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Bruce and the Saints are Flying

Welcome to the first AFANA AFL Power Poll for 2019, and what a crazy couple of rounds of footy we have witnessed to kick off the season! If what we have seen so far is any indication, Aussie rules football fans are in for a crazy ride in 2019. Nothing should surprise us given the last three premiers have come from 8th, 13th and 6th on the ladder in the year prior to taking out the big one. 

The two grand finalists from last year both suffered hiccups in round one before powering to wins over tough competition in round two to re-establish their credentials, while the previously struggling Saint Kilda have overcome some early season injuries to notch two wins in two starts to give their long-suffering supporters some early hope in 2019.
 
Here’s how the AFANA AFL Power Poll has panned out as we head into round three.

1.    Geelong Cats 
The Cats have earned the number one spot after taking care of 2018 grand finalist Collingwood and the highly fancied Melbourne in the first two rounds, looking menacingly strong at both ends of the field in the process. The additions of forward pressure specialists Luke Dalhaus and Gary Rohan, plus the injection of youth in players such as Jordan Clark and Charlie Constable has “freshened up” a team that relied on too few stars last season. Livewire Tim Kelly also looks to have gone up another notch in the midfield.

2.    Collingwood Magpies 
It may be a little generous putting the Magpies at number two with a 1-1 record, however the way Collingwood destroyed Richmond using a heavily based possession game should send shivers throughout the rest of the competition. A healthy Darcy Moore and Jamie Elliott plus the freakish ability of Jordan De Goey up forward will once again make the Magpies a strong contender in 2019.

3.    Western Bulldogs 
The 2016 champion bulldogs had seemingly disappeared forever. Fast forward to the end of round two where the Doggies piled on eight unanswered goals to defeat an experienced Hawthorn team, and you have to like what you are seeing. The second youngest team to take the field on the weekend with an average age of 24.25 years, Luke Beveridge’s men have been boosted by the return of Tom Liberatore from injury and the natural development of young guns Josh Schache and Caleb Daniel. 

4.    West Coast Eagles 
The reigning premiers had a slow start in round one going down to Brisbane, but shrugged off the premiership hangover with an emphatic win at home over a strong Giants outfit. The return of key forward Josh Kennedy allowed Jack Darling (4 goals) and converted back man Oscar Allen (3 goals) to be freed up, making it difficult for the Giant defense to man up on their opponents. With Allen having plenty of development to come at just 20 years of age, plus the imminent return of suspended key midfielder Andrew Gaff, the Eagles are well placed to defend the premiership.

5.    Port Adelaide Power 
Wins over Melbourne and Carlton have defied preseason predictions of doom and gloom for Ken Hinkley’s men. The losses of Chad Wingard and Jared Polec via trade have been offset by a healthy Tom Rockliff and a great start to the season by draftees Zak Butters, Willem Drew, Xavier Duursma and Connor Rozee. The addition of key ruckman Scott Lycett from the Eagles has also proved to be an early season success. The challenge for Port will be for the young guns to remain consistent as the season wears on, but it’s a case of so far, so good for the Power.

6.    Greater Western Sydney Giants 
The Giants may have met their match in the West against the reigning premiers, but their first round demolition of the Bombers is a solid indicator of the talent level in the squad. Lachie Whitfield has taken his game to another level, Stephen Coniglio is a pure midfielder who will benefit from the return of his off-siders in Josh Kelly and Callan Ward, and Tim Taranto is ready to take a step up this season. A healthy Toby Greene is the x-factor up forward along with the talented Jeremy Cameron.

7.    Brisbane Lions 
Speaking of teams with an abundance of young talent, the Lions are off to a flier with wins over the West Coast Eagles at home and North Melbourne on the road. Lachie Neale has been on fire in the midfield since joining from Fremantle in the off-season, while live-wire forward Charlie Cameron (7 goals) has been better than advertised after crossing from the Adelaide Crows. Coach Chris Fagan has plenty of young talent on tap, the challenge will be, as it is for all young teams, consistency.

8.    St Kilda Saints 
The Saints are without key forward Patrick McCartin, new midfield recruit Dan Hannebery and defenders Jake Carlise and Dylan Roberton – yet they have won their first two games of the season, an impressive feat given the number of outs. Whilst it can be argued they have “only” beaten the Gold Coast Suns and an inexplicably awful Essendon, they have played some pretty good football, and showed great endeavor as they currently are the 3rd ranked team for tackles in the league.

9.    Hawthorn Hawks 
At three quarter time against the Bulldogs yesterday the Hawks might have found themselves in the top few on the AFANA AFL Power Poll. Alas, a combination of injuries to Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels plus a rampant eight-goal burst by the Bulldogs saw the Hawks slide down to number nine with a 1-1- record. A win on the road against the Crows in round one, plus the miraculous return to football of recruit Tom Scully months ahead of schedule and the imminent return from injury by recruit Chad Wingard has me bullish on the Hawks prospects in 2019 (not to mention 2020 when Tom Mitchell is back).

10.    Adelaide Crows 
The Crows didn’t deliver on their off-season promise in round one with a loss to the Hawks at home, but a win on the road against the Sydney Swans has them firmly back on track. Brad Crouch has gotten through two games unscathed which is a huge bonus for Adelaide, while a very soft draw this season should give the 2017 grand final losers a great springboard to return to finals action in 2019.

11.    Richmond Tigers 
Just two weeks into the AFL season and one of the premiership fancies is in disarray. After losing the league’s premier defender Alex Rance in round one to a season-ending ACL injury, the Tigers now face the prospect of at least a month without their top goal kicker for each of the past nine seasons in Jack Riewoldt. With a 1-1- record after being thrashed by Collingwood, Richmond will look to retool as they face the Giants and Power - both on the road - in the next two rounds.

12.    Fremantle Dockers 
The Dockers looked the goods in round one as they thumped North Melbourne by 82 points in Perth, but came crashing back to earth with a loss on the road to the young Gold Coast Suns. A big positive for Ross Lyon’s team is the form of Cam McCarthy, who seems determined to show his worth after the Docker’s traded for another key forward in Jesse Hogan. McCarthy looks fit and strong after an off-season in the gym, which should give Fremantle a more dynamic attack in 2019, and of course Nat Fyfe looks as good as ever.

13.    Gold Coast Suns 
After narrowly missing out on victory in round one, the youngest team in the AFL produced a stirring come from behind victory against Fremantle at Metricon Stadium on Sunday. The Suns dominated play for much of the contest but were wasteful in front of goal until things clicked late in the final quarter. Alex Sexton, who recently signed a long term contract with the Suns, has been a revelation with eight goals to his name to date. Jack Martin has also been in stellar form, giving the struggling franchise plenty of hope for the future.

14.    Melbourne Demons 
I expected the Demons to come out firing in 2019 and be one of the teams to beat – how wrong I was. Whilst I still believe this team has the personnel to go deep into the finals, a shock loss to Port Adelaide at the MCG in round one followed by a drubbing at Geelong on Saturday has put the Demons on the back foot as they prepare to take on Essendon in round three. With a midfield boasting Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and Jack Viney among others, expect Melbourne to climb up the AFANA FL Power Poll rankings in the coming weeks.

15.    Sydney Swans 
The Swans have stumbled out of the gate this season with losses to the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide in the first two rounds. Star forward Lance Franklin came into the season with no practice matches under his belt, and with fellow forward recruit Dan Menzel suffering a groin injury before even playing a game for his new club, the Swans have found limited avenues to goal in the early going.

16.    Carlton Blues 
The Blues have fallen to a 0-2 record but things haven’t been all bad for Brendon Bolton’s young charges. Missing first choice ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and the up and coming Caleb Marchbank (plus Sam Docherty to a season ending ACL injury), Carlton have been competitive in their hitouts with Richmond and Port but have faded late in both games. Number one draft pick Sam Walsh has all the hallmarks of a 200 game player while young forward Harry McKay has shown flashes of brilliance at times. On the up.

17.    North Melbourne Kangaroos 
The Kangaroos would be disappointed to be without a win after they led Brisbane in the third quarter and appeared to be headed for victory. It wasn’t to be as the young Lions stormed home to take the game by 20 points. Recruits Jared Polec and Aaron Hall have had patches of brilliance but overall North Melbourne have plenty to work on if they want to challenge for the top eight.

18.    Essendon Bombers 
The Bombers came into season 2019 full of promise that this would be the year they finally put pay to a 14-year finals winning drought. The addition of workhorse midfielder Dylan Shiel was seen as the piece of the puzzle that would send Essendon back into the race for the premiership after finishing just a game out of the top eight in 2018. Incredibly, the Bombers losses to the Giants (72 points) and St Kilda (11 points) have included some poor football at best and abysmal football at worst. Your move John Worsfold. 
 

Article last changed on Tuesday, April 02, 2019 - 11:13 AM EDT


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