Friday 15 December 2017 / 04:10 AM

AFL ROUND 13 POWER RANKINGS

Here are the power rankings after round 13, which continue to be a mishmash right now due to shortened rounds because of numerous teams enjoying a breather. Thankfully, the abbreviated rounds are now over and we should have a more accurate guide in weeks ahead. However after round 13, there were a couple of major movements in these rankings – in both directions – from last year’s grand finalists.

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) GWS; current ladder position 2nd; last week (power rankings) 1st

The Giants had a welcome week off after a gruelling first-half of the season marked by a worrying injury scourge. They restart their season softly against bottom-placed Brisbane at the Gabba although the Lions have shown considerable improvement in recent weeks.

2) Adelaide; ladder position 1st; last week 2nd

The Crows would have used their bye to address inconsistencies that blighted their play in the past month or so. They should be able to kick-start their season in comfortable fashion at home against the struggling Hawks to start round 14.

3) Geelong; ladder position 3rd; last week 3rd   

Losing to the Eagles at Subiaco Oval is never a disgrace for travelling sides. Nonetheless, there were some red flags for Geelong in their 13-point loss last Thursday night. The Cats struggled to score without their spearhead Tom Hawkins, who was rubbed out for a match due to a striking charge against Adelaide.

Their overreliance on certain players, including Hawkins, is a major worry for coach Chris Scott.

4) Port Adelaide ladder position 4th; last week 5th     

The Power had a comfortable 40-point victory over the Lions at home although it wasn’t quite the romp many expected. The Power have crushed the dregs this season although their confidence looked shaky after being hammered by the Bombers the previous week.

The Power face a dangerous matchup against the Magpies at the MCG on Saturday. If they lose, their growing “flat-track” bully tag will burgeon.

5) Melbourne; ladder position 5th; last week 7th

The Demons haven’t been this high on the ladder so deep into a season for an eternity. Things are finally cooking at Melbourne. From here, it would be a major failure if they didn’t make finals. However, the Demons face a tough looming matchup against West Coast, a team they have not beaten since 2009.

Compounding the difficulty, the Demons have not beaten the Eagles in Perth since 2002. If they can pull off an upset, the suddenly confident Demons may propel into a premiership contender.

6) Sydney; ladder position 12th; last week 9th

Admittedly, this may be too high for a team 5-7 and still walking a finals tightrope. I’ve been perhaps too optimistic on the Swans all season but no one has played better the past six weeks. In trademark fashion, the Swans overcame an early hole to claw back and overrun the Tigers at the MCG in round 13.

The Swans made all the right plays when it mattered and their resolve is unwavering. Their form over the past six weeks should send shockwaves through the competition. The message is clear: right off the Swans at your peril.

7) Richmond; ladder position 6th; last week 6th

Truth be told, the Tigers should be higher on the ladder. They have lost four games by single digits and easily could be sitting pretty at the top if they had closed out highly winnable games. Instead, the Tigers are in a logjam and finals are no guarantee.

Make no mistake, it would be a major disappointment if the Tigers miss the finals.

8) West Coast; ladder position 7th; last week 10th

On Thursday night against third-placed Geelong, the Eagles played a ferocious brand of football in a notable contrast to their perception of having a soft underbelly. From the get go, the Eagles played with fire marked by fierce tackling and a physicality not associated with them.

Impressively, West Coast countered every inevitable Cats comeback in clearly their best win of the season. However, it makes you wonder why they can’t produce that type of passionate effort more often.

It was an impressive response to the naysayers but it remains to be seen if the Eagles can sustain that level of hostility.

9) Western Bulldogs; ladder position 9th; last week 4th

I’ve been bullish over the reigning premiers all season (pardon the pun). However, my faith has wavered after consecutive thrashings to Sydney and Melbourne since their bye. Some pundits have issued a reminder that the Bulldogs finished last season a middling seventh; maybe they’re not that good.

However, the Bulldogs did win 14 matches during the home and away season; make no mistake, last season’s Dogs were a hardened outfit even before their finals heroics. Right now, the Dogs have lost their mojo and a meek version is manifesting on-field.

They desperately need a victory over the lowly Kangaroos otherwise the Bulldogs face the ignominy of missing the finals after a premiership.

10) Essendon; ladder position 8th; last week 8th

The Bombers unluckily slipped a couple of spots on this ladder during their week off. My gut tells me a couple of teams above them – notably Sydney and West Coast – are more rounded and will probably finish ahead of the Bombers at season’s end.

However, the Bombers can throw egg on my face if they defeat the Swans at the SCG on Friday night.

11) St Kilda: ladder positon 10th; last week 11th  

After three straight losses, the Saints rebounded with a fairly comprehensive victory over the Kangaroos – a match that was deemed 50/50 coming in. However, the game didn’t reach any great heights and spoke of two teams struggling for form.

Still, it was an important victory for the stuttering Saints and levelled their ledger at 6-6. They have a golden opportunity to go one better when they host the temperamental Gold Coast at home in round 14.

12) Collingwood: ladder position 13th; last week 12th

The Pies had a week off in a welcome escape from a first-half of the season mired in headlines. Collingwood were impressive heading into the bye and will be hoping their momentum was not halted on resumption.

If they can defeat the Power at home on Saturday, then the Magpies will be in genuine finals contention.

13) Fremantle: ladder position 11th; last week 13th

The bye came at a good time for the Dockers, who were woeful against the Lions in an apparition of last year’s continual horror performance. Unfortunately, the Dockers have to restart their season with the toughest trip in footy – Geelong at Kardinya Park.

14) Carlton: ladder position 15th; last week 16th

It speaks volumes of Carlton that they have escaped the bottom four of these rankings. Against the Suns in the Gold Coast, the Blues clinched an important 10-point victory to keep their finals hopes alive.

The catalyst for the victory was star Bryce Gibbs, who played arguably the finest game of his career with 43 disposals and two crucial goals in the fourth term when the heat was on. Captain Marc Murphy was also sensational with 31 touches, while veteran Kade Simpson was a defensive sage with 33 possessions including several key intercepts in the dying moments.

Right now, Carlton’s leaders coupled with their rich talent stocks are propelling the Blues into a breakout season.

15) Gold Coast: ladder position 14th; last week 14th

Once again, the Suns can’t handle expectations after a disappointing loss to Carlton at home. The talented Suns just don’t have the mental fortitude to take care of business. Compounding the woes, veteran recruit Michael Barlow suffered a shocking injury when he broke a left fibula in the last quarter to end his inaugural season with the Suns.

16) North Melbourne: ladder position 16th; last week 15th

The Kangaroos were disappointing against the Saints in a defeat that effectively ends their season. From here, it’s about testing the list and hoping to uncover some talent. None of this is particularly surprising, as 2017 always loomed as a rebuild for the Kangaroos.

17) Hawthorn: current position 17th; last week 17th

The Hawks had a week off and find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having little to play for during the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, mastermind Alastair Clarkson would have been plotting something from his bag of tricks and it will be interesting to see what the Hawks can muster from their last 10 matches.

18) Brisbane: current position 18th; last week 18th

The Lions achieved what they wanted to against the Power in Adelaide: not get thrashed. Brisbane have shown glimpses of promise in recent weeks suggesting their future might not be forlorn. They will be hoping to be similarly competitive against GWS at home on Saturday.

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About the author

Tristan Lavalette

Tristan is a freelance journalist based in Perth. He has written for The Guardian, ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Previously he was a newspaper journalist for almost a decade.

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