Here are my power rankings after Round 18.
Sorry Crows fans. They find themselves on the bottom of my rankings this week with a second consecutive sizeable loss. Adelaide have a problem in that their midfield is too one-paced and their forward line too dependent on Taylor Walker being everywhere.
What stuck out is the domination of the Eagles in the hitouts and inside 50 count (+16).
The score worm in this game tells a thousand words. The Pies were up by eight points at the last change, but the Blues kicked away in the last in a near mirror image of what the Pies did to the Tigers. But we aren’t about the negatives here; Taylor Adams continues to put together a season that should earn him the captaincy, and Jamie Elliott is perhaps the club’s most important player.
I am a bit confused as to where to have the Hawks. On the one hand, they should’ve lost that game; they lost every key statistical area except the tackles. On the other hand, they drew with the ladder-leaders thanks to some bold play through the middle and pulled out the miraculous.
I think they’re not as bad as they should be and the building from the back list strategy appears to be working for the Hawks.
The Kangaroos were always going to struggle to win travelling across the country twice in a week after a six-day break without their highest performing midfielder. They’re no longer the easybeats of the AFL.
The Roos were able to challenge the Bombers for three quarters with a slight lapse in the third quarter. North were able to frustrate the Bombers with their slow and deliberate ball movement followed by a skilled 45-degree kick into the centre of the ground. The Roos were able to play the style they wanted for much of the day and that will serve them in good stead.
Freo is decidedly not the way to go. It is a testament to the log jam around the middle of the pack that they’ve dropped by so much. Their percentage is atrocious, and the massive loss to the Cats at home has only exacerbated matters. With Sean Darcy and Rory Lobb both going down with injury, the Dockers also have a big disadvantage in both the ruck and the key forwards department, and this will leave Justin Longmuir with a large headache.
A faint flicker of hope is there for the Suns. It is not yet the inferno of finals contention, but the fact they can still equal their best win total for a year is astounding (eight wins in 2014 is their best season to date).
They went into Saturday afternoon distant favourites and, while they did lose, it was not the crushing loss we’ve come to expect of the Suns.
I want to call out the small forwards with Alex Sexton, Brayden Ainsworth and Nick Holman combining for nine goals and a massive 22 score involvements.
Gold Coast lost the inside 50 count, which speaks to the strength of backline, and Jeremy Sharp earned a rising star nomination. Sadly, things do not get any easier for the Suns as they face top four contenders in Melbourne and Brisbane in the next two weeks.
I want to call out Jack Silvagni, both for his exploits on the field (he beat Brodie Grundy in the ruck) and was comfortable openly displaying his emotion considering the recent death of his grandfather. Good on you Jack, we are all rooting for you and your family.
The Blues played well in a brave come-from-behind win to keep their unlikely finals dream alive. It is unlikely that they will make the finals, but it’s good to dream. Sam Walsh is a future captain of the club and Sunday afternoon was no exception as he continues to push his case for a Brownlow.
The loss on Saturday afternoon is officially curtains for the Saints season. However, things are a far sight less dire than they were earlier in the season. Jack Steele nearly single-handedly dragged his side over the line with a captain’s performance; 37 disposals, a goal and seven tackles.
That was a turn around. Losing to the lowly Roos one week and pummelling the Crows the next. They didn’t answer many questions around the faults in their game style, but it was extremely important that Adam Simpson’s men got the win with a spot in the eight on the line.
However, it was only Adelaide they beat. It was good to see the Eagles play with a harder edge, however, the facts are apparent, their game style is found out and they need to develop the smaller avenues to goal.
The Tigers find their way back to their natural habitat. Richmond kept their finals hopes alive with a potentially season-defining win over the Lions – which was especially impressive as they lost Kamdyn McIntosh and Dustin Martin. Questions remain as to whether they can overcome these injuries, but Toby Nankervis provided vital relief in the rucks – freeing up Malbior Chol to kick four goals as a resting forward.
GWS needed to at least push the Swans hard in that game, and they did for a half. The Giants have often been a tease this year, but they’ve dropped the games they’ve needed to win. Making matters drastically worse were injuries to Josh Kelly and Matt Flynn – both of whom will be out this week in addition to the quarantining Toby Greene. Now Giants supporters will point out the disruption of losing your spiritual leader mere minutes before the bounce – that didn’t cause you to drop a 35-point lead.
This was an unnecessarily stressful game for me as a Bombers fan. Atrocious defence in transition (Essendon are ranked last this season) and some low effort from the midfield in the first half led to North getting a sniff. Thanks to a cameo from Jake Stringer and ‘two-metre’ Peter Wright, the Bombers were able to take the lead and win the match.
The Lions struggled on Friday Night. The Tigers pressured and harassed their opposition and made the Lions look second rate despite playing an ‘away’ game in their home state. The Lions missed the dynamism that Eric Hipwood provides their line-up, relying on the flighty Joe Daniher – who has not been expected to carry the entire forward line. There were preciously few positives to take out of the match for the Lions faithful as they fell over against an inferior Tigers side.
I was perhaps a little harsh on the Power last week. They’ve struggled against fellow contenders but it is reductive to solely attribute this to the game style of Ken Hinkley. On Saturday, they went in with their backs against the wall without four of their starting forward line, and needing to win. Win they did.
They were cleaner in the clinches than a raw Saints side thanks to solid performances from Karl Amon (26 disposals and two goals) and Trent McKenzie (nine intercepts). The Power will be a fixture in September and remain a chance for the top four thanks to the win on the weekend.
That was a win that will reverberate throughout the competition. The Swans trailed by 35 points early in the second quarter and were able to turn the match around in the back half of the second and run out 26-point winners. Tom Papley put in a superb performance with two goal of the year contenders among his four goals.
Nick Blakey appears to prefer the half-back line substantially more to the half-forward line as he presented a running option through the midfield on his way to 18 disposals and 390 metres gained.
That game was as bad as a loss for the Demons. They won every key statistical area and had multiple opportunities at the death to ice the game. The only exception was the tackles – and they just couldn’t cope with the pressure. The Melbourne midfield dominated with Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver all recording more than 30 disposals, but the glut of possessions was not translated into goals.
I can’t help but wonder if there’s a mental problem; they seem incapable of getting up against inferior opposition.
They’re up because they won. It was good to see Jamarra Ugle-Hagan get on the board with three goals among his eight possessions. He will be substantially better for the run. The Bulldogs midfield group was massive, with 100 possessions among Jackson Macrae, Bailey Smith, and Marcus Bontempelli leading to wins in the territory and the inside 50 battles.
It speaks volumes of the Suns that they forced the Bulldogs to fight for the win right at the death.
The Cats have now tied up second with a dominant win over an insipid Fremantle outfit in Perth. They were still without Jeremy Cameron, so it fell to Patrick Dangerfield as a pseudo key forward and Tom Hawkins to score heavily with seven goals in a dominant display.
Luke Dalhaus played his best game of the season with eight tackles and a goal, which is precisely what you want a small forward to do. Sam Menegola and Isaac Smith continue to be exceptionally damaging as pure wingmen rather than the midfielders the All Australian selectors insist on putting in that position.