Now that we are five rounds into the season I have added back to the Power Rankings the ‘change over the season’ column to show how each club has improved or declined over the season to date.
And the big improvers are:
Essendon – The Bombers were always expected to improve this season as half a dozen of their best players returned from their season-long bans. They haven’t been among the best performed sides so far, but certainly better than the depleted side they fielded last year.
Richmond – The Tigers were awful over the second half of 2016, but they have been consistently solid over the first five matches of 2017 without having had a standout match. In terms of actual wins and losses ‘consistently solid’ has been good enough as the Tigers have won their first five matches over generally average to weak opposition. Because of their poor ending to 2016 they are still ranked as below average, but on 2017 form alone they would easily be a top eight side as they were during 2013 to 2015.
Port Adelaide – After having missed the finals last season Port Adelaide has been up there with Adelaide, GWS, and Geelong as the best sides so far in 2017. The Power opened up by beating Sydney on their home turf, and they destroyed both Fremantle and Carlton. They also put in solid showings against both Adelaide and GWS, indicating that they are on pace for a finals position.
On the other hand, the big decliners have been:
Hawthorn – It’s not as bad as it looked last week, with the Hawks having an excellent win against the West Coast Eagles on the weekend. That aside Hawthorn is clearly nowhere near the side it has been the past six years. I covered Hawthorn’s dramatic fall last week so I won’t say any more on this here.
Sydney – It’s been a big drop for last year’s runners-up and top ranked team – not so much on these rankings which still take into account last season’s form, but on the actual 2017 ladder with the Swans having lost their first five matches. Generally they have been below average in most of their matches so far, which given the heights they scaled last year is a huge drop in performance.
Western Bulldogs – Last year’s premiers the Bulldogs have also been off the pace they set last season. Or at least they are off the pace they set during their phenomenal September run. Before that amazing finals series they were actually only an average side – particularly in the second half of the year – and that seems to be what they have reverted to so far in 2017.
Carlton – The Blues were bad last year. This year they have been even worse, with a thrashing by Port Adelaide and a home loss against Gold Coast their worst performances.
Not on that list is North Melbourne, the other side currently without a win. The Kangaroos have dropped off a bit from last year, but as Rohan Connolly pointed out this week they haven’t been as bad as their ladder position suggests. They’ve had very close losses to Geelong, the Bulldogs, and Fremantle to Perth, and so could have easily had at least one win to date. If you’re looking for the team that is most likely to finish last Brisbane or Carlton seem a safer bet.