The Following is a guest post by Luke who offered his views on each game from the round. If you are interested in having your thoughts published on the AFLSpace site, contact me. Many thanks to Luke for providing this great review.
With half of the 2010 season in the books – in this weeks recap I’ll be taking a look at each club and their prospects going forward in 2010.
Richmond 59 lost to St Kilda 97
Richmond (16th) – Richmond’s upside begins and ends with Dustin Martin, averaging 20 disposals from his 10 games in 2010 – this kid can play. If the Tigers can keep him out of the grasp of Greater Western Sydney, then they are looking at a 10+ year player to build around, not to mention other class acts at the club including Cotchin, Foley and Deledio.
St Kilda (3rd) – Despite all that has been written about the Saints recently (a lot of if negative), they sit in a tie for second position on the ladder. The anticipated earlier than expected return to action by Nick Riewoldt would be a major boost for a club struggling to kick big scores. Of the teams currently in the top 8, the Saints are second to bottom in total points scored.
Carlton 101 defeated Melbourne 60
Carlton (5th) – The Blues are traveling nicely with 7 wins from their first 11 games, although they’d love another crack at Essendon and Hawthorn – both losses they really couldn’t afford to be a top 4 team. Carlton has a reasonable draw over the second half of 2010 but they must win their games against the Roos, Dockers and Lions (all at Etihad Stadium, rounds 12-14) to be in contention for the crucial “double chance” come finals times.
Melbourne (13th) – Melbourne surprised everyone to win 3 of their first 5, but have since dropped 5 of their next 6 to fall back to the pack. Despite recent poor form, Melbourne should be encouraged by the wealth of talent they have coming through – Scully, Trengove, Grimes, Gysberts, Morton and more – arguably the best batch of youngsters in the business and plenty of reasons for Melbourne supporters to be smiling.
Adelaide 105 defeated Fremantle 82
Adelaide (15th) – It’s been a horror year for the Crows and very difficult to find any positives – with injury, retirements and defeats the order of the season to date. The form of Richard Douglas, only 23 years of age and not widely regarded in the eastern states, has been encouraging for the Crows. Yes, as I said, very hard to find positives amongst the mess that has been the Crows season.
Fremantle (4th) – The Dockers have been superb in 2010, yet it’s still hard to know how much better they can be after 8 wins from their first 11 games (with the round 11 loss to the Crows only throwing more doubt into the mix). A finals position, especially a top 4 spot, would be an amazing result given many expected Fremantle to struggle yet again this year.
North Melbourne 90 defeated Brisbane 89
North Melbourne (12th) – It’s been a struggle for the Kangaroos in 2010, but at least they’ve managed to win the games against lower ranked opponents, albeit not by big margins (26 points being their highest winning margin this year). The worry is five losses by 40 points or more, including 4 of them by more than 60 points – indicating that when they lose, they really lose. Key players Andrew Swallow and Daniel Wells have been standouts for the Roos.
Brisbane (10th) – The Lions 2010 season has been a roller coaster ride, with the frightening prospect of Brendan Fevola being at the controls. Four wins to start 2010 showed what they could be, but 6 losses from their next 7 games has but them well and truly at the crossroads with their fixture featuring the Bulldogs, Blues, Hawks and Cats over the next 5 rounds. Brisbane needs Jonathon Brown and Brendan Fevola firing to be in finals contention.
West Coast 98 lost to Geelong 122
West Coast (14th) – What are we to make of the Eagles season to date? Just three wins from 11 games (against Essendon, Hawthorn and Melbourne mind you) but they have been competitive in most matches they have lost. The statistics show they are in the contest for three quarters, before falling away in the last term. Nick Naitaniui has been a sensation, but he has looked tired in recent games and may need a spell soon.
Geelong (1st) – The top team and reigning premiers have been as dynamic as ever in 2010. There appears to be nothing standing in their way of a third premiership in four years, having lost only twice for the season – to the Blues and Dockers. Gary Ablett has continued his Brownlow Medal winning form, whilst Paul Chapman and Jimmy Bartel have also starred. The upside for the top team? The eventual return of Joel Corey, Matthew Scarlett, Brad Ottens and Max Rooke to their best 22.
Sydney 89 defeated Essendon 80
Sydney (7th) – Fortunately, the Swans arrested their losing slide in round 11 with a much-needed win over the Bombers at the SCG. Prior to this win, they had looked far from the team that had won 5 of its first 6 games to be on top of the ladder after 6 rounds. If the Swans can have a productive next month and a half (with a reasonably good draw), finals remain very much an option for a team devoting the remainder of its season to recently retired (but still playing) spiritual leader, Brett Kirk.
Essendon (9th) – I’m not afraid to say it: I’m not a fan of Essendon and didn’t rate their squad entering 2010. And to be honest, I still don’t think highly of them however I will go as far as saying they have surprised me with their play so far in 2010. Currently sitting just outside the eight, the Bombers face the Cats and Hawks in rounds 12-13, before the draw opens up for them – only to then face a tough last month. Watson, Stanton and Hille have played near career best footy this year.
Hawthorn 74 defeated Port Adelaide 63
Hawthorn (8th) – A difficult team to read at the best of times, the Hawks started 2010 in appalling fashion by losing 6 of their first 7 to be languishing in 14th position and were facing an injury crisis to go along with it. Since round 7 however, the Hawks have won 4 straight – but of the teams they’ve beaten, only the Carlton win could be considered of any quality. Slowly getting their best 22 back on the park, Hawthorn may yet challenge strongly in the second half of 2010 – and it has been Luke Hodge who has again led from the front this year averaging almost 27 disposals and 5 marks per contest.
Port Adelaide (11th) – Did someone mention hard teams to read? Port Adelaide has been the epitome of inconsistency in 2010. They teased their supporters with 5 wins from their first 7 games (although the St Kilda victory was the only one of note) – but have then lost 4 in a row to fall to 11th spot on the ladder. Port Adelaide has failed to beat anyone of any real substance (St Kilda aside) and they handed the Tigers their sole win of 2010. I can’t see much improvement coming from the Power this season.
Collingwood 113 defeated Western Bulldogs 103
Collingwood (2nd) – Predictably, the Pies started 2010 in fine style, with just 3 losses from their 11 matches having them sitting in 2nd position on the ladder. The main worry for Collingwood is losses to the Cats and Saints, although to their credit they have defeated the Doggies twice. Dane Swan continues to rack up the possessions, whilst the class of Pendelbury and Didak has been on display for all to see in 2010. Newcomers Luke Ball and Daren Jolly have made an impact – and my favourite perennial whipping boy Dale Thomas (the AFL’s answer to Justin Bieber?) is also playing out of his skin. A top 4 spot looks assured for the Pies.
Western Bulldogs (6th) – Before their last quarter rally in round 11, the Dogs were headed for a second comprehensive defeat against the Pies this season. In the end, it was only a 10-point loss yet their run was left far too late. The worry for the Dogs is their inability to beat a class opponent, with their “best” wins coming against Sydney and Hawthorn. We will learn much from their next month – with games against the Lions, Eagles (away), Hawks and Blues. On the plus side, Barry Hall is third in the goal kicking race, but there doesn’t appear to be the same cohesion in the Bulldogs forward 50 compared to their performance in 2009. The (hopefully) imminent return of Brad Johnson and Bob Murphy may be just the tonic they need to re-energise their season.