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AFL West Coast v Fremantle, Round 16, Optus Stadium.
Nic Nat Leads the Pack

It has taken until the completion of round sixteen, but the reigning premiers are back at the top of the AFANA AFL Power Poll after thumping cross-town rivals Fremantle by 91 points on Saturday. The Eagles win coincided with Geelong going down to an improved Western Bulldogs and Collingwood being run over in the last quarter by Hawthorn on Friday night, signaling a change in not only the AFANA Power Poll but betting markets all over the country.

The Brisbane Lions announced to the rest of the competition that they are not only big improvers but a genuine threat to the top four with an away win full of merit against the fancied Greater Western Sydney Giants. Port Adelaide continued it's up and down season by crushing the favored Adelaide Crows in the "Showdown" at Adelaide Oval and the resurgent Kangaroos had another comfortable win, this time over a faltering Saint Kilda.

Up on the Gold Coast the Tigers reminded us that they have not conceded the 2019 season with a thumping 92 point drubbing of the Suns, Essendon kept pace with the top eight on the back of a hard fought win over Sydney, and finally Melbourne gave their supporters something to cheer about as they hung on despite a raft of injuries to defeat Carlton at the MCG.

With just seven rounds of footy remaining, the AFANA AFL Power Poll looks like this....

1.    West Coast Eagles (Last Week - 2) 
As the season has progressed, the Eagles have improved. The return of Nic Naitanui, the form of Shannon Hurn and Luke Shuey plus the best tall forward duo in the league in Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling has put the rest of the competition on notice. If you want the premiership in 2019, you have to take it from the reigning champions.

2.    Geelong Cats (1) 
With a two-game lead at the pointy end of the AFL ladder there is no need for panic stations at Geelong. Recent losses to the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide however has raised some question marks about the Cats defense that will need to be answered, however the Cats remain in the box seat for a top two finish.

3.    Brisbane Lions (5) 
2019 has been quite a season for the Lions, who have won four of their last five and claimed a sensational win on the road against an extremely talented Giants outfit on Sunday. While the quality of the Lions midfield was always known the development of young forward Eric Hipwood (21 years old) and young defender Harris Andrews (22) has vaulted Brisbane into premiership contention.

4.    Collingwood Magpies (3) 
Sitting pretty just a couple of weeks ago, Collingwood all of a sudden looks to be in a vulnerable position as far as a coveted top-four finish is concerned. Injuries to Ben Reid and Jeremy Howe in particular plus the suspension to Jaidyn Stephenson for gambling on AFL games has robbed the Magpies of some structure. With two losses in a row and a trip to Perth to take on the in-form Eagles, Nathan Buckley will be working over time this week in an attempt to get Collingwood's season back on the expected track.

5.    Greater Western Sydney Giants (4) 
A month ago the Giants were sitting pretty for a top four finish and looking a very good chance to compete for the club's first premiership. Since then, Greater Western Sydney has stumbled, losing to Adelaide, Essendon and Brisbane with just one win (against the Kangaroos) in the last month. The impending return of Lachie Whitfield will be a big boost for the Giants who face a big month ahead against Richmond, Port and Collingwood.

6.    Essendon Bombers (7) 
Four wins in five starts has Essendon back on track for a potential top eight spot, the return from injury by Jake Stringer helping the Bombers to take care of Sydney on Saturday afternoon. There is no doubt the Bombers best is good enough to challenge for a finals berth, the question is whether John Worsfold's men can consistently produce the goods over the final seven weeks of the minor round.

7.    North Melbourne Kangaroos (8) 
The Kangaroos continue to charge up the AFANA AFL Power Poll and the AFL ladder, having notched five wins in their last six games. This week's matchup with Essendon is the proverbial "eight point" game, with both teams fighting for a chance to steal a top eight spot come finals time. Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell have been masterful for North Melbourne, while young guns Cameron Zurhaar, Tarryn Thomas and Luke Davies-Uniacke have added a new dimension to the kangaroos attack.

8.   Richmond Tigers (9) 
The Tigers destroyed an undermanned Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday, in turn giving themselves a much-needed percentage boost in the run to the finals. Richmond has struggled to beat the elite teams so far in 2019, but with many of their injured stars back in the line-up, they are well placed to make some noise in the run home. The month ahead will be make or break for the Tigers in 2019.

9.    Port Adelaide Power (11) 
Port did it again. After losing to the Western Bulldogs at home, they went in as underdogs against the cross-town Crows, and summarily smashed Adelaide with a scintillating second half of football where they outscored the Crows 9.9 to 1.3. At times this season Port have looked as good as any team in the competition, but like other teams outside the top four, consistency is key. With Robbie Gray back to his best form, Port will feel it can claim a finals berth in 2019.

10.    Adelaide Crows (6) 
The Crows put a solid showing against league leading Geelong two weeks ago, but their second half capitulation to Port Adelaide in the local "Showdown" on Saturday afternoon has Adelaide fans lining up with pitchforks and torches, demanding a response from Don Pyke's men. A lack of leg speed has been blamed as part of the issue for the Crows, so expect to see some changes to the line-up in the coming weeks. A date with the Suns on the Gold Coast would be the perfect time to experiment.

11.    Western Bulldogs (13) 
The Bulldogs did it again. A week removed from a stirring win away from home in the wet against Port Adelaide, the Bulldogs took the scalp of the competition leaders Geelong on the back of a strong finish at Marvel Stadium. Trailing by 10 points at three-quarter time, the Bulldogs had great service from young forward Aaron Naughton who turned the game along with midfielders Josh Dunkley, Marcus Bontempelli and the underrated Lachie Hunter. A win full of merit, and it keeps them within striking distance of the top eight.

12.    Hawthorn Hawks (14) 
The Hawks pulled off a miraculous win over Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night, winning by four points after trailing by 10 points at the final change. The most pleasing aspect for Coach Alastair Clarkson would have been the contribution of young forwards Mitchell Lewis and second gamer Oliver Hanrahan who booted two goals apiece. 

13.    Fremantle Dockers (10) 
It was a dirty day at the office for Fremantle at Optus Oval, as they were completely torn apart by the cross-town rival West Coast Eagles to the tune of a whopping 91 points. The Dockers had no answer to the skill of the Eagles, and now find themselves on a three game losing streak and down to 11th on the ladder. A match-up with Hawthorn in Tasmania this week looms as crucial if the Dockers want to remain in touch with the final eight.

14.    Sydney Swans (12) 
The Swans had their three game win streak broken by Essendon at the MCG on Saturday, despite matching Essendon in almost every facet of a tight contest. In the end the Bombers finished a little better in front of goal, but Sydney would be pleased with their much younger team being in the game right until the death. Makeshift ruckman Aliir Aliir held his own against Zach Clarke and Shaun McKernan, adding another string to the exciting back man's bow.    

15.    Melbourne Demons (17) 
Melbourne hung on to win against the Blues in the face of a mounting injury toll, finishing the game with just one fit bench player. Tom McDonald returned to form with six goals before unfortunately succumbing to a knee injury that threatens to sideline him for a few weeks at least. 

16.    St Kilda Saints (16) 
The Saints continue to struggle in the face of injury, this time going down to the Kangaroos by 39 points at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. The loss was the third in as many games for the Saints, who are badly missing playmakers Jack Steven, Jarryn Geary and Dan Hanneberry. After showing some solid fight throughout the season, it seems the tipping point has been reached.

17.    Carlton Blues (15) 
The Blues were competitive against Melbourne but ultimately fell short once again, going down by five points. The positive was that Carlton scored 100 points and had solid contributions from struggling young players Jack Silvagni and Sam Petrevski-Seton. The flip side is the concerning form of big name recruit Mitch McGovern who managed just five disposals for the match. 

18.    Gold Coast Suns (18) 
The Suns crashed to their 11th straight defeat on Saturday at the hands of a rampaging Richmond, and this one was ugly. While Gold Coast has been competitive for much of the losing streak, the game against the Tigers was far from it as Richmond notched a 100 point first half en-route to a 92 point victory. 

Article last changed on Tuesday, July 09, 2019 - 10:14 AM EDT


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