Welcome to my power rankings.
Sorry for the absence last week as I found myself a wee bit crook. Read on for my summation of the latest round of the AFL power rankings.
Update: rankings from Round 6
18. North Melbourne
17. St Kilda Saints
16. Collingwood Magpies
15. Carlton Blues
14. Hawthorn Hawks
13. GWS Giants
12. Gold Coast Suns
11. Essendon Bombers
10. West Coast Eagles
9. Adelaide Crows
8. Sydney Swans
7. Fremantle Dockers
6. Brisbane Lions
5. Richmond Tigers
4. Geelong Cats
3. Port Adelaide Power
2. Western Bulldogs
1. Melbourne Demons
18. North Melbourne Kangaroos (no change)
North kicked their highest score of the year on Sunday, but unfortunately, it was not enough to beat the red hot Melbourne outfit. Good signs were seen from Tom Powell (23 disposals and a goal), while the older heads in Ben Cunnington and Aaron Hall continued to perform at a high level. But the Roos desperately miss the key forward presence that Ben Brown would have provided, which was brought into stark relief by Ben Brown himself kicking two goals on debut for Melbourne.
17. Collingwood Magpies (down one)
The Magpies needed to win to stabilise their season, but they failed. Once again the four-goal defeat flatters them as they were able to get junk-time goals after the result had already been decided. The experiment with Darcy Moore as a forward has failed, and the dysfunction in the midfield is they’re too one-paced and expect Brodie Grundy to do everything. Adding insult to injury the first pick Collingwood have has gone to the Giants, leaving them 900 points in arrears of matching a hypothetical first pick for Nick Daicos.
16. Hawthorn Hawks (down two)
The Hawks were positively insipid on Saturday afternoon. While they can take pride in never being out of games it took until the second quarter for them to register their first score. Hawthorn fans may point to them missing their two most dynamic midfielders, but the performance on Saturday was weak and sees them drop down my rankings.
15. Essendon Bombers (down four)
The Bombers came into the Carlton game full of hope that they could continue their early-season pattern of wins built on their assertive youth. However, they were undone by a newly up and about Carlton on the basis of poor ball use and poor defence of the ball in transition. Wins have been based on the performances of the Bombers’ rookies along with a resurgent Cale Hooker. Unfortunately, the Bombers could not go with the more energetic Blues and that sees them fall down the rankings.
14. Adelaide Crows (down five)
The chickens are coming home to roost for the Adelaide Crows. They’ve lost their last six quarters of footy by 102 points in a fashion that is reminiscent of last year. You could almost argue that without Taylor Walker, there are no Crows. But Walker was effectively shut out of the game on Saturday to a rampant GWS side. The Crows were bullied at the coal face by the newly in-form Giants, losing the clearances by 24, the possession count by 60, and the marks stat by 26. The loss has left the Crows with questions as they head into an important Showdown with Port Adelaide.
13. St Kilda Saints (up four)
The Saints have had a troubled year but with Patrick Ryder back in the side alongside Rowan Marshall, they began to show why they were so highly rated before the start of the season. With Marshall and Ryder in the same side, the Saints went 9-5 last year. They’re going to need a similar effort this year if they want to make the finals. Saturday saw the return to form of Zak Jones and Bradley Hill while the fleet of smalls also gave a good return alongside Max King and Tim Membrey.
12. Fremantle Dockers (down five)
The Dockers lost their tenth consecutive Derby to the West Coast Eagles on Sunday by 59 points (22 more than the average losing margin). In better news, David Mundy continues his quest to become the oldest Brownlow medal winner in history (by about four years), and Travis Colyer has a new lease on life as a high half forward, gathering the ball 17 times and kicking a goal. Yet the Dockers have shown a trend of dropping out of games that is worrying, and something they need to rectify if they are to challenge the eight this year.
11. Gold Coast Suns (up one)
The Suns showed promising signs as they harassed and harangued the hapless Collingwood Magpies within an inch of their life. They’ve shown the ability to be creative in sharking the taps of Grundy only to lose the clearance count by six. Furthermore, it was also their accuracy in front of goal (12 goals, seven behinds) along with their 146 marks (the second most this year) that suffocated the performance of the Pies. With a majority of their side never having played at the MCG, the Suns were able to show they can win against adversity.
10. Carlton Blues (up five)
It pains me to have the Blues so high on this list but they were able to beat an Essendon side with their backs against the wall. Twenty-one points down midway through the second quarter, the rest of the game became a shoot-out with both sides scoring above 100 points for the first time this season as they played an entertaining if at times spiteful clash. The Bombers are expected to be a bottom-eight team this year, but this was Carlton’s most assertive win to date, defined by the performance of Adam Saad with 21 possessions and a goal despite the raucous boos every time he went near the ball, showing Essendon’s animosity towards their former player.
9. Greater Western Sydney Giants (up four)
GWS are a better side with Shane Mumford. His brand of aggression and tackling makes the Giants’ midfielders walk taller and you could see it on Saturday against the Crows. Bringing back Lachie Whitfield from a bruised liver and Jesse Hogan with his red hot VFL form proved to be a masterstroke as they gathered 28 disposals and kicked four goals respectively. The wins have relieved pressure on their embattled coach and they may be a finals smokey.
8. Geelong Cats (down four)
The Cats had no right to lose that game. They had 80 more disposals, 26 more inside 50s, and 16 more marks. The Cats should not have lost that game but they did. Many will talk about the contentious umpiring decisions at the end of the game but that’s the way our game works. They shouldn’t have won the game against the Lions earlier in the year too. But the bigger blight on their performance is to largely win every key statistical category and still lose.
7. Sydney Swans (up one)
The Swans won that one by the thinnest of margins with the most clutch of players. Tom Papley turned right instead of left. He got tackled and the ball didn’t go through the goals. If James Rowbottom missed his shot, they would have lost. If Oli Florent missed, they would have lost. This game is a game of inches like Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday, and the Swans appear to have built a side that can take that inch. Special mention goes to Tom Hickey, who has made his niche at his fourth club. Working as a big ruckman and clearance specialist, he has been the bargain of the decade at the trade table.
6. Port Adelaide Power (down three)
The Power have played some scintillating footy this year. Saturday was not it. They’ve shown they have a reliance on the parochial crowds of the Adelaide Oval to win games and lack strength when they are away from their home fortress. Admittedly going up to Brisbane is a less than ideal environment for their big key forwards like Charlie Dixon, Mitch Georgiades and Todd Marshall, but they have as much talent in their small forward department as they have in their tall department. To lose by 49 points to a fellow premiership fancy does not bode well for their premiership aspirations. In better news, Aliir Aliir continues to be a solid performer off half back and Martin Frederick appears calm at the AFL level.
5. West Coast Eagles (up five)
The problem with being poor away from home is that it’s very hard to get an accurate read on where they sit. The Eagles were able to tear apart their cross-town rivals Fremantle thanks to some creative magnet moving from Adam Simpson with Oscar Allen going back, and solid performances from Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling with three goals each. The question is can they bring this effort away from their home deck? Hawthorn will give a good indication of that. If they are to be considered a premiership threat they will disembowel the Hawks at the MCG this week.
4. Brisbane Lions (up two)
When the motorbike is out, you know Brisbane are playing good footy. Charlie Cameron was able to deploy the motorcycle celebration as he had paddocks of space against the hopelessly outmatched Port Adelaide Power. Harris Andrews as well bookended the Lions with his stout defence, resulting in 11 intercepts to go with his ten marks, and Joe Daniher was everywhere as the Lions’ medical department have appeared to work another miracle. The win was made all the more special given that it was done in the absence of Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale and against fellow flag fancy Port Adelaide.
3. Western Bulldogs (down one)
They had their opportunities on Friday night, yet there’s a reason Richmond have won three of the last four premierships. The Tigers were able to worry the Bulldogs out of the victory as they were just that little bit cleaner in front of goal, particularly in the second half. That is not to take anything away from the Bulldogs, who battled on effectively. But their inaccuracy will worry coach Luke Beveridge, and to drop a single game has seen them tumble down the rankings here.
2. Richmond Tigers (up three)
The only reason they’re not on top is that Melbourne are undefeated. The Richmond Tigers showed their Tigers mindset as they clinically dismantled the Bulldogs to gather a crucial four points and evade going into the red for the first time in four years. Of note, the performances of Shai Bolton and Bachar Houli will give the Tigers fans hope for a third premiership in three years. However, concerns arise when you consider the injury to their captain Trent Cotchin and the inaccuracy of key forward Tom Lynch with an astounding three goals, five behinds. That being said, their win raises the stakes for the clash with the Cats this round as the Cats look to bounce back from their failure against the Swans.
1. Melbourne Demons (no change)
In my power rankings, I mentioned the Japanese idiom Oni Ga Warau, which roughly translates to ‘the demon laughs’. Used as a phrase that takes the mickey out of anyone who plans, the Demons would be cackling after being given an almighty scare by North Melbourne. Still, they were able to reset and win comfortably in the end. Luke Jackson and Kysaiah Pickett look every bit the superstars of the future. While Adam Tomlinson’s suspected ACL is unfortunate, the Demons should be able to cover his absence. All that remains to be seen is can Ben Brown, Sam Weideman and Tom McDonald inhabit the same forward line?