Sydney becomes the fifth different club to reach the top of the rankings in the past five weeks, which is easily the most rapid turnover we have had in the top spot since the rankings began. Last year Hawthorn held the top spot for almost the entire season. The ‘bad news’ for the Swans is that the previous four clubs to be ranked number one – Hawthorn, West Coast, Adelaide, and Geelong – have all lost the next week, and crashed out of the top three. It shows again that the rankings don’t think that there is a clear best team at the moment.
What of the actual ladder leaders, North Melbourne, who have won their first nine matches? The Roos have benefitted from a relatively easy draw so far. They had a good performance in thrashing the Blues this week, and another one a few weeks back in their win against the Dogs, but some of their other wins have been against low-ranked clubs Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle, Gold Coast, St. Kilda and Essendon, and a few of those were quite close. North have their first match in which the rankings rate them the clear underdogs against Sydney next week. Although, given that Sydney will be facing the ‘number one ranking curse’ …
For the first time ever Greater Western Sydney is ranked above Hawthorn. This is notable because in mid-2014 the two clubs were over 90 points apart in the rankings. This season GWS has been the most improved club, improving by five goals in ranking points, and going from mediocre to pretty good. Hawthorn, meanwhile, has lost the most ranking points, falling by four goals in ranking points, and going from great to just pretty good again. On the subject of the Hawks, I did tear up at the bad news regarding Jarryd Roughead this week, and I'm not even his teammate or a Hawks supporter.
And the Gold Coast Suns are once again on the bottom of the rankings, even below a severely depleted Essendon side. When I wrote earlier this season that new clubs generally make the finals in their first decade, I was thinking more of the Suns than the Giants breaking their drought, based on their good start to the season. Clearly now the Giants are miles ahead of the Suns, with Gold Coast playing about as badly as it did when it first entered the league.