This article was originally published in Lot’s Wife Edition 5: Identity
We’re more than half way through the 2014 AFL season and it’s been full of entertainment and controversy. As the season progresses, the top and the bottom teams are becoming more distinct.
Top Four Contenders:
There are plenty of teams with legitimate designs on lifting the cup this year. Port Adelaide has picked up where they left off last year, powering their way through the competition. On a good day they are an offensive juggernaut with a tough edge and plenty of X factor.
Closely following is Sydney. The Swans have answered questions about how Tippett and Franklin would fit together with an emphatic string of consecutive victories. They are as dangerous as any side in the league. Meanwhile, last year’s Grand Finalists have not been as dominant as in 2013.
The Hawks have suffered terribly from injury while Fremantle just took some time to get going. However, both teams have managed to stay in touch with the top 4 and look poised for an assault on the flag come September.
If any of these teams slip, Geelong and Collingwood appear set to take advantage and clinch a prized top 4 spot.
The battle for the wooden spoon is a contest between Brisbane, GWS and St Kilda. The Giants’ young talent is yet to graduate like the Suns’, while St Kilda’s lack of depth has been found out – Nick Riewoldt can only do so much. Meanwhile the Lions’ awful list management over the last few years, including the decision to get Brendan Fevola and the exodus of young talent at the beginning of this season, continues to haunt them.
Leading the chasing pack is North Melbourne. One of the more inconsistent teams, their highlights have been plenty, including victories over Sydney, Fremantle and Port. But they won’t be a top four team so long as they continue to drop achievable games despite their talent.
Speaking of potential, 2014 will be remembered as the year when Gold Coast arrived. Ablett continues to shine but his supporting cast is finally relieving him of some of the slack. They will be a scary prospect over the next few years.
Major disappointments this year have been Richmond and the Bulldogs. Richmond have taken a path in the wrong direction, the side that took 15 wins in 2013, while the Dogs have failed to justify the excitement they generated at the end of last season.
Essendon has had a tough season but given the ASADA scandal, it is understandable that players are finding it hard to play at their best.
Meanwhile, the Demons have had a massive turnaround. Simply being competitive on a regular basis was the goal new coach Paul Roos set for himself, but having already accumulated more wins than last year, Melbourne fans havn’t been complaining.
Carlton has not given fans much to smile about this year, but one suspects that even if they were more consistent, coach Mick Malthouse would still be steaming.
Gary Ablett will be a hot favourite to take home a third Charlie. But keep a close eye on Nat Fyfe, Dayne Beams, Scott Pendlebury and Joel Selwood who’ll make him sweat on the night.
Grand Final Prediction:
A rematch of 2012. Sydney will edge out the Hawks, with Port Adelaide and Fremantle unlucky to lose in the preliminaries.