minor premiers Sydney – with both teams facing the prospect of failing to make it into the finals. In their place, the likes of Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide and Melbourne have all put themselves in a strong position to make a real charge towards the Grand Final – something not many tipped them to do at the beginning of the year. With a long way to go until the last two teams standing to do battle to be crowned AFL premiers at the end of September, and in a season in which anything could realistically happen, the stage has been set for a thrilling second half of the year. Here’s how the AFL ladder is proving to be as unpredictable as it has done for some years.
OverachieversGreater Western Sydney: Having spent the majority of their AFL life in the bottom half of the ladder, the Giants have been the surprise package this season. Currently top of the ladder and priced at around 5/2 with the AFL betting odds, the GWS have a very real chance of going all the way this year. Despite suffering a host of injuries that left Leon Cameron with just 26 players to pick from, the Giants have looked excellent this season. A key reason behind GWS’ success so far this year has been Josh Kelly, who has enjoyed an incredible campaign in the Giants midfield, and who could be crucial to the club’s premiership hopes. Port Adelaide: Despite disappointing losses to city rivals Adelaide and the Bombers, the Power find themselves in the somewhat surprising position of sitting comfortably in the top eight. While the club failed to reach the finals in the last two seasons, Ken Hinkley’s men have performed admirably during the first half of the year. Now in with a genuine chance of pushing on towards the top of the ladder, the Power are another team who have upset more than a few people who weren’t tipping them to be contenders this season. Richmond: It’s been a long time since Richmond were regularly challenging for honours in the AFL but that may be about to change this season. With the likes of Dustin Martin, Alex Rance and Trent Cotchin all producing some sensational performances, there is a very real belief that the Tigers will still be in contention towards the final few weeks of the season. Playing a very attractive and effective style of football, Richmond are also shown the sort of grit and character you need if you’re going to be capable of winning a premiership. 2016 in which the club won only three games, the fact Essendon are in with a chance of reaching the finals is an achievement in itself. Youngsters Orazio Fantasia, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Andrew McGrath have made the Bombers, on their day, one of the most dangerous and unpredictable teams in the league.
UnderachieversSydney Swans: To say the Swans came within a whisker of completing a league double last season, there has been very little signs of the team that won the minor premiership and went on to reach the Grand Final in 2016 this year. With more defeats to their name during the first half of the season than they recorded during all of last year, the Swans are now fighting for their lives in the battle to finish in the top eight. There is still time for Sydney to turn things around, although that process needs to start sooner rather than later. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/embed/_9KnrQkkq4I[/embed] Western Bulldogs: After a decent start to the season, the wheels of the defending premiers’ campaign really came off during a run of four losses in six games. While injuries have played their part in the club’s struggles during the first half of the season, poor form in front of goal and a number of key players underperforming means there is no guarantee that the Bulldogs will even be in finals to defend their crown by the time September comes around.
Team to WatchGeelong: While Geelong can never really be considered dark horses, the Cats have quietly gone about their business this year and currently occupy a very healthy position in the AFL ladder. One of the league’s most consistent teams, there are few weaknesses in this Geelong outfit and it’s not a huge surprise to see so many backing the Cats to win a tenth premiership. Within touching distance of the Giants at the top of the table, Geelong will be looking at the minor premiership as a great platform to go on and reach the Grand Final for the first time since 2011.]]>