I was debating how I was going to do these power rankings through the bye rounds: would I just rank the sides that played? Or would it be better to have the other sides in and give them a perfunctory position?
We had the Blues disappoint, the Eagles fly up, and the Bombers fall over at the final hurdle. This round has begun to separate the haves and the have nots, the wheat from the chaff, and any other sporting platitude you can think of.
What I have decided to do is remove the sides who have the bye from that week’s ranking. I will leave a note at the start of each piece indicating who had the bye, and unless something drastic happens off-field, I won’t mention them.
Had the bye: Gold Coast, Geelong, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney.
12. Carlton Blues
The Blues have an everything problem. Their senior coach is a problem, their playing group is a problem, their salary cap is a problem, and there are precious few solutions being discussed by the Blues supporters in the media.
The Blues went into Sunday afternoon’s match-up drastic favourites against the WAFL side of West Coast Eagles.
Some on this site (looking at you, Macca) will say that I am being overly harsh on the Blues, to which I say: when are the Blues going to turn this calamitous season around?
They lost by 22 points, their average losing margin, on Sunday, and have fundamentally failed to improve with players that should be making up the young core of their side now.
11. Fremantle Dockers
The Fremantle Dockers are another side that would’ve thought they’re right on the cusp of the eight, yet the sheer carnage that they experienced on Sunday afternoon would beg to differ. Injuries to Griffin Logue, Nat Fyfe, Sean Darcy and Brennan Cox would leave them decidedly lacking in height.
Unfortunately for Justin Longmuir’s men, this leaves them lacking in a key component of the game, exacerbated by the reduced list sizes mandated by the AFL.
It means that Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Michael Walters, and David Mundy will all be asked to take that extra step, as they perpetually live on the edge of utter collapse on their end. All I can say is man, it must be tough to be a Freo fan.
10. Adelaide Crows
The Adelaide Crows did not have a good week. They first copped a massive fine from the AFL for not wearing masks, they then had the chief medical officer of South Australia tell the fans at the game to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge to avoid the ball and potential transmission from the balls to the player, before finally butchering the ball in front of goal.
Tex Walker kicked 2.6 in a strong marking display that was decidedly lacking inaccurate kicking from the normally reliable big man.
In positive news, the performances of Paul Seedsman (two goals, 27 disposals, four tackles), Ben Keays (33 disposals), and Rory Laird (40 disposals, seven clearances, and five tackles) saw them relishing their new roles and opportunities at the Crows.
9. St Kilda
Like many, I enjoy a fantastic pun, and was disappointed to hear of St Kilda’s ire about the ‘Missy’ Higgins headline. I understand not being too hard on the young men of the AFL as they already have a high-pressure job. But that does mean they are above criticism, particularly when they butcher the ball, as this side has?
It stinks of misdirection from an under-pressure Saints outfit that has not taken the next step that many predicted they would take this year.
While Paddy Ryder continues to battle manfully, the Saints have failed to improve despite their aggressive positioning at the trade table, and they have deservedly been taken to task because of this.
It was good to see the boys in black and white finally chalk up a solid win away from home with their backs against the wall.
The Magpies have managed to find some good youth in Caleb Poulter and Trent Bianco, while this was an extremely triumphant return of the injury-prone Jamie Elliot who was dead-eyed on Saturday afternoon.
The Pies do still have a problem, not least of which is the imminent salary crunch that will come at the end of the year, along with board machinations that have plagued this side all year.
However, it was good to finally see them get a good win with a reasonable scoreline instead of trying to not lose a game.
7. Essendon Bombers
That was certainly the closest 39-point defeat I’ve ever seen. Halfway through the last quarter, I was up out of my seat thinking “finally”, but Richmond are the reigning premiers, and the Bombers have repeatedly played the Tigers back into form throughout their period of dominance.
The Tigers’ win was built from the inexperience of the Bombers, and the injuries to key personnel.
Andy McGrath going down in the first quarter was an inauspicious start made far worse with injuries to David Zaharakis, and a corky to the barometer of the Essendon line-up in Anthony McDonald Tippungwuti.
Still, I could not be prouder of the effort put out by the Bombers on the weekend – you could tell they were desperate and buying into the messaging of Ben Rutten. They were just a step off the pace and the Tigers exploited that.
6. West Coast Eagles
Well, that was certainly a solid win from the embattled Eagles. It remains to be seen whether they can parlay this victory into a win against the suddenly resurgent Tigers this weekend, but I can’t help but be impressed by the Eagle’s second-string players taking a step forward.
The Eagles were missing Oscar Allen, Josh Kennedy, Jarrod Brander, Callum Ah Chee, and Tim Kelly from last week’s unsuccessful game against the Bombers. Their injuries were such that Carlton were red hot favourites, yet the Eagles were able to tune out the external noise and win the game.
It was built off the solid exploits of Liam Ryan with four goals, as well as improved performances from Dom Sheed, Andrew Gaff, and Elliot Yeo. They may have been assisted somewhat by injuries to the Blues, but this was a game they simply needed to win.
5. Sydney Swans
The Swans are going to make the finals this year. They may even win the flag – something thought of as a faint flicker at the beginning of the year.
They have done this by building an exceptionally well-rounded side with a great amount of depth. They’ve been forced into phasing in some of their established talents in lieu of their youth, but the changeover has been nearly seamless as they’ve brought some cooler heads and tougher bodies in to protect their youth.
On Saturday, it was the established talent of Luke Parker, George Hewett, and Callum Mills who came to the fore as the young jets who have made the Swans so entertaining to watch took a back seat.
I, for one, was happy to see Lance Franklin edge closer to the remarkable feat of 1000 goals that is becoming more and more of a possibility each game he plays.
I am eager to see what the Swans do in the second half of the year.
4. Brisbane Lions
Yes, they lost, but they were up for half the game against the red-hot Melbourne Demons. That in itself is impressive, however, the Lions will be eager to show that it is not a pattern.
The Lions will easily make the top four, however, narrowing our vision down to Friday night, their loss would be concerning for Chris Fagan and his men.
In positive news, Zach Bailey continues to be a superstar for the Lions, kicking four goals to take his season total to 17, while Joe Daniher continues to prove himself to be an extremely talented athlete for the Lions.
There’s no shame in losing to Melbourne, and they will be better for it.
3. Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs went to Optus Stadium against the Fremantle Dockers facing a dangerous game, with the Dockers eager to assert their qualifications as a top-eight smokey. The subsequent result did nothing to prove the Bulldogs’ case as a premiership threat, but it was what they needed to do to win the game.
Marcus Bontempelli continues to be an inspirational captain for the Dogs as he wills his side into games and over the line.
His two goals in the second quarter were vital in establishing the lead for his side.
Aaron Naughton seemed to follow the trend of forwards getting the yips this week as he kicked 1.5 to show his potential potency as a key forward for the Bulldogs (some have been advocating for his deployment as a key back).
The Bulldogs have repeatedly shown they will be thereabouts this year, and they may very well be there, but they have fallen against the best sides and pummelled the worst sides so there are more question marks surrounding them than their contemporaries.
2. Richmond Tigers
Half a quarter was all it took: ten minutes of frenetic pressure, 600 seconds of a goal-scoring explosion were all it took for Tigers to come roaring back into the premiership calculations of the wider footballing public.
Auspiciously for the Tigers was the win being built off of the back of their youth brigade in Malbior Chol (24), Noah Balta (21), Shai Bolton (22), and Calum Coleman-Jones (21) all playing prominent roles, indicating they may be around the mark for years to come.
Making matters all the worse for the supporters of the 17 other clubs eagerly awaiting the collapse of the Tigers is the fact they have two picks in each of the first three rounds at this year’s draft, giving them something to play with at the trade table.
Could it be that they make a play for Yiooken Medalist Darcy Parrish? Or Tom Mitchell?
1. Melbourne Demons
To win in such an emphatic fashion against a fellow premiership contender was extremely impressive.
If there’s to be any side to dethrone the Tigers it will be the Demons, who’ve deployed extremely elaborate defensive structures along with a potent and high-scoring forward line.
On Friday evening, despite the paltry crowd, the Demons put on a show as they came back from 20 points down to win in an almighty surprise for the Lions.
In particular, the 2019 draft shapes as being extremely vital for the Demons as Trent Rivers, Luke Jackson, and Kysiah Pickett have all formed vital components.
Additionally, there are three wins between where the Demons are and the bottom of the top four, so they will obtain the vital double chance while still being able to rest players (as much as I am loathe to mention a David King talking point).
So, there you have it, Roarers.
I figured I would write slightly longer descriptions to make up for the lack of sides in the matches this year and I hope you all agree with my power rankings.
I am eagerly awaiting when my Bombers will play next (not something I thought I would be able to say this year) and have been enjoying writing these pieces as it tests my footballing knowledge.
I hope to be able to enjoy some footy matches in person towards the end of the year.