1. Collingwood (11 - 1)
Collingwood has shown the AFL community that its close match wins from last season was no fluke, as the side sits on top of the ladder halfway through the season.
In Round 12, Collingwood blitzed West Coast in the final term scoring six goals to none, but has it come to a cost to the team with the number of outs the club received after the match?
The Magpies were hurt with injuries from Beau McCreery (foot), Will Hoskin-Elliott (ankle), and Ash Johnson (corked leg) shortly after Jordan De Goey's hit on young Eagle Elijah Hewett which cost him three weeks on the sidelines.
The Magpies are set in an amazing position with only one loss this season to the Lions in Round 4. Next week's match against Melbourne on King's Birthday with the number of outs will show how crucial these players are to Collingwood.
2. Port Adelaide (10 - 2)
Port Adelaide was questioned in the off-season whether Ken Hinkley was the right person to be leading the club after last year's horrific season. But now the Power are sitting second on the ladder with a club record of nine consecutive AFL wins in a row.
Just two seasons ago the Power were in a home preliminary final. Fast forward to now and it looks like it will happen again. What is crazier is that the Power have an even stronger side and they have been in this position before, which they know how to prepare for.
Since last season, the Power have moved their young guns Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, and new recruit Jason Horne-Francis into the midfield where they have been dominating against other teams.
Although the club is in a good position, Port Adelaide's next three matches consist of match-ups against the Western Bulldogs, Geelong, and Essendon who all are in the top eight. This will be a good test to see where the Power stand in the second half of the season.
3. Melbourne (8 - 4)
Despite losing two of their last three matches, the Demons are currently sitting third on the ladder. It comes as this time last year the club was sitting first on the ladder with ten wins and two losses.
The Demons are hoping not to repeat last year's pattern of only winning six of their last twelve matches, including losing straight sets in the finals series after securing a second chance.
Melbourne's run home does not make it any easier for a top-four spot for the club having to play Collingwood, Geelong, St Kida, and Brisbane within its next five matches which is worrying.
For the Demons to still be considered a threat to the rest of the competition, they need to show it against these sides in back-to-back weeks.
4. Brisbane (8 - 3)
After only having one win from the first three rounds of the season, the Lions got their rhythm together winning the next seven matches in a row to place fourth at the midway point of the season.
Despite sitting third on the ladder, Brisbane has defeated Melbourne, and is the only team in the competition to have so far defeated Collingwood. Having the bye last week will have helped the Lions have a week to recover ahead of their blockbuster match against the Demons in Melbourne.
Brisbane has done the hard yards already in the first half of their season. The Lions' second half of their season consists of playing only five teams in the top eight.
The goal for the Lions would be to lock in a top-two spot for a home final come September. With Brisbane's list and its consistent position and form over the past few seasons, a top-four spot should be minimal for the club.
5. St Kilda (7 - 4)
St Kilda surprisingly won its first four games of the season and was sitting top of the ladder for the first five weeks. However, was the club getting a bit too cocky and ahead of themselves for the long season?
Not only were the Saints sitting in the same position on the ladder as last season, their second half of the season crumbled seeing their coach Brett Ratten sacked winning only three of their next eleven matches played.
It's a worrying sign that the Saints could fall into the same patterns as last season, dropping out of the eight after having an amazing start to the season. As well, St Kilda has lost three of its last five matches. including losing to Hawthorn.
Although St Kilda's fixture in the second half of the season looks rather unchallenging, the team's inconsistent form means anything could happen. For the Saints to miss finals again would hurt the club and would be a worrying sign happening in back-to-back years.
6. Essendon (7 - 5)
Essendon is sitting sixth on the ladder halfway into the season with seven wins. Although people may look at this as a great sign, it is also not convincing as to whether it is only a phase from the Bombers.
The Bombers have played a lot of lower teams on the ladder early on. Time will only tell when they do come up against the top sides and if they will be able to perform. Essendon beat Richmond and North Melbourne by under a kick which is worrying if red and black want to be a finals side.
It comes to show that with Darcy Parish’s injury, the club has not been as damaged. Zach Merrett has stepped up but has copped attention from the opposition to be tagged, as their dominant damaging midfielder.
Essendon has struggled recently to make the finals and has struggled even longer to have a won a final. The Bombers have a tough second-half fixture against a lot of top-eight sides and need to be winning against these sides if they want to stand a chance post the home-and-away season.
7. Western Bulldogs (7 - 5)
After back-to-back 50-point losses in the first two matches, questions were raised about the Bulldogs' form, as well as whether it was time for Luke Beveridge to move on from the club.
The Bulldogs finally made a statement winning their first match against the Lions, as the club continued their form shooting into the top eight winning their next seven out of eight matches.
The Bulldogs have copped a few injuries, unfortunately, the past few weeks seeing Jason Johannisen and now Ed Richards now out for several weeks, which hurts the club.
The Western Bulldogs face Port Adelaide, Fremantle, Collingwodod within its next four matches, which is a tough few weeks. However, the Bulldogs have been in this type of similar position across the past few seasons and should be comfortable given how their team is.
8. Geelong (6 - 6)
After a lot of people thinking the side could go back-to-back flags, Geelong genuinely had a premiership hangover, starting the year with three consecutive losses.
Injuries have kept new captain Patrick Dangerfield, Cam Guthrie, Rhys Stanley and many others on the sideline from very early on in the year. The Cats though have shown why their club has been so successful over recent years, clawing their way back into the top eight.
Jeremy Cameron was strong early in the season looking on track for 100 goals come the end of the season. Despite a rough few weeks on the scoreboard, Cameron and fellow forward Tom Hawkins have looked strong in the Cats forward line, kicking 70 goals between them so far this year.
Aside from 2015, Geelong has made the finals series in every season since 2007. Although their position is not as convincing, the Cats seem to always find a way to make the top eight.
9. Adelaide (6 - 6)
A few seasons ago the Crows were last on the ladder and looked like it would take the club a long while to rebuild. They currently sit just outside the top eight on percentage.
There is no doubt teams should be worried about facing the Crows who have taken down the top-four sides the Lions and the Power, as well as falling one point short to a victory over the Magpies.
What has hurt Adelaide the most is the club's record on the road, losing four out of their five matches (the other being a three-point win against Hawthorn). For the Crows to make finals, they need to be playing quality football both home and away.
The Crows' run home is up in the air as to whether they can improve their performance on the road and cement a spot in the top eight.
10. Fremantle (6 - 5)
Since starting this season with one win from four matches, it looked as though the Dockers would miss finals after last year's brilliant season. However, the Dockers have found their form in the past few weeks.
The Dockers are well and truly back in the hunt for finals after composing themselves the past few matches. Fremantle has convinced the AFL community of its possibilities with wins over Geelong and Melbourne that the West Australian team should not be written off.
New recruits for the Dockers in Luke Jackson and Jaeger O'Meara have adjusted well into the team, especially in the past few weeks where the two have lifted their game for the club which is massive.
The Dockers sit just outside the eight after having the bye last week, and should get back into the eight next week as the club looks to continue a current four-game win streak.
11. Gold Coast (6 - 6)
It's the question that's been brought up for the past few seasons, always around this time of year; will this be the first time the Suns qualify for, and play finals?
The Suns , much like the Dockers, had an ordinary start winning one game from their first four matches. However, after back-to-back wins against the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide in its past two matches, Gold Coast has every chance of making the finals like any other team in the competition.
Gold Coast fans have loved seeing Ben King return for the Suns in the forward line after missing last season due to an ACL injury. Along with King, Jack Lukosius has moved up the ground from defence kicking a whopping 10 goals in the past two weeks.
Gold Coast does have a tough second half of the season. While the Suns are playing really good footy, it looks as though it will come down to match fitness and injuries to determine whether or not they'll advance after the regular season.
12. Sydney (5 - 6)
After getting demolished in the Grand Final last season by the Cats, it was make or break for the Swans to redeem themselves and get back into the finals race. The club currently sits 12th halfway into the season.
Although it is not ideal for the Swans to be in their current position, the season is a marathon and they are well and truly in it, on the borderline of cracking into the eight. The Swans started the season strongly winning their first two matches by an average of 65 points.
The club has struggled however in their defence with the outs of Tom and Paddy McCartin, and Dane Rampe. The outs of Callum Mills and Logan McDonald don't help the position of the club. Nevertheless, the Swans are still performing with these injuries in their way.
The Swans play nine teams above them in the second half of the season which is a massive run home for the club. Unless the Swans get their players back from injuries it looks as though they could be missing this year’s finals series.
13. Richmond (4 - 1 - 7)
By this stage in the season over recent years, Richmond usually is the top four on the ladder and has just about cemented a finals position. This season however it looks as though the Tigers will not make finals after a horrendous start to the season.
Richmond started its season with one win from seven matches which is not like the club's performance we have seen in recent times. Damien Hardwick chose to walk from the club three rounds later after the Dreamtime at the G match which saw Essendon beat Richmond in a one-point thriller.
In positives for Richmond, Tim Tarranto and Jacob Hopper have been brilliant for the Tigers, slotting straight into the midfield and pushing aside the senior players to other positions on the ground.
It looks as though the Tiger dynasty is finally over and that the club is not necessarily on a rebuild, but do not look to be as dominant as in recent years due to their coach leaving, and premiership players only having a few years left.
14. Carlton (4 - 1 - 7)
After starting the first four rounds of the season undefeated, the Blues had a reality check losing their next seven of eight matches. The Blues are now 14th on the ladder with a lot of questions about what is happening down at the club.
After last year’s heartbreaking one-point loss to Collingwood knocking Carlton out of the top eight, it was highly anticipated that Carlton would work tirelessly in the off-season to not make the same mistake as last season. Unfortunately, it looks as though the Blues are in an even worse position which is pretty much expected at this rate from them.
Last season, Carlton captain Patrick Cripps won the Brownlow Medal for being the best player in the competition, along with Charlie Curnow who kicked the most goals in a season winning the Coleman Medal. The Blues somehow have gone backwards rather than forwards, and you can no longer blame coaches for the same problem each year.
The club is seriously in trouble where fans have every right to be impatient after multiple reviews and changes to the club. If Carlton does not improve in the second half of the season and misses the finals, then its season will be a failure no matter where they finish.
15. GWS Giants (4 - 8)
Adam Kingsley has done an amazing job in this first half of the season coaching the GWS Giants to four wins on the ladder. This time last year the club was without a coach after Leon Cameron departed from the role, so it is nice to see that the Giants are still performing and competing against the best sides.
Despite only having four wins, GWS has been competitive in every match they have played, defeating sides such as Adelaide, Sydney and Geelong. The Giants have a losing margin this year of just over 20 points which is good, and shows they are never truly out of the game and give it against the best sides.
It comes especially with the departures of Tim Tarranto, Jacob Hooper, and Bobby Hill, all young guns, which will hurt seeing them doing well at other clubs. The club have however done well picking up players in the draft to help the Giants in the long run.
Although the Giants look to miss finals they have been playing really good football considering how much has changed at the club in the last 12 months. Expect to see the Giants rise again in a few seasons to come.
16. Hawthorn (3 - 9)
It was expected in the off-season after the departure of premiership players Jack Gunston, and Ben McEvoy, along with Jaeger O’Meara and Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell, that the club would find themselves in a difficult position heading into the 2023 season.
Despite sitting 16th on the ladder, the Hawks have been playing really good footy the past few matches. The Hawks beat the Saints as well demolishing the Eagles which is a real positive having a lot of their younger players in their best 22.
Heading into the 2023 season as the youngest AFL team by a convincing margin, there is no pressure for the Hawks in the second half of their season. They are getting games into their younger players who will be performing for years to come.
17. North Melbourne (2 - 10)
The new arrival of Alastair Clarkson to the club saw the Kangaroos starting their season with two wins on the board. Since then, they have lost the past ten matches.
North Melbourne has been playing a much better brand of football this season, having many matches that have been winnable including two of its past three matches that resulted in losses under a goal. It was not expected for the Kangaroos to have a massive season, however, the club is heading in the right direction.
The Kangaroos have found themselves some guns in just the first few matches from these players. From Round 1, Harry Sheezel became a fan favourite for everyone collecting 34 disposals in his first-ever AFL match, and George Wardlaw too has dominated in the guts after only a handful of games.
There is no doubt the Kangaroos have recruited well in the offseason and Alastair Clarkson has played a huge factor in turning the club around. Look out for the Kangaroos in the next few seasons to dominate on the field.
18. West Coast (1 - 11)
To be fair, a lot of people did not have high expectations for West Coast at the start of the season and rightfully so as the club has had a disastrous season, arguably worse than last year.
West Coast sit last on the ladder after just the one win this season, as once again injuries got the better of the senior group. The team once again needed multiple top-up players to help the club, struggling to field a full team each week.
The question should still be raised as to whether the club should do a complete rebuild and internal review starting from players and coaches, to recruit younger players to have in the long run.
Although the Eagles did compete against the Magpies for three-quarters of the match, almost every other match has been a convincing loss for the club (with an average losing margin of 59 points). The Eagles need to just get through this season and work on recruiting a handful of young players to the club.
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