An interesting week, however, round 17 didn’t record the same number of surprises that we have become accustomed to. The following week’s matches loom as perhaps the most important in terms of shaping the top-8 that we have had so far.
↑ 1 (4) Sydney Swans
It’s now almost an obligation to list the Swans as the number 1 in form team. In doing so they climb to the top of the power rankings with another big win, this week over title contenders GWS. The see-sawing match was close for the entire match but Sydney were in control leading at every break with contributors across the board. The likes of Jack, McVeigh, and Hannebery have been vastly improved on early season form and are an indication of where the Swans are at the moment. Keep this up and by the end of the season, they could climb into the top-4. Something that was completely unthinkable 10 weeks ago.
Last 5 – GWS (W), Gold Coast (W), Melbourne (W), Essendon (W), Richmond (W).
→ 2 (2) Geelong Cats
After dominating the opening 15 minutes of their rivalry match against the Hawks, Dangerfield went down with an apparently serious injury. The Hawks then turned things around and it was one-way traffic until Dangerfield returned to the field albeit at reduced capacity and playing solely in the forward line. What happened next was one of the best individual performances in recent memory. Dangerfield played on more than 8 opponents in the next 60 minutes and would finish with 5 goals 6 behinds from 12 marks. Despite Tom Mitchell’s 43 possessions, it was Dangerfield that singlehandedly dragged his team over the line and was clearly best on the ground. A win against the Crows on Friday night would thrust them into the top spot on the AFL ladder and likely into the top spot in the rankings also.
Last 5 – Hawthorn (W), Brisbane (W), GWS (D), Fremantle (W), West Coast (L).
→ 3 (3) Adelaide Crows
The win against Melbourne in their first encounter in the top-end was exactly what they needed to do. The game threatened as a danger match as Melbourne had previously beaten them this year and unlike Adelaide, they have played a number of matches in the sweltering conditions of Darwin. The final margin was set up by the opening 7-goal burst by the Crows, and despite Melbourne coming within 4 goals, the game was never really in contention. The only concern for Adelaide coming into the top of the table clash against the Cats this week is the health of Rory Sloane, who came off the ground with a concussion in the third quarter.
Last 5 – Melbourne (W), Western Bulldogs (W), Carlton (W), Hawthorn (L), St Kilda (W).
↓ 4 (1) GWS Giants
An extremely difficult last 5 weeks has culminated in the cross town battle against the Swans. In this time, GWS has come out with only the one win against Brisbane. It is far from alarm bells for the Giants as they are still playing very good footy, they have just been rather unlucky with both injuries and the particular games played. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let up for the Giants as yet another blockbuster match against the Tigers beckons.
Last 5 – Sydney (L), Hawthorn (D), Geelong (D), Brisbane (W), Carlton (L).
→ 5 (5) Port Adelaide
Another strong performance by this year’s bully. Port has shown throughout this year that when they are on top, they relentlessly finish off opponents. This week they smashed North Melbourne to the tune of 70 points. The usual suspects of Wines, Ebert, Wingard, Westhoff, and Boak were fantastic for Port but it was the best on ground performance by 50 game player Sam Gray that really stood out. Gray finished the game with 24 touches, 10 marks and 4 goals in a game more commonly associated with his namesake Robbie Gray.
Last 5 – North Melbourne (W), West Coast (W), Richmond (L), Collingwood(W), Brisbane (W).
→ 6 (6) Melbourne Demons
Melbourne is lucky to maintain their position here. The loss against obviously better Crows was exactly that, a test against a better team, and unfortunately, the Dees just didn’t quite have enough to challenge, partly due to their extensive injury list. A season defining match against the Power is looming and could well shape the top-4 and top-8 prospects for the Dees.
Last 5 – Adelaide (L), Carlton (W), Sydney (L), West Coast (W), Western Bulldogs (W).
↑ 7 (8) Richmond Tigers
Well no surprise here. Richmond was able to overcome Brisbane at home and move up the ladder again. A far from impressive victory leads them into probably the biggest match they have for the remainder of the year against the Giants. The major concern for the Tigers is the high hit by equal Brownlow favourite Dustin Martin. Considering this, it is absolutely no surprise that the tribunal bucked recent trends and Martin escaped with only a series of fines. This is a good outcome for the competition but poor for parity’s sake. He will now walk a tight rope for the rest of the season.
Last 5 – Brisbane (W), Adelaide (L), Port Adelaide (W), Carlton (W), Sydney (L).
↑ 8 (10) Essendon Bombers
Essendon was absolutely brilliant against St Kilda and dominated from start to finish. Daniher up forward, Merrett and Zaharakis in the midfield, and Hurley and Kelly in defense were outstanding. Add Heppell, McGrath, and Goddard and you have yourself some very happy Essendon supporters. They look fast, flashy and exciting and could really do some damage to more fancied teams come finals time.
Last 5 – St Kilda (W), Collingwood (W), Brisbane (L), Sydney (L), Port Adelaide (W).
↑ 9 (11) West Coast Eagles
West Coast are quietly getting their season back on track, this week’s win against Fremantle pushed them back into the top-8. As mentioned early on in the season, simply due to their ability to win at home it is likely that they will make finals and at this stage of the season, nothing has changed. West Coast appeared to play keepings off Fremantle with a whopping 143 marks to 87. West Coast were led by young midfielders Duggan, Redden and Sheed, who look more and more like the future for them.
Last 5 – Fremantle (W), Port Adelaide (L), Western Bulldogs (W), Melbourne (L), Geelong (W).
↓ 10 (7) St Kilda Saints
Hero to zero for the Saints as they looked lethargic and slow in the second of their Friday night matches at Etihad stadium. Two things of note came out of this game, first was the absence of star Riewoldt, whom after last week’s amazing game was hidden in plain sight for the whole game, and secondly, if a player can win a game by their domination, equally a player can lose a game through poor performance. Tom Hickey was absolutely appalling for the Saints, costing them at least 4 or 5 goals directly and just never provided a contest. The only time the Saints looked better was when Bruce and Gilbert were in the ruck. I’m surprised that after the first quarter Hickey didn’t sit out while the game was still redeemable. Now after a fantastic last month, the Saints are in real trouble and look likely to miss out of finals.
Last 5 – Essendon (L), Richmond (W), Fremantle (W), Gold Coast (W), North Melbourne (W).
↓ 11 (9) Hawthorn Hawks
The resurgent Hawks in Hodge’s 300th match just fell short against the Cats partly due to the performance of Dangerfield and partly due to Isaac Smith’s missed shot with seconds to go. It was Smith’s second time in three matches against the Cats that he had a chance to win the match and if he had his time again, probably would have taken the set shot from 45 meters out rather than rushing the play. Based on the last 8 weeks, you would have to say that the Hawks definitely would have been in contention for the top-8 if not for their poor start. Burton will win the rising star award and I would expect the Hawks to be back stronger next year.
Last 5 – Geelong (L), GWS (D), Collingwood (W), Adelaide (W), Gold Coast (L).
→ 12 (12) Carlton Blues
The Blues battled all day as they have for the entire season but eventually fell short by 20 points against reigning premiers, The Bulldogs. The Blues couldn’t translate their domination in the ruck, in which they had 54 hitouts to 19, to inside 50’s, recording only 40 for the game. Gibbs, Kerridge, and Docherty were the standouts for Carlton as they continued to be the battlers’ team and one of the best outside the top-8, both in terms of consistency and potential.
Last 5 – Western Bulldogs (L), Melbourne (L), Adelaide (L), Richmond (L), Gold Coast (W).
↑ 13 (15) Collingwood Magpies
Collingwood finally halted their losing streak and surprised the Suns, upsetting them at home. As has been common for the Pies, when the pressure is off and they can’t make finals, they generally play better footy. Also, it isn’t just a coincidence that they have won only 1 match from 9 when missing Daniel Wells. The silky midfielder was brilliant and was the difference between the sides, unfortunately, as with much of his career, he is just not able to spend enough time on the ground succumbing to various injuries.
Last 5 – Gold Coast (W), Essendon (L), Hawthorn (L), Port Adelaide (L), Melbourne (L).
↓ 14 (13) Gold Coast Suns
Despite the little master having a dominant game with 41 touches, the Suns fell short in the last quarter against the Pies, losing by 15 points. Their season has been one of disappointment and losses when they have been expected to win. However, an encouraging thing to have come out of the match is the improvement of David Swallow. Swallow is now playing football that is reminiscent of his best from a few seasons ago when he threatened to be one of the best up and coming players in the league and if he continues to improve, the likes of him and Jack Martin should be able to set up the Suns for coming years.
Last 5 – Collingwood (L), Sydney (L), North Melbourne (W), St Kilda (L), Carlton (L).
↓ 15 (14) Fremantle Dockers
The Dockers unfortunately couldn’t back up last week’s last ditch win against North, losing to West Coast by 30 points. The Dockers were wasteful the whole day, dominating the stats sheet but kicked a paltry 5 goals 14 behinds. Connor Blakely continued his stellar season, picking up 33 possessions, 11 marks, and 6 tackles and superstar, Nat Fyfe, also built on his last few weeks of good form.
Last 5 – West Coast (L), North Melbourne (W), St Kilda (L), Geelong (L), Brisbane (L).
→ 16 (16) Western Bulldogs
The Doggies weren’t convincing in their 20-point victory against an injury-plagued Carlton. It might seem unreasonable that they haven’t climbed in the rankings but we are reserving any shift for the Doggies until they indicate they can compete at the level of the majority of the league. Just beating North Melbourne and Carlton in the last 5 weeks easily places them as one of the bottom 4 performing teams over that period, and the weeks prior were no better. An injury to Stringer could force a change in the forward structure and possibly revitalise their misfiring forward line and in turn season. The win does also keep them in touch with the top 8 but there is a long way to go.
Last 5 – Carlton (W), Adelaide (L), West Coast (L), North Melbourne (W), Melbourne (L).
↑ 17 (18) Brisbane Lions
A solid effort away from home in Melbourne. After last weeks capitulation at the hands of Geelong, the Lions for the second week in a row faced a top 4 candidate. This time, however, the Lions turned up and pushed Richmond all the way in an enthralling battle that saw a 7 to 6 goal final quarter with the Lions losing by 31 points. What was particularly encouraging was that Dayne Zorko was well held by Dion Prestia but they still managed to worry Richmond.
Last 5 – Richmond (L), Geelong (L), Essendon (W), GWS (L), Port Adelaide (L), Fremantle (W).
↓ 18 (17) North Melbourne
A heavy defeat to Port in Adelaide, the highest of North’s season thus far. It’s really alarm stations for this club as there is no end in sight. The only saving grace is that Collingwood as per usual commands more media attention and the speculation about Buckley’s coaching career is constantly talked about before that of Scott’s career.
Last 5 – Port Adelaide (L), Fremantle (L), Gold Coast (L), Western Bulldogs (L), St Kilda (L), Richmond (L).
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