With the last week of the season looming, Geelong has strengthened its premiership credentials and returned to second spot. Fremantle also moves up, while a disappointing performance from Sydney sees it drop to fourth.
1. (Last week – 1) Hawthorn Hawks – Record: 18-3
For a good part of the first three quarters, North Melbourne comfortably beat Hawthorn. The Hawks were denied the ball in that time and were forced to defend instead of attack. However, they eventually turned the tide and ran out victors, securing a top two finish.
2. (3) Geelong Cats – 16-4
Geelong sent a warning to the rest of the competition with a resounding win over fellow premiership contender Sydney, this week. The Cats did everything right, holding the Swans to only seven goals and looked threatening from the outset. Steven Motlop staked his claim for mark of the year, while Paul Chapman returned to the team and looked sharp.
3. (4) Fremantle Dockers – 16-1-4
Fremantle moves to third spot this week on the back of some terrific form. The Dockers have won their last five matches and their performance against the Power was spectacular. Many questioned Fremantle’s ability to score this year, however it has the highest percentage in the league. At this early stage it looks like Fremantle will play Geelong in the first week of the finals at Etihad Stadium, where it also plays in round 23 against St Kilda.
4. (2) Sydney Swans – 15-1-4
After a disappointing performance against Geelong, Sydney’s premiership credentials have to be questioned. Against a fellow contender, the Swans couldn’t find many winners forward of centre, with Geelong’s Harry Taylor holding Kurt Tippett to only six touches. Things were made worse for Sydney when Rhyce Shaw suffered a suspected ACL tear. Sydney faces another tough test on Friday when it hosts Hawthorn, at ANZ Stadium.
5. (5) Collingwood Magpies – 14-7
Collingwood was industrious on Friday night, destroying a hapless West Coast. The Magpies tuned their skills and played with freedom all across the ground, once again led by outstanding midfield duo, Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan. Relative new comers Josh Thomas and Marley Williams were also impressive in an otherwise dull game.
6. (6) Richmond Tigers – 14-7
Richmond’s 121-point victory, over GWS, may as well have been a training run for the Tigers. Richmond was too powerful on Sunday and the win helped it fine tune its skills for the month ahead. The Tigers will play the Bombers in round 23.
7. (7) Essendon Bombers – 14-7
Somehow Essendon won another thriller on Saturday night against its arch-rival Carlton. Despite the endless controversy it has faced this season, Essendon has been incredibly resilient, winning 14, or more, games for the first time since 2001. If it play finals, its opponents will be nervous, as the Bombers have shown an incredible ability to win games where it has been written off.
8. (8) Port Adelaide Power – 12-9
Port Adelaide was taught a lesson by the Dockers to the tune of 74 points, in a match that highlighted the difference between the top four and the rest of the top eight. Port Adelaide couldn’t handle Fremantle in any aspect of the game, and particularly struggled to mark the Dockers’ small forwards Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters.
9. (10) North Melbourne Kangaroos – 9-12
In a match indicative of its season, North Melbourne was probably the better side for the majority of the contest on Saturday, but couldn’t get over the line. In what was a very entertaining game, the Roos couldn’t hold down Hawthorn forwards Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead when it counted.
10. (9) Carlton Blues – 10-11
Once again, when Carlton had a chance to really stake a claim for finals football, it failed. After dominating the game for three quarters, the Blues ended up kicking 9.22. It wasn’t the first time a match winner from David Zaharakis had thwarted one of Mick Malthouse’s teams. Carlton remains in ninth place, and may still see September action, if Essendon does in fact lose its points.
11. (11) Brisbane Lions – 10-11
Brisbane is now equal ninth on points on the official ladder, giving it a technical chance of playing finals. The Lions did it tough, after cruising to a 56-point lead in the second quarter, they let the Bulldogs back in the game and nearly coughed it up. Tom Rockliff was the difference for Brisbane, collecting 33 disposals in a best on ground performance. The Lions now make the tough trip to Geelong to play the Cats. If they win they are a chance to finish ninth, which could prove crucial.
12. (12) Adelaide Crows – 9-12
Adelaide farewelled AAMI Stadium in fine fashion with a comfortable victory over Melbourne on Saturday. Lewis Johnston kicked a career high six goals, and Scott Thompson was a standout all day. Adelaide meets West Coast on Saturday night in Perth.
13. (13) West Coast – 9-12
In a disastrous seven days, after recording its lowest score in history at Subiaco a week earlier, West Coast also recorded its lowest score at the MCG on Friday night. While they have suffered some key injuries, the Eagles have been one of the most disappointing teams this season. They have a lot of work to do over the pre-season to return to the top half of the ladder.
14. (14) Western Bulldogs – 7-14
A poor first half let the Dogs down on Sunday, losing to the Lions by seven points. After trailing by 50 points at half time, the Western Bulldogs turned things around in the second half and had a chance to pull off a miraculous victory. However, the Dogs just couldn’t get themselves in front in the end, and will be left disappointed by their sluggish start to the match.
15. (15) Gold Coast Suns – 7-14
The Suns will be disappointed by their performance on Sunday. Gold Coast took the lead against St Kilda in the second quarter, but it soon fell off the pace and allowed St Kilda to dominate the game. It looked like a long season had taken its toll on the young Suns, but they’ll have a chance to respond when they host Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.
— Wayne Ludbey. (@WLudbey) August 25, 2013
16. (16) St Kilda Saints – 4-17
St Kilda gave something back to its suffering fans with a win over the Gold Coast. All of its older stars had excellent games, particularly Leigh Montagna, who had 33 possessions and kicked three goals. St Kilda hosts Fremantle in round 23 to close its season.
17. (17) Melbourne Demons – 2-19
Melbourne fell to another disappointing defeat against Adelaide on Saturday. Coach Neil Craig blamed ill discipline, but the Demons didn’t have the skills to damage the Crows. Melbourne closes a horror season when it faces the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
18. (18) Greater Western Sydney – 1-20
Greater Western Sydney suffered its 20th loss of the season on Sunday, in a dull affair. The Giants didn’t appear interested in forcing a contest for much of the match, and looked like they are focusing on their Sunday match against the Suns.
(Picture: Twitter – @WLudbey)