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.
As usual at this time of year, clubs whose seasons are over, begin reviewing their player lists and culling players to prepare for the national draft by opening spots on the roster in a process known as delisting. Some players decide it is time to hang up the boots while others decide they want out of where they are at. So here is the latest as the first part of a multi-part post.
North Melbourne delisted Billy Hartung, Tom Jeffries, Oscar Junker, Gordon Narrier, Daniel Nielson, and Josh Williams. Hartung was thrown a lifeline by the Kangaroos in last year's draft after being delisted by Hawthorn. The midfielder played 63 games for the Hawks 2014-17 and 13 games for Roos, with his solitary year with the club ruined by a torn hamstring in Round 14. After making their debuts in 2017,
The Fremantle Dockers took advantage of the wet and slippery conditions at Optus Stadium to defeat Port Adelaide Power by nine points. The win meant little but pride for the Dockers, but it cost the Power a potential second spot on the ladder. As a result of the shock loss, the stunned Power have plummeted to fifth place on the ladder. The game was not pretty and was made difficult by the combination of rain and swirling winds. With their bigger and more mature bodies the visitors won more contested possessions; but the Dockers had raw hunger and pushed more players to the ball. Port could not initiate their running game as their playmakers were cramped and chased by desperate Docker tacklers.
With the byes behind us, the first full slate of AFL games in a month gave us an absolutely sensational round of football with upsets, tight finishes and a brand new AFANA Power Poll leader!
Round fifteen highlights included a win for the Tigers over the second placed Swans, upset wins by Saint Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Brisbane and a big win by the Giants over the Hawks that has really opened up the competition for the final eight as we head into the last two months of the minor round.
With six teams enjoying the week off due to the programmed mid-season bye rounds, there was less quantity but no lack of quality during a fascinating round of football on the weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday night with Port continuing its good form with another win, but Friday night was what the AFL public was waiting for, with the Sydney Swans – the only team to defeat the Eagles – facing the West Coast again, this time on their home deck at the SCG.
Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The West Coast Eagles won contested possessions and used their height advantage in attack and defeated the Port Adelaide Power to record their sixth consecutive victory. Port offered little challenge, except briefly during the third quarter. Port’s coach, Ken Hinkley, was obviously disappointed with his players’ lack of hardness and desire to compete.
Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray kick-started his team's Semi-Final victory over the Fremantle Dockers and was the difference between the two teams, scoring four goals in the third quarter. Along with brilliant support crew Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard, who threw everything they had at the Dockers, the Power got sweet revenge after being defeated by Fremantle for a Top Four finish just two short weeks ago.
Jamie Kloeden and Janet Linn reporting from Australia
It has been a big off-season for both Carlton and Port Adelaide. The Blues lured one of the biggest name free agents on the market in Dale Thomas who made the move from Collingwood while Port brought in Jared Polec from Brisbane. Port Adelaide faces the added pressure of being the big improvers of season 2013 and will now be expected to not only maintain that high level of performance but take it to the next level and be genuine contenders for the Premiership title.
Two weeks ago at Patersons Stadium, the Fremantle Dockers played their first game against Geelong as if they were Grand Final material. In Round 3 against the Brisbane Lions they looked second rate. First blood went to the Lions with Todd Banfield awarded a free kick after Stephen Hill bamboozled himself and ran too far with the football. Brisbane was all over the more fancied home side which was hesitant in its disposals and not kicking truly when in possession of the ball. Both teams had a full court press on with their zones and the game resembled a chess match as each side tried to move the ball forward. Unfortunately it was not a Boris Spassky-Bobby Fisher level game but more like their unprepared understudies stepping into the spotlight.