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Opinion

2020 AFL Power Rankings: Round 1

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Roar Guru
22nd March, 2020
18

Well, here we are. One weekend of footy was all we got.

This column was halfway complete when Gill McLachlan appeared, ashen-faced, Sunday evening and confirmed the news none of us were too surprised about: footy was postponed, with a 31 May date very faintly pencilled in as the time it might come back.

However, it would be a waste to scrap Round 1’s rankings. So here they are. Stay healthy, Roarers, and I’ll see you for edition two sometime in the future.

1.Collingwood
Easily the comfortable win of the weekend, the Magpies thoroughly dominated the lacklustre Bulldogs. Murmurs about Adam Treloar’s absence damaging the Magpies vaunted midfield be damned, the Pies dominated possessions and, by a long way, forward entries. If not for a smidgen of fight from their opposition, this could’ve easily been a bigger win.

2.GWS Giants
I mean, that’s one way to redeem the insipid performance the Giants dished up on a certain Saturday last September. Like many games this weekend, they didn’t have it all their own way, but the competition’s youngest team were superbly accurate in front of goals, and fine performances from Harry Perryman and Stephen Coniglio capped off a great night.

3.Hawthorn
It’s hard to believe that Hawthorn had lost its past four games to Brisbane, but you wouldn’t have known it yesterday. Alastair Clarkson’s men produced a strong win made all the more sweet by Tom Mitchell’s successful first game back since 2018.

4.West Coast
I wrote this entry before the game finished, but I assumed the three-quarter-time result would stay roughly the same. The Eagles thoroughly dominated the Demons in a game that took place after the AFL confirmed the season was being put on hold (ouch…). When and if finals will be played this year, the Eagles will be there.

5.Sydney Swans
Came to South Australia, conquered in South Australia. They weren’t the only team to narrowly survive an opposition fight back (hi, Essendon), but at least they did it in enemy territory. To quickly list a couple of good things for the Swans: Isaac Heeney, accuracy, no injuries.

6.Port Adelaide
Being narrowly pipped by Collingwood for the crown of biggest win of the round is probably an indictment on the Doggies rather than Port’s opposition in the Suns. They won all over the ground, but the strength of the Power was most evident in the midfield and, self-explanatorily, up forward, with 62 inside 50s to 31.

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7.Richmond
For the reigning premiers, the first half of the first game back on Thursday night was about as cruisy as you would’ve expected. But then the Blues picked up steam and Richmond’s concession of seven goals either side of the final break made things a little uncomfortable. They’ll be happy with the win, but there are things to think about as they enter the hiatus.

8.North Melbourne
Went in as underdogs. Down by 29 at the long break. A one-man bench by the halfway point of the third quarter. For the Kangas, this mattered for naught. Clinching a win by two points is great at the best of times. Clinching a win like that in front of no-one? That’s gotta sting no matter the celebrations.

9.Essendon
It’s difficult to tell if Essendon’s win spoke more of how mediocre Fremantle were for much of the clash or how much difficulty the Bombers had trying to put the West Australians away long before the final siren. Every win counts in this whatever-the-hell-this-season-is, but there was nothing super inspiring to see here.

10.Adelaide
Taylor Walker missing a set shot and thus missing a chance to win the clash would usually be fodder for his and Adelaide’s detractors, but not this weekend, with so many minds focussed elsewhere. Props to Walker’s teammate Rory Sloane, though, for persevering through a 250th no-one was there to see.

11.Geelong
A 32-point loss, yes, but it wasn’t all bad for the Cats. Gary Ablett led all comers with 24 touches in vintage performance, which was particularly striking because his contemporary champion counterpart in Patrick Dangerfield was overshadowed by Greater Western Sydney’s Matt de Boer. Thinking ahead for a moment, with the indefinite hiatus, who knows how many fine games we’ll see from the ‘Gazza’ again.

12.St Kilda
Imagine the most St Kilda-ish result you could imagine. And then double it. You get Sunday afternoon’s fixture, when the Saints let an injury-ravaged Kangaroos sneak a win. And, no, Bradley Hill wasn’t that influential. Sorry to those who enthused over him for the last six months.

13.Fremantle
Before Saturday, Fremantle’s last four Round 1 clashes went as follows: hefty loss, hefty loss, hefty loss, hefty win. So it was kinda nice to get a close-run opening clash. Sam Sturt had a memorable debut, but it’s always difficult to win a game with three quarters of trash and one quarter of – what do you call it? – good football.

14.Carlton
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in a week during which everything was upside-down and abnormality was the norm, Carlton’s predominant stinker of a performance didn’t seem unusual. Which, in a weird way, is why their close-run loss was ultimately not too bad in the end.

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15.Brisbane Lions
It must be awkward playing an AFL clash at the exact time the league announces it’s postponing the rest of the season. Brisbane had that distinction Sunday afternoon. Their troubles at the MCG continued, where not even a Lachie Neale clearance special was able to save them from a defeat to the Hawks.

16.Melbourne
Well, it seems not a lot has changed for Melbourne. Granted, playing the Eagles in Perth is almost always a difficult task, and the loss could’ve been a lot bigger, but there doesn’t appear to be many highlights at first glance. I’ll take an obvious one: Jack Viney was sublime, potentially the best individual on the ground.

17.Western Bulldogs
Up until Friday evening the Doggies were the recipients of an extraordinary amount of hype. And of course one match does not make a season, but a turgid display against Collingwood did no favours to those attempting to promote the Bulldogs as a team to watch.

18.Gold Coast
Not a whole lot to report. I’ll leave it at that.