Ahhh it’s good to have the full nine matches of footy back if only temporarily.
Unfortunately due to the spiralling situation in Sydney it may appear that the clubs will at least need to look very hard at going into hubs again in similar fashion to last year. But all that’s irrelevant, it’s the end of another round so that means it’s time for some more power rankings.
18. Gold Coast Suns
Well at least that settles one question – the Suns will be equally as bad in Tasmania as they are on the Gold Coast.
While it was good to see the Suns kick above 60 points, they are massively on struggle street at the moment with Matt Rowell having a down day.
They were comprehensively beaten by a North Melbourne side that wanted it more, and honestly the score line probably favours the Suns somewhat as North were able to dominate clearances (46-27), inside fifties (61-45), and disposals (370-324).
There is preciously few positives that Stuart Dew and his men can take out of the loss on Saturday afternoon. It will definitely get worse before it gets better as the Suns face a Tigers outfit that will be champing at the bit after being embarrassed on their home deck.
17. North Melbourne
The Kangaroos are finally starting to play with a little bit of dare as they recorded their second win for the year against the Gold Coast Suns down at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania. Their performance was made exponentially better by the fact that it was largely off of the youths of their side.
Cameos from players like Cameron Zurhaar, and Nick Larkey combining for five goals and forty disposals. While still getting solid performances out of players like Jack Ziebell, Todd Goldstein, and Ben Cunnington. The Kangaroos now face the Western Bulldogs who are riding high after hammering West Coast in Perth, and this author believes that this match won’t be the utter obliteration that occurred on the Good Friday match earlier this year.
16. Collingwood Magpies
New coach, new Magpies, and smick new hair cut for Brody Grundy. The Magpies took it right up to a Fremantle outfit that would fancy themselves an outside chance of making the top eight. The Magpies were able to offset the loss of Darcy Moore with workman like performances from players like Brayden Maynard (27 disposals, 8 marks, and 6 tackles), Chris Mayne (24 disposals, 10 marks) and Jordan Roughead (19 disposals, 13 marks).
The deployment of Mason Cox, Darcy Cameron, and Brody Grundy in a tri-ruck key forward rotation able to stretch the smaller Fremantle backline. While they weren’t able to take the chocolates on the day there is more to be positive about than you’d think.
The Magpies now face a suddenly resurgent St Kilda and if they want to climb their way off of the bottom of these rankings then they will beat them playing an assertive brand of football.
15. Adelaide Crows
The Crows played a curious game against Carlton. Both sides have had a notoriously potent offences despite their positioning on the ladder.
The Crows have played far far better footy than a former wooden spooner as recently as last year has any right to. Before I get to glowing of the Crows it is still a work in progress as they butchered the ball with 22 interceptions between Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering.
In a more positive bent, Taylor Walker continues to his margin at the top of the all time leader at the head of all time goal kickers at the Crows, while Rory Laird and Ben Keays continue to be integral to the money ball midfield.
14. Carlton Blues
The Blues needed that win. It was the bare minimum for the embattled Blues but it was good for them to ring in the new contract for their talismanic captain in Patrick Cripps. While the list management would be happy to be somewhat vindicated thanks to goalsTo Adam Saad and Zac Williams.
However, the match was marred by the injuries to Mark Murphy. But this win was a spigot for the Blues relieving the pressure somewhat built on the back of defensive brilliance of Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering combining for 22 intercept possessions.
Eddie Betts, and Matthew Owies continue to lead Carltons small forward department combining for four goals five behinds to move the Blues forward as a offensive unit.
13. St Kilda
I believe 13th is an accurate reflection of the trend line St Kilda have displayed over the past few weeks. It was good that they were able to get a 12-point turnaround between matches against the Tigers, but it did not resolve any of the questions surrounding the Saints line-up.
The specialty of the Saints comes from the performances of Patrick Ryder and Rowan Marshall. This took their win loss record to 11-5 with both players in the team. However this in and of itself raises questions as Ryder is 34 years old.
12. Greater Western Sydney
Well, that was a disheartening performance from the Giants.
Aside from the gut running and genius ball use of the mercurial Lachie Whitfield there are few positives for the Giants to take out of the game. In a match where for some reason was played at the G and not Manuka, I am titling these matches the snowflake cup as the Giants seem to lose to Hawthorn.
11. Hawthorn Hawks
The Hawks are just about the best 17th placed side in AFL history. The 18-point margin belies the dominance of the Hawks for large periods of the game.
Alistair Clarkson has his side playing with a belief that only a master coach can imbue his side with. He has set up the tantalising prospect of Shaun Burgoyne’s 400th game against Port Adelaide this week as well. Clarkson and his charges will become a fearsome prospect next year with the addition of James Sicily to an already gifted backline will make their interception capabilities without rival in the AFL.
10. West Coast Eagles
The Eagles have lost their fortress at home. While it is perhaps a bit harsh to have the Eagles dropping out of the eight over this loss they actually should have lost by considerably more. Taking the predicted score from Champion Data the Eagles should’ve lost by more than eighty points.
The COVID shut down may have forced the Eagles to play without an audience, but Adam Simpson would be concerned to see his game style so comprehensively eviscerated by the 18-man midfield that Luke Beveridge tends to play.
9. Essendon Bombers
I really, really want to have Richmond here but it seems in poor taste to put them here. Unfortunately for me the lid must remain firmly on top of the hype train that is the Essendon Footy Club.
The Bombers performance on Saturday night speaks to the assertiveness the side are playing with. While some questionable umpiring and poor delivery inside fifty lost the game for the Bombers, there is far more to be hopeful about with the development of players like Harry Jones and Archie Perkins.
8. Richmond Tigers
That was the lowest score since 1961 and the lowest score for the Tigers at the G since the 1920s. Nearly 100 years speaks to the historic decline of arguably the best dynasty team in AFL History.
The flaws were brutally exposed by the smaller and faster Saints as the Tigers were held to two goals. However, you write the Tigers off at your own peril and they’re coming up against the notoriously poor Gold Coast Suns this week so they will have a great opportunity to reverse their form line and potentially bounce back into finals calculations.
7. Fremantle Dockers
The Dockers won on the back of their youth. It was fantastic to see the Fyfe-less Dockers chalk one up in the W column.
The Dockers would be extremely happy to get games into Alex Pearce, and Nathan Wilson as they can develop into a fantastic backline unit. While Sean Darcy is becoming a top five ruckman across the league and the faster small forwards are combining for a multitude of goals.
6. Sydney Swans
The Swans have put in a vintage performance expected of the Swans of old led by a classic performance from the AFL virtuous himself in Lance Franklin.
While they couldn’t take the chocolates on the day to be so close in front of the fickle Adelaide Oval crowd was impressive and speaks to the solid football that John Longmire has the boys playing. Callum Mills continues to mount the case as the run away favourite for the Swans Best and fairest this year with a gargantuan 10 clearances and 32 disposals.
The one concern would be the repeat offences of players like Isaac Heeney and Tom Hickey who combined for six behinds and no goals.
5. Geelong Cats
The score line flatters the Cats. All their forwards failed to fire on Thursday night. The big three key forwards of the Cats failed to manage the brutal ball movement of the Lions as they cut the might of the Cats to ribbons.
The clash was spite filled and entertaining to watch as a neutral, but the Cats failed to exploit their hoodoo over the Lions to maximum effect.
4. Port Adelaide Power
Port will be looking to remove their tag as flat track bullies. To beat the Swans at home does achieve that somewhat, however, they were reliant on a clutch goal from Scott Lycett to get the win.
The win was built off of the back of a masterclass from Travis Boak with 29 disposals and a goal, while Dan Houston, William Drew and Oli Wines all chimed in in the midfield to provide ample assistance to Boak as the main man.
3. Melbourne Demons
The Demons have done well against top eight rivals but it appears they struggle against sides outside the top eight. They lost to Adelaide, Collingwood and nearly lost to Essendon. It was only thanks to the abilities of Steven May and Jake Lever they were able to get the win.
But the question remains can they win the flag with such value placed on the defence.
2. Brisbane Lions
The Lions were able to reverse a hoodoo that has existed since the Miracle on Grass (2013) and changing the messaging surrounding their performances against Geelong.
The game itself was marred by a massive dive from Joe Daniher and several free kicks that were questionable as the game progressively more spite filled and the umpires struggled to control the behaviour of the players.
The ball use of Daniel Rich is fast becoming a sight to behold with his low fast bullets dissecting the Geelong midfield with vicious efficiency easily splitting the Geelong midfield as they missed the presence of Mitch Duncan to intercept and keep pace with the efficient ball use.
The other big thing was the showing from the Brisbane forward line was also extremely potent as Eric Hipwood, Joe Daniher, and Charlie Cameron combined for 11 goals.
1. Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have found their way back to the top of these rankings with a resounding defeat of West Coast Eagles in Perth. They comprehensively smashed the Eagles over the field, with more disposals (362 vs 345), brutally efficient entries into the forward fifty (60 per cent resulting in a score) along with getting first use winning contested possession (+30 in favour of the Bulldogs).
Their domination resulted in a fantastic win that sets up a tantalising close to the end of the season with games against the Demons, and Port Adelaide to come the Bulldogs can continue to show their quality.
Well, there you have folks. The bye rounds are done and dusted. 15 rounds in and it’s still anyone’s game. It remains to be seen how the AFL can adapt to the COVID problems developing across the entire country. In an ironic twist of fate, it may very well be Melbourne who forms the hub which is a far more enticing prospect than using Queensland.