by Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
1. Western Bulldogs (Last Week - 1)
The Bulldogs retain top spot on the AFANA Power Poll after a stirring win over a gallant Sydney Swans. Marcus Bontempelli and Luke Dalhaus were once again magnificent for the Bulldogs who are showing no signs of a premiership hangover.
2. Adelaide Crows (2)
Another big tick for the Crows who came from behind to beat Hawthorn for the first time since 2011. Despite losing tall forward Josh Jenkins early, the Crows were simply too slick for a Hawthorn outfit that is yet to hit their straps in 2017.
3. Greater Western Sydney Giants (4)
After going down in disappointing fashion to the Adelaide Crows in round one, the Giants tore the Gold Coast Suns apart by a whopping 102 points at Spotless Stadium on Saturday. Write them off at your peril.
4. West Coast Eagles (3)
The Eagles struggled early against a plucky St. Kilda which was the better team for most of the contest at Domain Stadium in Perth. Gun forward Josh Kennedy, well held by Nathan Brown for three quarters, exploded for three goals in the final quarter as the Eagles overran the Saints to post their second straight win.
5. Melbourne Demons (5)
The Demons rolled to 2-0 for the first time since 2005, seeing off a plucky Carlton by 22 points at the MCG on Sunday Afternoon. The good news was the sensational form of young Clayton Oliver, backing up his excellent round one performance with another brilliant all-round performance. The bad news was the suspensions of star players Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan for off-the-ball misdemeanors.
6. Geelong Cats (7)
The Cats pulled off a Houdini-like escape to scrape by the Kangaroos by one point in a stirring finish at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Trailing by 32 points in the third quarter, Geelong stormed home on the back of sensational play by Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood to hit the lead for the first time in the last minute of the match. Were the Cats lucky or good? Probably a bit of both.
7. Sydney Swans (6)
Under pressure to perform after a shock loss at home to Port Adelaide in round one, the Swans took the game right up to the reigning premier Western Bulldogs in a cracking game of footy. With star forward Lance Franklin in startling form, the Swans once again looked like a top four team. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t take down a rampaging Bulldogs and find themselves at 0-2.
8. Port Adelaide Power (12)
What a difference a year makes. A barnstorming 89 point victory in front of an ebullient home crowd has the Power looking like a top-eight contender once again. While the quality of the opposition in Fremantle must be questioned, there is no doubt that Port’s best players are back to their best. A tantalizing matchup with crosstown rival Adelaide awaits us in round three.
9. Hawthorn Hawks ( 8 )
The Hawks looked solid for a half against the Adelaide Crows, but were not able to sustain their momentum against a very good Crows team, going down by 24 points and falling to 0-2. There is still plenty to like here, but the new-look Hawks simply have to win against the Gold Coast Suns next week.
10. Essendon Bombers (11)
The Bombers dominated the Brisbane Lions early and looked to be headed for a big win, before the Lions launched an inspired comeback to take the lead after trailing by 42 points. The move of exciting defender Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti into the midfield injected some life into the Essendon midfield and saw the Bombers steady to win by 27 points. At 2-0, things are looking up for long-suffering Bomber fans.
11. St Kilda Saints (9)
St Kilda did everything right for three quarters against the West Coast Eagles in Perth, with the exception of taking more chances in front of goal. Unfortunately for the Saints, Josh Kennedy found his mojo in a dominating final quarter, and buoyed by a rabid home crowd, took the game from the Saints in a scintillating last quarter. There is still plenty to like about Saint Kilda in 2017.
12. Richmond Tigers (15)
The Tigers got some revenge from 2016’s one-point loss to Collingwood with an excellent second-half that saw them home over a struggling Collingwood. At 2-0 for the first time since 2013, a massive test awaits against the West Coast Eagles in round three.
13. North Melbourne Kangaroos (14)
The Kangaroos can consider themselves very unlucky in going down to Geelong by a solitary point in an exciting contest at Etihad Stadium. Despite missing their premier ruckman in Todd Goldstein, the Kangaroos took the game right up to the Cats, playing an aggressive running style that had them looking the better team for most of the match. Whilst they may struggle to reach the finals this season, they are proving themselves a resilient bunch who will be no easy beats.
14. Collingwood Magpies (10)
The Magpies looked to be heading for their first win against Richmond on Thursday night, but poor kicking for goal failed to put the Tigers away in a tight first half. A resurgent Richmond ran over the Magpies in the second half, leaving Collingwood at 0-2 and coach Nathan Buckley under immense pressure from a rabid fan base.
15. Brisbane Lions (17)
Despite going down to Essendon by 27 points on their home deck, there were some promising signs for the young Lions. New coach Chris Fagan would be pleased with the endeavor of his boys who came from 42 points down to head the Bombers early in the final quarter. Eric Hipwood was impressive, and with a solid midfield built around Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko and Tom Rockliff, the Lions will challenge teams at home this season as their kids develop.
16. Carlton Blues (18)
The Blues played hard in a dour contest against Melbourne at the MCG, but ultimately lacked the class to win the game against a team on the rise. Whilst there is plenty to like about youngsters like Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton, the Blues will need continued solid contributions from Marc Murphy and young gun Patrick Cripps if they are to win more than a handful of games in 2017. Unfortunately Cripps was felled by Melbourne’s Jordan Lewis that may result in him missing next week’s contest with a suspected facial fracture.
17. Fremantle Dockers (13)
It is hard to believe this is a team that played in the Grand Final as recently as 2013. Slow ball movement and a lack of confidence are making a mockery of the pundits expecting a return to the top eight for the Dockers this season. At 0-2 and facing the reigning premier Western Bulldogs in round three, the season is quickly slipping away for the hapless Dockers.
18. Gold Coast Suns (16)
After a disappointing first-up loss to the Brisbane Lions, you would have expected the Suns to play their hearts out against the other new kids on the block – the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Instead, the Suns served up another insipid performance in going down to the Giants by a whopping 102 points. The AFL will be concerned.
Article last changed on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - 11:24 AM EDT