Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 04:46 AM


Here are the AFL power rankings after round 7. 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

Surely, Adelaide must have been drinking their own bath water. Seemingly defying logic, incredibly, the Crows were held scoreless in the first quarter by a rampant North Melbourne, who piled on 10 of their own before Adelaide hit the scoreboard.

It was hard to believe what was unfolding; quite clearly, the Crows had gotten ahead of themselves after a stunning opening six weeks where they had been compared to great teams of yesteryear.

In a silver lining, it is now a chance for them to re-focus and get back to the basics. In the long run, that brain fade against the Kangaroos may prove a blessing in disguise.

2) GWS Giants; ladder position 2nd; last week 2nd

The Giants could have drawn level with the Crows at the top of the ladder and, more trivially, perhaps gone past them in the power rankings. However, the Giants were surprisingly beaten by the upstart Saints on Friday night triggering continual upsets through the round.

It was a disappointing defeat on the big stage but once again proves how difficult it is to win on the road against good sides.

3) Western Bulldogs; ladder position 5th; last week 3rd

For the sixth straight match, the Bulldogs trailed early – by five goals against a pretty decent Richmond side. Once again, the Bulldogs dug deep, won the clutch moments and claimed another tight victory.

Their lethargic starts are bound to prove costly down the track but after their memorable heroics last September the Bulldogs have innate confidence to conjure victories no matter the circumstances.

Another big match looms when they take on West Coast at Subiaco Oval on Friday night. The Bulldogs have a mixed recent record out west – they memorably stunned the Eagles in the elimination final to kick-start their premiership run but were surprisingly overrun by the Dockers earlier this season.

4) West Coast; ladder position 4th; last week 7th  

West Coast’s love affair with the Adelaide Oval continued with a stirring victory over Port Adelaide on Saturday. Astoundingly, West Coast has won 5 from 6 – their only loss was with a second-string side against the Crows in late 2015 – at the hotbed venue, the envy of all travelling teams.

It has been well documented the Eagles’ struggles at the MCG, where unfortunately the grand final is permanently played. Thus, West Coast will unlikely be taken as a serious flag contender until they can win at the hallowed venue.

Still, the Eagles are tracking along quite nicely at 5-2 and have a good launching pad for the remainder of the season.

5) Geelong; ladder position 3rd; last week 4th

The Cats are a baffling side having lost consecutive matches to inferior teams. Their loss in Gold Coast against an improving Suns was excusable but the Cats appear shaky and heavily reliant on too few.

In recent seasons, the Cats have a worrying knack of losing matches they should win. They are an erratic team and need to strive for consistency if they want to make the top 4.

6) Port Adelaide; ladder position 7th; last week 5th

Port Adelaide should be still be kicking themselves. At home against West Coast, the Power controlled play, which was confirmed by a thorough domination of the statistics. However, West Coast always held a handy buffer and eventually conjured a crucial victory.

The result broke a deadlock between the teams as Port rued continual misses in front of goal – they had 27 scoring shots to 22 yet lost by 10 points.

As testament to a league-high percentage of 141, the Power look the real deal and may be in the premiership hunt at season’s end. However, this grasped opportunity could very well haunt them.

7) St Kilda; ladder position 8th; last week 8th

Along with Port Adelaide, St Kilda have been the surprise packets of 2017. At various stages against a vaunted GWS, the Saints looked at breaking point but impressively kept responding and eventually overran the Giants.

The Saints are growing in maturity and anything bar a finals berth should be considered a disappointment unless injuries strike.

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

Richmond’s goodwill has predictably halted after losing to powerhouses Adelaide and the Bulldogs in consecutive weeks. Against the Bulldogs, the Tigers started strong but faded against the Bulldogs’ famed surge.

Still, the Tigers don’t look out of their depth and at 5-2 are well positioned for a finals berth. However, the looming match against the Dockers at the MCG is one they must take care of. A loss would be catastrophic and undo much of their solid start to the season.

9) Fremantle; ladder position 9th; last week 11th

The Dockers have won 4 of their last 5 games – a highly commendable feat considering they had won only 4 of 25 previously. The Dockers had a slow start against Essendon but undoubtedly were aided by the Bombers playing their third game in 12 days coupled with the warm conditions in Perth.

The Dockers have an eyesore of a percentage at 83.6, which somewhat is a reflection of where this remoulded team is at. However, there are some encouraging signs, none more so than ex-Hawk Bradley Hill who was best afield against the Bombers and is relishing the abundance of space at Subiaco Oval.

10) Gold Coast; ladder position 11th; last week 12th  

Having won 3 of their past 5 matches, the Suns are positioned for a finals berth – the first time they can dream of achieving that historical feat since mid-2014. Led by a Gary Ablett renaissance, the Suns are finally maturing and have an enviable amount of talent to ensure this uptick is more than a fleeting improvement.

The Suns have teased before during their turbulent fledgling history and it would be highly disappointing if they don’t continue to trend upwards.

11) North Melbourne: ladder positon 14th; last week 14th  

The Kangaroos produced one of the most stunning quarters seen in recent years when they ambushed ladder leaders Adelaide to lead by 10 goals at the first break. The Kangaroos were desperately unlucky to lose a batch of close games earlier in the season – they could easily be in the top 8 mix.

Still, the Kangaroos are developing quicker than anyone expected ensuring this could very well be a swift rebuild.

12) Melbourne: ladder position 10th; last week 9th

The Demons were highly fancied coming into the season as a team that could make the jump into the top 8. Consecutive wins seemed to confirm that standing but the goodwill has eroded with the Demons winning just once ever since.

If Melbourne are the real deal then they just have to win games against inferior sides. In a major red flag, the Demons lost to the struggling Hawks at the weekend and are now dangerously perched at 3-4.

It feels like another disappointing season ahead for long-suffering Demons supporters.

13) Essendon: ladder position 12th; last week 10th

After a torrid schedule, the Bombers predictably fell away amid the Perth heat against the Dockers. The Bombers continue to show signs of improvement but like several other teams have struggled with inconsistencies during games.

They face a crux match against the Cats in round 8 – as a defeat would consign them to a grim3-5 record.

14) Carlton: ladder position 13th; last week 15th

The beleaguered Blues have won three matches already. It feels almost surreal writing that. Carlton were widely tipped to contend for the wooden spoon with Brisbane but have already mustered a trio of impressive victories.

Perhaps Carlton’s best asset has been Brendon Bolton, who might just be the frontrunner for coach-of-the-year after steering the Blues’ highly encouraging start.

It almost doesn’t really matter what happens from here – the Blues fans will always fondly remember when their team spoiled their bitter rival Collingwood’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

15) Collingwood: ladder position 15th; last week 13th

Frustratingly, Collingwood take one step forward then two steps back. They followed a rousing victory against the odds versus a fancied Geelong with a rudderless defeat against a lowly Carlton during the club’s 125th anniversary.

It all means embattled coach Nathan Buckley is back in the hot seat, a familiar position for the club legend. At 2-5, the Pies’ season is lurching and could quickly spiral. They face a hurt GWS on the rebound, which spells trouble for Collingwood and Buckley’s future.

16) Hawthorn: ladder position 16th; last week 16th

Once again, the Hawks regrouped from a pitiful performance to conjure a win against the odds, this time knocking off the Demons. With the second worst percentage of 70, the Hawks aren’t particularly good but will occasionally have games where they rewind the clock.

Their sustained success ensures even this mediocre version of the Hawks strikes fear in opponents. That’s a major compliment for a footy club.

17) Sydney: current position 17th; last week 18th

Sydney finally broke their duck with a big victory over the lowly Lions with Lance Franklin starring. Now that their confidence has received a tonic, the Swans will be expected to climb out of the bottom rung.

A finals push is probably fanciful – although if anyone could conjure a miracle, it would be the Swans – but Sydney could well shape the destiny of many other teams. Expect them to pull off some upsets throughout this season.

18) Brisbane: current position 18th; last week 17th

Quite clearly, the Lions are the worst team in the competition – probably by a fair distance considering the improvement of several other teams. They are likely to be holding this unwanted spot for the remainder of the season.

If they can be competitive and unearth some young talent then rookie coach Chris Fagan would have done his job.

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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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