Category - 2013 – Opinion
The final six teams in the AFL-abet are assessed!
PORT ADELAIDE POWER
The Power have been very good in 2013. Their only real blemish was a thumping at the hands of Richmond last weekend (they were still good in the North loss).
Justin Westhoff played like a man inspired in the first 4 rounds, Hamish Hartlett is finally on the park and Travis Boak has taken his game to a new level as captain. Kane Cornes is experiencing a footballing renaissance, Wingard is showing us why he went #6 in the 2011 draft and pint sized Jake Neade has become an instant cult figure.
Ken Hinkley hasn’t yet proven himself a master coach but he is looking a far better man manager than his predecessor. You need only watch the same players that sulked through last year who are now playing with a sense of purpose and (fulfilling every fan’s most basic aspiration for their team) having a crack.
The loss against Richmond was the first major reality check for Hinkley’s mob in 2013. With a tougher draw in coming weeks, the honeymoon is over and we’ll get a bit of perspective on how the Power stacks up against some quality teams.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
While Port’s 5-0 start was a pleasant surprise, 3 of those victories came against Melbourne and the two expansion sides. The other two wins were against Adelaide and West Coast who aren’t exactly flying high either. However, most would’ve thought the Power a 2-5 or worse side at this stage.
As stated earlier; with Carlton (Etihad), Geelong (AAMI), Dogs (Darwin), GWS (Skoda) and Sydney (AAMI) to come – we’ll find out a lot more about Port’s mettle by the end of the next ‘quarter’. 7-5 come round 14 beckons; anymore will be a bonus, any less a regression.
If Brisbane 2013=Carlton 2005 & Collingwood=Hawthorn 2009/10 the Tigers probably=North Melbourne 2010/11.
Richmond bolted out of the blocks winning the first 3 games of the season against Carlton, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs but then received a major reality check with consecutive losses against Collingwood, Fremantle and Geelong, before pummelling Port last week.
A major criticism of Brad Scott’s tenure at North has been that while the Roos beat up on the crap teams they are consistently found wanting against the competition’s heavyweights. That is about where Richmond is at.
However, coming from a far lower base (in 2010 many were comparing Richmond to Fitzroy 1996) with steady improvement since 2010 – ‘flat track bully’ seems the next logical step for the Tiges.
Dustin Martin is in good nick, Trent Cotchin likewise, Deledio is heating up and Chris Newman looks a freer player for giving up the captaincy. There is a lot to like about Richmond, they play an attractive brand of football and the have got to 4-3 without all guns blazing.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
Looking at the draw pre season, most would’ve thought the Tigers a good enough side to be 3-4 at a minimum at this stage.
The next stanza of 2013 presents the opportunity for Richmond to really set up their season. Melbourne (MCG), Essendon (MCG), West Coast (Subi), Adelaide (MCG) and Dogs (Etihad) all represent winnable games for the Tiges if they are at their best. However, consistency won’t be their strength at this stage of their development. Richmond should be 7-5 at worst by the end of the next quarter.
ST KILDA SAINTS
For a team that has been up toward the pointy end of the ladder for the best part of a decade, a slide is usually inevitable. Most could see it coming with St Kilda, which is most likely a major reason (apart from cash) why Ross Lyon took the money and ran to Freo.
If the Saints continue to fall down the ladder Lyon’s villainy will grow within the club’s supporter base. He will be the man who failed twice in netting a flag, took a flat earth philosophy to developing youth and then scarpered at the first sign of trouble. In reality, he was a couple of lucky breaks away from tripling the Saints’ premiership tally.
On face value, the Saints results in 2013 are hardly earth-shattering for a team that has: a core of players past their prime, lost a key player to free agency, still has the aftertaste of two grand final failures and is in a total state of transition while trying to adjust to a new coach’s gameplan tweaks.
However, their have been some surprises; the Gold Coast loss was unexpected and disappointing, on the flipside no-one would’ve considered them to beat Carlton and Nick Riewoldt’s form has been an inspiration.
Scott Watters has also been adept at managing external expectations as well as the initial transitional phases of this team. While they could do with a star or two; David Armitage, Jarryn Geary, Ben McEvoy, Jack Steven and Dylan Roberton have all stepped up. Youngsters such as Murdoch, Newnes, Ross, Saad, Siposs and Wright have also dispelled the myth that the Saints have no quality youngsters coming through.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
As stated above 2-5 is about where most would’ve had the Saints pre season.
If other veterans can have half the form renaissance of their lionhearted skipper, they’ll go through the rest of the season undefeated. With Adelaide (AAMI), Bulldogs (Etihad), North (Etihad), West Coast (Etihad) and Melbourne (MCG) to come, St Kilda has a window of opportunity to push up the ladder towards the top 8 as none of its immediate opponents are flying.
The Saints should be aiming for 5-7 by the end of the next ‘quarter’. At worst they’ll be 4-8.
It’s steady as she goes for the reigning premiers. Whilst the Swans have been convincingly beaten by fellow flag fancies in Geelong and Hawthorn – they’ve been comfortable in beating the 5 bottom 10 clubs they’ve faced so far.
Jarrad McVeigh has been sensational and Mike Pyke is playing like a man who has had the fear of Tippett God put into him. Dan Hannebury, Kieran Jack and Josh Kennedy are perhaps the best inside midfield combination in the game.
There is plenty of room for improvement though; Adam Goodes has battled for form and Lewis Jetta has had all but none – if those two get off the chain; Sydney will be even harder to beat. Kurt Tippett will make his debut in the back half of the season and regardless of his own form, his presence will give the dangerous Sam Reid a real chop out.
A soft draw has no doubt helped, but the Swans aren’t showing any obvious signs of a premiership hangover.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
5-2 is par for the Swans at this stage. A tougher series of opponents awaits Sydney in the next ‘quarter’: Freo (SCG), Pies (MCG), Dons (SCG), Crows & Port (AAMI x2) should provide a sterner test for the reigning premier. All 5 games are winnable, at the absolute worst Sydney will be 8-4 come round 14.
WEST COAST EAGLES
For time immemorial there has always been an ‘it’ team of the pre season that has ultimately flopped in the season proper. While it may seem strange to say at 3-4, West Coast has filled that role.
While the Eagles have had their injury problems, wins against Brisbane, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs don’t look that credible in 2013. Whenever faced with a better than garbage opposition the Eagles have fallen short. It has been a disappointing opening stanza for a team that many had pegged as flag favourites in the pre season. Top 4 hopes have just about been extinguished.
Josh Kennedy, Dean Cox, Matt Priddis, Scott Selwood and Daniel Kerr (when fit) have been solid. Jack Darling has been up and down, ditto Andrew Gaff and Will Schofield has had a poor season.
Injuries have been cruel to West Coast: Darren Glass, Nic Naitanui, Beau Waters and Mark LeCras being absent has held the team back. While he wasn’t an out and out star, the departure of Quinten Lynch has had a negative impact structurally.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
Perth has been far from a fortress for the Eagles in 2013. 1-3 at Subi has been a sub par performance. Injuries notwithstanding, most would’ve had the Eagles anywhere between 5-2 or 7-0 at this stage of the season. Football’s a funny old game.
North (Subi), GWS (Skoda), Richmond (Subi), St Kilda (Etihad) & Hawthorn (Etihad) presents an interesting road ahead for West Coast. The GWS game is the only genuine gimme game but the rest aren’t exactly unwinnable. With key players coming back, the Eagles should be 6-6 at worst by round 14.
After a stunning upset victory in Round 1, the Bulldogs have come crashing back to earth, losing 6 games on the trot. The Adelaide and West Coast losses were uncompetitive and while they had their moments in other games, the Dogs haven’t seriously threatened for a win since their annihilation of Brisbane.
Western Bulldogs are in a not dissimilar position to St Kilda; an ageing core, with few players of quality coming into their prime and senior players struggling for motivation in a defined transitional period with the knowledge that their shot at a flag is probably gone. A lack of key position depth and fitness/injury concerns have also dogged (pun intended) the team formerly known as Footscray.
The Dogs really need to unearth a long term key forward or two – Liam Jones is a better 2nd or 3rd banana, while Roughead and Cordy haven’t been convincing. Coach McCartney has earmarked Tom Williams for a key forward role but yeti sightings in the Kalahari are more common than Tom Williams on a footy field.
Adam Cooney has been in fine form, along with Nick Riewoldt, Kane Cornes and Luke Hodge he is having a career renaissance. Griffen has also been good when on the park.
While there is genuine consensus that this is a team in a state of flux and rebuild, McCartney will be feeling the pinch if they can’t win a few games in the back half of the season.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
1-6 is about where (if not slightly better than) most pundits would’ve had the Dogs at this stage of the season. Gold Coast (Metricon), Saints (Etihad), Port (Darwin), Collingwood & Richmond (Etihad x2) is the road ahead for the Dogs. On current form it is hard (not impossible) to see them being better than 2-10 by round 14.
In case you missed it: Clarkey’s Quarterly Review Part One: Adelaide to Fremantle
Part two of the quarterly review. How will your team do?
Somewhere in the cosmos; British Standards Institute computer programmers, the Mayans and Nostradamus are having a meeting. The consensus is, that while they may have all unsuccessfully predicted the end of the world at some point, they were never silly enough to foretell Geelong’s demise.
Despite key recruits Josh Caddy, Hamish McIntosh and Jared Rivers having minimal impact as well as Steve Johnson missing the opening rounds of the season – the Cats haven’t missed a beat in 2013. Harry Taylor has been huge, Taylor Hunt was stepping up prior to injury and Matthew Stokes is in career best form.
Lead by inspiration skipper Joel Selwood, Geelong were still hungry enough to get the better of the Hawks, Roos and Blues in games that could’ve gone either way in the opening three rounds. Since then, they have dispatched Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Richmond and Essendon with authority.
Despite the departures of key players in Ablett, Ottens and Scarlett in consecutive years – the Cats keep on keeping on.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
While it would’ve been folly to write off such a great team, even the most optimistic Cats supporters would be pleasantly surprised with their team’s undefeated start to the season. With their draw, 4-3 or 5-2 wouldn’t have been an outrageously disrespectful pre season prediction to this point.
With Collingwood (MCG), Port (AAMI), Gold Coast (Simonds), GWS (Skoda) Brisbane (Gabba) you’d be brave to say that the Cats couldn’t go through the next ‘quarter’ undefeated. At worst they’ll be 10-2 at the beginning of round 14.
With their old warhorses still dishing up quality, some key players to return as well as youngsters such as Christensen, Duncan, T Hunt, Motlop, Murdoch, Smedts and most recently Jackson Thurlow starting to have a consistent impact Geelong’s demise doesn’t look imminent.
GOLD COAST SUNS
After probably taking a backward step in 2012 the Gold Coast Suns have improved vastly in 2013. In their first two seasons in the competition the Suns won just three games in each, 7 rounds into 2013 and they’ve already equalled that feat.
Gary Ablett is still the undisputed champion player in the competition and Rory Thompson and Charlie Dixon are having breakout seasons. Harley Bennell has also picked up where he left off last season. Zac Smith is more of a presence than the 2012 model.
The Suns have been authoritative in pummelling GWS and Melbourne, were unlucky to fall short against the Lions and had an impressive comeback victory against the Saints in the opening round.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
While most pundits would’ve expected an improved performance from the Gold Coast in 2013 it would’ve been bold to expect a 3-4 start to the season. Less than 3 wins wouldn’t have been completely unexpected or unacceptable (a loss to GWS might’ve).
The Suns have a tough run over the next ‘quarter’ with the Bulldogs (Metricon), Hawthorn (MCG), Geelong (Simonds), North (Metricon) and Essendon (Etihad) to come – it’s hard to see Gold Coast racking up wins.
The Suns will be 3-9, 4-8 or 5-7 come round 14. No better.
During 2012 the Giants exceeded most expectations by winning two games. The common thought was that if Gold Coast could only scrape 3 wins with Gary Ablett and a number of talented players in their prime – what hope did the Giants have with Callan Ward, a bunch of kids and a few old hacks?
GWS will be more competitive in 2013 but it may not translate into wins – percentage is a more accurate guide. While the odd thrashing such as the loss to Adelaide may still happen the magnitude of defeats should reduce over time.
Callan Ward has been the Giants’ best again, while Sam Reid’s form has been a pleasant surprise and Jeremy Cameron continues to have football lovers referring to him as the next Carey.
On the flipside; Tom Scully is still looking an expensive flop, Jon Patton’s ACL was devastating and Jon Giles is having a dose of the second year blues.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
Their bottom of the ladder status should come as a surprise to no one, nor their winless status. The only real opportunities for a sneaky chance of victory were against the Suns & Dees. The Suns’ midfield is simply too good for the Giants at this point in time and Melbourne should’ve always won at the MCG.
The Giants will lose to Hawthorn (MCG), West Coast (Skoda), Carlton (Etihad), Geelong (Skoda) as well as Port (Skoda) and will be 0-12 come round 14.
The Hawks have just one blemish on their 2013 season; a loss to Geelong, which should come as no surprise to anyone as Hawthorn are the Cats’ bitches.
Buddy Franklin’s contract status hasn’t seemed to affect the team, however his personal form has taken a dip over recent weeks – although it isn’t quite at Travis Cloke circa 2012 levels just yet.
Sammy Mitchell just keeps on keeping on and Luke Hodge is having a stunning renaissance for a player who looked cooked at the end of 2012.
Losing Cyril Rioli to a hamstring injury was a cruel blow as he was having all the makings of a genuine break out year.
Ryan Schoenmakers ACL injury was also a tragedy for a much maligned young player who was beginning to finally find his feet at this level.
Overall, Hawthorn are looking in good shape and they are due to get some players back and they could well be on their way to avenging last year’s Grand Final loss.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
The problem with being a really good side is there is usually only one way to go. Most would’ve expected 6-1 or 7-0 start to the season for the Hawks.
Hawthorn has a golden run with the draw over the next few weeks which should go a long way to securing a top 4 finish, which is essential for any club’s hopes of premiership success.
With GWS (Aurora), Suns (MCG), Melbourne (MCG), Carlton (Etihad) and West Coast (Etihad) to come the Hawks should cruise to a 10-2 record at the absolute worst by the end of the next ‘quarter’.
Horrific is the word that best sums up Melbourne in 2013. While most pundits might’ve been sceptical about the Dees prospects – it was hard to imagine Melbourne being worse than they were in 2012.
Lo and behold the club has firmly secured its status as the AFL’s incompetence limbo champions.
To recap the Dees were smashed by Port, hung drawn quartered and burned alive by Essendon, blasted by the Eagles, belted by Brisbane’s teenagers, walked over by Carlton and vaporised by the Gold Coast.
Complete blushes were only saved by a 12 goal quarter against GWS but overall it has been ugly and surely the Giants would have to start favourites when they next meet.
The club is now faced with the unthinkable prospect of axing a coach in the second year of his contract; the club can’t afford to sack Neeld and can’t afford to keep him on for a multitude of reasons.
The only shining lights this season have been Michael Evans, Colin Garland, Max Gawn, Jeremy Howe, Matt Jones, Nathan Jones and Dean Terlich – but how many of them would be anything but fringe/role players at better clubs? It’s a hopeless mess.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
1-6 was just about the worst possible outcome when assessing the Demons’ prospects to this point of the season before AFL 2013’s first bounce.
With Richmond (MCG), Freo (Subi), Hawthorn (MCG), Pies (MCG) and Saints (MCG) to come there are no wins on the horizon for the MFC. The only ‘snowflakes chance in hell’ is against the Saints in round 13 – but St Kilda play honest footy and play for their coach which is enough to beat Melbourne by 8-12 goals at the moment.
Melbourne will be 1-11 after the next ‘quarter’.
NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS
The Roos have begun to slowly turn around their fortunes after a luckless start to 2013. North had their chances against Collingwood, should’ve beaten Geelong and could’ve beaten Hawthorn. The only genuinely poor performance for the season was the third quarter against Sydney in round 3.
Andrew Swallow has been terrific, Scott Thompson has looked in All-Australian form at full back, Todd Goldstein is back in form and Lindsay Thomas is having a career best season. Majak Daw is providing some real x-factor up forward an is a genuinely exciting prospect.
With Daniel Wells and Brent Harvey yet to hit peak form as well as scope for improvement in the likes of Ben Cunnington, Kieran Harper, Jordan Gysberts and Ben Jacobs – things are looking up for the Roos.
It is important for North to now get some wins on the board to push for the finals as being an honourable 9th is little consolation to restless fans, see: Tigers, Richmond.
Forecasting to the end of Round 13
While they have been good 3-4 is probably where most of us would’ve had North at this stage of the season. Playing three of last year’s top 4 teams plus the Cats was never going to be easy – to their credit North have notably closed the gap between themselves and the competition’s upper echelon.
As stated above North now have to translate some of these good performances into wins. With West Coast (Subi), Adelaide (Etihad), St Kilda (Etihad), Gold Coast (Metricon) and Fremantle (Subi) coming up – the Roos will be backing themselves to win 4 of those matches. At worst they’ll win 3.
It’s budget week and with the 7th round completed of the 28 week AFL season; what better time to reflect on how your club has fared in 2013?
Adelaide have endured a disappointing opening stanza to the 2013 season. In hindsight with Kurt
Tiprat’s Tippett’s departure, a tougher draw and increased opposition attention, this year always loomed as a bit of a banana peel for the Crows. However, for a team that was a whisker away from a Grand Final appearance less than 8 months ago, a 3-4 record is lacklustre.
Up until his season ending knee injury, Taylor Walker struggled; this has also been compounded by the poor form of Jason Porplyzia. The ‘crisurtunity’ caused by the Mullet’s absence will give the likes of Josh Jenkins, Shaun McKernan, Lewis Johnston and Tom Lynch (who made an excellent start against the Giants) the chance to nail down a key forward role.
The backline has offered no rebound out of defence, they desperately need players such as Matthew Jaensch, Jared Petrenko or Bernie Vince to be cutting opposition teams up from half back – all have been fringe players this year and are at a crossroads in their respective careers.
Finally, Sam ‘Sauce’ Jacobs has looked a shadow of the dominant ruckman he was in 2012 and it’s actually making Angus Graham look a viable alternative.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
The losses to Essendon and Port were a shock; the Crows would’ve been budgeting for a 5-2 or 4-3 record at the beginning of the season. However, there is room for improvement – the likes of Callinan, Douglas, Jaensch, Porplyzia and Vince need to start playing like role players rather than fringe dwellers. As mentioned above, Sam Jacobs is also a far better player than what he is dishing up at present. Ultimately, the loss of Walker has ended any faint premiership hopes. Finals are still a possibility.
Over the next ‘quarter’ season they face St Kilda (AAMI), North (Etihad), Fremantle (AAMI), Sydney (AAMI) & Richmond (MCG). Sadly for Crows fans there’s a fair chance they’ll be 4-8 come round 13.
In 2013 the Lions seem to be channeling the Carlton teams of the mid 2000’s. Dominant in the pre season and deplorable when the real stuff rolls around. For a team expected to make real strides this year and push towards the top eight, their performance has been – a narrow win against Gold Coast and an effective bye against an awful Melbourne – short of a complete disaster. They’ve been flayed by the Dogs, brushed aside by the Crows, crushed by North, thumped by the Swans and knocked out by the Eagles.
They have had injury worries but the sheer magnitude of the defeats against any decent opposition, the over reliance on Jonathan Brown up forward and Simon Black as the creative architect in the midfield are obvious problems for Michael Voss in his fifth year as coach.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
The upshot is that they still have Daniel Rich to come back and Simon Black is yet to return to full fitness as well as the fact that they have played four of last year’s finalists in the opening 7 rounds (not to mention they get to play the awful GWS at home and get another bye against Melbourne).
However, they would have expected to knock over the Bulldogs in round 1 and would’ve hoped for at least one win against either Adelaide or West Coast at home. After their strong pre season form, most would’ve expected to see the Lions batting at 3-4 or 4-3 rather than their paltry 2-5 record.
With Essendon (Etihad), Carlton (Gabba), Collingwood (Gabba), Fremantle (Subi) and Geelong (Gabba) to come in the next ‘quarter’, an optimist might see them winning a game. I don’t. They’ll be 2-10 come round 13.
The overuse of the word “process” by Mick Malthouse has been one of the more annoying soundbites of 2013. But truth be told the Blues haven’t been too bad this year.
Whilst a 3-4 record is hardly world beating stuff, Carlton was competitive in their first three losses against good opposition and were brave after being cruelled by injury in their loss to St Kilda.
They appear to be a better drilled team under Malthouse and are learning to work hard both ways. They have also managed to dispatch average opposition with relative ease.
The improvement in the all round games of Armfield, McLean and Walker has been noticeable and it is important for this middle tier to improve quickly en masse to somewhat negate the effect of Chris Judd’s rapidly fading powers.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
In 2010 Mick Malthouse guided Collingwood to a flag with disciplined structures carried out critical mass of good to very good players creating depth in spades.
Carlton’s success will ultimately depend on the likes of Betts, Garlett Gibbs, Judd, Kruezer, Murphy, Waite, Walker and Yarran playing to their ultimate potential as well as Armfield, Carrazzo, Hampson, Henderson, Jamison, Lucas, McLean, Robinson, Scotland, Simpson, Touhy, Warnock playing their roles well.
With Port (Etihad), Brisbane (Gabba), GWS (Etihad), Essendon (MCG) & Hawthorn (Etihad) coming up the Blues should be at least 6-6 after the next ‘quarter’.
If Brisbane is channeling Carlton of the mid 2000’s, Collingwood are channeling Hawthorn of 2009/10 – talent isn’t really the issue, motivation and fitness is. The Pies look a shadow of the team that lost just 7 out of 51 games in 2010/11.
The most bizarre thing about it is that the individual performances of the key midfielders namely Pendlebury, Swan, Beams (2012) and Sidebottom have been as good as or better than during the Pies’ days of domination.
However, as a collective the manic pressure that was characteristic of the Pies during the final years of Malthouse’s tenure has been missing. Opposition teams have scored more heavily against the Pies as a consequence.
It doesn’t help that Luke Ball, Darren Jolly and Nick Maxwell have missed important chunks of seasons with injuries. Nor does it help that Harry O’Brien, Ben Reid and Dale Thomas haven’t been able to consistently reproduce their 10/11 form. The Pies have also struggled to develop immediate replacements for the X-factor that Alan Didak and Leon Davis brought to the team in 2010/11.
The losses to Essendon, Fremantle & Hawthorn were generally uncompetitive and un-Collingwood like and the natives are restless.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
With three games against 2012 finalists and one road trip in the first 7 rounds the Pies would’ve hoped for better than a 4-3 start to the season.
With Nick Maxwell, Luke Ball and Dayne Beams to come back into the team, Collingwood will be hoping for an improved output.
With Geelong (MCG), Sydney (MCG), Brisbane (Gabba), Bulldogs (Etihad) and Port (AAMI) coming up – Collingwood should be 7-5 or better at the end of the next ‘quarter’.
Horrible season off the field, excellent season on it – it’s the curious case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Peptide. For all the chaos surrounding the club, the players have reacted wonderfully well, waltzing to a 6-1 record.
Even the most optimistic Essendon supporter would’ve been cautious to predict the club’s victories over Adelaide, Fremantle and Collingwood.
The addition of Brendon Goddard as well as the further development of Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis has given the Bombers a much needed injection (nyuck nyuck nyuck) of class through the midfield and half back.
Michael Hibberd, Jake Carlisle and Tom Bellchambers are enjoying break out seasons and with the skipper consistent as ever the Bombers have shot up (nyuck nyuck nyuck) in most pundits’ premiership estimations.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
As stated earlier, the wins against Adelaide, Collingwood and Fremantle were very unexpected pre season.
You also wouldn’t have been completely insane in the pre season to think that Melbourne might’ve had a sneaky chance in round 2 given the Bombers were their bogey side.
Wins against the sliding Saints and the horrible Giants at Etihad would’ve been a minimum expectation internally, but externally most would’ve had the Bombers at 1-6, 2-5 or 3-4 at this stage of the season.
With Brisbane (Etihad), Richmond (MCG), Sydney (SCG), Carlton (MCG) and Gold Coast (Etihad) coming up, there are a couple of banana peel games thrown in there for the Dons. This second stanza of 2013 could make or break their top 4 chances but at their 6-1 form the Bombers should be 10-2 by the end of the next ‘quarter’.
Considering that Pavlich and Sandilands have missed most of the season, the Dockers are tracking wonderfully well at 5-2, not to mention they had the Bombers beaten at half time in Round 3.
Ross Lyon has brought structure and most importantly confidence to Freo. In 2010, under Mark Harvey, the Dockers took a skeleton side to Launceston and were soundly thumped by Hawthorn – in 2009 the Saints did the same thing under Lyon and beat the Hawks. That’s a credit to Lyon coached teams, not a knock on Harvey, as most clubs would’ve experienced similar outcomes given the same personnel input.
Fyfe, Hill, Mundy, McPharlin, Pavlich and Sandilands when fit make up Freo’s star core, the rest of the team is generally rounded out by good to average role players in Ballantyne, Barlow, Bradley, Crowley, Dawson, Deboer, Duffield, Griffin, Ibbotson, Johnson, Mayne, Mzungu, Pearce x2, Spurr, Suban and Walters – Lyon is maximising their output.
Forecasting to end of Round 13
Freo have had their fair share of injury woes: Sandilands is forever absent, Pavlich was underdone and is now injured, McPharlin and Fyfe have missed intermittently and now Bradley as well as Griffin are gone with season ending knee injuries. However, channeling Monty Python’s Black Knight and Robert Patrick in Terminator 2, Lyon’s Dockers just keep on keeping on in the face of seemingly hopeless odds.
So far they’ve easily beaten the Eagles, Bulldogs, Suns and Pies along with a narrow win over Richmond. 3-4 wouldn’t have been a bad start for Freo, 5-2 is excellent.
The Dockers face Sydney (SCG), Melbourne (Home), Adelaide (AAMI), Brisbane (Home) and North (Home) during the next ‘quarter’. They should win at least 4 out of those 5 games to be 9-3 come round 14.
Well, after the impressive set of articles we’ve had so far I’ve now being relegated to seventh best writer on the site. Welcome to Scotty, Eebz and Rich. I look forward to you guys adding to what Toby, Kristian, Clarkey and myself throw out there. I also look forward to sinking my teeth into what will be a huge 2013.
This series of articles will be discussing theories and tactics in the draft based format of the game, the timing of the announcement that AFL Dream Team (or AFL Fantasy, which they appear to be running with) was opportune. I’ll defer preparation for draft based competitions until next week and for my opening article this year I’ll give my take on the changes announced for AFL Fantasy in 2013.
Until yesterday we were all under the impression that AFL Fantasy would consist of a rolling lockout and 24 trades (two per week, with three during the byes). Suddenly there has been a backflip and there will be no rolling lockout and we will now have two trades per week, use them or lose them. That gives us a maximum of 44 for the year.
Anyway, you’re all across the changes, but it’s just polite to mention them.
Straight up, I don’t like the backflip on the rolling lockout and think that it was going to be a progressive and positive introduction. I know there was a lot of concern from fantasy players that this was going to ruin our lives and that we’d be slaves to our computers for the whole weekend. No social life EVER!
I feel this was an incredibly overstated sentiment and wasn’t at all concerned about the effect this would have on my team or my social life (admittedly due to not having one). Everyone will have different circumstances, but whatever your circumstances are, I can assure you, you wouldn’t need to be online for the start time of all nine games for a round.
I mean, sure, if you have obsessive compulsive tendencies you might feel like you need to check every final team for late changes or subs, but fantasy sport is what you make it.
I love it and I play so many different types of fantasy sport – most of them utilise rolling lockout, including NHL and NBA, who both have over 1000 games in their schedule (well, at least when the NHL isn’t on strike). I don’t think anyone in the world is online for every single start time of a game and if there is, good on them. That’s what THEY make of the game.
My contention is that we are all better off having the option to make changes to our teams when the situation arises. With the sub rule coming into its third season a rolling lockout is the most logical way for fantasy coaches to combat it.
To put it down to simply pot luck or vague educated guesses isn’t good enough for me. Luck of the draw? Why should I be disadvantaged because a player who I favoured in a 50/50 call on Friday night gets the green vest on Saturday night? I think we can all agree that subs can be fairly random and hard to predict – why not have a measure in place to combat that?
I think a lot of the hysteria towards rolling lockout is associated with people fearing they will miss out on points if they’re unavailable at some stage on a weekend. I look at it the opposite way. Without a rolling lockout we are absolutely missing out on points that we have no option to chase. Worried about what you MIGHT miss vs. having no choice to alleviate things that went wrong through no fault of your own.
Like I said, fantasy sport is what you make of it. I’m a pretty dedicated player, but I know I will miss about four lockouts most weekends and I’m completely OK with that. I’m sure that this year in SuperCoach (which will use a rolling lockout) I will miss out on some points, but I’ll also make some too when a rookie is named sub and I can move him to the bench.
One of the biggest gripes fantasy coaches have during the year is the lack of information coming out of clubs regarding late outs and to a lesser extent subs. People really need to get their head around the concept that clubs don’t owe us anything when it comes to final teams and injury clouds. Why would they owe it to us? If for some reason they believe it’ll keep the opposition second guessing, or even sometimes completely surprise them, then all the power to them.
To me, that’s the major issue that comes up in a fantasy year and users demand outrageous things like fining clubs for making late changes and forcing them to be transparent with us. Just accept that this isn’t and shouldn’t be the case. From that point, the obvious tool we could have as fantasy players to deal with that is to have the same flexibility as AFL clubs to make our decisions late.
AFL clubs don’t make their line-up decisions 24-48 hours before a game and I don’t see why we should either. What we’re doing is nowhere near as serious, but conceptually it doesn’t make sense to fret about late changes and then not have a system in place where we can react to them.
It’s pretty natural to fear change because it’s a lot easier to think of the worst case scenario, but I honestly think the practicality of rolling lockout will change very little for “hardcore” fantasy players. The belief that this was going to be something that would change all of our lives reminds me of Chicken Little. Don’t worry guys, the sky will not fall with a rolling lockout in SuperCoach and if AFL Fantasy moves that way in the future, it will all be OK.
From my experience of rolling lockout in Fantasy NHL, NBA and Big Bash you only need to be aware of certain games and you’d be surprised that the percentage of games I’ve found I need to pay attention to is less than 50%.
Finally, every argument against the implementation of a rolling lockout is to do with people worried they will miss out on points, or have to worry about their line up across the course of a weekend. I’m sorry, but that’s the users issue. That sounds like a very selfish reason for wanting the rules a certain way. “I can’t be online for nine lockouts a weekend! What is this going to do to my social life?”
They’re personal reasons for you not wanting a change, but really, I haven’t heard another argument that presents rolling lockout as a negative to the game itself. That has nothing to do with improvement of the game, just your experience of it – which is entirely up to you.
So, for what other reason would rolling lockout be negative? I see it as a positive, but would be happy to hear other arguments against the rolling lockout.
TWO TRADES PER WEEK (44 FOR THE SEASON)
This one seems to be copping a bit of criticism at the moment, but I don’t mind it too much. I don’t think there was much wrong with the old system, but I can definitely see some positives with this change.
I’ll just be addressing one main concern that people seem to have with this system – the worry that teams will end up being the same. I can definitely see all of the top teams having the same core of players, but it’s the icing you put on top of the cake that will make it delicious (I don’t necessarily mean you should pick Cyril).
With Matthew Leuenberger likely to be so common this year, if he turns out to be about the fifth or sixth best ruckman the chances are we’d all finish the season with him under the old system. In 2013 we have more flexibility to try options other than him without burning a valuable trade. Some will back Leuey in, some will shuffle across to a better option.
Sure, you’ll be able to hit every rookie and then achieve an ideal team pretty early, but “ideal” changes from week to week and month to month. Gary Ablett wouldn’t be ideal for your midfield if he scores 80 vs. Freo with Crowley niggling him all game. Based on history you can consider playing match ups a lot more, which brings a new element of strategy into the game.
I love a system that brings Kieren Jack’s underrated 2012 season into play. He was a genuine star in the midfield last year and would’ve been a fantastic point of difference, but our midfields were “set” or we wouldn’t be able to make that final upgrade to Pendlebury coming back from his injury if we took on Jack.
No, we couldn’t have Jack, averaging 109.8 without missing a game (apart from the bye) from Round 8-18. In 2013, let’s ride the hot streaks and jump off when they get cold. That’s where your diversity will come from and teams that stick with the cookie cutter team will get left behind to those that nail the right hot streaks.
The strongest suggestion I’ll make for this new system, is don’t get caught up in pre-conceived notions of who your Top 8 midfielders or Top 6 forwards/defenders will be when you’ve “finished” your team. 1) you will probably be wrong, 2) your team will never be finished, because the Top 8 midfielders will be different every week, so think outside the box.
This year you might be able to start with 4-5 gun mids, so you’re not too far away from having the eight mids that you want. Things change though. A lot of people got stuck with an underperforming Tom Rockliff in the midfield last year. Yep, he was pretty unique and he was slowly sinking teams as the injury he was playing with was clearly hampering him.
So we want teams to be different to one another, but teams who started Rockliff last year didn’t have much incentive to get a bit creative in their starting squad in 2013 if nothing changed. That doesn’t make sense to me. A more open trading system allows us to make up for mistakes. Mistakes will be created by doing something a little against the grain, so let’s not punish when it’s pretty common feedback that people want teams to be diverse.
There’s a lot more to the 44 trades that I didn’t get into. The other main one being people saying it will be “too easy” which I kind of touched on (the landscape will change from week to week, so I don’t think there will be a set perfect team).
I look forward to the feedback and comments, because I know this is an issue that a lot of people have strong feelings on. What’s done is done, but it’s fun to talk about. The biggest positive I see is that there is now a distinguishable difference between AFL Fantasy and SuperCoach. It never made sense that the two main rivals had the exact same game, apart from the scoring system.
If Brian Lake was not contracted to the Western Bulldogs in 2013 he may have been delisted by the club. I think his papers were stamped following his listless performance against Nick Riewoldt in round 18. That the Bulldogs were able to trade him to Hawthorn for draft selection 41, and upgrade their third selection from 28 to 22 in the process, was a masterstroke by them.
At the end of the 2009 season Collingwood identified that they needed a dominant ruckman in order to advance from preliminary finalist to premier. Darren Jolly, who was one of the dominant ruckman in the competition, requested a trade so that he could return to Victoria. That Jolly was traded by Sydney to Collingwood and would go on to have a career best season in a premiership team is well publicised. The stars aligned, a team nearing its peak acquired a required player nearing his peak and together they won a premiership.
Hawthorn has long needed a key defender capable of competing one-one-one with the preeminent key forwards of the competition. Lake may be able to match them for size and strength, but he is slow and his work rate poor. This will result in him being beaten on the lead or simply out run. You need look no further than his performance against Riewoldt to discover this.
In round 18 Riewoldt amassed 20 disposals, 14 marks (including three contested), four goals and three behinds against Lake. Most damning were the seven marks Riewoldt took inside 50m and the eight marks he claimed on the lead.
Five goals from Drew Petrie the following week proved to be the final nail in Lake’s coffin. He was not entrusted to hold down the key defensive post for the remainder of the season, spending time as a key forward and out of the team.
Hawthorn did not lose the grand final to Sydney because Ryan Schoenmakers was positioned at full-back, nor would they have won with Lake in that position.
Schoenmakers has been unfairly criticised for the better part of two seasons, most recently following Hawthorn’s narrow win over Adelaide in the first preliminary final and his contest with Kurt Tippett.
Tippett accumulated 16 disposals, 11 marks, four goals and one behind against Hawthorn. Seven of those marks were contested and five were taken inside 50m. To be fair on Schoenmakers, three of Tippett’s seven contested marks were not taken opposed to him. On these occasions, Tippett was playing further afield, Schoenmakers was standing Taylor Walker and Josh Gibson became a spare man in defence.
Lake is now two seasons and counting past his prime and it would be folly to suggest he will reclaim it. He is more suited than ever to play on the opposition forward that does not wander far from the goal square, the resting ruckman. In the first six weeks of 2013 he will be required to quell Tom Hawkins, West Coast’s Josh Kennedy, Travis Cloke, Matthew Pavlich, Drew Petrie and Taylor Walker. Without the assistance of Gibson and/or Schoenmakers, he will be powerless to stop them.
Lake is not the silver bullet many media and Hawthorn supporters think he will be. Bulldogs supporters should be wagging their tails rather than snarling.
The AFL must make an example of the Melbourne Football Club if it is proven they were guilty of tanking during the 2009 season. A punishment that includes playing for no premiership points next season and banishment from the 2013 national draft would not be unreasonable.
The widely accepted view is that tanking includes cutting a player’s season short for corrective surgery or playing an inexperienced player in an unfamiliar position. I disagree. The former is good player management, an example of a club endeavouring to seek a fair head start over their opponents for the following season, and the latter is often required for player development.
Any club that has ever received a priority draft pick has been accused of tanking.
In his 3 August 2011 column How Melbourne tanked in 2009, Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph insinuated that Hawthorn and Collingwood tanked in 2004 and 2005 respectively, yet failed to provide any evidence, other than their 2008 and 2010 premierships, to support this.
Did Collingwood and Hawthorn tank? Can you create a winning culture, which these clubs have, by trying to lose games of football?
If receiving a priority pick is evidence of tanking, there have been 27 incidences of it spread across 13 clubs since 1999. Throw in Gold Coast and GWS, and Geelong, Sydney and North Melbourne are the only clubs not guilty of tanking. That must explain why Geelong and Sydney have been the most successful clubs over the past decade.
If tanking is so widespread, why have Tony Shaw, Tim Watson, Damien Drum, Malcolm Blight, Ken Judge, Wayne Brittain, Danny Frawley, Peter Schwab, Peter Rohde, Denis Pagan and Neil Craig not joined Dean Bailey in admitting to tanking? They were all sacked by their clubs in the same season in which they coached them to a priority pick after all.
The perception of tanking has already led to the AFL discarding the system under which priority draft picks were previously awarded. They will now be handed out at their discretion.
If the perception of tanking is true, removing the lure of a priority draft pick will not solve the problem. If West Coast were guilty of tanking in 2010 to secure a priority draft pick, pick number 26, why would clubs not tank to secure the first, second or third draft picks?
What exactly is tanking?
Tanking occurs when a club official instructs coaches and/or players to deliberately lose, and/or does not field the best available twenty-two players on their list, and/or flagrantly plays a player well out of position, for example, matching a ruckman up on a small forward.
Tanking has no place in our game. It involves deliberately losing one or more games with the sole purpose of gaining an unfair advantage over the rest of the competition. It is cheating. The worst kind of cheating. Infinitely worse than breaching the salary cap as it has the potential to lead to match fixing.
If there is any suspicion that a club is guilty of tanking, the AFL must conduct an exhaustive investigation and severely punish the club if found guilty. I eagerly await the outcome of their investigation of the Melbourne Football Club.
Please welcome one of our new contributors to FootyTragic, Rich. After the announcement of the 2013 AFL fixture he takes an in depth look at the equality or, depending on how you view it, the inequality that this version has created.
The draw for the 2013 AFL premiership season leaves no doubt that the AFL now considers it – along with the national, pre-season and rookie drafts, and salary cap – to be part of its equalisation strategy. Whilst this might promote a more even competition, it is not fair on the supporters, particularly those who follow teams on the cusp of the top-four and top-eight.
In explaining the draw for the 2013 AFL premiership season, AFL general manager broadcasting, scheduling and legal affairs, Simon Lethlean, said the move to have the top-eight teams from this season play each other more regularly next year would not be to their disadvantage.
“I think, for one thing, it’s giving people what they want to see, which is the best clubs playing each other,” he said.
Really? How many North Melbourne supporters want to see their team have return match-ups with Adelaide, Collingwood, Geelong and Hawthorn, and play more games against top-four teams than any other team? I am under no illusion that they would rather trade draws with Gold Coast and watch their team play deep in to September.
In the 18 completed seasons since Fremantle joined the AFL, excluding expansion teams Gold Coast and GWS, 11 of the 16 teams have won a premiership, 13 have played in a grand final and all have played in a preliminary final. The draft and salary cap have performed the job they were implemented to do and therefore there is no need for the AFL to tamper with the fixture.
Moreover, in each of those seasons, at least one, and on three occasions three, bottom-six teams have played in the finals the following season.
I understand that attendances and television ratings contribute to the game’s popularity, and the AFL is loath to have one-sided contests, but there is no need to compromise the equality of the draw to do this. This can still be achieved whilst ensuring each team’s draw is equal.
I have endeavoured to calculate the difficulty of each team’s draw.
Travel and six-day breaks are moot points. The non-Victorian teams, particularly Fremantle and West Coast, will always travel more than the Victorian teams. This has not prevented them from winning 10 of the last 19 premierships. As for six-day breaks, each team plays 22 games over 23 rounds. If some have more six-day breaks than others, it can only mean they enjoy longer breaks between games at other times.
I have assigned a difficulty score to each team based on where they finished the 2012 season at the conclusion of the finals series. For example, premiers Sydney and grand finalist Hawthorn have a difficulty score of 18 and 17 respectively whilst bottom placed Greater Western Sydney have a difficulty score of 1. See Table 1 below for each team’s difficulty score.
Table 1: Difficulty Score
|West Coast Eagles||14|
|Gold Coast Suns||2|
By adding the difficulty score of the five teams each team plays twice, I calculate their draw difficulty count and assign a draw difficulty ranking. For example, Hawthorn play Collingwood, Geelong, North Melbourne, Sydney and West Coast twice for a draw difficulty count of 70, which is the highest faced by any team in 2013, meaning they have the most difficult draw whilst Gold Coast play Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and St. Kilda twice for a draw difficulty count of 25, which is the lowest faced by any team in 2013, meaning they have the least difficult draw. See Table 2 below for each team’s draw difficulty score and ranking.
The combined difficulty count of all 18 teams is 855. If the draw was equal, each team would have a difficulty count in the range of 45 to 50. Table 2 illustrates that Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Collingwood, West Coast, Geelong and Sydney have an unfair draw, Fremantle, St. Kilda, Adelaide, Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Carlton have a fair draw, and Richmond, Port Adelaide, GWS, Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast are the beneficiaries of an easy draw.
Table 2: Draw Difficulty
|Team||Return Match-ups||Difficulty Count||Difficulty Ranking|
|West Coast Eagles||ADE||ESS||FRE||HAW||WB||58||4th|
|Gold Coast Suns||BL||GWS||MEL||PA||STK||25||18th|
The AFL premiership season is not a handicapped event and it should not be run as such. The best four teams should finish the home-and-away season in the top-four, and the next best four teams should fill the remaining places in the top-eight. Can you imagine Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal playing against each other before the semi-finals of the Australian Open?
AFL Draw: Team by Team Analysis
Adelaide was the beneficiary of a ‘soft’ draw in 2012 playing GWS, Gold Coast and Port Adelaide twice. Whilst the AFL has not been as kind to them in 2013, with no return match-ups against top-four teams and home games against both grand finalists, they do have the least difficult draw commensurate with their 2012 finish.Draw Difficulty: 9th
For the second year in a row, the Brisbane Lions have return match-ups against Gold Coast, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. They have the third least difficult draw. Draw Difficulty: 16th
Carlton underperformed in 2012 and this has favourably impacted their draw. They have return match-ups against four non-finalists including Essendon, Port Adelaide and Richmond. Collingwood is the only finalist they play twice. Draw Difficulty: 12th
Collingwood has benefited from Carlton and Essendon underperforming in 2012, but with return match-ups against both grand finalists they still have the third most difficult draw. Draw Difficulty: 3rd
Essendon has return match-ups with top-five teams Collingwood and West Coast, mid-table teams Carlton and Richmond, and bottom placed team GWS. Draw Difficulty: =10th
Fremantle has return match-ups with top-five teams Adelaide and West Coast, mid-table teams Richmond and St. Kilda, and bottom-three team Melbourne. Draw Difficulty: 7th
Geelong had return match-ups against the top four teams in 2012. They will play the top-two twice in 2013, but this is offset somewhat by return match-ups with Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Draw Difficulty: 5th
Gold Coast has the least difficult draw playing fellow bottom-six teams Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne and Port Adelaide twice. They are the only team not to play a 2012 finalist twice. Draw Difficulty: 18th
GWS had return match-ups with three top-eight teams in 2012, but will only be made to play Sydney twice in 2013. Return match-ups with Gold Coast, Melbourne and Port Adelaide softens their draw. Draw Difficulty: 15th
Hawthorn has the most difficult draw with return match-ups against fellow finalists Collingwood, Geelong, North Melbourne, Sydney and West Coast. They are the only team not to play a 2012 non-finalist twice and they will need to be flying early with games against Geelong, West Coast, Collingwood, Fremantle, North Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney to open their season. Draw Difficulty: 1st
Melbourne is one of only two teams to play expansion teams Gold Coast and GWS twice. And, with return match-ups against other bottom-six teams Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs, have the second least difficult draw. Draw Difficulty: 17th
Like Adelaide, North Melbourne was the beneficiary of a ‘soft’ draw in 2012 with return match-ups against GWS, Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs. Unlike Adelaide, the AFL have not gifted them a “fair” draw in 2013. In fact, with return match-ups against top-four teams Hawthorn, Adelaide and Collingwood, and fellow finalist Geelong, they have the most difficult draw commensurate with their 2012 finish. Draw Difficulty: 2nd
Port Adelaide is the other team to play expansion teams Gold Coast and GWS twice. This is offset with return match-ups against finalists Adelaide and Geelong, and underperforming Carlton. Draw Difficulty: 14th
Richmond has return match-ups with finalist Fremantle, mid-table teams Carlton, Essendon and St. Kilda and bottom-four team the Western Bulldogs. Draw Difficulty: 13th
St. Kilda has return match-ups with premiers Sydney, finalist Fremantle, mid-table teams Carlton and Richmond and bottom-four team Gold Coast. Draw Difficulty: 8th
Sydney Swans is the only finalist to play GWS twice and this gives the illusion that their draw is easier than it is. They have return match-ups against grand finalist Hawthorn, preliminary finalist Collingwood, 2011 premier Geelong and St. Kilda.Draw Difficulty: 6th
West Coast Eagles had return match-ups with Collingwood, Fremantle, Hawthorn and North Melbourne in 2012. Their draw, with return match-ups against Adelaide, Fremantle and Hawthorn, is marginally easier in 2013, but still difficult. Draw Difficulty Ranking: 4th
Despite finishing 15th in 2012, the Western Bulldogs have the equal 10th most difficult draw. They have return match-ups with Adelaide and West Coast, whilst not benefiting from a return match-up with Gold Coast or GWS. Draw Difficulty: =10th