It will be a fight to the finish to make the eight
By Maddison Mifsud-Ure
Port Adelaide have been on top of the ladder the entire season, but that doesn’t mean they have been the best. The Power have lost to top eight sides in Geelong, Brisbane and Saint Kilda and all of these losses were by big margins. Some of the Power’s wins this season have been excellent like their triumph over Richmond, but others have not been entirely convincing. If it’s going to be history in the making for the Power, they need to kick truly, play an unpredictable game style, and somehow ensure they aren’t reliant on Charlie Dixon as their only target inside 50. They should win their remaining three matches to retain top spot and take out the minor premiership.
The Brisbane Lions have been as good a team as any. They have been excellent inside 50 but their goal kicking has let them down. The Lions are 15th for effective disposals, which considering they have been dominant with gaining possession of the ball, this is very concerning. They have only lost to Richmond, Geelong and Hawthorn this season, however, some of their wins have been extremely close. If they cannot fix their goal kicking accuracy, they will be in some serious trouble come finals. The Lions like Port have an easy run home and should finish second on the ladder.
The first half of Geelong’s season was very inconsistent as their wins were very close, while their loses to GWS, Carlton, West Coast and Collingwood were very poor performances. In the latter half of the season Geelong have shown much improvement and have been the real front runners for the premiership, beating Port, Brisbane and Saint Kilda by considerable margins. The height of their players has been their edge over teams and their key forward targets have also proved valuable. Geelong should win two of their next three matches to finish third or fourth on the ladder.
Coming into this season Richmond were definitely the minor premiership favourites. However, loses to Hawthorn, Saint Kilda, Port Adelaide, GWS and a draw with Collingwood, saw them brought back to earth. While their wins to West Coast and Brisbane showed their true potential, it likely won’t be enough to see them make the top 2. The Tigers should finish fourth, but a win against Geelong would see them secure third spot and a loss could see them drop out of the top 4.
West Coast Eagles
After a disappointing start to the Eagles’ season, with losses to the Gold Coast Suns, Brisbane and Port Adelaide, West Coast won their next eight games straight, including beating Geelong. Since then they experienced a minor hiccup in their finals hopes last week after losing to Richmond. Their four games remaining against middle of the range sides will prove whether they are honestly more than just premiership pretenders. They will make the eight, but their position is a bit up in the air, they should however, finish fifth.
Saint Kilda are a hard team to judge, they easily beat Port Adelaide and Richmond but lost to teams like North Melbourne and Fremantle. The Saints seem to not be able to win when it counts and buckle under the pressure of a close game, having lost four matches by under a goal. Nevertheless, other than their poor efforts against Geelong and Collingwood, Saint Kilda have competed hard in every contest and against every other team. Their unfortunate loses however will prove costly and with three tough matches remaining, Saint Kilda will likely fail to make the eight.
The Pies have been very inconsistent this season and have showcased some very poor performances against teams below them on the ladder. They don’t seem to be playing with much confidence and based on their games so far it appears they are just pretenders. With a long injury list the Pies have really struggled to find their feet and have lacked effort in many contests. They have however been effective in their disposals and with games against Brisbane, Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide on the horizon the Pies need to give it their all. Wins against two of these teams would see them make the eight finishing sixth or seventh depending on their winning margins and other teams.
Other than their thrashing of Collingwood, Melbourne have simply been mediocre. They have lost to everyone above them on the ladder (minus the Pies), and have failed to make a significant impact in games. Despite Max Gawn’s dominance in the ruck, the Demons are ranked 15th for clearances. Easy wins to Sydney, Fremantle and Essendon would see them stay in the eight. Come finals, if they start applying more pressure to their opponents, are able to win more ground balls then they might be in with a shot, but at this late stage they are not a premiership threat.
GWS are a team you would have expected to see make finals, but after a very disappointing season, last years’ runners-up are going to be lucky to even make the eight. While they have beaten Geelong, Collingwood and Richmond, they have not been dominant on the field and
are 15th for inside 50s. A team that is a premiership contender needs to be able to get the ball into their attack, without this key component they will not be able to compete. Should GWS win comfortably against Carlton, Crows, Melbourne and the Saints then they will make the eight. It will, however, be very difficult given three of the teams they are playing against are also fighting to make the eight.
To continued reading please click here to download.