The bye rounds are over, and as we head into round fifteen the battle for the coveted top four spots and the race for the finals is well and truly on. Geelong moves to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll despite dropping a game on the road to an impressive Port Adelaide, while Collingwood continues to win despite not being at its best in recent weeks.
The big movers are the Adelaide Crows, moving from 8th to 5th on the back of a three game winning streak while Fremantle and Port continue to look the most likely to take a spot in the final eight unless Richmond can end its free fall down the AFL ladder.
North Melbourne and Sydney have both rejuvenated their seasons on the back of unexpected wins in recent weeks, while Essendon and Hawthorn continue to frustrate their fans with sporadic form from one game to the next.
As we head into round eleven, the AFANA AFL Power Poll looks like this….
1. Geelong Cats (Last Poll - 2)
The Cats once again dropped a game after having the bye, the eighth time in succession they have lost coming off the rest. Despite going down to Port in Adelaide, Geelong is in great shape as they prepare to take on the in-form Crows at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.
2. Collingwood Magpies (1)
The Magpies have suffered a few injuries of late and are not playing at their peak, but ugly wins still gain four points. Collingwood have the players and the game plan to finish top four once again and be one of the big threats to win the premiership that eluded it last season.
3. West Coast Eagles (3)
The reigning premiers are loaded with talent and have played themselves into a great position to repeat last season’s finals heroics. The imminent return of the brilliant Nic Naitanui will make the Eagles an even tougher opponent come the business end of the season.
4. Greater Western Sydney Giants (4)
At times this season the Giants have looked as good as any team in the competition. The return of Toby Greene has added another dimension to an already formidable forward line, and the development of gun youngster Tim Taranto has bolstered an exciting young midfield. Exciting times for the orange army.
5. Adelaide Crows (8)
The Crows look to have finally found some consistency in performance, with big forwards Taylor Walker and much maligned Josh Jenkins leading the way. With Matt Crouch back from injury and firing, the sky is the limit for Adelaide – could this be the year for 2017 redemption?
6. Brisbane Lions (6)
The Lions have alternated between wins and losses over the last month, but continue to show enough to suggest Chris Fagan’s young team has the talent to play finals for the first time since 2009.
7. Fremantle Dockers (9)
The Dockers went tantalizingly close to pulling off a four game winning streak, narrowly going down to Melbourne in a game where Fremantle injuries to Jesse Hogan and Stephen Hill cost dearly. Fremantle’s last month of football has been as good as any team in the competition, with Michael Walters leading the way both in the midfield and up forward.
8. Port Adelaide Power (10)
Port completed a sensational win at home over league leaders Geelong on Saturday night, coinciding with the return of important key forward Charlie Dixon. In recent weeks, running defender Hamish Hartlett has also returned from a long term injury, giving the power a more balanced lineup that looks good enough to compete with the league’s best.
9. Essendon Bombers (12)
The Bombers have at times looked magnificent with speedy ball movement and a stellar defense, conceding the least points across the competition over the past month. The problem is, Essendon have had a soft draw to date, and have struggled to beat the higher rated teams across the league. This week’s home match-up with the Giants should give the football world a better indication of how good Essendon really is.
10. North Melbourne Kangaroos (14)
Interim coach Rhys Shaw has done a solid job since taking over the struggling Kangaroos, winning games against Richmond, Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs before falling to an impressive Greater Western Sydney in Tasmania. While unlikely to feature in the finals, the Kangaroos should provide a tough test for the big guns in the stretch run to September.
11. Richmond Tigers (5)
Richmond has struggled to cope with a horrendous injury run throughout 2019, reaching tipping point in the past month when the Tigers dropped three straight games. Now precariously placed just outside of the top eight and with a poor percentage, Damien Hardwick’s men will need to dig deep and hope for the return of some stars if they want to feature in the finals this season.
12. Sydney Swans (15)
Sydney has notched wins against the highly rated Eagles and Hawthorn in consecutive weeks, relying on more than just the veterans that have carried the Swans to multiple finals campaigns over the past decade. Youngsters such as Nick Blakey, Tom McCartin and Will Hayward have given a glimpse of a future that looks brighter than many expected.
13. Hawthorn Hawks (7)
The Hawks have fallen hard in recent weeks, dropping three games in a row to all but fall out of the finals race in 2019. Coach Alastair Clarkson and the Hawks brains trust will have some hard decisions to make on their ageing list at seasons end.
14. Western Bulldogs (11)
Lack of a big bodied ruckman has really hurt a plucky Bulldogs team this season, with young Tim English still developing his craft. Ranked dead last in hitouts, Luke Beveridge’s team has struggled to match opponents containing a premier ruckman. Overall, the development of young talent such as Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache will be the focus for the remainder of 2019.
15. St Kilda Saints (13)
The Saints injuries may not have received the publicity of those at Tigerland, but realistically the key personnel missing from the Saints best 22 has hurt them significantly. Sitting 11th on the ladder, this week’s match against Richmond could be billed the battle of the “not availables”. Realistically the loser of this game will find it tough to play finals this season.
16. Melbourne Demons (16)
The Demons finally notched a win over a hobbled Fremantle Dockers at the MCG on Saturday, but there can be no mistake that Simon Goodwin’s men have been the biggest disappointment in 2019. Expected to challenge for a coveted top four spot, Melbourne have looked a shadow of the team that looked such an exciting prospect in finishing 5th in 2018.
17. Carlton Blues (18)
The Blues remain at the foot of the AFL ladder however the past few weeks have shown glimpses of what the future could hold. The return to exciting form of forward Charlie Curnow, the continued excellence of Patrick Cripps plus cameos from Harry McKay, Will Setterfield and Jacob Weitering should mean better times ahead.
18. Gold Coast Suns (17)
The Suns continue to lose, but also continue to learn. Coach Stuart Dew has plenty of very young talent to work with, some that is yet to take the field due to injury such as Izak Rankine, Jez McLennan and Mitch Riordan.
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 8:41 AM EDT