Welcome to my power rankings for Round 8.
The ladder is starting to come together with the majority of the top eight looking safe in their positions, while the bottom ten continue to appear fractious and inconsistent with massive swings in momentum during games let alone week to week. Read on for my power rankings.
18. North Melbourne (no change)
They didn’t win against the Pies and they needed to. It was good to see them score a bunch of points but they still fell down at the last hurdle, and were unable to close out the match effectively.
17. Collingwood (no change)
Steady on, Pies fans, you only beat North Melbourne. Beat someone of consequence and you will move up the power rankings.
16. Hawthorn Hawks (no change)
Well I guess the Eagles aren’t downhill skiers. They beat the hapless Hawks at the MCG for their first win outside of WA. Changkuoth Jiath continued to show a lot of good signs but Hawthorn have only won four of their last 21 games. Jeff Kennett may be early in jumping on Alastair Clarkson for the string of poor performances from the Hawks this season, but the criticism is valid as the gaps in their youth are horrendous and the trend of trading out their first-round draft picks has failed to yield the results they needed when they traded in players like Chad Wingard, Tom Scully and Jon Patton. The Hawks need to go backwards to go forwards.
15. Adelaide Crows (down one)
The Crows seem to be regressing to their mean. After such a promising start to the season the Crows have been blown off the park the in the last two weeks, and have lost the last four on the trot. In particular, the concern is how do they kick a winning score with 40 per cent of their scores and goal assists going through Taylor Walker. The Crows are still too reliant on their elder statesmen. Despite the good signs from Riley Thilthorpe and Tom Berry the Crows are struggling to get the most out of their youth.
14. Gold Coast Suns (down three)
The Suns and the Saints have fought a series of intriguing clashes over the last few years with the last four clashes being closer than four points. The Suns failed to score a goal in the last quarter on Saturday as the Saints ran over the top. This is the Suns falling over when the games are important like they have done every time across their short history. I am willing to give the Suns some credit as they faced a Saints side that prides itself on its ruck department without a registered ruckman, yet this performance was still a failing grade and sees them drop down the rankings.
13. Essendon Bombers (up two)
The Bombers have fallen agonisingly short repeatedly in their matches this season. They have an extremely potent forward line and their defence has put a lot of pressure on the opposition as the Bombers lead in terms of goals scored and tackles across the competition. However, they’ve struggled against sides with a bigger midfield like the Giants where they can be smashed around the contest. The Bombers need to stop the roll-on that sides have got against them as they lead the league in five-goal streaks against. Their performance sees them rise but not by as much as I would like them to.
12. St Kilda Saints (up one)
The Saints have reset their season with two consecutive wins. While their wins have come on the back of workman-like performances from Patrick Ryder, it does leave a concern being so reliant on a 33-year-old ruckman. The Saints have done well to reset their season after absolute beltings at the hands of Essendon and Richmond, however their percentage is a concern and they’ll need to improve with a couple big wins if they’re to be any chance of making the finals this year.
11. Fremantle Dockers (up one)
The Dockers did well after an absolute dismantling by the West Coast Eagles to only lose by four goals to a red hot Brisbane outfit. They have a good opportunity against the Bombers this week to get the W, and push on the edges of the eight. They do need to improve the goal-kicking yips that have plagued Nat Fyfe, but their tall forward line will stretch smaller defences.
10. Carlton Blues (no change)
If the Blues won or even lost by a little less they would have moved up. It was a combination of poor rotation planning (Patrick Cripps spent eight minutes in the third quarter on the bench, as did Sam Walsh in the fourth) and poor defence overall as the Blues allowed the vaunted midfield of the Bulldogs to gain ascendancy in the latter half of the third quarter and for the majority of the fourth quarter. That being said the performances of Eddie Betts and Harry McKay were good as they scored five and four goals respectively. However, questions remain over the trades for Adam Saad and Zac Williams as they both under-performed.
9. Greater Western Sydney (no change)
The Giants did well to fend off a fast-finishing Essendon side. However, it is astounding that they are so much better with Shane Mumford in the team. He did actually cut a trim figure at the ground but he’s still a 34-year-old semi-retired ruckman who stood up in the big moments for the Giants like the clearance at the death. However, the Giants were subject to wild swings in momentum as after a good performance in the first quarter they failed to capitalise and manufacture it into a bigger win for them. If they wish to make finals this year they’ll need more from their other rucks on the list, and they’ll also need to develop other avenues to goal.
8. Sydney Swans (down one)
They only lost to the Demons by nine points on Saturday night. They were in the game for large chunks but were unable to close out the game against the red hot Demons. Callum Mills is quietly putting together a Brownlow year with 33 disposals and a mammoth ten tackles. Tom Hickey as well is quickly becoming easily the best value-for-money trade of this decade to become Sydney’s most important player. The Swans showed they’d be thereabouts yet again after a few years in the wilderness.
7. West Coast Eagles (down two)
The Eagles won their first game away from home. The trade off? It was against Hawthorn who are in dire straits. Making matters worse, it took until the second quarter for them to score their first goal. While they won by a handy 38 points, they failed to obliterate the Hawks, which is what they needed to do. They’ll still make the finals but without the ability to win away from home, they’re going to struggle.
6. Richmond Tigers (down four)
The Tigers are not as bad as their eighth place suggests but they’re not that much better. They’ve lost games in meek fashion. That is decidedly un-Richmond. Making matters worse, they’re dropping like flies in the casualty ward with Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli injuring themselves after getting into a dust-up at the pub. That effectively removes 80 per cent of Richmond’s starting midfield, exacerbating the rule changes that remove Richmond’s pressure-based game. Panic buttons are not yet pressed but they’re getting closer.
5. Brisbane Lions (down one)
The Lions have done well to reset their season. Joe Daniher is putting together his best season to date as he uses his athleticism and inherent ability as a ruck and key forward to prove an absolute steal for the Lions. Hugh McCluggage hasn’t taken a backwards step with the added responsibility of no Lachie Neale in the guts. Charlie Cameron has put forward a season that is worthy of his motorcycle celebration. If the Lions are to be considered a top-four chance this year, they will beat the Tigers by a lot this weekend, and I think they will.
4. Port Adelaide Power (up two)
The Power are a different side at the Portress. They’re meek eddy currents away from home but at the Adelaide Oval they are an electrical inferno. Travis Boak continues to be a warped Benjamin Button-esque sort of player. The older he gets, the better he gets. Worryingly they will lose Scott Lycett for a few matches because of his big hit on Shane McAdam. However they hammered the Crows, inflicting a horrendous defeat on them. Yet Orazio Fantasia needs to make more of his chances, kicking a paltry one goal, five behinds.
3. Western Bulldogs (no change)
The Bulldogs did well to come back from so far down as Josh Bruce and Marcus Bontempelli led their side to victory. The reason they have not moved up was they gave the Blues a huge buffer and had to come back from very far down. Exacerbating matters is the head knock to Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in the reserve grade, but providing even more highlights was the high flying Cody Weightman, who would give their forward line a different look. That being said, they managed to win the game and Bontempelli managed to get one goal from 32 possessions and eight tackles while Bruce was able to nail five goals in between providing relief in the ruck. The Bulldogs are still a scary proposition in how deep their midfield bats but they are facing an increasing injury burden.
2. Geelong Cats (up six)
The Cats are back. They dismantled the Richmond Tigers by out Richmond-ing Richmond. While it’s a little too soon to change Geelong’s name to Joe Exotic (because they’re the Tiger King), the three towers of their forward line combined for 15 goals. While they’re still yet to bring Patrick Dangerfield in, he throws their balance out of whack as his disposal by foot is exceptionally poor. Additionally, Chris Scott continues to rely heavily on Mark Blicavs as a Mr Fix-It player. The good signs were there as the elder statesmen of the Geelong Cats combined in promising ways to show they’ve still got some mileage in their legs.
1. Melbourne Demons (no change)
The Demons continue to deny their fans the inevitable comedown that comes from supporting the Demons. Their eighth win on the trot sees them maintain their top ranking as the Demons continued their best start since 1965. Ben Brown continues to show the Kangaroos they never should’ve let him go for a second-round pick while Tom McDonald has continued to experience a remarkable resurgence with another four goal haul. Finally, the train conductor himself Christian Petracca rang in his new contract with one goal among his 28 disposals. The Demons are going to take some beating this year as Simon Goodwin has obliterated any pressure that existed at the dawn of this season.
There you have it folks, my Round 8 power rankings. I like to think the positions are settling somewhat but there is a log jam in the middle of the ladder. Some sides may fall out of the eight and injuries will certainly play a greater role as the attrition of the season takes effect.
Thanks for reading. I hope you tune in next week for my Round 9 rankings