This fourth part of the six-part series comprises five players that the Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs could least afford to lose in season 2021 plus a pre-draft honourable mention.
The pecking order is a ladder reflecting the ways the teams performed this round; it’s not purely based on results.
Round 12 proved to be a tough week to rank the teams, as there were two close games, one relatively close game between Gold Coast and Richmond and six relatively one-sided games with a margin of 32 points or more.
Footy is generally more exciting when the game is closer on the scoreboard. It does take character, however, to have an optimum level of endeavour when the scoreboard reaches a stage where a team can’t win.
Geelong were phenomenal against the ladder-topping Port Adelaide. They were fantastic in every area of the game and for the second week in a row managed to transfer their control of the balance of play onto the scoreboard, winning by exactly ten goals.
In Round 12 no team had a bye, but a few teams weren’t at the races and may as well have been rested as they didn’t turn up. But from adversity comes strength.
Let’s take a look at the pecking order for Round 12.
1. Geelong Cats
Geelong’s system was fantastic throughout the game. Every player knew their role. Their structure was outstanding as they denied Port Adelaide the footy, yet they still kicked the first three goals of the game. Geelong failed to get a lead on the scoreboard their performance warranted. It was a good performance by Geelong, but there’s still scope for growth as Port Adelaide weren’t up to standard with their performance. There was no opposition.
2. Melbourne Demons
Melbourne were efficient and effective early, and that continued for the remainder of the game. They managed to put their control of their balance of play onto the scoreboard. Their calmness was impressive when they used the ball. The intensity they brought to the game was fantastic. They played a superior brand of footy to Collingwood. Every part of Melbourne’s game was impressive.
3. Sydney Swans
The Swans brought a good amount of intensity to the game in the first quarter. At one stage they led eight clearances to Greater Western Sydney’s one. They backed up their control of the match with the opening four goals of the game. Their control of the balance of play was a surprise as they weren’t expected to win this one. They played scintillating footy and dished out a lesson to Greater Western Sydney. The Swans endeavour never wavered.
4. Western Bulldogs
They didn’t come into the game with any complacency; they treated it like a finals game even though they were playing against a winless Adelaide Crows team. It was a free-flowing game of footy throughout. They took their opportunities on the scoreboard throughout the game to make it difficult for the Crows to stay in the contest. This showed why the Bulldogs can be contenders if they make the finals. Their best footy is as good as any other team.
5. West Coast Eagles
West Coast transferred their control of the balance of play to the scoreboard, where the score read 22 points to none in their favour at quarter-time. The second quarter was more even on the scoreboard, but the Eagles continued on from that and weren’t complacent, kicking five goals to three in the third term. The opposition weren’t the best, but it was a solid four-quarter performance.
6. St Kilda Saints
St Kilda didn’t take their chances to create scoreboard pressure early in the game, as they had the opportunities to build a matchwinning lead. They gave away three goals in a row at one stage – that was the only aspect of their performance that concerns them. They did what they had to do to win the game fairly comfortably.
7. North Melbourne Kangaroos
The Kangaroos took some risks with their ball movement at times but to no avail. It was a character-building game for them, as they were still in the game despite making seven changes at selection. They made a statement, doing everything except claim the four points for the win. They lost by the narrowest of margins: a solitary point!
8. Brisbane Lions
Brisbane wasted chances to kick goals early in the match. The only aspect of the game they had to improve was the important one: goal kicking! They allowed North Melbourne to keep their confidence and belief that they could win. Brisbane weren’t clinical enough. At three-quarter-time that had double the number of scoring shots than the Kangaroos, 14-7, yet the deficit was only two goals. They won the game, but only just. Bad kicking is bad football.
9. Richmond Tigers
The Tigers started the game well, controlling the balance of play, but they failed to convert their dominance onto the scoreboard. They got punished by Gold Coast to some degree as they built a small lead. They played a decent brand of footy. In the third quarter they took their opportunities – that’s all that matters. They outclassed the Gold Coast in a good game of footy despite it being low scoring.
10. Gold Coast Suns
The Suns did well to stay in the game from a scoreboard perspective. They were level with Richmond at 13 points apiece at quarter-time despite being completely outplayed. From quarter-time onwards they provided a high level of pressure and intensity. Their control of the second quarter was fantastic, but in the premiership quarter Richmond regained the lead and in the end had too much polish.
11. Hawthorn Hawks
Hawthorn failed to score for the entirety of the first quarter. Their skills and composure were non-existent. They eventually kicked a goal in the second term. It wasn’t a disaster of a display by them, but they do need to improve in order to prove they have an adequate system and structure in place. They kicked only 15 points in the first half. The good thing was their morale didn’t appear to be impacted, and they improved in the second half.
12. Fremantle Dockers
Freo brought a high amount of pressure to the contest. They completely destroyed Carlton’s confidence and belief early in the game. The tempo of the match was controlled by them. Unfortunately they allowed Carlton back into the game in the second quarter. Fremantle didn’t keep up the pressure in the second half. They lost a game that they should have won.
13. Carlton Blues
The Blues started the game slowly as far as the control of the balance of play was concerned. Their first quarter was a complete disaster as it didn’t appear as if they had much endeavour or an adequate system and structure. That was reflected on the scoreboard, which read 20-1 at quarter-time. Thankfully the second quarter was a different kettle of fish, with Carlton working their way back into the game. Carlton won a game they didn’t deserve to win with the last kick of the game after the siren.
14. Adelaide Crows
The Crows kicked three consecutive goals in the first quarter and the last quarter. The system and team balance were great from an attacking perspective early and late, which is strange, as the Bulldogs outclassed them. They don’t seem to be improving. It’s difficult to watch them. It’s clear why they haven’t won a game in 2020.
15. Greater Western Sydney Giants
GWS believed they would just turn up and win the game. They were outplayed and outworked in the first half, conceding five of the six goals scored in the first half. The second half was more of the same, with Greater Western Sydney not performing adequately. It was an unacceptable performance, to put it bluntly. It was a four-quarter effortless display.
16. Collingwood Magpies
They started the game poorly and appeared to be ill-prepared for Melbourne. They proved their poor display against the Crows in Round 11 was the start of a worrying trend, not an aberration. Unfortunately the performance wasn’t up to standard. The game was a thoroughly embarrassing, a shellacking and an obliteration!
17. Port Adelaide Power
The Power were thoroughly outplayed for the entirety of the game. There was no synergy from them. For the whole game they struggled to get into the game in any aspect. They were never in the game.
18. Essendon Bombers
They just weren’t at the races. Their ball movement and pressure weren’t up to standard. They finished the game with no positives. Their performance was utterly unfathomable. To be last on the pecking order in this round when there were so many one-sided games is the the only way of describing their attitude, endeavour and willingness to work.