This AFL season it didn’t take long for the top eight clubs to separate themselves from the rest of the competition, both on these rankings and the actual ladder. For both the rankings and the ladder that separation came at about Round 6.
It has taken longer though for the rankings and ladder to closely resemble each other for the clubs within the eight. Clubs such as Adelaide and West Coast have tended to be higher on the rankings than the ladder for much of the season. Conversely clubs such as North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have generally looked better on the ladder than their Power Ranking would suggest.
But now the ladder is starting to look like what the rankings indicated they would. The Crows, having got past the toughest part of their fixture for the season, are up to third on the ladder. The Eagles, meanwhile, have moved up to fifth. The Kangaroos, undefeated on top of the ladder after Round 9, have faced tougher opposition in recent weeks and are now down to eighth – exactly where the rankings have rated them for weeks.
Of course, things are so close in the top half of the ladder that next week’s results may well muddle the picture again, but I suspect that even in this close-run season we’re going to see a clear top bracket of clubs emerge over the final few weeks.
On another topic, following on from my post about away fans I had the unusual experience of feeling like I was in the slight minority when my club Richmond took on the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium this week. And as the result didn’t really matter for the Tigers I felt that our main role was to be a potential spoiler for the ‘home team’. I’m not sure I prefer that role, but it was a lot more relaxing. There is a perverse type of pleasure in watching a fan base collectively hold their breath as what was expected to be an easy win turns into something a whole lot closer than what they bargained for. The recent Hawthorn v Adelaide and Hawthorn v Port Adelaide preliminary finals were great examples of this.