Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
After a weekend of big wins, more injuries and the previously sole remaining undefeated team going down, there have been some big movers on the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week. Port Adelaide once again failed to handle Essendon on the fast deck at Etihad stadium, taking their first loss of the season in the process. Big wins to Richmond
(93 points over Brisbane), West Coast (80 points over Gold Coast), North Melbourne (86 points over Carlton), and Hawthorn (67 points over Melbourne) gave their teams a handy percentage boost as well as the all-important four points.
In other games, Sydney won a thriller over a fast improving Western Bulldogs, the Greater Western Sydney Giants continue to roll with a win in Canberra over Fremantle; Geelong had an easy day in beating Saint Kilda at home while Collingwood produced the performance of the round with a sensational 48 point win over the Crows in Adelaide. The result for our power poll is that the Adelaide teams drop out of the top two spots, replaced by the form teams of the competition – who both happen to hail from Sydney.
1. Sydney Swans (Last Week - 3)
The Swans had a tough game against a solid Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, but with the game in the balance, young speedster Oliver Florent goaled to seal victory in the last 30 seconds. While not completely hitting their straps yet, Sydney has a knack for winning the tight ones. A match-up with Adelaide off a loss should prove enthralling viewing in round five.
2. Greater Western Sydney Giants (4)
The Giants once again nabbed the four points with a minimum of fuss as they took care of the Dockers in blustery conditions at Manuka Oval in the nation’s capital. The improved form of oft-injured Brett Deledio plus a solid return from injury by Ryan Griffen is good news for the Giant’s depth. With Brisbane and St Kilda to come in the next two weeks, a 5-1 record beckons.
3. Port Adelaide Power (1)
The Power supposedly headed to Melbourne hell bent on making amends for their surprise 70 point drubbing at Etihad Stadium to Essendon in 2017. The Bombers had other ideas. While Ken Hinkley’s men were in the game most of the day, conceding 16 goals in finally going down by 19 points shows the Power has plenty of work to do on its defense.
4. Richmond Tigers (7)
The Tigers destroyed the Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Saturday, keeping the visitors to a paltry 2.5 (17) for the match. Coach Damien Hardwick had the luxury of playing Brownlow Medalist Dustin Martin predominantly forward, resulting in a six goal haul from the popular Tiger. Grand Final hero Jack Graham will miss round four for a late hit on Brisbane’s Dane Zorko.
5. West Coast Eagles (6)
Josh Kennedy returned for his first game of the season kicking five goals, Nic Naitanui racked up 33 hit outs in just 56% of game time as he eases back from a torn ACL, and the Eagles cruised to another big win. With a new Stadium and second spot on the AFL ladder, life is pretty good for the West Coast and their fans right now.
6. Adelaide Crows (2)
After gaining some small revenge over Grand Final conqueror Richmond in round two with a magnificent team performance, it is hard to comprehend how the Crows were torn apart by a far slicker Collingwood outfit at Adelaide Oval on Friday night. While injuries are playing a part, the Crows looked a shadow of the team that defeated the Tigers just two week ago.
7. Hawthorn Hawks (9)
The manner in which Hawthorn demolished the fancied Demons at the MCG on Sunday will have the rest of the league taking note. With possession machine Tom Mitchell held to “only” 24 touches, it was Jaeger O’Meara and Liam Shiels causing all the damage in the midfield. There has never been any doubt about O’Meara’s talent, and now finally healthy, the Hawks look like reaping the rewards.
8. Geelong Cats (8)
The Cats never got out of second gear against the struggling Saints at GMHBA Stadium, cruising to a comfortable victory after bursting to an early lead. The almost discarded Daniel Menzel was once again brilliant with five goals while young Brandan Parfitt had his best game in Cat colors with 28 possessions and three goals.
9. Melbourne Demons (5)
The Demons put an absolute howler against a disciplined Hawthorn, going down by 67 points in slippery conditions. Touted as a big improver in 2018 with finals firmly on the agenda, this performance was a big step back and has the media and fans alike baying for blood. With their next game against Richmond on Tuesday as part of Anzac Day weekend, expect a big response from the Demons.
10. Collingwood Magpies (12)
The Magpies were simply magnificent against a hapless Adelaide Crows at the Adelaide Oval on Friday night. In one of their best performances in recent memory, Collingwood handles the damp conditions brilliantly, using their pace and slick handball to run rings against the highly fancied Crows. Brodie Grundy is the form ruckman of the competition, while young recruit Jaidyn Stephenson kicked five goals in a breakout performance.
11. Essendon Bombers (13)
Essendon bounced back with an excellent win against the previously unbeaten Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium, looking a much slicker outfit with Cale Hooker playing in the back line with Jake Stringer up forward. The big win sets up a tantalizing Anzac Day clash with the equally impressive Collingwood next Wednesday.
12. Fremantle Dockers (10)
The Dockers went down to a strong GWS in windy conditions, but they were far from embarrassed as youngsters such as Andrew Brayshaw, Mitch Crowden and Bailey Banfield continue to get game time under their belts. There are finally some positive signs for Fremantle who have been doing it tough the past couple of seasons.
13. North Melbourne Kangaroos (15)
The Kangaroos have been better than advertised, with forward Ben Brown at the top of his game leading the way. After dismantling Carlton in Tasmania, North Melbourne finds itself at 2-2 in 7th position on the ladder. While many had pegged the Kangaroos for the wooden spoon, they are looking like anything but finishing at the foot of the ladder.
14. Western Bulldogs (14)
For the second week in a row the Bulldogs served up a solid performance in just going down to the Sydney Swans. Currently fielding the youngest team in the competition, the Bulldogs seem to have rediscovered their attack on the football and the contest, resulting in plenty of shots at goal. If they can straighten up their kicking, more wins should follow.
15. Gold Coast Suns (11)
The Suns have lost three on the trot after a promising 2-0 start, returning home after a week in Perth where they were taken down by Fremantle and West Coast in consecutive weeks. They will look to reload against the winless Lions in the local “Q” clash next weekend that will give us a better idea on the level of improvement in the Suns this season.
16. Brisbane Lions (16)
After three weeks of promising performances despite not notching a win, the Lions came crashing back to earth in their only visit to the MCG this season, losing by a whopping 93 points to a rampant Richmond. It was a stark reminder of the work that lies ahead for the young Lions, but the talent is there to bounce back from this terrible performance.
17. St Kilda Saints (17)
The Saints problems seem to stem from a lack of system going forward, as they managed only seven goals against the Cats at GMHBA Stadium despite winning the clearances 43-30. Until the Saints clean up their entries into the forward 50 meter arc plus their conversion rate in front of goal, it looks like a tough road ahead for a team that promised more than they are currently delivering.
18. Carlton Blues (18)
Another awful performance from the Blues, managing just 30 points against a team in the Kangaroos that was touted as an also ran in 2018. Losing Marc Murphy before the first bounce didn’t help, but this is a team that just leaks goals while showing no signs of the improvement that fans have been promised under Coach Brendon Bolton.
Article last changed on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 1:58 PM EDT