by Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
1. Western Bulldogs
Not at their best but still good enough to beat an impressive Collingwood at the MCG. They will only get better as the season unfolds and their injured talls return– a scary prospect for the other seventeen teams.
2. Adelaide Crows
The Crows made a mockery of claims their midfield is not top class with a comprehensive victory over the premiership favorite Giants. Every other team should fear playing the Crows at Adelaide Oval this season.
3. West Coast Eagles
Made light work of the Kangaroos away from home – where they have traditionally struggled. The addition of Sam Mitchell bodes well for forward gun Josh Kennedy who kicked seven goals in a Best On Ground performance.
4. Greater Western Sydney Giants
A sluggish start from the premiership favorites who were soundly beaten in contested ball and lost the Inside 50 meter count 65-47. Back home this week against the Gold Coast Suns, a great chance to right the ship.
5. Melbourne Demons
St. Kilda has been almost unstoppable at Etihad Stadium in the past few seasons but a much-improved Melbourne Demons was having none of it. With big Max Gawn dominating in the ruck, the Demons won almost every facet of the game, resulting in a six-goal victory that has Melbourne fans excited.
6. Sydney Swans
The highly rated Swans were shocked at home by an unheralded Port Power who beat the Swans at their own game – contested footy. No panic stations here but an upcoming game against the reigning premiers could see the Swans at 0-2 and looking up at the top eight.
7. Geelong Cats
Geelong had no trouble in the cauldron of Domain Stadium against a very disappointing Fremantle Dockers. Expected to be a big improver on the back of some solid recruiting and the return of Nat Fyfe, the Dockers had no answers to the brilliance of Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and a solid supporting cast for the Cats.
8. Hawthorn Hawks
While the return of Jarrod Roughead from skin cancer treatment was a great story for the Hawks, they were streamrolled late by an Essendon team finally free of the AFL sanctions imposed in the wake of their drug scandal. After trading spiritual leaders Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis to bring in young guns Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara, the Hawks would have been bitterly disappointed to be outlasted by the Bombers.
9. St Kilda Saints
The Saints tarnished their near-perfect record at Etihad Stadium as they were dominated by a hungry Melbourne Demons outfit under new coach Simon Goodwin. While there is plenty to like about the Saints, they will struggle to avoid a 0-2 start as they take on the West Coast Eagles at Domain Stadium in Perth.
10. Collingwood Magpies
The Magpies performed well against the reigning premiers in most facets of the game but were inefficient inside their forward fifty. In contrast the Western Bulldogs were devastating in attack, converting 44 inside 50’s into 15 goals while Collingwood scored just 12 goals from a whopping 62 entries. Showed enough to be confident against Richmond in round two.
11. Essendon Bombers
The Bombers came into season 2017 with renewed hope, finally having a full list of talented players at their disposal after the end of the drug scandal suspensions. Their fans were rewarded with a stirring first-up victory against a highly-fancied Hawthorn in transition itself. It feels like the first chapter in a very interesting story for the new season.
12. Port Adelaide Power
The Power was magnificent away from home in a first-up win against the highly fancied Sydney Swans. In damp conditions, the Power dominated the clearances and contested possession, usually one of the Swans strengths. Ollie Wines, Brad Ebert and rookie Sam Powell-Pepper led the way in what was an impressive Power victory.
13. Fremantle Dockers
The Dockers, with the return of Brownlow Medalist Nat Fyfe and a slew of new recruits were picked my many pundits to be big improvers this season. After being summarily torn apart by Geelong on their home deck, the preseason hype has turned to despair. Was it a hiccup or the shape of things to come? A round two face-off away against Port Adelaide should tell us more.
14. North Melbourne Kangaroos
A new-look Kangaroos were no match for a rejuvenated West Coast Eagles outfit at Etihad Stadium. After losing Daniel Wells and Brent Harvey from a solid midfield crew in the off-season, the Kangaroos suffered a further blow with key forward Jarrad Waite suffering a shoulder injury that will keep him out for at least a month. They look to be on the slide.
15. Richmond Tigers
With their coach under siege, some fresh faces and the hopes of the Tiger Army in their hearts, Richmond is desperate for an improved showing in 2017. A faster game style and a rejuvenated midfield got the job done against lowly-ranked Carlton, but the jury is still out. Collingwood awaits in a fixture that was decided by a solitary point last season.
16. Gold Coast Suns (14)
Round one was an absolute disaster for the Suns as they went down in the “Q” clash to fellow Queenslanders, the Brisbane Lions. Caught napping by a blistering Brisbane first quarter blitz, the Suns fought hard but ran out of time to lose by just two points.
17. Brisbane Lions
The Lions surprised everyone by downing the Suns on the Gold Coast. A fast start was the key as their midfield – led by the injury prone Dayne Beams – blitzed the Suns with a seven goal first quarter. The young Lions have nothing to lose and will look to develop their talent around a talented midfield of Beams, Tom Rockliff, and Dane Zorko.
18. Carlton Blues
Fresh coach Brendan Bolton has promised an exciting future for the Blues on the back of high draft picks in Patrick Cripps, Jacob Weitering, and Sam Petreveski-Seton. All showed flashes of brilliance against the Tigers in round one, though a high-turnover rate from the Blues suggests another tough season is ahead.
Article last changed on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 12:11 AM EDT