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Your AFL team’s run home: Bottom ten (part two)


With only six rounds remaining before the AFL finals get underway, this week I am resting my round previews to provide a two-part analysis into your team’s run home and what chances they have of featuring in September this year.

In Part I, I analysed the teams currently inside the eight, and what chances the teams had of securing a double chance, or a home elimination final.

Here, in Part II, I will look at the teams currently outside of the eight, and what chances your team has of making a late charge towards September, or avoiding the wooden spoon.

St Kilda

Currently: 9th (9-7, 104.1%)
Matches to play: Western Bulldogs (Etihad), West Coast Eagles (Optus), Hawthorn (Marvel), Geelong Cats (GMHBA), Brisbane Lions (Marvel), Sydney Swans (Marvel)

From an 8-3 record and fourth place after round eleven, St Kilda’s season threatens to unravel even further in the final six weeks, with a brutal final three matches that includes a trip down the highway to Geelong as well as facing the Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans at home.

Brett Ratten’s side face a virtual elimination final against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium this Friday night, with the expectation that whoever loses this match can all but abandon their hopes of making a late run into September and start planning for 2023 instead.

That is followed immediately after by their second trip to Optus Stadium this season, to face a West Coast Eagles side which will be attempting to move out of the bottom two and give their fans some hope for the future.

They’ll also start favourites against the Hawks, but then that’s when it starts to get tough, with clashes against expected top four finishes the Cats and Lions followed by the visit of the Swans who could also be playing for a double chance in the final round.

In the end, their tough run home will see them miss out on finals for tenth time in the past eleven seasons, with only the COVID-affected 2020 season, in which they reached the semi-finals, the outlier.

Predicted finish: 11th

Ben Long and Paddy Ryder of the Saints high five fans.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs

Currently: 10th (8-8, 110.4%)
Matches to play: St Kilda (Marvel), Melbourne (Marvel), Geelong Cats (GMHBA), Fremantle (Marvel), GWS Giants (Marvel), Hawthorn (UTAS)

Whatever chances the Western Bulldogs have of breaking into the eight will go on the line in the next month, the start of which sees them face St Kilda in the battle between ninth and tenth at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

That is then followed by a difficult three weeks in which they face the current top three, including the Dees and Cats each for a second time in the season; the latter is at GMHBA Stadium where the Bulldogs have not won since, ironically, their last wooden spoon season in 2003.

Including the penultimate round match against the GWS Giants, four of their next five matches are at Marvel Stadium, which should give the Bulldogs the advantage as they make one final push for what seems to be an unlikely September berth.

Then, in the final round, they head south to Launceston to face Hawthorn in what looms as a potentially tricky clash for the Dogs, as they have not won in the Apple Isle against any opposition since 2008.

Despite their soft finish to the season, I cannot see the Dogs making finals, and to sit out September just twelve months after reaching a grand final will render their 2022 campaign a disappointment.

Predicted finish: 10th

Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss.

Bailey Smith of the Bulldogs looks dejected after a loss. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Gold Coast Suns

Currently: 11th (8-8, 108.9%)
Matches to play: Essendon (Marvel), Brisbane Lions (Gabba), West Coast Eagles (Metricon), Hawthorn (UTAS), Geelong Cats (Metricon), North Melbourne (Marvel)

Still in with a chance of reaching its first ever finals series, the Gold Coast Suns will fancy their chances in at least four of their final six matches, starting with Sunday’s twilight clash against Essendon in what will be their first meeting at Docklands since 2016.

The Suns could so easily have been 7-9 going into this weekend, but will head to Melbourne on a high after coming from 40 points down to upset Richmond at home, thanks to a goal after the siren by Noah Anderson.

It capped off a huge week for the club, who have re-signed coach Stuart Dew for a further two years after overseeing some much-improved results by his young side this season.

Following the clash against the Bombers, they then face the Lions just up the road at the Gabba before they finish off with three other winnable matches against the Eagles, Hawks and Kangaroos, though they will have to travel for the latter two matches.

In between their trips to Launceston and Melbourne, they’ll host ladder leaders the Geelong Cats at home, in what’s expected to be another bumper crowd as the locals see their side in action hopefully not for the last time in season 2022.

Despite their soft run home, tougher clashes against the Lions and Cats will prove to be the difference as they miss out on a September berth by just; still, it will be their best season on record and should have them primed for a breakthrough in 2023.

Predicted finish: 9th

Noah Anderson of the Suns celebrates.

(Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Port Adelaide

Currently: 12th (8-8, 108.6%)
Matches to play: Melbourne (TP), Geelong Cats (Oval), Collingwood (MCG), Richmond (Oval), Essendon (Marvel), Adelaide Crows (Oval)

From an 0-5 start to the season, Port Adelaide have done rather miraculously well to storm back into finals contention, winning eight of their last thirteen matches to move up to 12th on the ladder with a percentage of 108.6.

Ken Hinkley’s side do face a brutal next month ahead, starting with this Sunday’s trip to Alice Springs to face Melbourne in the Heart of the Nation clash.

They’ll also enjoy blockbuster home games against the Geelong Cats, Richmond and, for the first time since 2004, a final-round Showdown against the Adelaide Crows where they’ll have the chance to atone for their heartbreaking round three loss.

Two trips to Melbourne will give them the chance to break their Victorian hoodoo for the year, with their best chance coming against Essendon at Marvel Stadium in the penultimate round, while they must face the Pies in Melbourne for the ninth time in twelve matches.

Their tough run home means they’ll miss out on a finals berth for the fifth time in their past eight seasons, which could all but spell the end of Ken Hinkley at Alberton.

Predicted finish: 12th

Jeremy Finlayson and Connor Rozee celebrate a goal.

(Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

GWS Giants

Currently: 13th (5-11, 89.4%)
Matches to play: Brisbane Lions (Manuka), Carlton (Marvel), Sydney Swans (SCG), Essendon (Giants), Western Bulldogs (Marvel), Fremantle (Manuka)

Currently sitting in 13th place on the ladder and three games adrift of Port Adelaide on the ladder, the GWS Giants’ preparations for season 2023 have begun in earnest, with interim coach Mark McVeigh to press his case for the full-time gig to the board in the coming weeks.

After long-serving coach Leon Cameron walked away in mid-May, the Giants had put together some decent performances, including thumping wins over the West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne as well as a gallant effort against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.

But last Saturday night they crashed to a disappointing 55-point loss to Port Adelaide at the Oval (where they’d beaten the Crows by 59 points back in round seven), the result all but eliminating them from September calculations for a second time in three seasons.

Souring the heavy defeat was the season-ending hamstring injury suffered by Phil Davis, who at age 31 is facing an uncertain future despite being contracted for next year, in which, if he plays on, he will be looking to bring up his 200th AFL game.

As for the immediate future, of their six remaining matches, only Essendon (whom they face in their final game at Giants Stadium for the year) are ranked below them, though they do have another match in Sydney the week before, in the form of the Sydney Derby at the SCG.

This Saturday they face a Brisbane Lions side which will be hoping to bounce back from their upset loss to Essendon in Canberra; that’s one of two matches they’ll play in their secondary home in the run home, with the final one being against Fremantle in round 23.

I can only see the Giants beating the Bombers in round 21 and ultimately this season will be their worst since 2014, when they finished 16th and registered six wins.

Predicted finish: 15th

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Hawthorn

Currently: 14th (5-11, 87.5%)
Matches to play: West Coast Eagles (MCG), North Melbourne (Blundstone), St Kilda (Marvel), Gold Coast Suns (UTAS), Richmond (MCG), Western Bulldogs (UTAS)

As expected, it has been a tough first season for coach Sam Mitchell at Hawthorn, but despite their poor record they have been able to display their best football at times, as best illustrated by wins over Port Adelaide and the Brisbane Lions in rounds 2 and 10 respectively.

Last week against the Adelaide Crows, the Hawks registered their 1,000th win in VFL/AFL history and will have the chance to add to that in the next fortnight as they face the bottom two teams, the West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne, in succession.

The match against the Kangaroos will mark the first time the Hawks play a premiership match against their fellow part-time Tasmanian co-tenants in Hobart, with all previous Tasmanian Derbies having taken place in Launceston, the Hawks’ home-away-from-home.

It gets tougher after that as they face four teams currently jostling for places in the bottom part of the eight, with Richmond (round 22) the best placed team to finish the higher ahead of St Kilda, the Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs.

The Hawks should, however, have every reason to believe they can beat the Suns and Bulldogs in Tasmania, with the former team having never won in the Apple Isle while the latter team hasn’t won in the state since 2008.

From its current placing of 14th, I can see the Hawks finishing one place higher.

Predicted finish: 13th

Tom Mitchell of the Hawks speaks with AFL Field Umpire, Hayden Gavine after a 50 metre penalty was awarded to Geelong during the 2022 AFL Round 05 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 18, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Adelaide Crows

Currently: 15th (5-11, 83.1%)
Matches to play: Collingwood (Oval), Sydney Swans (SCG), Carlton (Oval), West Coast Eagles (Optus), North Melbourne (Oval), Port Adelaide (Oval)

This season was supposed to be one of improvement for the Crows, but injuries to key players, including their captain Rory Sloane who went down with the dreaded ACL injury in round five, sees them facing down the barrel of another lowly finish in 2022.

Despite this, they have a soft run home with four of their final six matches at home, including clashes against finals-bound Collingwood and Carlton on either side of a tough trip to Sydney to face the Swans at the SCG.

The Crows’ clash with the Pies will mark six years since they last beat them anywhere, with the last five matches resulting in losses (including four of them at home) as well as a draw at the MCG in 2017.

The only other road trip Matthew Nicks’ men have to make is to face the West Coast Eagles in Perth, a match which they’ll start favourites in, before they wrap up with consecutive home games against North Melbourne and a first final-round Showdown since 2004.

Of their six remainders, I can only see the men from West Lakes beating the Eagles and Kangaroos in consecutive weeks, though they’ll finish one place higher than where they currently are.

Predicted finish: 14th

Josh Rachele of the Crows celebrates his first goal in the AFL.

Josh Rachele of the Crows celebrates his first goal in the AFL. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Essendon

Currently: 16th (5-11, 82.4%)
Matches to play: Gold Coast Suns (Marvel), Collingwood (MCG), North Melbourne (Marvel), GWS Giants (Giants), Port Adelaide (Marvel), Richmond (MCG)

With three wins from its last four matches, including impressive wins against the Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions in the past fortnight, Essendon fans are pondering what certainly could’ve been for their side in season 2022.

After sneaking into the eight last year, Ben Rutten’s side have undoubtedly been the most disappointing team this season, currently languishing in 16th place on the ladder with only five wins from sixteen matches.

The wins aside, the nature of their losses have been disappointing, none more so than an upset loss to the West Coast Eagles in Perth while they also copped it from all corners of the media following their ten-goal loss to the Swans in Dyson Heppell’s 200th game back in round nine.

The Bombers should, however, have reason to believe they can finish the season strongly, as they will back themselves in against at least the Gold Coast Suns and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on either side of a Sunday blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.

The only interstate trip they have to make in the run home is to Sydney to face fellow strugglers the GWS Giants, in what promises to be an intriguing clash given three club greats (Mark McVeigh, James Hird and Dean Solomon) are currently on the Giants’ coaching staff.

They then finish off against Richmond at the MCG, after which they can start planning for what they hope is a much improved 2023 season.

Predicted finish: 16th

Matt Guelfi and Harrison Jones of the Bombers celebrate a goal.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

West Coast Eagles

Currently: 17th (2-14, 56.4%)
Matches to play: Hawthorn (MCG), St Kilda (Optus), Gold Coast Suns (Metricon), Adelaide Crows (Optus), Fremantle (Optus), Geelong Cats (GMHBA)

Just four years removed from their stunning 2018 premiership win, the West Coast Eagles stare down the barrel of their worst ever season with just two wins to their name and a current ladder placing of 17th.

It is a similar fall from grace the club suffered between 2006 and 2010, in which period they experienced the high of a one-point win in a Grand Final, lost two club superstars in Chris Judd and Ben Cousins in contrasting circumstances, and crashed to last place in 2010.

Having sat on the bottom of the ladder for the majority of the season, the Eagles boosted their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon with an upset ten-point win over Essendon in round 15, which ended a club-record nine-game losing streak and a run of eight straight at home.

Needless, there are no easy matches for Adam Simpson’s men in the run home, with the final round seeing them make the trip to Kardinia Park, where they have not won since 2006, to face likely minor premiers the Geelong Cats.

They will also make their second trip to the MCG in three weeks to face Hawthorn this Sunday while they must also make another long trip to Queensland, this time to tackle the Gold Coast Suns in round 20.

In between the trips to the Gold Coast and Geelong, they’ll have back-to-back games at Optus Stadium, including a Derby against the Dockers in their final game at home in the penultimate round (though it is actually a Dockers home game).

Sadly I cannot see the Eagles winning another game for the rest of the season but while season 2022 will go on record as their worst ever season, they’ll just avoid the wooden spoon.

Predicted finish: 17th

Jack Darling of the Eagles

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

North Melbourne

Currently: 18th (1-15, 51.7%)
Matches to play: Richmond (Marvel), Hawthorn (Blundstone), Essendon (Marvel), Sydney Swans (Marvel), Adelaide Crows (Oval), Gold Coast Suns (Marvel)

Following the exit of David Noble as the club’s senior coach this week, North Melbourne will navigate through the remainder of its disastrous season with Leigh Adams in a caretaker capacity.

Noble’s exit comes as the Kangaroos stare down the barrel of its worst season ever, recording just the one win (against the West Coast Eagles in round two) and suffering two losses by more than 100 points to the Brisbane Lions and Geelong Cats.

Last week they threatened a major upset against Collingwood when they led by as much as 26 points in the third quarter, only to lose by just seven points in what was one of the club’s most spirited performances in recent times.

Adams will take charge for the first time when the Kangaroos face Richmond at Marvel Stadium this Saturday night, and he need not look further than when Rhyce Shaw took the reins in mid-2019 and orchestrated an upset win over the eventual premiers as inspiration.

Jason Horne-Francis of the Kangaroos looks dejected after a loss.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Roos will play in front of their Hobart fans for the final time this year when they face Hawthorn the following round, marking the first time they host a Tasmanian Derby against the Hawks.

And even though three of their final four matches are at Marvel Stadium, it will be hard seeing them win any of their remaining matches and ultimately their record of 1-21 will be the first by any team since the then-fledgling GWS Giants recorded just one win in the 2013 season.

Predicted finish: 18th





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