Power Rankings after Round 5, analysis, highlights, every club ranked, ladder, predictions, contenders, latest news – TOTOCC
Welcome back to the Power Rankings.
The two sides that opened the season were Gather Round’s biggest losers, but the good news is it’s easy to move around in the enormous middle class of 2023.
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 were playing at a neutral venue this weekend.
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Lyon amused by Ginnivan snub | 00:45
1. COLLINGWOOD (4-1, 120.2%)
Last week’s ranking: 2
We’ve seen over the past two weeks you can limit the Magpies, and in different ways – the Lions just tried to beat them at their own shootout game, whereas the Saints dragged them into their preferred slower style of footy. In the latter the Pies still overcame it, showing their class across the field even after the late omission of Jordan De Goey, and the trading back and forth of the No.1 seed in our rankings continues. They’ll be hoping Zach Merrett remains suspended for ANZAC Day – though it would seem unlikely Merrett would stay banned while Taylor Adams is free to play, so that’s almost a trade-off they’ll have to accept (probably goes in the Pies’ favour right, given their midfield depth?).
Next game: Essendon at the MCG, Tuesday afternoon
2. MELBOURNE (3-2, 130.6%)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Well that was weird. Clearly the Demons were missing both Max Gawn and Jake Lever, arguably two of the AFL’s top 20 players, but that doesn’t totally explain being so well beaten all over the park. Of course, these results happen, and perhaps Essendon truly is a finals contender. We are happy to count one bad day as one bad day, rather than a damning indictment of a team. They’ll get back to full strength soon enough and have plenty of days where they show their might.
Next game: Richmond at the MCG, Monday night
‘Defensively he was way off!’ | 01:35
3. SYDNEY SWANS (3-2, 132.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Are they the third-best team at this very moment, with all of their injury-forced absences? Maybe not. But the Swans have earned our trust over the last few years and, once again, there’s no obvious candidate for this slot – so they claim it this week. While the Tigers had issues on Friday night too, John Longmire and his coaching staff dealt with theirs better. Perhaps it weirdly helped having a bunch of injuries in one area of the ground, because they were able to focus their game style around protecting their lacking key defensive stocks? At the other end Tom Papley stood up, proving why he’s a perennial All-Australian contender and a key X-factor for them, especially right now with their tall forwards either young or injured. The Swans are one of those weird teams with a strong record at Kardinia Park, winning four of their last five at the Cattery (though one of them was against West Coast, who seem to get Space Jam zapped every time they enter the venue), so watching the premiership flag unfurl and then sending the home fans home angry is well on the cards.
Next game: Geelong Cats at GMHBA Stadium, Saturday night
Papley powers Swans to win over Tigers | 03:02
4. BRISBANE LIONS (3-2, 111.7%)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Lions took full advantage of the Kangaroos’ poor implementation of some bold tactics, producing a Gabba-style win, clearly because they were designated the home team for whatever reason. Credit to Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood for playing well, though admittedly the way North’s defence kept letting players out the back even we might’ve kicked a goal on Saturday. (Actually… no we wouldn’t have.) Realistically though we didn’t earn much about the Lions this weekend; clearly their ceiling is still of a top-four team and thus they reclaim a spot in the top four of our rankings.
Next game: GWS Giants at Manuka Oval, Saturday twilight
Lions impress with THRASHING of North | 01:00
5. ST KILDA (4-1, 144.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Even without getting the result the Saints showed their finals bonafides against Collingwood, and unless they completely fall in a heap in the second half of the season like last year – which isn’t impossible given how hard they run every week – you’d suggest St Kilda should at least be contending for the finals all year, if not making them. (The only reason we’re not saying they WILL make it is because of how tight the middle of the competition is; if we had to tip an eight right now they’d be in it.) In their first major test of the season their defence mostly held up, restricting the Pies for most of the evening, and everyone anticipates they’ll get better up forward once their actual intended starting forwards are healthy. The Saints can realistically hope to be 8-3 at the bye (for a second straight year), with games to come against the Blues, Power, Roos, Crows, Giants and Hawks. Perhaps reaching that mark will trigger a few fans still upset by last year’s collapse but usually you don’t miss finals when you’re that far ahead in the win column.
Next game: Carlton at Marvel Stadium, Sunday afternoon
Buckley defends Caminiti’s 4 week ban | 01:28
6. GEELONG CATS (2-3, 119%)
Last week’s ranking: 7
See, we were right when we said Geelong wouldn’t produce another quarter like they did against Hawthorn. They only kicked nine goals in the second term! That’s basically zero. But seriously folks, the Cats are at least back to their pre-2022 selves, where they can smash bad teams. We don’t yet know if they’re back to their 2022 selves, where they can smash good teams too. They finally return home for their first Kardinia Park game of the year, facing one of the teams that has traditionally done well there in Sydney, though they get them at an alright time. This is the first of nine true home games for the Cats this year and this is traditionally when they start to get going; though with the Swans plus the much-improved Bombers and Crows over the next three weeks, it wouldn’t shock us if they continued to stumble. Two games against midfields featuring almost literal children haven’t proven the Cats are back.
Next game: Sydney Swans at GMHBA Stadium, Saturday night
Question over Danger’s studs up mark | 01:24
7. ADELAIDE CROWS (3-2, 118%)
Last week’s ranking: 9
We flagged the possibility Thursday night’s Gather Round opener could be the Crows’ coming out party for the wider AFL community, after a few impressive outings off broadway. And there it was – a brutally brilliant first quarter, and enough in the remaining three, to put Carlton to the sword and announce Matthew Nicks’ men as a genuine finals contender. They’re the highest scoring team in footy that hasn’t had the benefit of playing against either Hawthorn or West Coast yet, and while the Hawks are a tougher out down in Tassie than anywhere else, after three consecutive 100+ scores you’d expect Adelaide to put up another one this Sunday. Are they perfect? No. The midfield has its issues – though less of them now that Jordan Dawson is in there – and the key defensive personnel, while mostly holding up, aren’t spectacular. But even being a flawed contender is a step forwards from what we expected from this group in 2023. Their fixture isn’t easy but we count seven should-win games (Hawks, Suns x2, Eagles x2, Roos, Giants) and a few 50-50s (Saints at home, Dogs away, Bombers away, Showdown). The wins to get them into September are there.
Next game: Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium, Sunday early
Why the Crows should be thanking Roos | 00:50
8. PORT ADELAIDE (3-2, 92.8%)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Perhaps the best part about Saturday night’s win, and about many of Port’s stronger moments in 2023, is how it was led by the younger brigade. The best three players on the ground in the fourth quarter per the AFL Player Ratings were Zak Butters, Jason Horne-Francis and Todd Marshall. That’s the future of the club right there. And the more immediate future is looking bright because, as we’ve discussed for a few weeks now, this first five rounds was always going to be tough. Remember how Port ruined their 2022 season by starting 0-5? Well at 3-2 they’re in a much better position to make the eight. On a rough count of the rest of their fixture we’d say they have at least six more games where they should be favoured, but another six or seven that are 50-50s or they’re marginal underdogs. They’ve given themselves a chance to save Ken Hinkley’s job and it’s pretty clear by the way they act around him that they’d like to do that.
Next game: West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval, Saturday early
King responds to JHF booing | 02:12
9. CARLTON (3-1-1, 96.3%)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Don’t take us dropping the Blues from the top four to outside the eight as us giving up on them. It’s more about how incredibly tight the middle of the pack is – really, you could make a case for any of the teams from third to 10th as a top-four contender. The Blues have the results on the board which have them still fourth on the ladder, but in the ranking that everyone loves and respects the most, we have to state the facts. Their midfield is playing badly and for all of the talk Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay get, this team can’t score. They’ve kicked more than 13 goals twice in 17 games – on Good Friday against the Kangaroos when they were basically without key defenders, and against the awful Eagles late last year. If you like watching a footy being bombed into a pack like a well-paid game of marks up, Carlton is your team. They need to figure some things out with the Saints, Lions, Magpies, Swans and Demons all coming up in the next seven weeks.
Next game: St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, Sunday afternoon
10. ESSENDON (4-1, 128%)
Last week’s ranking: 12
Gather Round wasn’t the toughest tipping weekend in history – we got eight, he says, humbly – but basically nobody would’ve gotten nine. That’s because of the Bombers’ stunning upset of Melbourne, where they led pretty much all day and were clearly the better side on Adelaide Oval. We’re happy to say we were wrong (for now) on the Bombers. We expected them to wilt as their fixture got much more difficult but part one was a raging success. They’ve still got to deal with the Magpies on Anzac Day, potentially without Zach Merrett, plus the Cats, Power and Lions, but we have to at least consider Essendon as a finals contender right now. We’re sure some of their fans are annoyed we haven’t pushed them up into the top eight in these rankings but we just need to see more before we truly believe in them. As surprising as St Kilda’s surge has been, an Essendon finals berth would be even more shocking – at least the Saints were reasonably good last year.
Next game: Collingwood at the MCG, Tuesday afternoon
Gather Round to stay in South Australia | 00:49
11. RICHMOND (1-3-1, 92.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Let’s make one thing clear – the Tigers don’t start seasons well. In the last seven seasons they’ve opened the year 5-4 (2017), 7-2 (2018, so the one time they didn’t win a flag they were supposed to win), 7-6 (2019), 4-3-1 (2020), 5-5 (2021) and 2-4 (2022). There’s usually a pattern – they get upset a couple of times, some bad injuries strike, but then they work out what’s going wrong and the players come back and they surge into September. Last year went against the pattern because they didn’t win a final, and most people are giving up on them doing it this year too. We’re not going that far. We’d point out the tough opening five weeks they’ve had, and how much better their one win (over Adelaide in Adelaide) looks right now. Soon enough the fixture will open up and the Tigers will get their chances to recover. But we will say that the top four berth we thought they’d contend for is looking very far away.
Next game: Melbourne at the MCG, Monday night
12. WESTERN BULLDOGS (2-3, 76.8%)
Last week’s ranking: 11
We’re not panicking over the Bulldogs after their Saturday night loss to the Power – not after Marcus Bontempelli looked brilliant in patches, and not after Cody Weightman showed how much they’ve missed him, and not after Tim English continued to mount a strong case for becoming the All-Australian ruckman. But it seems pretty clear Luke Beveridge’s men are going to be a mid-pack team again, and that means losses like this – in winnable away fixtures against fellow mid-pack sides – may hurt them come the end of August. The good news is there could be a few wins on the horizon, with Friday’s away trip to face the Dockers less imposing than it was last year, and then Hawthorn and GWS up after that. Time to start banking those Ws.
Next game: Fremantle at Optus Stadium, Friday night
Freo fly high to put Suns in shade | 02:08
13. FREMANTLE (2-3, 99%)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Congrats to the Dockers for doing the same thing twice – winning, but not proving to anyone they’re back to what they were in 2022. A loss to fellow disappointments Gold Coast would’ve been almost catastrophic for their season but, when you purely look at the ladder, Justin Longmuir’s men are still in the mix. They’re just below the Cats and still above the Bulldogs. But that’s why the ladder isn’t as useful early in the season – it disguises things. Like the Dockers having gone 2-3 against an easy fixture, which has them still behind the eight-ball. The clash with the Dogs is a great chance to close the gap between themselves and the 12 teams we’d actually consider finals contenders right now. Lose and Freo may be stuck in the bottom six of non-contenders for good.
Next game: Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium, Friday night
14. GOLD COAST SUNS (1-4, 75.1%)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Funnily enough the Suns went up a spot on the ladder this week. That’s about the only positive you can take out of their fall-from-ahead loss to Fremantle. It makes an already dour start even moreso, and while we’re reasonably confident this team isn’t as bad as the four below it, they’ve fallen so far back from the finals-contending pack already that it’s hard to believe they can close the gap.
Next game: North Melbourne at Heritage Bank Stadium, Sunday twilight
Dew feeling pressure after poor start | 03:44
15. GWS GIANTS (2-3, 94.4%)
Last week’s ranking: 15
Safe to say the Giants played down to the level of their opposition on Sunday – though Jesse Hogan’s goalkicking was well below even that level – before Harry Himmelberg stood tall at both ends to win the game for them. We have to say, we’re a little worried about Adam Kingsley… because have you seen how emotionally invested he’s getting already? He’s five games into his coaching career and he’s spraying the team at three-quarter-time and going mad in the box. Please, Adam, we know your arms are sculpted out of granite so you’re obviously in shape, but that can’t be healthy to go this hard this early! (Nathan Buckley discussed this on On the Couch too, talking about needing self-discipline, so perhaps this half-joke is an actual topic of discussion…)
Next game: Brisbane Lions at Manuka Oval, Saturday twilight
Giants edge Hawks in nail biter | 02:30
16. NORTH MELBOURNE (2-3, 77.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 16
This isn’t meant to be a year where the Kangaroos contend. Alastair Clarkson knows that, and so he’s going to try some things. On Saturday, that involved relying on the midfield to play somewhat aggressively… and it didn’t work. That flowed on down the field making the defenders look absolutely terrible, but it wasn’t (entirely) their fault. On other days the Roos might try the same thing, and Davies-Uniacke and Simpkin might both play brilliantly, and they might beat a finals contender. But it’s better that they’re trying these things now than in two years’ time when it could hurt a lot more.
Next game: Gold Coast Suns at Heritage Bank Stadium, Sunday twilight
17. WEST COAST EAGLES (1-4, 74.5%)
Last week’s ranking: 17
Look, it could have been a lot worse. Credit to the Eagles for winning the second half against Geelong, refusing to lie down and almost cutting what was nearly a 80-point margin at one point in half. Oscar Allen and Reuben Ginbey (though only briefly) showed why they’re shining lights for the club to build around, but Adam Simpson and company just need to find more young stars like them.
Next game: Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, Saturday early
18. HAWTHORN (1-4, 59.6%)
Last week’s ranking: 18
There were certainly some positives to take out of the loss to the Giants – being competitive for four quarters, for one – but it was also likely one of the best chances the Hawks will have for a win all year gone begging. Especially considering how the final few minutes of the match played out. On the plus side, right now it’s a three horse race for Harley Reid with them, the Eagles and Suns, and we think the Suns are unlikely to win that race. Either way we hope Harley likes wearing yellow.
Next game: Adelaide Crows at UTAS Stadium, Sunday early
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