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AFL Round 6 power rankings: Another tight Anzac Day classic

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Roar Guru
25th April, 2022
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The ladder appears to be sorting itself out as the front pack coalesces around the dominant Melbourne and Brisbane sides, while the lower reaches of the ladder are in a neck-and-neck race to the bottom.

This week the Crows continued to indicate they were more advanced in their rebuild than what was expected. The Lions extended their Pineapple Grapple (thanks, Fox Footy Podcast) into six successive wins. Essendon and Collingwood duked it out in their traditional Anzac Day slot.

18. North Melbourne Kangaroos (no change)

News broke during the week about how North may be entitled to a priority pick with two consecutive years down in the dumps. If they have many more performances like Sunday’s, they’ll need more than a priority pick to drag them out of the slump they find themselves in. The Cats utterly smashed the Kangaroos in what can be considered a huge rout – the 60-point margin is probably an undercount compared to if the Cats had played to their full potential for four quarters.

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17. West Coast Eagles (no change)

The Eagles are in the worst form in my memory as they shape as firm favourites for the first overall pick at the national draft. The Power were able to suffocate them, and they lost the disposal count (-76), inside-50 count (-31), clearances (-12) and contested possessions (-34), all of which are integral to winning the territory battle and thus the match. The Eagles appear bereft of both confidence and skill at the moment and will struggle to win games. Thankfully they broke their duck against Collingwood, otherwise I would have been worried about a winless season.

16. Greater Western Sydney Giants (down two)

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Toby Greene was back. Sadly the Giants were not. Down in the frigid weather of Manuka Oval the Giants went down to the in-form Saints, and were it not for the inaccuracy of St Kilda, GWS would have easily lost by more. The Giants appear to be an exceptionally negative side that relies on suffocating the opposition inside their own 50 with a high-pressure game plan. The idea is to deny them good scoring positions, as illustrated by St Kilda’s efficiency inside 50 being well below their average as well as their inaccuracy. However, the Giants themselves need to have the assets ahead of the ball to win games, and they’re sadly lacking in that at the moment, resulting in this precipitous drop.

15. Gold Coast Suns (down two)

I want the Suns to come good, I really do, but they extended their QClash loss to six in a row against the in-form Lions on Sunday afternoon. As to why they lost, there is no particular statistical category in which Brisbane significantly differed to the Suns aside from efficiency inside 50. Additionally, the Suns would be concerned by their inaccuracy in front of goal, kicking 14 behinds to six, which would make their performance appear significantly worse than it was. However, as they didn’t win, I can only move them down.

Gold Coast Suns dejected.

(Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

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14. Essendon Bombers (up two)

The Bombers are up because they were less bad than the sides below them. ‘Less bad’ might be a contrived way of wording that, but Essendon were in the match against Collingwood until the last bounce after their side was placed under the pump by the pundit class during the week. They were pushing the Pies hard, with Darcy Parish in particular prominent in the first half, gathering 30 disposals, the most in a couple of decades. However, as has been a problem for the Bombers since 2004, they have been unable to parlay one season’s good form into the next, and they still appear to be condemned to yet another bottom-six finish.

13. Richmond Tigers (down one)

The Tigers were lucky to lose by only 22 points, with 31 scoring shots to 14 being the headline statistic. The Tigers were up at certain points during the match thanks to their greater efficiency, but a professional performance from Melbourne in the third quarter meant they quickly fell behind the reigning premiers. In better news for the Tigers, Josh Gibcus was able to benefit from the presence of Nathan Broad and Nick Vlastuin allowing him to take a less high-profile forward and peel off and intercept, ending the night with 18 disposals and 12 marks in a commanding performance down back.

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12. Port Adelaide Power (up three)

They broke their duck, but only one side in AFL history have gone from 0-5 to start a season and make finals – Sydney in 2017. It was also against the WAFL side of the West Coast Eagles as well, but Ken Hinkley would be extremely impressed with the returns from Todd Marshall (five goals and seven tackles), Jeremy Finlayson (four goals) and the mercurial Connor Rozee (31 disposals and seven score involvements) with a more commanding presence in the midfield. Port Adelaide are still a mathematical chance of making finals, but they have absolutely no margin for error. I am still holding off on ruling either way, but this was an important confidence-boosting win for the Power.

Jeremy Finlayson and Connor Rozee celebrate a goal.

(Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

11. Hawthorn Hawks (down three)

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The final margin does a disservice to how close this match was for most of the day, as the Swans were able to kick away in the last and leave the Hawks in their dust. However, Hawthorn did drop a significant lead to Sydney as they leapt out of the gates thanks to a dominant opening term from Tom Mitchell. It is clear that the Hawks are significantly more advanced in their rebuild than was originally thought last year, and Sam Mitchell is shaping as an astute successor for Alastair Clarkson. However, it remains to be seen how consistent the young Hawks side can be.

10. Carlton Blues (down one)

No Marc Pittonet, no Blues, it would seem. They did face a Fremantle side that has been in ripping form lately, but the clearance domination the Blues have maintained in the early part of this season falls to pieces without their big ruck. Carlton lost the hit-out count by a massive 32 with the loss of Pittonet early in the piece, but despite that the Blues midfielders acquitted themselves well in the clearance category, nearly squaring the ledger at 36-33. Carlton had too many passengers, with their five worst performing players gathering only 34 disposals, Pittonet notwithstanding.

9. Adelaide Crows (up two)

I feel for the Crows fan base. I know if my side had played in as many close games as they have to this point, my heart already would have exploded due to the stress. But the Crows were able to win this game by shutting down the Bulldogs options down the line as Billy Frampton, Tom Doedee and Chayce Jones combined for 24 intercepts, with Frampton leading the back with ten intercepts from his 26 disposals as a reinvigorated centre-halfback. I am not saying the Crows will make finals – they do still lack some pieces – but their rebuild is significantly more advanced than we gave them credit for, and I expect they will continue to surprise sides throughout this year.

Elliott Himmelberg of the Crows celebrates a goal with Shane McAdam.

(Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

8. Western Bulldogs (down one)

The Bulldogs are not in good form at the moment, and the only reason they’re in the eight is that they have the talent necessary to reverse their slump. However, having watched the game, the Bulldogs were outcoached, as they were unwilling to play to the blustery conditions of Ballarat inside choosing to bomb the ball long, which was inevitably mopped up by the Crows interceptors down the line. The Bulldogs needed to be willing to shift the Adelaide zone by running for the handpasses, but they appeared either unwilling or unable to do that against the more enthusiastic Crows, and that sees them drop in these rankings.

7. Collingwood Magpies (up three)

Is it harsh to have Collingwood down after they won their match with an exceedingly accurate display? Yes, it is. But I don’t think they’re better than any of the sides listed above. Essendon had been under the pump during the week, and they did well to get over them due to their efficiency in the forward half, scoring goals on 31 per cent of their inside 50s compared to the Bombers, who were far less efficient in front of goal despite winning the clearance battle. It leaves the Pies with a 0.500 record this season, with the over-coached micromanagement thrown out the window in favour of a new more attacking brand from Craig ‘Fly’ McRae.

6. Sydney Swans (down four)

The injury to Paddy McCartin is sure to dominate the headlines during the week, as he has been inspirational for the Swans in his long battle with concussion. He was substituted out of the game after failing a concussion test, though Sydney said the doctors were treating him conservatively given his history of head knocks. It enabled Josh Kennedy to come on and be the difference-maker for the Swans, collecting 11 disposals in a little over a quarter of footy. Sydney are down simply because their game style relies on efficiency, and when the game is not on their terms they struggle and concede large scores. I expect they will make finals this year, though I think they’re going to struggle against the better drilled sides.

Isaac Heeney

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

5. Geelong Cats (up one)

It was seventh heaven for Jeremy Cameron as he tore apart the Kangaroos with seven goals on Sunday afternoon. Cameron was ably assisted by Tom Hawkins, who booted four of his own, to see the Cats get up by 60 points against a woeful North Melbourne outfit in Hobart. It was the first time this year that the Geelong key forwards were able to really jointly impress their will on the game, whereas previously they’ve been derailed by either poor form or injury. I am not quite ready to raise the Cats up given the quality of opposition they were playing, but the advantages of playing down at Kardinia Park and their good form will see them firming for a top-four position shortly.

4. St Kilda Saints (down one)

It has been something of a theme this week where inaccuracy has forced sides to rue their match. For the Saints, however, they were able to handily beat a full-strength Giants side with their talismanic captain back in. Unfortunately the match was marred by an ACL injury to Jack Hayes, who has been a revelation for the Saints this season. Thankfully St Kilda have relieved Hayes of the pressure of signing a new contract by securing his services for another year shortly after the match. The Saints finally appear to have rectified the issues that plagued them last year, as they’re playing as a unit and not taking anything for granted.

3. Fremantle Dockers (up one)

I think even the most parochial of Fremantle fans would not have expected the Dockers to be 5-1 at this point during the season. The Dockers dominated the game as their speedy small forwards were able to ensure repeat forward-50 entries (56-38). Additionally, their forward line showed a lot of different looks, dominating in the air with 11 marks inside 50 while their smalls, like Lachie Schultz and Sam Switkowski, harassed around the feet of their talls, alleviating the need for Matt Taberner to back up last week’s performance.

2. Melbourne Demons (down one)

You’re not going to win many games kicking 22 behinds, but such is the skill of Melbourne, who never looked like losing to Richmond on Sunday evening. What stuck out to me was the rare accuracy of Sam Weideman, who with three goals has his grasp firmly on the second tall forward position, relegating Tom McDonald to the VFL. Additionally, Clayton Oliver put forward his name as the best midfielder in an already spectacular Melbourne midfield, clocking 41 disposals, 13 clearances and 22 contested possessions. It’s clear that Melbourne are firming as favourites to go back to back in 2022, and even with flawed performances like Sunday they will be difficult to beat.

1. Brisbane Lions (up two)

The Lions are looking extremely potent this year after dominating the Suns for their sixth consecutive win in the QClash. They were viciously accurate, with Zac Bailey, Charlie Cameron and Joe Daniher combining for 13 goals and one behind between them. Bailey has become their most important pick-up on the 2017 draft as a forward midfielder, supplanting Cameron Rayner in the Lions line-up. I expect Brisbane will have some missteps, particularly as their form in Melbourne can be pretty poor, but their exemplary record at the Gabba should see them take a solid position firmly in this year’s top four.

Do you agree with my ratings? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and I will do my best to respond.

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