Enough of the newsworthy or not newsworthy items of interchange caps, doping, salary cap rorts and tanking – now we take to the field. This scribe has assessed and dissected the clubs and the fixture for 2013. Everyone will have their opinions on who they believe will be the best teams for the season, however as we saw (or believed we saw) last year the end result can be as much to do with the draw as the quality of the team.
I have assessed the entire fixture placing ratings to each game and allotted points in the following manner:
4 – David and Goliath battle with David not even having a stone.
3 – Favoured and team should win
2 – a 50/50 game where winner impossible to call at this early stage
1 – Underdog, but not without a chance
0 – This would be David
Alongside I have also included the upside and downside for each team. Upside being where they win all their 50-50 and better games and downside where they lose all their 50-50 games.
My selections are based on my “objective” thoughts on each game and I have endeavoured to take into account at least the following:
- Home ground advantage
- Recent historical records.
But there will always be subjective opinion and I have my own relative team ratings, ultimately any predictions come down to our own gut feel.
The outcome shows how in my opinion how the ladder will finish at the completion or Round 23. Of course, there are many other factors that will ultimately tell and who can predict injuries! These are what will often define ultimate success.
Some observations from the outcome.
- Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney all rated equal on top, but I have taken the subjective path and rated them in that order.
- P Hannan wrote last year of the divisions in the competition. This is clearly evident with the top six sides only rated 2 games apart, the next six less than 3 games apart and then the bottom six. Although in fairness Brisbane are clearly better than the other five in the final third. But we should be wary as at this time last year, Sydney would have been considered Division 2.
- Lots of clubs rate themselves a chance for finals, with 13 in my opinion having the capability to make it. Ultimately it will be the teams that can stay healthiest that will take up the lower positions in the eight.
- But for the flag, I actually think it is relatively narrow. With the winner coming from Collingwood, Hawthorn, Sydney or West Coast. Fremantle could get to the Grand Final, but I reckon they have to lose one before they can win one. Geelong to me have the “Adelaide” draw from last year, they are likely to finish on top due to the fixture they have but I don’t believe they are as good as the rest of Division 1. By the same token they do continue to prove the pundits (me included) wrong. Anyone else making the top four would be a huge effort. To prove my objectivity and with a certain amount of pain, I reckon the Pies will win it.
1st – Geelong
Points – 64, Upside – 88, Downside 56
Betfair Premiership Odds – $12, Finals $1.48
In markets the once mighty Cats are seen as this year’s sliders. In review of their departures and age of the list those concerns may be valid. However the inclusion of Josh Caddy can reinvigorate the midfield and Travis Varcoe is virtually a new recruit plus there were very positive signs from the likes of Stringer, Christensen, Duncan and more. Then there is their biggest asset in Kardinia Park – 7 home games and none against the “big” clubs. This will give the club a free ride into the finals while the list remains competitive. The best value bet for a team to make the finals.
2nd – Sydney
P-64, U-88, D-56
BFP – $7.2, BFF – $1.21
Just by the nature of their game style everyone rates themselves a chance against the reigning champs – but more often than not they leave empty handed. Their home draw is about playing the best sides and they counter Geelong, Collingwood and Hawthorn at home and only a few gimmes. They will earn their position, but I reckon they can. The premier doesn’t usually need to recruit, so a fresh Kurt Tippett in the back half of the year might be a massive boost for them.
3rd – Hawthorn
P-64, U-88, D-60
BFP – $4.9, BFF – $1.19
Again the Hawks rank highly and are flag favourites. They have made a couple of big calls in trading out a few solid citizens in Gilham, Murphy and Young, whle taking the gamble on Brian Lake to shore up what has been perceived to be their defensive weakness. They weren’t far away last year and I would not expect too many of their older players to fall away. The cloud over them all year will be the “Buddy” story – we saw how the “Cloke Family Values” disrupted the Collingwood machine last year. How will this one play out? The “Family Club” are saying all the right things now but only time will really tell.
4th – Collingwood
P-61, U-88, D-52
BFP – $9, BFF – $1.35
The Pies provide this prognosticator with the biggest conundrum – they are without doubt one of the strongest lists and as I have pointed out frequently usually the recipient of a pretty soft draw. They do have to travel for five games this year. However with so many games on “neutral” ground the opposition often stands some chance, over the last few years those chances have usually been quashed. I have them rated 4th, but they could easily finish atop the ladder. They have also gambled on a veteran to plug a weakness in the ex-Eagle Lynch and added Clinton Young and Jordan Russell to replace Wellingham. Are they really to replace Leon Davis from two years ago to provide dash and delivery from defence? Still a few question marks in my opinion in particular defensively, but provided Jolley can lead the rucks the midfield should ensure plenty of ball into the attacking arc to win most matches.
5th – Fremantle
P-59, U-80, D-48
BFP – $16.50, BFF – $1.46
With a year under the doctrine of “Get Stuffed” Lyon the Dockers should be an even more drilled side this year and should once again enjoy a solid home ground advantage. They have put a lot of faith in Danyle Pearce to provide some polish on their disposals inside 50, but they have not lost much either. The other plus will be if they can get a full season from Nat Fyffe. The big risk for Freo will be the health of Herman, already set to miss the first few weeks of the season and has missed many games over the past two seasons. “Get Stuffed” might not be our favourite, but he is astute and will be preparing a plan for life without the big man.
6th – West Coast
P-57, U-80, D-48
BFP – $7, BFF – $1.14
Well under the odds in my opinion. In terms of their list only Wellingham would be expected to make an impact, any value from any of the other fodder selected would be seen to be a bonus. By the same token they would consider themselves to be pretty close to the mark, so Sharrod alone might be the key. The return of Le Cras and Kennedy will add class to the forward line. My question on the Eagles and has been for a couple of years is their reliance on veterans in Kerr, Cox, Glass and Embley and what if they wane. It might be balanced by the improvement in the young tyros they have like Nic Nat, Darling, Gaff, Shuey,…but there is the risk. They will be tough at home, but their home draw is much more difficult than that of their noisy neighbour.
7th – Carlton
P-52, U-76, D-28
BFP – $11.50, BFF – $1.49
Have they landed the biggest recruit of all? As a Carlton fan I hope so – but the bet is a big one and they have gone “all in”. The other gamble being to essentially trust in the list they had with no major on field recruits. 2012 was a disaster with respect to results, however a number of younger players were forced into the team with many doing well such as Bell, Casboult and McInnes (out this year). The test will be whether these young players can cement their place in the team at the cost of likes of Scotland, Joseph and even Gibbs. The draw is kind, but there aren’t many gimmes for a team like Carlton but by the same token their talent rates them a chance in every encounter. For most fans Top 4 will be par – in such a competitive season I think top 6 would a be good effort.
8th – Adelaide
P-49, U-64, D-36
BFP – $16, BFF – $1.44
Maybe I have rated the loss of Tippett as more important than it is or maybe just not sold on how good they are, but I can only just squeeze them into the eight. It is also based on a pretty tough home draw. I would expect them to win the majority of the games at home but there are plenty of tough ones including Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong. The big factor will be Taylor Walker who could be the best forward in the game and if he continues to blossom with more than his mullet then they will certainly push higher.
Eql 9th – St Kilda
P-46, U-60, D-24
BFP – $60, BFF – $2.82
Rated the Saints equal with Essendon , the concern for them being whether some of their older players drop off. Great for them that Kosi is going to struggle to get a game, nothing against him but if he is not in their best 22 then the team has improved. Have flown under the radar for the pre-season, but that is often a good thing. With a good injury run could force themselves into September.
Eql 9th – Essendon
P-46, U-56, D-28
BFP – $24, BFF – $2.34
The Bombers with their health issue dalliances and dramas are the hardest to assess. Their playing list if healthy is pretty solid and the addition of Goddard should improve distribution, but what effect has the peptide situation had on the players. High expectations for Joe Daniher, but not too many big players have a big impact in year one.
11th – Richmond
P-45, U-64, D-24
BFP – $29, BFF – $1.91
Biggest build up team every year and of late deflated by the Blues in Round 1. Even if that occurs this year I suspect they will improve overall, however the tougher draw might not see them climb into the eight. Still in need of a big defender.
12th – North Melbourne
P-43, U-56, D-24
BFP – $55, BFF – $2.94
The question is whether the whipping West Coast gave the Kangas in the final was a true reflection of the team or an aberration. Their reward for a good season last year is a hellish draw this season with home fixtures against Sydney, Hawthorn, Collingwood, Geelong. Not saying they can’t make the eight, but if they do they will have definitely deserved it.
13th – Brisbane
P-37, U-48, D-20
BFP – $85, BFF – $3.10
Rounds out the teams that “could” play in the finals. Much has been said of their ten wins last year and that it was not against the elite, but they did get a couple of quality scalps. If they can keep their best 22 on the park they will be very competitive, however I suspect that with a few injuries the quality will drop away. They have a pretty nasty away fixture with Freo, Hawthorn (Launceston), Sydney and Geelong on the schedule. Will be dangerous if they can re-establish the “Gabbatoir”.
14th – Port Adelaide
P-28, U-32, D-8
BFP – $150, BFF – $6.20
A new coach, new leadership both on and off the ground. All that stuff is positive. They know they are rebuilding the club and the list, will be happy with a consistent level of effort through the season and hopefully expose some good young players to the competition.
15th – Melbourne
P-25, U-28, D-12
BFP – $320, BFF – $6
The Dees are bullish about their young talent and we should see some further development from the Jacks: Watts, Grimes and Trengrove. The other Jack will be in year one – but will have some impact. However really another year of development for the Dees. Consistency of effort will be desired result from this year.
16th - Gold Coast
P-21, U-24, D-8
BFP – $660, BFF – $14
They get to jump an established club this year and we should get a good idea of forward progress. They should be aiming for 14th – but doubt they can get there in 2013.
17th- Western Bulldogs
P-16, U-16, D-0
BFP – $510, BFF – $29
Coach Macca will continue to develop his boys to win the hard footy – and they will do that. However without a target up forward to rely on goals will be hard to come by. Great to have Morris back to shore up the defence. Capable of getting to 14th also if they can put a few more through the majors.
18th – GWS
P-15, U-16, D-4
BFP – $510, BFF – $34
Can’t see Sheeds lifting them above 18th in year 2. They will want try and stop the blowouts, while trying to register a couple of victories.
Apologies to those who I have left your club way below your expectations, I did everything I could to get the Blues into the top four!