Essendon and Geelong remain undefeated after six weeks of footy, while Sydney, Port and Hawthorn have only tasted defeat once. Do I think the frontrunners will change much come September?
With the Bombers locking horns with the Cats this Friday night, Etihad will be rocking. With all the issues Essendon Football Club faces currently, their players have handled themselves with dignity, resilience and respect. A host of big names return this week and barring further injuries the Bombers look set for a top four finish.Their attack is not in question, so team defence remains paramount.
What superlatives can be used to describe Geelong? Ruthless, humble and confident come to mind. The genuine pace added to their line-up this season has added a new dimension to the most skilful side in the country, who are fanatical about playing through the centre corridor and on their terms. They are controlling the tempo of games, like they did in 2011. A victory this weekend could see them take equal favouritism for the 2013 flag. Geelong have all the weaponry and look top-two bound.
Port Adelaide have come from well back; 14th last year to be exact. Ken Hinkley and Alan Richardson have got this hungry young group working in sync. There's clearly been an enormous improvement in their defensive side of their game, not only in the contest but all over the ground.
The question is: can the Port boys maintain the rage? Richmond, Carlton and the Cats will provide the acid test over the next three weeks. I've still got Port missing the eight.
Hawthorn, the current flag favourites, face their toughest test to date in round 7 when they host the Swans. Gut feel tells me the Hawks will win their sixth straight match. Saturday night at the MCG will be the perfect stage for Buddy Franklin to unleash his masterful powers after going goalless for a fortnight. At the other end the inclusion of Brian Lake can not be underestimated, and with the best distributor in the game Sam Mitchell in white hot form Hawthorn have a huge chance of toppling the premiers.
If victorious over Sydney, Hawthorn may rest a couple of their ageing stars as they encounter the Giants and Suns in rounds 8 and 9. They are positioned perfectly with Cyril Rioli set to return mid-year. A top two finish will only briefly satisfy Alistar Clarkson.
Only an ignorant football brain would write off the reigning champions. Currently missing three of their best back six in Alex Johnson, Lewis Roberts-Thompson and Rhyce Shaw, Sydney for the most part of the season have not got out of third gear. An explosive quarter against North back in round 3 was a statement within itself.
A grand final rematch this week end will expose any cracks in the premiers' armoury. Their biggest signing since Barry Hall, Kurt Tippett, has been training the house down' and will provide much-needed support to Sam Reid after round 12. Pencil Sydney in to your top four.
Can Fremantle's lockdown defence hold sway until their inspirational skipper and All Australian ruckman return? Freo have proven very 'workmanlike' since Ross Lyon's arrival. A win over Collingwood this week will prove vital. Does the Docker midfield bat deep enough? Not as yet. Top six.
Collingwood's 4-2 start to the season has revealed more in the team's defeats than first thought. Beltings by Hawthorn and Essendon exposed a midfield more than willing to attack but a little 'choosey' on when they defend. For me an existing issue that has not been rectified, and until it does, the Pies will fall short of top four.
The next five are balancing on a knife's edge: North Melbourne, Carlton, West Coast, Adelaide and Richmond. For mine only two will play in September. West Coast and North to round out the eight after slow starts.
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