Here are the power rankings after an extended Round 5. Note, these rankings aren’t merely about current form – you have the real ladder for that – but also takes into account player availability, perception and prophecies.
1) Adelaide Crows; current ladder position 1st; last week (power rankings) 1st
Adelaide are a goal-kicking machine and you feel will land a coveted top 2 spot unless something goes majorly wrong. They are averaging 133 points per game and already boast a percentage of over 150. Right now, there doesn’t appear a lot can stop them as the white hot Crows torched an in-form Gold Coast on the road by 11 goals.
Only GWS boasts similar firepower, a pretty remarkable feat for the Crows who lost Patrick Dangerfield – arguably the game’s best player – at the end of 2015.
2) GWS Giants; ladder position 4th; last week 2nd
The Giants steadied after a strong start from a desperate Swans to easily win the Sydney derby. Undoubtedly, for the first time since their inception in 2012, the Giants now own the city although many in rugby mad Sydney will be oblivious to this seismic shift of power.
Granted, it is pretty ridiculous prognosticating so early into the season but a Crows-Giants grand final – the first non Victorian showdown since 2006 – is firming.
3) Geelong; ladder position 2nd; last week 3rd
The Cats have taken full advantage of a soft draw to remain undefeated. They haven’t looked as utterly dominant as the Crows or Giants but, similarly, the Cats can flick the switch like few other teams.
Geelong have been brilliant in final quarters, right when they’ve needed to, and outscored opponents 217-66 in the last stanza. Their easy draw continues when they play a struggling Collingwood in round 6.
4) Western Bulldogs; ladder position 5th; last week 4th
Once again, the Bulldogs endured a horrendous start – this time trailing the lowly Brisbane Lions by 38 points at one point. Still, the Dogs eventually clicked into gear to win relatively comfortably but their inconsistencies within games has been nonetheless jarring.
A blockbuster Friday night match against GWS on the road could help the reigning premiers shake their stupor.
5) Richmond; ladder position 3rd; last week 6th
Will the real Richmond Tigers please stand up? Everyone keeps waiting for the eternally mercurial Tigers to drop a game but they remain one of only three unbeaten teams. The Tigers appeared in major strife against Melbourne and looked set for a disappointing loss amid the swirling hype – the type of familiar letdown long suffering Tigers fans are used to.
However, the Tigers responded to adversity with aplomb to pull out a tight victory and confirm their newfound tenaciousness. They appear a legitimate finals team but a daunting upcoming matchup against the Crows in Adelaide will be the ultimate gauge of Richmond’s standing.
6) Port Adelaide; ladder position 6th; last week 7th
The Power utterly eviscerated Carlton in a predictable outcome. The Power are good – how good, is still unknown. When they play on their terms, the Power shred opponents with their slick ball movement complemented by potent forward options.
Outside the top four on this ladder, Port look the most dangerous of the rest and capable of causing a boil over in September.
7) West Coast; ladder position 7th; last week 5th
The Eagles were rudderless and showed a distinct lack of fight – not for the first time – in their dismal loss to last placed Hawthorn at their hoodoo ground of the MCG. For an experienced team, it is absolutely jarring how often the Eagles get outmuscled highlighting the lack of grunt in the side.
It very much feels like it is an important juncture of Adam Simpson’s coaching career, a period where he has to accept some hard truths and make tough calls. Suddenly, the Western Derby against a rejuvenated Fremantle looms as a crux match for West Coast.
8) St Kilda; ladder position 11th; last week 8th
The Saints challenged the Cats for three quarters before Geelong’s stars broke the game open in the final stanza. Still, the Saints appear to be a legitimate rising team in the competition. Time will tell if that equates to finals this season but St Kilda supporters have cause for optimism for the first time post Ross Lyon.
9) Essendon; ladder position 8th; last week 13th
After consecutive disappointing losses, the Bombers enjoyed a memorable Anzac Day victory against bitter rivals Collingwood, who have long dominated this hallowed occasion. Most pleasingly was the form of young forward Joe Daniher, who starred and deservedly was crowned best afield.
The Bombers have enviable key position stocks and appear to have finally rid themselves of the festering stench eroding the club during the tumultuous last few years.
10) Fremantle; ladder position 9th; last week 11th
After a period in the wilderness, where his coaching philosophy was being critiqued, Ross Lyon is back in business. Fremantle have won three consecutive games, just one less than the entirety of a wretched 2016.
The Dockers haven’t been pretty and needed last gasp goals to win their previous two matches but a healthy dose of famed tenaciousness inserted by Lyon has done the trick. It seemed unimaginable a few weeks ago but, suddenly, Fremantle has a distinct opportunity to knock over crosstown rivals West Coast. A win would also take them a game clear of the underachieving Eagles.
11) Melbourne: ladder positon 10th; last week 10th
Melbourne’s bright start to the season has eroded after three consecutive defeats. A handicapped Demons played noticeably better against Richmond but fell away after a bright start. However, the long suffering Demons fans won’t be satisfied after coming into the season genuinely optimistic for the first time in a decade.
They suddenly have a crux matchup against a confident Essendon; these are the types of 50-50 games the Demons must win if they are to break an 11-year finals drought.
12) Gold Coast: ladder position 12th; last week 9th
After two bright wins, the Suns fell back to earth with a heavy defeat to the Crows. Unlike their opening two insipid losses, it is probably unfair to judge the Suns too harshly considering the Crows are in imperious form.
Undoubtedly, it was a step backwards for Gold Coast’s development and they have yet to strike any consistency despite now being in their seventh season.
13) Hawthorn: ladder position 15th; last week 18th
Hawthorn’s renaissance was always going to happen, moments when they show flashes of their old brilliance. On Sunday, against a hapless West Coast, the Hawks utterly dominated in the same ruthless manner that marked their dominance over the past decade.
Their ageing champions collectively fired and it felt very much like it was a rewind from 2011-16. Thus, Hawthorn has jumped a staggering five spots in the power rankings.
14) Collingwood: ladder position 13th; last week 14th
All the pressure is on besieged coach Nathan Buckley with Collingwood in a rut at 1-4. Collingwood’s favourite son has not had the same success in the coach’s box. The Pies have gradually gotten worse since he took charge in 2012 and a messy divorce looms large over the proud club.
A ray of sunshine through the gloom was Daniel Wells’ encouraging debut for the club. His trademark slickness was a necessary tonic albeit not enough to get the Pies over the line. If – admittedly big if – Wells can shrug off the injury bane then the Pies may have hope of resurrecting their season.
15) Sydney: ladder position 18th; last week 12th
The Swans haven’t lost five games in a row since 2002, back when Rodney Eade was still in charge. It still feels weird seeing them so humbled. Still, are they the best 0-5 side in recent memory having been competitive in every game thus far?
Still, the Swans are set to miss out on finals for the first time since 2009 – the equal longest active top 8 streak in the competition. Even the robotic Swans aren’t immune to the odd blip.
16) North Melbourne: ladder position 17th; last week 15th
Much like Sydney, the Kangaroos have been a highly competitive winless team. However, North have blown matches against Geelong, Western Bulldogs and, most recently, Fremantle to undo some of their encouraging development.
They have suffered major fourth quarter fadeouts in each of those matches and coach Brad Scott will want to eradicate this disturbing tendency before it erodes the club.
17) Brisbane: current position 14th; last week 17th
Astoundingly, the Lions headed the reigning premiers away from home for much of the match. Almost inevitably, they crumbled when the Bulldogs shook their stupor. For a side that had such low expectations heading into the season – they were the consensus wooden spoon tip – the Lions have shown improvement and patches of sparkling football, which are major ticks under new coach Chris Fagan.
18) Carlton: current position 16th; last week 16th
An inexperienced Carlton were utterly pummelled by Port on the big stage of Friday night football. The Blues are in the fledgling stages of a rebuild and these types of thrashings against good teams are likely to be commonplace this season.
Almost certainly, the Blues will be fighting it out with Brisbane for the spoon. Thus far, the Lions have shown a tad more encouragement.