It has been four rounds of footy, and we have some teams who are well and truly contenders for the premiership, and others who find themselves with their seasons on the line. Today, we will see who is still a contender come September, and who the rightful premiership favourites are.
Sitting at the top of the ladder, having not lost a game yet, are the Cats, the Crows and the Tigers. All of them made light of their opponents on the weekend. However, the Cats were made to work a lot harder than what people would have thought. Midway through the premiership quarter in their clash with the Hawks, Alistair Clarkson’s men were coming strong, and had gotten within three straight kicks. They did all the attacking in the quarter, but the Geelong defence held up strong, and resisted everything the Hawks through at them. Against the run of play, the Cats managed to score three unanswered goals to lead at three-quarter time by 34 points, and from there, looked unstoppable as they romped to a massive win against the struggling Hawks. The Cats also seemed to fix their inaccuracy in front of goal after half time, kicking 15 goals and just 2 behinds. However, the journey has been scrappy for Geelong, having clawed back from a 36-point deficit to win against the Roos, and goalkicking inaccuracy cost them against the Demons. It would not be surprising if they drop six or seven games this year, but expect them to be in the thick of things when finals season rolls around.
The Crows turned it on in the first half against the Bombers. It was a masterclass from their forwards in particular, with Tex Walker and Eddie Betts kicking 11 goals between them. The Crows did more than just winning the game. They sent a message to the competition that they can win the flag, and I would say that right now, they are the rightful premiership favourites.
The Tigers are a surprise packet for me. Nobody on God’s green Earth would have expected them to be 4-0 after 4 rounds of football. I personally believed they would be in the running for the wooden spoon. They find themselves now in a good position come July and August, where the ladder starts to matter more. Come finals, expect them to be in the running, and setting a challenge to the oppositions.
Out of all the other teams, I believe the main contender is the Giants. They have played fast footy, and have not looked back since that Round 1 hiding against the Crows. Jonathan Patton is in the form of his life, and the likes of Tom Scully, Callan Ward and Josh Kelly playing some scintillating football. Expect them to be right in the reckoning for the 2017 premiership
At the other end of the ladder, we have the Swans, Kangaroos and Hawks, who have surprisingly won zero games for the season. It is fair to say that the Hawks cannot make the finals from the position they are in. They were fielding a side that is more than capable of winning another flag, with only Birchall and Ceglar those who are injured and would walk into their best 22. The way they lost against the Cats was atrocious; they gave up as soon as the final quarter came around, and it dawned on them that they were not going to win. If you are going to be a contender come finals, you need to keep your intensity up until the final siren blows.
The Roos and Swans can consider themselves unlucky to have not won at least 2 games for the year. The Roos should really be 2-2, but they gave up a six-goal lead against the Cats, and a four-goal lead against the Bulldogs, to give up those games for under a kick. Once they get back into the groove, you should expect them to hit back hard in the second half of the season.
The Swans are 0-4, but are looking in good shape for the weekend. The Koala Brothers have landed at Sydney and called out: “Help is on its way!” With Heeney, Tippett, McVeigh and Rohan back in the full swing of things, the Swans should come good before the bye. Expect that they may lose against the Giants next week and go 0-5, but I expect also that they will go 5-5 going into the bye, and come round 12, in which they would have Dane Rampe back, the Swans juggernaut will be up and running again, provided they don’t cough any games up in that five week period, and don’t have any injuries to key players.
As for the others? Well, I say that right now, the evenness of the competition has made it really hard for me to pick who will be battling to join the Crows, Cats and Giants (who seem to be safely in the eight come September) in the finals. Aside from probably Hawthorn and Brisbane, everyone is a contender to take those last five spots and enjoy finals footy. Bring on Round 5!