Despite some surprise losses, the top eight is unmoved this week. North Melbourne’s win over Geelong sees it move to tenth on the ladder, while Brisbane also moves up. Melbourne finds itself yet again holding up the ladder after its loss to Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.
1. (Last week – 1) Hawthorn Hawks – Record: 15-3
Without any influence from forwards Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead, Hawthorn lacked offensive potency on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers, who won the first 13 clearances of the match, beat the Hawks inside and out. Hawthorn will be hoping for a return to form when it meets St Kilda on Friday night.
2. (2) Sydney Swans – 14-1-3
Sydney officially moved to second on the ladder with a win over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. The Swans didn’t have it all their way against the Dogs though, as they were pressured every time they touched the ball. However, as good sides do, Sydney managed to weather the storm and pull away late for a seemingly comfortable victory. Sydney hosts Collingwood this week and will be fine-tuning for September.
3. (3) Geelong Cats – 14-4
North Melbourne exposed Geelong in contested situations on Friday, raising major concerns as September approaches. One of those concerns was Geelong’s poor display in the ruck, which led to a disappointing night around the stoppages. Three of Geelong’s four losses, this season, have been against sides outside the top eight.
4. (4) Fremantle Dockers – 13-1-4
Following Essendon’s loss to Collingwood on Sunday, the Dockers have now moved into fourth place on the ladder. Fremantle proved too strong for Carlton on Saturday night, with its small forwards Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne as antagonistic as ever. Fremantle will regain skipper Matthew Pavlich next weekend when it faces a revitalised Greater Western Sydney outfit.
5. (5) Essendon Bombers – 13-5
After another tumultuous week in the media the Bombers came out sluggish and finished just the same. At times Essendon didn’t even look interested against Collingwood, which was shown by the result. The Bombers will be hoping it was a one off performance and that they can return to form on Sunday when they meet the West Coast Eagles.
6. (6) Richmond Tigers – 12-6
The Tigers had an impressive display in contested situations, winning 32 more contested balls than Hawthorn, which was enough to see them win on Saturday. Richmond showed that it won’t just be making up the numbers and suddenly look very dangerous come September.
7. (7) Collingwood Magpies – 12-6
Collingwood fired a warning to the rest of the competition after crushing Essendon on Sunday. In a brutal performance, the Magpies won every quarter and embarrassed the Bombers in a 79-point victory. If Collingwood is serious about becoming a premiership contender it will have to show much of the same on Saturday night against a red-hot Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
8. (8) Port Adelaide – 11-7
Port Adelaide moved two games clear of ninth spot with a classic win over its arch-rival Adelaide. The Power seemed all but out of it in the dying moments, until Chad Wingard gave them the lead in the last 30 seconds. Wingard was clearly best on ground in a spectacular performance, kicking five goals and gathering 24 disposals. Port faces a big test when it travels to Geelong on Saturday afternoon.
9. (9) Carlton Blues – 9-9
Carlton was made to look like a team very much outside the finals race, on Saturday night, going down to Fremantle. The Blues were beaten all over the ground, and while Heath Scotland and Zach Tuohy were good offensively, it proved little against their opponents which turned it on in the last quarter. Carlton is now two games behind Port Adelaide, in eighth spot, and can’t afford to let the gap widen.
10. (11) North Melbourne Kangaroos – 8-10
On the back of a classic display from the evergreen Brent Harvey, North Melbourne held on to defeat the Cats on Friday night. Without skipper Andrew Swallow, the Kangaroos showed that they could still win the contested ball and were aided by a dominant Todd Goldstein who controlled the stoppage plays.
11. (12) Brisbane Lions – 8-10
Despite a career-threatening injury to skipper Jonathan Brown, the Lions continued their good form with a win over the Saints. Daniel Merrett’s move forward proved a master stroke, kicking three goals in a vital contribution. Brisbane faces an in-form Richmond on Saturday.
12. (10) Adelaide Crows – 7-11
Just when the Crows thought that their season couldn’t get much worse, they went down to Port Adelaide in a thriller. Despite leading by 20 points with five minutes left on the clock an unbelievable goal by Port Adelaide forward Angus Monfries helped the Power close the gap. Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield battled hard and kicked four goals, while splitting his time in the midfield and forward line.
13. (13) West Coast Eagles – 8-10
In an entertaining shoot-out the Eagles emerged victorious over the Suns on Saturday. Scott Selwood was terrific on Gary Ablett and Josh Kennedy booted five goals for West Coast. The Eagles travel to Etihad Stadium on Sunday to take on Essendon.
14. (14) Gold Coast Suns – 6-12
The Suns just couldn’t bridge the gap in the second half, going down to the Eagles on Saturday. Gold Coast was competitive all day but couldn’t hit the lead when it had the chance. Dion Prestia was terrific all day for the Suns, continuing his good season. Gold Coast will be looking to bounce back with a strong performance when it meets Melbourne next weekend.
15. (15) Western Bulldogs – 5-13
As far as six goal losses go this was one of the best. The Bulldogs were impressive in their endeavor and willingness to put pressure on the Swans on Sunday. Despite dominating play in the third quarter, the Bulldogs conceded three goals in the final three minutes of play costing them a chance at victory. The resolve and effort the Dogs showed will give supporters hope for 2014.
16. (16) St Kilda Saints – 3 -15
It was the same old story for the Saints on Saturday night. St Kilda fell short of victory and its best players were its veterans, midfield trio Leigh Montagna, Nick Dal Santo and Lenny Hayes. Controversial forward Ahmed Saad was a late inclusion in the side, featuring with two goals from three possessions, and coach Scott Watters said his inclusion was above board. On Friday, St Kilda meets the Hawks who are coming off a loss.
17. (18) Greater Western Sydney Giants – 1-17
Finally the Giants got off the mark for season 2013. They waited until their final chance, with a terrific performance from co-captain Callan Ward, and proved too strong for the struggling Demons. It was important for the young players to have something to celebrate this season and a victory was enough to see them move off the bottom of the True Ladder.
18. (17) Melbourne Demons – 2-16
After showing a brief glimpse of competitiveness under interim coach Neil Craig, the Demons have fallen back to their early season form. After losing the lead late in the first quarter against the Giants, Melbourne never recovered and played catch up for the rest of the contest.