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.
The 2010 Home-and-Away season is in the books, with an exciting Finals series to follow in September. To close out the year, let’s take a look at how each club fared this season compared with pre-season expectations.
Adelaide – What started as a season with finals and potentially premiership aspirations, ended as a transition year for the Crows with the likes of Simon Goodwin, Tyson Edwards, Brett Burton and Andrew McLeod retiring – making way for the younger generation to come through. A 11th place finish was quite respectable after losing their first 6 games.
Brisbane – The Lions recruited in the last off-season with their expectations clearly being a second consecutive finals appearance, after brining Brendan Fevola, Brent Staker, Amon Buchanan and others into the fold. They started superbly, with 4 emphatic wins but losing their next 5 games took the wind out of their sails. Jonathon Brown struggled through 2010 with injury and needs to be up and firing for the Lions to be contenders. All up, a disappointing season for Brisbane.
Carlton – The Blues finished 7th in 2009 with 13 wins, exiting the finals race in the first week. This year, the Blues won 11 games but could have finished as high as 5th or 6th if results from round 22 had have gone their way. Losing Matthew Kreuzer mid-season was a huge blow – and whilst the forward line functioned without Fevola – the Blues back line continues to be a worry going forward. A finals win would make it good season for the Blues.
Collingwood – Winners of the Minor Premiership and 17 wins in the home and away season tells the story. The Magpies have been superb all season and are currently premiership favourites. The Pies have received career best seasons from a number of their stars – including Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Alan Didak, Dale Thomas and Harry O’Brien. Nothing short of a premiership will appease the club and supporters alike.
Essendon – The Bombers made Top 8 last season (with only 10 wins and a draw), but folded when the finals pressure was applied. They expected to be at least in contention again in 2010, but the season was a nightmare for all involved at Bomber-land, culminating in the sacking of Matthew Knights on Sunday. The Dons managed a respectable 5 wins from their first 10 games, but then recorded only another 2 wins after round 10. There are few positives to come out of 2010 – and I can’t see much improvement in a hurry.
Fremantle – The Dockers surprised everyone this season, starting brilliantly with 6 wins from their first 7 games – and finished 6th (with 13 wins) to score a home final next week. Their younger players have delivered, whilst Aaron Sandilands took his game to a new level this season – not to mention great seasons from Pavlich, Mundy, Duffield and others. The emergence of Michael Barlow was a great story (before the injury), whilst Stephen Hill will be a star. A finals victory would be a fitting reward for their 2010 campaign.
Geelong – It felt as though the Cats flew under the radar this season, despite coming off a premiership in 2009. Much of the focus has been on Gary Ablett and his decision to stay at the Cattery or head to the Gold Coast, with that question still unanswered. It’s all about finals for the Cats, so you get the feeling their real season starts against the Saints next Friday night. Rightly or wrongly, they’ll be judged on whether they collect their third premiership in 4 years.
Hawthorn – It started as a horrific year for Alistair Clarkson and his team, losing 6 of their first 7 matches to be written off for the year by most footy commentators amidst a horror run of injury. The Hawks slowly got close to their best 22 back on the park – and the good results followed, with 7 consecutive wins before a loss to the Cats in one of the games of the year. But they had announced to the footy world they were back – and have locked in a finals appearance against the Dockers next week in Perth. Of the teams placed in the lower half of the 8, the Hawks are the most potent.
Melbourne – It’s all about the future for Melbourne, with many predicting the Demons list to be the best of the teams not to make the Top 8 this season. Their 2009 top draft picks, Scully and Trengrove, have done enough to show why they were so highly considered by scouts – and with full pre-seasons into Sylvia, Morton, Moloney, Grimes, Dunn and Petterd – the Dees could be a very dangerous proposition in 2011. They would be well satisfied with their 8 wins from season 2010.
North Melbourne – I was one that happened to rate the Kangaroos list coming into 2010. Whilst I didn’t expect them to make finals, I saw enough to believe they are building something worth watching down at Arden Street, with Brad Scott the right person for the job. The Roos were in finals contention right up to round 21, even without a real contribution from a key player in Drew Petrie because of injury. 11 wins and missing finals on percentage only is a positive step forward for North, with the group of Swallow, Anthony, Ziebell, Bastinac and Cunnington likely to take them further next year.
Port Adelaide – It’s hard to write positively about a Port Adelaide team that, at times in 2010, looked as though they barely cared about where they were heading. The loss of head coach Mark Williams was at least a wake-up call of sorts for the players, in what has been an ordinary year for the club all up, despite the 10 wins on the board.
Richmond – The season could not have started any worse for the Tigers, losing their first 9 games with a percentage of 56.2% telling the story. It was even asked if this Richmond side was one of the worst sides in VFL/AFL history. Well, 3 months later and I believe we have our answer. The side eventually clicked with coach Damien Hardwick – and suddenly the Tigers are now one of the exciting teams of the competition.
Sydney – The Swans started like a bullet with 5 wins from their first 6 games to be top of the table. In the final year of the Paul Roos era, Sydney were up and about, with 4 wins to conclude the 2010 season booking them a home final against the Blues. The rise of Kieran Jack, Shane Mumford and Daniel Hannabery leaves the Swans well placed with John Longmire to take the coaching reigns in 2010. Sydney will hope to do the right thing by retiring great Brett Kirk, with a finals win next week.
St. Kilda – The Saints have a star on almost every line – so why are they so hard to watch at times? Their round 22 lay down against the Crows only further confirms that you just don’t know what team you’re going to see when they come out. Admittedly, the loss of Nick Reiwoldt was a cruel blow – but he is back in the fold and seems ready to go for finals. Ross Lyon is never going to win a personality contest, but he has guided the club (even without Riewoldt for the most part) to another top 4 finish and tilt at a premiership.
West Coast – I’ll keep this one short. Despite John Worsfold’s bold declaration that it wouldn’t happen, the Eagles collected the wooden spoon after a very ordinary season no matter how you analyse it. There is a distinct lack of class at the Eagles – and with the immediate playing futures of Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr up in the air (with trades for one, or both, being speculated) – things could still get worse.
Bulldogs – It’s fair to say the Bulldogs have not had a great year, but as was expected, they have still ended up with a top 4 position including the double chance and a crack at minor premiers Collingwood in week 1 of the finals. Barry Hall has performed admirably with 73 goals, yet he hasn’t quite been the final piece of the puzzle that had been hoped. Injury has suddenly hit the Dogs (at the worst possible time), whilst the Jason Akermanis saga will be remembered as an ordinary time for the club. A fast finals exit for the Dogs would be a disappointing end to a season with such high hopes.
Round 22 – Round Results
Fremantle 93 defeated Carlton 87
Geelong 112 defeated West Coast 68
Hawthorn 98 defeated Collingwood 95
Adelaide 65 defeated St Kilda 37
Western Bulldogs 107 defeated Essendon 78
Brisbane 68 lost to Sydney 106
Richmond 112 lost to Port Adelaide 122
Melbourne 103 lost to North Melbourne 113