Pretty hard to complain if you’re Adelaide, since smacking the Doggies while the Giants consummated their weird draw fetish with Hawthorn means that Top 2 just got a little easier. So did Top 1, actually. But if you do want to complain, AND YOU DO, DON’T YOU ADELAIDE FANS, YOU’RE NEVER HAPPY, you would not be thrilled with how Sydney and Geelong phoned in 10+ goal wins as well. Plus those dastardly Port Adelaidians completed their closest, most nailbiting win since mid-2015, winning by just 32 points. Someone told me that last stat and I haven’t checked it. It’s pretty cool if true. It sounds about right.
So there’s a bit of action near the top. This makes a nice change from the last few weeks, which resembled one of those bike races where the dudes are just balancing there, trying not to move, because it’s an advantage to be behind. I still don’t really get that. I mean, sure, there’s less drag, but sometimes the second rider isn’t even that close. Like how much benefit can there really be. But every time, all of a sudden it’s just ZOOOOOM and he wins.
Anyway, there is actually some danger now of needing a reasonable number of wins to finish on top of the ladder. Not a lot. But some. Of course, it’s still no 1993. Every week I check how close we are to 1993 and discover not very. Then I spend some time admiring 1993. I mean look at this:
That is really ridiculous. The absurd cherry on top is that Geelong were the best team. They spent the last five rounds beating up finalists and then missed finals. They should have won the flag.
It was a super week for St Kilda, who made Richmond look a lot more like the team with the mediocre squiggle than the one that was sitting fourth on the ladder. The Saints have a tough run from here, though, which makes it a battle for them to stay in the top 8. They play the Tigers again in Round 23, and given how close everyone is, that game will almost certainly mean a lot to at least one of those teams, possibly both.
In losing to Fremantle, North Melbourne have finally entered bottom-2 calculations in a big way. Until now, squiggle has been dubious about the Roo’s chances of finishing 17th, because they’re not that bad, and you can’t continue to lose games by a handful of points week after week. Well. When I say “can’t,” I mean, “not very likely.” But this is North Melbourne and they like a challenge.
Collingwood are a chance for 17th, too, which is also new.
It’s a bit grim for the Bulldogs. When a team wins the flag from 7th, after getting beaten up in the final round by a potential wooden-spooner, there’s a temptation to write that off as a kind of freak event. That temptation gets stronger if the team isn’t great the next year. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve the flag. But they look more like a team that outdid themselves when they needed to, rather than one with strong fundamentals.
Flagpole: business as usual. When Adelaide beat Sydney for the flag this year, Flagpole is going to be soooo smug.
And now for a quick retrospective!
It’s unusual to reach this point of the year and have no-one in the premiership zone. There’s almost always someone, even if it’s a team that then spectacularly flames out. Here is Round 16 from the past 10 years:
Sure, so 2016 was a strange year. But at least we had Adelaide and Sydney threatening.
2013-2015: The Hawthorn years, when creativity was banned and everyone tipped 155 winners a year because you could always rely on the Hawks to win games. Children laughing and dancing were banned, too.
2012 was the same but with a trick ending:
In 2011, Collingwood went crazy:
BY APPOINTING BUCKLEY, I MEAN. ZIIIING.
In other years without a standout contender, there’s at least usually a pretty large gap to the field, like this:
In 2009, Ross Lyon wondered, “What happens if you don’t let the opposition score any goals at all?” Adelaide wondered the same thing only less successfully.
And of course 2008 was really boring because Geelong cruised to the premiership with no competition from anyone ever:
No, wait, that was 2007.
So that’s ten years. Plus one bonus one, because it’s funny*:
(* Unless Adelaide supporter.) At this point, Adelaide were 14-2 with a percentage of 172%. That’s 62 percentage points higher than the next team. You would think it’s impossible to lose the flag from there but that team could do anything.