We are finally at the end of the bye rounds. No longer will seven games have to be rationed across five days; we will get to see every side duke it out in the run home and the wheat will be separated from the chaff.
For this week’s power rankings, I’ve also decided to include the run home for every side as well. Read on if you dare.
Had the bye: Adelaide Crows, Collingwood, Fremantle, Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles
The Suns can’t wait for this season to be over. I don’t know if it’s something in the water or something on a deeper level, but the performance the Suns put out on Saturday afternoon was insipid. You can’t say that too many 50-point losses flatter a side but such was the performance of the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday afternoon.
If there are very many losses like this, I can’t help but question the very sanity of putting the side on the Gold Coast.
Admittedly, this loss was not unexpected, so I suppose we shouldn’t be too harsh on them, but they’ve been in this competition for a decade. The law of averages dictates that eventually a side will come good but even still, they’re failing. The Suns do not have an easy run home, facing two of the top four, four of the top eight along with Essendon and Greater Western Sydney – who sit just outside the top eight. The Suns will hope they are either able to show something before the end of the year or they’re going to be looking at houses in Hobart.
Run home: North Melbourne (A), Richmond (H), GWS Giants (A), Western Bulldogs (H), Melbourne (H), Brisbane Lions (A), Carlton (A), Essendon (H), Sydney Swans (A)
North Melbourne have finally shown they’ve got a pulse. They pushed the Brisbane Lions well into the second half, which would give David Noble pride. Worryingly, however, the Kangaroos would be concerned with their continued reliance on the over-30 brigade and I’m sure they would prefer to see more out of their recent draftees – particularly with the Swans and Essendon recruits showing so much.
The only question is whether they can steal a couple more wins before the end of the year, and they will be hopeful with the prospect of the Suns at home next week.
Run home: Gold Coast Suns (H), Western Bulldogs (A), West Coast Eagles (A), Essendon (H), Carlton (A), Geelong Cats (H), Richmond (A), Sydney Swans (H), Adelaide Crows (A)
The fatigue of David Teague has set in. The Blues have done well to never be blown out of the water this year, but that is merely a disguise for the poor performances they serve up week in and week out. To lose the disposal count (-39) and tackle count (-38) speaks to the low effort brand of footy Teague has his charges playing.
He needs to break the game down to a more primal level. Rather than worrying about complex structures that will entangle the best sides, he needs to encourage and foster a more basic understanding of the game where his players have the license to follow their instincts and break the game down to a fundamental representation of effort.
However, the Blues have an opportunity to get one back over the Giants at the end of the year as well as facing North, Gold Coast, and St Kilda in the three weeks preceding that.
Run home: Adelaide Crows (H), Fremantle (A), Geelong Cats (H), Collingwood (A), North Melbourne (H), St Kilda (A), Gold Coast Suns (H), Port Adelaide (A), GWS Giants (H)
The Hawks did everything possible to win that game except win the game. In a match that augers well for Hawthorn, they were able to push the Bombers to the very end.
What would be most pleasing was their ability to win most key performance indicators, particularly intercept possessions, tackles and marks to keep the Bombers shut out for large sections of the game. But Alastair Clarkson will rue the inaccuracy his side showed, as they finished with more scoring shots.
In better news, Changkuoth Jiath put together a master class from the half-back flank, frequently intercepting forays into the forward line. He was ably assisted in the midfield by the powerful Tom Mitchell, who had 36 disposals along with eight tackles and a goal. The Hawks will surprise some teams later in the season.
Run home: GWS Giants (A), Port Adelaide (H), Fremantle (H), Melbourne (A), Brisbane Lions (H), Adelaide Crows (A), Collingwood (H), Western Bulldogs (H), Richmond (A)
Yes, Sam Draper has a magnificent mullet. Yes, it has taken ten games for Draper to play in his first win. The fact of the matter is the Bombers were able to win a game with their backs against the wall using their more deadly finishing to put the Hawks to the sword. But the return to the seniors from Draper had to take a back seat to the magnificence of the Package.
Jake Stringer had the ball on a string as he went on his merry way to 29 disposals and four goals to keep the Bombers slim finals hopes alive. The Dons now face a crucible of matches against Geelong and the Demons where, if they want to feature in September, they will push both sides as far as they can. They will be ably assisted by the return of Draper and his athletic leap, along with Devon Smith and Will Snelling providing pressure in the forward line.
Run home: Melbourne (H), Geelong Cats (A), Adelaide Crows (H), North Melbourne (A), GWS Giants (H), Sydney Swans (H), Western Bulldogs (A), Gold Coast Suns (A), Collingwood (H)
The Giants have managed to drastically outperform expectations when they lost Jeremy Cameron. The performances of Jeremy Finlayson, Jesse Hogan and Toby Greene have largely offset the scoring power lost at the trade table, while the natural improvements to Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto have made the midfield one of the most intimidating prospects for opposing clubs.
The Giants also welcomed back Phil Davis into their diminutive backline that was far outclassed by Harry McKay.
The Giants must win some games and rely on sides in the eight losing to steal a finals spot. In particular, games against the Swans and Bombers look vital.
Run home: Hawthorn (H), Melbourne (A), Gold Coast Suns (H), Sydney Swans (H), Essendon (A), Port Adelaide (H), Geelong Cats (A), Richmond (H), Carlton (A)
They did what was expected. I would’ve been concerned if they didn’t beat the Suns, but the primary concern of this match was the meekness with which the Suns lost.
For the Power they’d be worried by another injury to Robbie Gray, who has been an important cog with the losses of Xavier Duursma, Zac Butters and Orazio Fantasia. However, in what shapes as the stat of the round, that was their 18th consecutive win over a bottom ten side.
They’ve failed to do the same against their contemporaries on the ladder, meaning they’ve been written off as a legitimate premiership threat. They’ll be eager to remove that flat track bully tag as they face the Swans and the Demons in the next three weeks.
Run home: Sydney Swans (H), Hawthorn (A), Melbourne (H), St Kilda (A), Collingwood (H), GWS Giants (A), Adelaide Crows (A), Carlton (H), Western Bulldogs (A)
It took until after the final siren before the result was clear. The other thing that stuck out was Geelong’s ability to shut down the handball-happy game of the Dogs, instead forcing them to kick long down the line into the welcoming arms of Tom Stewart.
The Bulldogs would be happy to get Toby McLean over the line for his first game back from injury, while their ruck department would be a concern as Tim English was dominated by the tandem rucks of Mark Blicavs and Esava Ratugalea.
It does not get any easier as, thanks to the COVID outbreak in Sydney, they can’t isolate there before flying over to Western Australia to face the Eagles. Instead, they must face a far more stringent hotel quarantine in Perth.
Run home: West Coast Eagles (A), North Melbourne (H), Sydney Swans (H), Gold Coast Suns (A), Adelaide Crows (H), Melbourne (A), Essendon (H), Hawthorn (A), Port Adelaide (H)
The Lions got an almighty fright from the cellar-dwelling Kangaroos. The Roos went in at half time up at their Blundstone Arena fortress.
Thanks to a half time spray from their coach and the continued improvement of Jarryd Lyons, who had a solid 36 disposals and 12 tackles, they got the win.
Worryingly, though, their accuracy was atrocious with nine goals and 14 behinds. Particularly concerning was the accuracy of repeat offender Hugh McCluggage, with zero goals and three behinds continuing his struggles with accuracy.
Brisbane now go into a clutch game against a fellow premiership rival in Geelong and will welcome back Dayne Zorko from suspension, adding more offensive grunt to a midfield that can be too one-paced.
The Lions would be extremely happy that they’ve been able to work their way into premiership contention after an inauspicious start, their midfield depth is continually improving and Joe Daniher has exceeded all expectations.
Run home: Geelong Cats (H), Adelaide Crows (A), St Kilda (H), Richmond (A), Hawthorn (A), Gold Coast Suns (H), Fremantle (A), Collingwood (H), West Coast Eagles (H)
Not much separated the Cats from the Bulldogs. But the mark of a great team is the ability to win games over your opposition regardless of the circumstances.
It may have taken until the end of the game, but the Cats were able to show their quality. The performance was built off a superior defensive structure and the Bulldogs butchering of the ball.
Tom Stewart put in a masterful performance as an undersized key back with a monstrous 15 intercept possessions and a record-equalling ten intercept marks. The Cats have the biggest home ground advantage in the league because of their weird-shaped ground and parochial supporters. Geelong will be hopeful they can play their home finals down at Kardinia Park with COVID continually threatening the season.
They now face the Lions away from their fortress and will be hopeful that they can assert dominance and obtain the second position on the ladder.
Run home: Brisbane Lions (A), Essendon (H), Carlton (A), Fremantle (A), Richmond (H), North Melbourne (A), GWS Giants (H), St Kilda (H), Melbourne (H)
Well, there you have it folks, the latest by-round power rankings. What do you all think?
I think the eight is largely set and it will take a miracle for the Giants or the Bombers to jump ahead.