AFL Mid-Season Report Part Two: Dangerous floaters for one of the worst teams ever | AFL
It’s been a regenerative year for the Tigers, and six out of 11 wins seems about right. However, they will kick each other for dropping the Adelaide and Sydney games. They’ve lost four times to the top eight and they’re still a little shaky. Lynch aside, they’re starting to approach full availability and they’re still relishing the winter grind. They’re the last team you’d want to face if you finished fifth and knocked them out in the finals.
The best and fairest: Shai Bolton
Ultimately, Buckley’s Pies was a grim watch. With a new coach and lots of very promising youngsters, they are now taking risks, scoring big and putting a lot of pressure on. They beat St Kilda, Fremantle and Carlton, and probably dropped one against Geelong. But they completely missed their free kick against West Coast. With so many quality sides hovering around the top eight, he can come back to bite them.
The best and fairest:Jack Crisp
“We are a good team, we are a good team, we are young, we are building,” club chairman David Koch said after last year’s preliminary final. “There is a lot to look forward to.” But a month into 2022, the footballing world was ready to give up on Port Adelaide. This columnist certainly was. By halftime of the Carlton game, they were dismembered. But they were a completely different team after the bell, and probably should have pinched it.
They then had their free kick against the West Coast, with Simpson calling them the best 0-5 team he had ever seen. They had their audit in Geelong, but with Dixon back and the midfield starting to hum, they are suddenly looking to the finals. The return home is tough though, with away matches against Fremantle, Richmond and Melbourne.
The best and fairest:Ollie Wines and Travis Boak
Over the past seven years they have finished 16-15-17-17-18-14-16. And when Ben King came down this summer, the assumption down south was that they were screwed. Clarkson was certain to come in, kick his old mate Dew, try to save some talent and work to get the joint back in shape. But with recent wins over Fremantle and Sydney, they have turned the tide. Maybe for the first time, the club, the manager and the roster are all in sync.
With 100 more hits than any other player in the competition, Witts’ return was key, while Chol and Casboult were excellent acquisitions. They have a good homecoming, and it feels like they are finally a real club, with a pulse, a goal and a future.
The best and fairest: Touk Miller
The Hawks had a tough draw. Like any team with a new manager, a new game plan and a young roster, they are throwing absolute shocks. They were the only team Essendon really retained, which Mitchell was furious with. And they didn’t seem invested enough in Darwin vs. the Suns. But they are deadly in their day. They really get you on board. They give you a chance. They launch half back and attack through the middle. If wins in Geelong, Adelaide and Brisbane are any indication, they are on the right track.
The best and fairest: James Sicily and Jai Newcombe
After somehow hanging on to an excruciatingly hard-fought final played under dark Tasmanian skies, nothing really went right for the Giants. Greene’s suspension sucked out all of their swagger and vim. Leon Cameron accused them of ‘boring’ football and was out a fortnight later. They are, however, a tempting proposition for the incoming manager. For now, the interim coach has clearly let go of the straitjacket and they are the most dangerous float in the bottom half.
The best and fairest:Josh Kelly
You can see the future in Adelaide. After all, with a pinch of luck in the Fremantle and Essendon games, they could have been 5-1. But the present is a real chore. They certainly have a crack, but they can be very sloppy on foot and in front of goal. They were dismantled in the blink of an eye by Carlton and GWS, and they are now on a five-game losing streak, including their 12th straight loss at Kardinia Park. They should, however, be able to fill their boots this weekend.
The best and fairest: Ben Keays, Rory Laird and Tom Doedee
Listening to Ben Rutten out of season, it feels like they still have a ways to go and they exceeded expectations a bit last year. After all, they’ve only beaten one top eight team in 2021.
In 2022, they had a tough draw. They had a lot of injuries. And they have a lot of kids who are still figuring things out. But the Bombers don’t get their hands dirty. They are unwilling, or unable, to land nasty victories. And they don’t defend as a team. All year, the opposition parties have simply sliced them.
Off the field, it’s a real headache. There were a lot of high fives and slaps on the back after the Hawthorn sugar shot. There would be no exam, they insisted. A few weeks later, they announced one. “Review is one of those words that takes on an almost mystical meaning,” the president said that week. It will be led, as at Essendon, by three former greats of the club.
The best and fairest: Parish of Darcy
North of Melbourne
There’s nothing sexy about North Melbourne. They get the worst time slots. When the wins don’t come, some people want to push the problem back to Tasmania. It often feels like it’s the North against the world of football.
They beat the miserable west coast stacked with WAFL jobbers. They almost scored an emotional victory at the SCG. And they actually weren’t that bad against Melbourne. But that was about it. They lost half a dozen games by more than 10 goals. A week after the midseason draft, three senior scouts quit the same day. For a club that bases its hopes on identifying young talent, it was a blow, but perhaps not the calamity it was meant to be.
Last week there was a fireside chat with the CEO, head of football and head coach. They sat, socially distanced, on a few tan sofas and answered a dozen Dorothy Dixers. The staff was happy. The council was united. The trainer was secure. “I’m not going anywhere,” Noble said. “He’s our man,” the CEO said. Moving words. But a percentage of 53.2 speaks louder.
The best and fairest: Luke McDonald and Jy Simpkin
They won a premiership about 75 games ago. They have since been ravaged by Covid. Their roster management is up to snuff. The “closet is empty”, says the coach. The Eagles are right in the conversation as one of the worst teams we’ve ever seen. Over the past six weeks, their average losing margin is over 80 points. They’re level with Fitzroy 1996. On the plus side, they just recruited a young guy who works at a charcoal chicken shop.
The best and fairest:Tim Kelly