So after all of the rounds of the 2018 AFL Women’s season are finished the team that the rankings think is the best is … Collingwood?!
That may be a surprise given that the Magpies only finished fifth on the actual ladder. However like the Swans in the men’s AFL competition last year Collingwood was slow out of the blocks to start the season – ultimately hobbling their Grand Final chances – and then became one of the best sides going around by the end of it.
After Round 3 this year the Magpies had lost their first three matches, and were ranked last by a decent margin. In these rankings though a team’s last four weeks counts for almost 80 per cent of their ranking points, and Collingwood hasn’t had a bad week over that period. They dispatched most of the higher-placed teams – Melbourne, Brisbane away, and Adelaide – and ran ladder leader the Western Bulldogs close in their only loss over that span.
However the Magpies are not in the Grand Final, and it’s the next two highest ranked sides – the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane – who will play off in next week’s decider. The two sides are rated as fairly even, with Brisbane taking in a jump in the rankings after demolishing GWS on Friday night. Last week the Lions were rated as the unlikeliest of the five teams that still had a chance of being in the Grand Final to make it. But once they beat the Giants they only needed two results to go their way, and that’s how things fell.
So who is more likely to win? – the Bulldogs or the Lions?
It’s been a fairly even season all around in the AFLW, and neither the Dogs nor the Lions are that much far ahead of the rest of the competition … or each other. The Dogs won five out of seven matches, and the Lions four out of seven, with Brisbane just ahead of the Demons on percentage. Every other team, except Carlton, won only one game less than the Lions.
In other words neither side, like everyone else, has had a consistent record of good results. The Dogs’ high ranking and ladder position rests a lot on their massive win against Carlton a few weeks back. Brisbane’s current ranking and Grand Final qualification is largely a result of their huge win against GWS on the weekend.
Given all of that, and that the Western Bulldogs have the slight ‘home ground’ advantage (only in that they don’t have to travel interstate, with the Grand Final actually being played at Carlton’s home ground of Ikon Park) I’m tipping a narrow Dogs victory. But really, nothing about this AFLW season has been predictable, and there would be little surprise is seeing Brisbane right last year’s Grand Final loss. Hopefully this week’s match is as good as that one.