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Opinion

The AFL pecking order in Round 18

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Roar Guru
21st September, 2020
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The pecking order is effectively a ladder of the manner in which the teams that played this week performed. It’s not based purely on results.

Round 18 proved a difficult week to rank the teams as five games had a margin of less than 20 points. On the other end of the spectrum there were four games with a margin of 30 points or more.

Check out what the AFL pecking order looked like in the final round of 2020.

1. Hawthorn Hawks
They couldn’t have started the game better, kicking five goals in quick succession. They treated the game like it was a final. There are two schools of thought: why didn’t they play the way they did in Round 18 throughout 2020, and the future looks bright. They can both be substantiated. It was a four-quarter effort and the most impressive performance of any team this week.

Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal

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

2. St Kilda Saints
The Saints started the game okay but kept GWS in the match. Slowly but surely St Kilda claimed the ascendancy on the scoreboard. They led by only ten points at halftime. The first half of the third quarter was a bit of an arm wrestle until St Kilda managed to put on scoreboard pressure. For their first ten goals they had ten different goal kickers. The fourth quarter was one-way traffic in St Kilda’s favour.

3. Richmond Tigers
Richmond were in control of the game early on, kicking two consecutive goals after conceding the first goal of the game. They started to build momentum after quarter-time. They outworked the Adelaide Crows and outplayed them. Fortunately for Richmond, they played team-first football and from the second quarter onwards transferred their control of inside 50s onto the scoreboard.

4. Western Bulldogs
They started the game reasonably well but didn’t capitalise on their control. They didn’t take advantage of Fremantle’s errors and turnovers until the second quarter. The pressure the Western Bulldogs had was possibly the catalyst for them winning fairly comfortably in the end by five goals. They conceded only one goal after halftime.

Josh Bruce of the Bulldogs is congratulated by teammates

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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5. Port Adelaide Power
The Power outplayed Collingwood early in the game, kicking two goals in quick succession. Unfortunately they conceded the next two goals of the quarter when they had the opportunity to take a reasonable lead into quarter-time. The second quarter was more of the same, controlling the balance of play, but they kept Collingwood in the game on the scoreboard. They weathered the storm and did a good job to win and concede only seven goals.

6. Geelong Cats
They started the game extremely slowly. They had a top-four finish and the double chance at stake but didn’t play like that. It was difficult to decipher whether it was complacency or if they were outplayed. They stayed in the contest on the scoreboard despite not playing well – that’s the key stat that matters, but the way they played wasn’t up to their usual standard.

7. Sydney Swans
Sydney played with plenty of attacking intent, kicking the first three goals of the game. They would be disappointed conceding four goals in the first quarter, as they could have made the match all but over at quarter-time. They controlled the balance of play for the entirety of the first half despite leading by only ten points at halftime.

Isaac Heeney celebrates a goal

(James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

8. Collingwood Magpies
They weren’t at the races early in the piece. Thankfully they responded despite initially conceding five consecutive inside 50s, so they stayed within striking distance on the scoreboard. It was almost as if the initial slow start motivated them to be better, as they kicked four of the next five goals to keep them in the contest. It was nine scoring shots to five in favour of Port Adelaide in the third quarter, yet Collingwood trailed by only four points. After that point Port Adelaide controlled the tempo of the game.

9. Fremantle Dockers
Fremantle moved the ball too slowly early in the game. They improved to claim the lead in the second quarter, but unfortunately they were their own worst enemies, turning the ball over. They didn’t have the class to take opportunities compared to a ruthless Western Bulldogs team playing with a finals spot on the line. The Fremantle performance and effort were admirable for three of the four quarters, but they didn’t stop trying, even when the margin was insurmountable.

10. Brisbane Lions
The Lions started the game pretty disappointingly as Carlton kicked four of the first seven goals in the first quarter. The Brisbane Lions did well in the second quarter to kick the only five goals of the term. The third quarter was a different story, with Carlton putting up a better fight, and the fourth quarter was more of the same. In the end the Brisbane Lions were too good. They had more than double the number of scoring shots but won by only 17 points.

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11. Carlton Blues
They played well in the opening quarter. They came to play, and their endeavour was fantastic until quarter-time. The second quarter was a disaster, as Brisbane kicked five. In the second half Carlton performed admirably, staying in touch on the scoreboard, but to no avail. All that was missing was a morale-boosting win.

12. Melbourne Demons
The Demons didn’t transfer their control of the game onto the scoreboard, trailing by two points at quarter-time despite having five scoring shots to Essendon’s two. Fortunately for Melbourne they kicked the only five goals of the second quarter. In the third quarter both teams kicked a goal each, and in the fourth they led by only seven points with approximately three minutes left. But they attacked and kicked a couple of goals to put the result beyond doubt.

13. Essendon Bombers
They did well to stay in the game in the first quarter, Melbourne having had more opportunities to gain the ascendancy. After that point it was unfortunately for Essendon one-way traffic in Melbourne’s favour. In the last quarter the Dons attacked the game as if it were a final, but they didn’t keep it up when it mattered late in the term.

David Zaharakis of the Bombers handballs

(Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

14. West Coast Eagles
The Eagles started the game poorly, appearing unprepared for the game. They were scoreless in the first quarter. In the second quarter they took their chances. They were outworked and outplayed by North Melbourne at times. Despite that, they had too much polish for the Kangaroos. West Coast can count themselves lucky – they could have lost, saved by North Melbourne’s poor kicking.

15. North Melbourne Kangaroos
They began the game stronger than West Coast but failed to transfer their control of the game onto the scoreboard. They did manage to hit the scoreboard later on in the first quarter, but they missed a lot of opportunities in the second. They lost a game they had a chance of winning. Put simply, they lacked confidence in a game that they may well have won based on the balance of play.

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16. Greater Western Sydney Giants
They were outplayed early but stayed in touch on the scoreboard. However, they would be very disappointed with their first quarter and a bit. They played without freedom in the first half of the game. To put it in simple terms, Greater Western Sydney were outclassed. Their system didn’t hold up.

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17. Adelaide Crows
They didn’t have much to play for. After quarter-time they would be concerned with their performance. From then on there was little to cheer for from an Adelaide Crows perspective. The pleasing part of it will be that their morale didn’t appear to suffer; they kept on trying despite kicking only two goals after quarter-time.

18. Gold Coast Suns
The Suns were completely annihilated early in the piece. They didn’t show the endeavour that they should have. They clearly have plenty of work to do in the preseason to improve. It was difficult to watch the lack of pressure that they put on Hawthorn.

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