AFL Power Rankings after Round 7, analysis, every club ranked, reaction, wrap, ladder, top eight, predictions
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AFL Power Rankings after Round 7, analysis, every club ranked, reaction, wrap, ladder, top eight, predictions

 

Welcome back to the Power Rankings.

Two defining wins have made the top contenders to dethrone Melbourne nice and clear. But the race for the last spots in the eight is anything but.

What are the Power Rankings? This is our attempt to rank every AFL club from best to worst. We take wins and losses into account, but also the quality of opposition faced and whether teams are likely to get healthier or improve going forward. It’s a little bit ‘who’s hot and who’s not’; part predictive, part analysis of what’s happened. If Team A is above Team B, we’d probably tip A to win if they’re playing this weekend.

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Midseason trades for AFL? | 03:14

 

1. MELBOURNE (7-0, 145.9%)

Last week’s ranking: 1

We won’t know how close Brisbane and Fremantle actually are to Melbourne until they all play each other. But it’s fair to say their respective wins at Sydney and Geelong were more impressive than any of the Dees’ wins this season – the Round 1 win over the Bulldogs not looking quite as good in retrospect. So, as we’ve said for a couple of weeks now, the gap between the Dees and everyone else may not be as big as many are claiming. Not that we’re worried in the slightest, since they’re clearly top-four bound. Seven members of their premiership team didn’t play in the surprisingly close win over Hawthorn, which perhaps explains the margin.

Next game: St Kilda at the MCG, Sunday early

 

 

Lions tame Swans the SCG | 02:37

 

2. BRISBANE LIONS (6-1, 140.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 2

No matter how things shake out, it seems we’re destined for a finals showdown between an elite attack and an elite defence – that’d be Brisbane against either Melbourne or Fremantle. The Lions’ ridiculous offence, which is averaging a stunning 107 points despite facing some pretty good defences, is very hard to stop in full flight. But we may not see it in full flight for another four to six weeks, with Joe Daniher’s shoulder injury to make things tricky. After all Eric Hipwood isn’t ready to return – Dan McStay, having been terrific this season, needs to step up in a bigger role. Daniher will be racing to be back for Round 12’s huge trip west to face Fremantle, but thankfully for all footy fans, he should hopefully be OK for the Melbourne showdown in Round 15.

Next game: West Coast Eagles at the Gabba, Saturday night

 

 

Joe Daniher subbed out of the game | 00:38

 

3. FREMANTLE (6-1, 138.2%)

Last week’s ranking: 5

Fremantle can win the flag. There, Dockers fans, does that make up for not believing in your boys until now? Even if Geelong had gotten one last goal and pinched the win, how the game played out was good enough to prove Freo can hang among the big dogs this year. Their case, built on fantastic defence, exciting speedy ball movement and an ability to score enough each week even without some of their best players, is now undeniable. Do they have what it takes to break through Melbourne’s similarly dominant defence, or halt Brisbane’s red-hot attack? Maybe not. But we cannot point to the teams they’ve beaten as a reason not to believe in the Dockers any more. They’ll have some wobbles, but they’re genuine top four contenders – and if you’re in the four, you can win the flag.

Next game: North Melbourne at Optus Stadium, Friday night

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4. SYDNEY SWANS (5-2, 123.5%)

Last week’s ranking: 3

As spotlighted on On the Couch on Monday night, it’s a little bit concerning that Dane Rampe has allowed 16 goals to be kicked on him this year. Is it even more concerning that Sydney, at home, needed some absolutely magical passages of play from Buddy – and six goals – to get within a sniff of beating a fellow contender, at home? As long as he’s healthy and playing this well, there’s nothing specifically wrong with relying on him, but you would’ve liked to have seen more from his teammates on Sunday evening. The Swans feel like they’re just a rung below the top three, but they’re still extremely dangerous and for our money the top contender for fourth right now.

Next game: Gold Coast Suns at the SCG, Saturday afternoon

 

 

Swans star pair UNDER FIRE | 02:14

 

5. GEELONG CATS (4-3, 118.5%)

Last week’s ranking: 4

The problem for Geelong isn’t losing to this Fremantle side – it’s more the way they lost. After their blistering start the Cats were outplayed for almost the entire match, with their high-powered offence stalling. And it puts them in a slightly tricky situation; because what has happened to their fortress? The Cats have lost three of their last five games at GMHBA Stadium – the first time that’s happened since 2015, the last time they missed the finals – and their two wins (10 pts over Brisbane, 14 pts over St Kilda last year) weren’t the traditional, dominant outings you expect from them down the highway. The Freo loss leaves them two wins and a hefty chunk of percentage outside of the top three. Suddenly there’s a bit of work to do to get into the double chance places.

Next game: GWS Giants at Manuka Oval, Saturday twilight

6. ST KILDA (5-2, 128.7%)

Last week’s ranking: 6

We think it’s safe to say the Saints will be asking for any future Cairns games to be played quite a bit later in the season; selling games is one of the many obstacles the smaller Victorian clubs have to overcome. The Saints are still right in the mix for the top four – after all, they’re fourth right now – and once they get their ruck combination back together they’ll be a threat to pretty much anyone. But they’d want to be sure they can get things going again quickly because back-to-back games against Melbourne and Geelong are pretty big for season-long seeding purposes, followed by a trip to the Gabba after their Round 12 bye.

Next game: Melbourne at the MCG, Sunday early

 

 

‘It wasn’t the way the Saints wanted’ | 02:01

 

7. COLLINGWOOD (4-3, 110.3%)

Last week’s ranking: 7

Sunday’s win was pure ‘good team gets the job done against worse team at home’ areas – for the second week in a row – and if the Magpies make it three in a row, they might even open up a two-game gap over the pack chasing their spot in the eight. We have Collingwood seventh on current form above Carlton, but the Blues’ win-loss advantage (and a couple of easier games coming up) means the Pies are still the shakiest member of the current top eight. Of the chasing pack, the Bulldogs have the pedigree (get it?), the Tigers have percentage and the slightly-less-recent pedigree, and the Hawks have looked pretty dangerous too, so there are certainly contenders to ruin a dream first season for Craig McRae. But knock off Richmond and the finals dream is well and truly alive.

Next game: Richmond at the MCG, Saturday afternoon

 

 

Magpies swoop to back to back victories | 01:00

 

8. WESTERN BULLDOGS (3-4, 106%)

Last week’s ranking: 8

Well, the Bulldogs successfully advanced through part one of the ‘2021 finalists who are suddenly no good’ tournament, with part two to commence on Friday night against a Power side desperate to make amends for last year’s preliminary final demolition. (Part three against the Giants isn’t until Round 14.) We’d still like to see them kick a good score against a non-terrible defence, given they haven’t kicked 10-plus goals against anyone bar North Melbourne or Essendon over the last five weeks. Port’s improving defence on the road should be a solid test – but still, drop this game and we have to start considering the Dogs as just an average team, rather than believing in them because of the run to the Grand Final.

Next game: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Friday night

 

 

Bulldogs bounce back against Bombers | 02:42

 

9. CARLTON (5-2, 104.5%)

Last week’s ranking: 9

They’re 5-2, likely to be 6-2, and just percentage out of the top four. But the Blues remain ninth because we didn’t really learn anything new from their big win over North Melbourne. They remain a very streaky side; it used to be all of those lots-of-unanswered-goals streaks they would give up, now it’s playing absolutely brilliantly for a quarter and just fine in the others. Against the top teams you need to put together more than one great term. We’ll see if the Blues can do that once they get into the meat of their fixture – in a fortnight’s time they begin a crucial block that goes Sydney, Collingwood, bye, Essendon, Richmond, Fremantle, St Kilda. Ooft. They can probably afford to go 3-3 in that set of games, 2-4 at the absolute minimum (and even then, things’ll start getting tight).

Next game: Adelaide Crows at Marvel Stadium, Sunday twilight

 

 

Carlton second half blitz slams Kangaroo | 01:09

 

10. HAWTHORN (3-4, 95.9%)

Last week’s ranking: 10

They didn’t play the absolute best version of Melbourne possible but it’s still very impressive for the Hawks to have gotten as close as they did – and to have scored as well as they did. As we mentioned in the Collingwood section above, the Hawks, Bulldogs and Tigers feel like the main three contenders to jump into the eight from outside of it. But ignore their percentages, because for the Dogs and Tigers they’re blown out by one big win (vs North and West Coast respectively) – you can easily make the case Hawthorn has played the best, most consistent footy of the trio. Remember, their four losses this year have come to Melbourne, Sydney, St Kilda and Carlton (by a point), all of whom are 5-2 or better. As much as a tough fixture is hurting teams like GWS and arguably Essendon, it might be Hawthorn who surges up the ladder when things ease up.

Next game: Essendon at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night

 

 

Browny sings Stand By Your Man! | 00:43

 

11. RICHMOND (3-4, 114.4%)

Last week’s ranking: 11

We’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: the truly great teams demolish bad opposition. It’s telling, and while this year’s version of Richmond isn’t a truly great side, it’s still a pretty good one. They did themselves a major favour by growing their percentage so much against a woeful West Coast outfit, as it feels pretty clear that the Tigers are fighting for a spot in the eight, meaning percentage could matter a lot. With six teams at 5-2 and Geelong just behind them, for now it feels like the bottom ten teams are all racing to knock Collingwood out of the eight. So lose to the Pies this Saturday, and suddenly the Tigers will be two games out of the finals mix – it’s an important game. (And exclusive to Fox Footy!)

Next game: Collingwood at the MCG, Saturday afternoon

12. PORT ADELAIDE (2-5, 94.6%)

Last week’s ranking: 15

In perhaps the least surprising news ever, Port Adelaide’s defence is a lot better with Aliir Aliir in it. He’s not the reason they beat St Kilda – being the most accurate of two horribly inaccurate sides is – but Ken Hinkley’s system is working a lot better now and things suddenly just look right. Not perfect, but right. They’re not the top-two side of the last two seasons, but they’re a reasonable facsimile, and despite their horrendous start the Power are just two games and roughly 100 points of margin outside of the top eight. Get revenge over the Dogs this week and suddenly the finals are gettable, as wild as that would’ve sounded just two weeks ago.

Next game: Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval, Friday night

 

 

One point thriller sees Port Prevail! | 02:32

 

13. GWS GIANTS (2-5, 85.6%)

Last week’s ranking: 12

We felt like we’d seen Saturday’s game before… because we had. The thumping win over Adelaide was eerily similar to the same fixture a year before: same Round (7), almost the same date (April 30 vs May 1), essentially the same margin (59 pts vs 67 pts). Which makes us feel pretty stupid for tipping Adelaide, but there you go. Again, this is what the Giants are: a fine footy team with the potential to be very good when their stars are firing. Toby Greene is obviously a star and Tom Green should be more widely considered one too. Maybe they should just keep recruiting T.Green(e)-s? Hire us, footy clubs, we know how scouting works.

Next game: Geelong Cats at Manuka Oval, Saturday twilight

14. ADELAIDE CROWS (3-4, 87.1%)

Last week’s ranking: 13

Saturday’s loss to the Giants was a great example of the benefits of having absolute A-grade talent, as compared to perhaps a deeper side that doesn’t have those elite stars. Coach Matthew Nicks also suggested being tagged as favourites for the game actually hurt them, which makes some sense, though you’d like to think as they develop they won’t care as much about those types of things. This is what happens when you’re a young side, of course. They’re still a threat to upset most teams most weeks.

Next game: Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Sunday twilight

 

 

Is Browny the best to have a beer with? | 01:21

 

15. GOLD COAST SUNS (2-5, 86.7%)

Last week’s ranking: 14

The Suns remain less than the sum of their parts, and when you look at the underlying numbers, their offence from clearance is by far the worst in the competition – which must be a concern for Stuart Dew given he’s not lacking for midfield talent. They’re consistent… but consistently around four goals off being a good team. Seriously – they’ve lost by 26, 26 and 25 points over the last five weeks, and the 52-point margin against Brisbane was inflated by a few goals because of their accuracy. So while they’ve had quite a bit of success at the SCG in recent years, winning on three of their last four visits (last year it was against Hawthorn), a four-goal loss to the Swans sounds like it’s on the cards.

Next game: Sydney Swans at the SCG, Saturday afternoon

 

 

‘You are a club without standards’ | 02:23

 

16. ESSENDON (1-6, 72.3%)

Last week’s ranking: 16

Weirdly, Port Adelaide and GWS winning on the weekend makes us feel better about an Essendon side that has become very frustrating to its fans, and almost completely fallen out of the finals picture in just seven rounds. We still had belief in the Power and Giants when their win-loss records looked awful, saying they were better than 0-5 or 1-5. And they are. So you look at the Bombers’ resume this year and every single loss is excusable. Even going into the season, when we thought the Dons were in the mix for the eight, we would’ve said ‘OK, sure, they’ll lose to Geelong, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Bulldogs’. And given that Collingwood and Fremantle have improved greatly, those losses make sense too. But combined, they’ve done so much damage to the Dons’ record – and shown their flaws, especially defensively – that it’s hard to keep believing. We’ll give them one more week.

Next game: Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, Saturday night

 

 

Essendon ‘just average’ not terrible | 03:52

 

17. NORTH MELBOURNE (1-6, 59.9%)

Last week’s ranking: 18

The Kangaroos played well for a half. That’s more than you can say about West Coast, which is why the Roos have moved up into 17th. Things are still pretty dire and travelling across the country to play a red-hot Freo side sounds less than ideal right now (unless Covid makes it like the game against the Eagles…).

Next game: Fremantle at Optus Stadium, Friday night

 

 

JHF lauded for flying the flag for Roos | 01:27

 

18. WEST COAST EAGLES (1-6, 55.3%)

Last week’s ranking: 17

There’s not much more to be said about West Coast’s woeful performance against Richmond that hasn’t already been said. So we’ll just add this… Brisbane at the Gabba is the toughest possible fixture you can get right now. The Eagles have lost two games by 100-plus points in a season before (2008, 2001), but never consecutively. That is well and truly on the cards.

Next game: Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, Saturday night

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