD only got home late yesterday and I’ve managed to wrangle a third round of power rankings.
Now, like Scott Morrison figuring out how on Earth he’s going to deliver a promised surplus after his party’s surprise election win, I’m left to tidy up my own work.
Last week: 2
It wasn’t the most impressive win by the Eagles this year, but they did what they needed to do under the Alice Springs sun. Four of their next five games are against teams outside the eight, which gives them every chance to secure a home qualifying final.
Last week: 3
It says a lot about just how far the Lions have come in 2019 that their tight win at home against North Melbourne felt underwhelming. A more complete performance could have seen them jump to the top of these rankings. Still, no team gets every game on their terms, and a scrappy, gritty win – albeit one with a controversial ending – can be more important for a side’s growth than a flashy beat-up of a lower-ranked opponent.
Last week: 1
With three losses and two less-than-dominant wins from their last five outings, the Cats suddenly look vulnerable. Being a game and a big chunk of percentage clear on top still gives them some breathing space, but Brad Scott will need to regroup his charges for a couple of tricky road trips to Sydney (Swans) and Perth (Dockers). These looked like gimmes a month ago – it just goes to show how long a month really is in footy.
Last week: 5
Another week, another challenger brushed aside at the MCG. Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt looked like the ominous forward pairing they had threatened to become at the start of the season, while Dustin Martin did as he pleased. ‘Home stretch’ has both a figurative meaning and a literal one from here on in for the Tigers. Can they keep up their form this weekend against their bogey side, Collingwood?
Last week: 4
I resisted the urge to push the Magpies too far down this list given their wonderful win in Perth and the fact that they still played three highly competitive quarters against GWS. The first-quarter blitz of seven consecutive goals in just 16 minutes by the Giants will be a concern, though. A flag contender should be able to weather their opponent’s momentum better than that.
Last week: 6
Approaching half-time it looked as though this would be a repeat of the Essendon’s ill-fated trip to Perth last month, with only Adelaide’s inaccuracy keeping the Dons in touch. Then Cale Hooker went forward, Michael Hartley went back and suddenly the whole dynamic of the match changed. In arguably their best performance of the year, the Bombers took the game on and made Adelaide look slow. This week’s trip to Metricon gives them a chance to boost their modest percentage and put one foot in September.
Last week: 7
If we needed a reminder of just how potent the Giants can be, their first quarter against the Pies was just that. It was the statement they really needed to make after floundering over the last month. The fact that Callan Ward, Phil Davis, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly and Matt de Boer were all sidelined made the win that much more impressive. GWS’s percentage is second only to that of the Cats, which still gives them a great chance of making the top four.
Last week: 8
It’s a shame that the Roos’ early season form was so poor, because under Rhys Shaw they have shown an ability to compete with some of the best teams in the league. Once again they pushed a finals-bound side all the way, with a poor umpiring call arguably the difference in the end. The Lions were wasteful, yes, but conversely the Roos are becoming a very efficient side.
Last week: 11
Hawthorn’s recent footy had been impressive even before they dispatched the ladder leaders. Liam Shiels reminded everyone that he’s more than just a support act, while Mitchell Lewis and Tim O’Brien demonstrated why Jarryd Roughead has been consigned to the VFL. With every win the prospect of finals becomes less and less fanciful.
Last week: 10
The Power weren’t disgraced in their loss to the Tigers, twice narrowing the margin to less than three goals. In the end they just couldn’t match Richmond in the clinches, losing the contested possession count despite dominating clearances. A tough fortnight against GWS (home) and Essendon (away) could make or break their season.
Last week: 9
The Crows could have put the Bombers away before half-time. They left the door ajar, though, and then meekly held it open in the third term as the Dons charged through. These second-half fadeouts simply aren’t good enough for a side that some were tipping to win the flag in 2019. The Crows have too much talent on their list to be churning out such insipid performances. Don Pyke should be feeling the heat, as should his underperforming skipper, Taylor Walker.
Last week: 13
Just being back on the winners list will be a big relief. It doesn’t matter that their opponent was sitting 14th on the ladder. It doesn’t matter that the game was so scrappy no one will ever want to watch the replay. When you’ve put in such a diabolical month of football, a win is a win. Next week’s trip to Etihad to face the Bulldogs will kill 2019 for one side.
Last week: 12
It’s hard not to feel like the Bulldogs have been a little unlucky this season. They faced North Melbourne in Brad Scott’s farewell game, they just held off the Blues a week after Brendon Bolton had been sacked and now they’ve been upended by a rejuvenated St Kilda in Brett Ratten’s first game as senior coach since 2012. Saying that, this was still a golden opportunity for the Dogs to position themselves for a run at finals. Now they’ll really have to do it the hard way if they want to feature in September.
Last week: 14
We won’t know for a while if this was just a ‘dead-coach bounce’ or if the Saints’ current list really is capable of more than it was producing under Alan Richardson. Either way, this was a win for St Kilda fans to savour. The next five rounds are a genuine audition for the top job for Brett Ratten given the widely held view that he still has plenty to give as a head coach.
Last week: 15
There’s no shame in losing by a point in Perth, but given how hard Sydney scrapped – initially to give themselves a handy buffer in the second term, and then to wrest the lead back late – the defeat will still leave a bitter taste. In the end the Swans were just outmuscled, obliterated in the clearances and contested possessions.
Last week: 16
It wasn’t quite the big win the Blues would have been eying off when they led by 43 points in the third term, but winning consecutive matches for the first time in two years is something worth celebrating. David Teague has now won four of six games as caretaker coach, making Carlton’s decision to effectively rule him out of the running for the vacant senior job seem increasingly strange.
Last week: 17
The Demons showed plenty of fight against the Eagles in the Red Centre. Unfortunately their hard work through the middle of the game was sandwiched between poor first and fourth quarters. The left-field decision to send Jordan Lewis to Jeremy McGovern turned out to be a masterstroke, despite Lewis being wasteful early in front of goal.
Last week: 18
The fightback from the Suns in the third quarter would have pleased Stuart Dew after watching his young group capitulate in recent weeks. The run home will really test the players’ mental fortitude, though, with games against Essendon, Collingwood, Brisbane, Hawthorn and GWS. That’s not exactly the sort of fixture a three-win side needs to end the season.