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Opinion

The AFL pecking order in Round 9

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Roar Guru
2nd August, 2020
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The pecking order is effectively a ladder of the manner in which the teams that played in the round of AFL performed, therefore it’s not purely based on results.

Round 9 proved to be a difficult round to rank the teams as there were plenty of one-sided games. St Kilda were picked first on the pecking order, because they could have beaten any other team based on the way in which they played in Round 9. At the other end of the spectrum the Melbourne Demons performed in a manner where they could have lost to any other team in the AFL based on their Round 9 performance.

There were a lot of difficult decisions to be made when picking the different teams in the varying positions on the pecking order. It’s difficult to measure a team’s rating when the games are so one-sided.

1. St Kilda played as if there was nothing for them to lose, which meant that they played with freedom. They were lucky there was an 11-point turnaround after Nick Blakey missed an easy set shot, which was followed by a goal to Nick Hind at the other end of the ground. Consequently, their ball movement was elite and they translated their dominance into scoreboard pressure. In the end their efficiency inside 50 was far too much for the Sydney Swans to handle.

Dan Butler of the Saints celebrates a goal

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

2. North Melbourne won the game at selection by dropping Ben Brown and Jared Polec. It sent a message to the whole team that everyone needs to perform to keep their spot in the best 22. They treated the game like they were playing against the premiership favourites, not potential wooden spooners. The display from North Melbourne was refreshing, as they didn’t take it for granted that they would win the game.

3. West Coast were challenged throughout the game as the game was played at an extremely high tempo. They found it difficult to get into the game. The West Coast started to work well as a team in the second half in what was a classic encounter between two quality teams. It wasn’t that Geelong let West Coast into the game. West Coast played a superior brand of footy in the second half of the game and were victorious in a game that was played at a finals-like tempo.

4. Brisbane did well early in the contest, kicking the first three goals of the game. Lachie Neale was important in the first quarter, kicking two goals. For the game in its entirety the endeavour of Brisbane never wavered, despite the fact that they didn’t kick a goal in the second quarter. Apart from that quarter their system and structure appeared to be at its optimum level.

5. Port Adelaide controlled the balance of play for the game in its entirety and their pressure throughout the field was relentless for the four quarters. Port Adelaide accumulated a massive lead in the third quarter, through controlling the tempo of the game and they moved the ball quicker than the Demons, which was an elementary task.

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Travis Boak of the Power looks on

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

6. Fremantle stopped Collingwood from creating scoring opportunities, which would have pleased the Fremantle coaching staff. Finally, Fremantle hit the scoreboard early in the second quarter through Matt Taberner. After that they didn’t look like losing. They controlled the game for the most part, but Collingwood stayed in the game on the scoreboard. Fremantle worked extremely hard. It appeared as if they were hungrier than Collingwood to win the game. Collingwood worked their way back into the game late in the third quarter.

7. Richmond brought plenty of intensity to the contest from the start of the game. They were good in every aspect of the game. Dustin Martin kicked Richmond’s 13th goal of the game, which was a freakish goal that summed up the night for Richmond. It was clear that certain players were desperate to keep their spot in the team. They led by 41 points at halftime and by the same margin at fulltime, which would be a concern for them.

8. Geelong controlled the balance of play for most of the first two quarters. They curtailed the influence of West Coast’s best players in the first two quarters, most notably Andrew Gaff. Geelong put in a team effort. They didn’t have any passengers. They were simply outplayed by West Coast in the second half with West Coast, kicking seven second-half goals to Geelong’s three goals.

9. Hawthorn started the game slowly. They conceded the first five goals of the game. They started to play better in the second quarter. Their experienced players such as Isaac Smith and Liam Shiels kicked important goals to somehow give Hawthorn the lead late in the second quarter after starting slowly. From then on it was clear that Hawthorn played as a team and they showed plenty of character to recover from a slow start.

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10. Greater Western Sydney had the first four scores of the game, unfortunately for them only one of those scores was a goal. They didn’t perform to their optimum level as far as their collective performance as a team was concerned in the first quarter. In the third quarter, Greater Western Sydney doubled Gold Coast’s score, 36 points to 18 points. After that the game was just about a forgone conclusion, as Greater Western Sydney had too much polish and class.

Harry Perryman of the Giants (L) celebrates with Jeremy Cameron (R)

(Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

11. Collingwood wouldn’t be happy with the game being scoreless for the first half of the first quarter. Eventually they managed to kick a goal late in the first quarter. The manner in which Collingwood played wasn’t up to standard, until they kicked three goals in a row in the third quarter to obtain the lead on the scoreboard. They were fortunate that Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard played so well, because without them the game would have been all but over at halftime.

12. Sydney Swans lost the game in the first quarter when Nick Blakey missed an elementary goal that changed the momentum of the game as St Kilda kicked two quick goals following that missed opportunity for the Sydney Swans. They played well in the third quarter, but found it difficult to translate their control onto the scoreboard. In the last quarter they were completely outplayed by St Kilda.

13. The Western Bulldogs were only really missing Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter from their best 22. They were without Matt Suckling after quarter time due to a hamstring injury. It’s not the first time they have been below par in their performance, which would be a concern for the players and coaching staff. Jack Macrae was a shining light for the Western Bulldogs in his 150th AFL game.

Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

14. Gold Coast only had four tackles in the first quarter, which would be something they need to rectify. They kicked two early goals in the second quarter to get back into the game then they failed to hit they scoreboard much from that point on. They stayed in the game from a scoreboard perspective even though they didn’t play their best footy. They stayed in the contest, as they only lost by 26 points. It was an opportunity missed as the Greater Western Sydney only had one more scoring shot than Gold Coast.

15. Carlton brought a good intensity as they controlled the tempo of the game in the first quarter. From the second quarter onward, it was a completely different kettle of fish. Carlton weren’t at the races after quarter time.

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16. Adelaide Crows weren’t in sync. The opening goal of the game kicked by Luke Davies-Uniacke was indicative of the Adelaide Crows’ season so far. The goal was purely created by the pressure that North Melbourne put on the Adelaide Crows when they had possession of the ball. North Melbourne destroyed the Adelaide Crows.

17. Essendon gave Brisbane a head start. They kicked just one of the first six goals of the game. There weren’t enough risks taken with their ball movement. They managed to stay in the game from a scoreboard perspective. Devon Smith kicked the only goal in the second quarter for either team. Eventually and inevitably the game was a one-sided contest on the scoreboard. In general play it appeared as if Essendon were unprepared.

18. The Melbourne Demons started slowly. It was difficult to decipher what their game plan was. They were outworked and outplayed. They weren’t at the races for all four quarters. They were in front in the hit outs, but they were smashed around the ball. It was a four-quarter non-effort. The Demons would have lost to any team based on their performance in Round 9.