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Monday, July 22, 2024

Demons’ large listing want; Ken’s rollercoaster amid large query of commerce interval — Brutal evaluations of AFL’s backside 12 Specific Occasions

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The 2023 AFL season is over for 12 golf equipment, with some ending with a whimper whereas others have constructed a stable basis to construct upon.

Two golf equipment have joined the ten who missed out on finals and will probably be trying to make some large strikes over the low season to fast-track their improvement, whereas the ten who didn’t qualify for September have loads of work to do.

Right here’s how all of them acquired right here, and what they should do within the low season to make sure it doesn’t occur subsequent yr.

Watch each match of the 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Collection earlier than the Grand Remaining Stay & Advert-Break Free Throughout Play on Kayo Sports activities. Be part of now and begin streaming immediately >

Martin grilled after ‘dumb’ incident | 01:22

MELBOURNE (16-7, 125.2% – misplaced semi-final to Carlton)

Three phrase evaluation

Straight units … once more

What went proper

It’s weird to contemplate that, solely two quick weeks in the past going into the finals collection, many have been choosing the Dees as the staff to beat. They felt primed for one more flag tilt. It’s as a result of exterior of their ahead half (extra on that later), the remainder of their recreation was in such good condition, led by a star-studded midfield and impenetrable defence — ranked first within the comp in key stats with out the footy, fourth in clearance and second in publish clearance — plus they’d regained a few key pillars in Clayton Oliver and Bayley Fritsch on the proper time of the yr. Giving Max Gawn full rein within the ruck once more (extra on that later, too) proved to be a masterstroke by Simon Goodwin and key level of distinction on the opposite contenders. Melbourne had peaked on the proper time in almost each sense, profitable seven of its final eight video games going into the post-season. Plus it arrange a fortuitous ‘away’ qualifying remaining on the MCG towards Collingwood (although it did very a lot show to be a powerful pro-Magpies crowd). And whereas their ahead half issues finally proved to be their downfall, they unlocked a gem in Jacob van Rooyen in addition to Harrison Petty’s fruitful transfer to assault, although each gamers have been critically unavailable once they wanted it.

What went improper

David King at all times says ‘don’t get overwhelmed by what you already know’, and 12 months after it plagued their 2022 season — that additionally resulted in a straight-sets finals exit — the ahead line, as talked about, was once more the large situation. As elite because the Demons’ defence and contest was, their offensive profile was rank third-last in 2023. It was at all times a curious transfer when Brodie Grundy was their marquee recruit supposed to take them to a different degree regardless of the clear want for extra ahead assist, and that turned extra blatant because the yr went on because the ruckman was finally demoted to the VFL. Although they discovered different ahead choices, all of them acquired struck down by the enterprise finish of the season together with brutal damage setbacks to Petty and Jake Melksham and a suspension to van Rooyen, whereas Ben Brown’s marketing campaign was derailed by an ongoing knee situation. Shedding Oliver for half the season and Angus Brayshaw 5 minutes right into a qualifying remaining clearly didn’t assist, both. In the end, it was sheer execution in entrance of objective that harm them greater than something although — kicking 7.11 and 9.17 of their two finals respectively to Collingwood and Carlton.

What they want

As if it hasn’t already been mentioned sufficient, Melbourne is crying out for one more key ahead. It’s why Grundy’s looming departure isn’t the top of the world (although they’d want to search out one other back-up ruckman) given the wage cap house it’ll open up for the membership to make use of. Shedding Grundy, and for instance, James Harmes would open appreciable funds, the difficulty is the dearth of key forwards obtainable in the marketplace. It’s subsequent yr when the likes of Ben King, Aaron Naughton and Todd Marshall turn into obtainable, however that’s subsequent yr, and nothing is assured. The truth is that there’s no fast repair for his or her wants and a number of different golf equipment can be actively searching for a ahead, too. Adelaide’s Shane McAdam, who’s requested a commerce to Melbourne, will assist, however he’s not a marking goal as such. Whereas they might throw the kitchen sink at Harry McKay, the likes of Mabior Chol, Jack Darling or Jeremy Finlayson may very well be extra real looking ready-made choices. If not, they might look a rung down at much less confirmed varieties like Chris Burgess and Tom Fullarton. Personnel apart, Simon Goodwin ought to discover tinkering the sport plan from his religious defensive-minded strategy to taking part in extra of a high-risk, offensive model, which is extra consistent with the opposite contenders and the place the sport goes.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

12am: The Dees stay within the candy spot, however they received’t be there ceaselessly. Two of their absolute core stars — Max Gawn and Steven Could — will probably be 32 by the beginning of subsequent season. The likes of Jack Viney (30 subsequent yr), Christian Salem (29), Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Jake Lever, Alex Neal-Bullen and Ed Langdon (28) aren’t getting any youthful, too. There’s promising younger expertise coming by way of like Kysaiah Pickett, Trent Rivers, Judd McVee and van Rooyen, however the brunt of this listing that may get this membership one other flag is at its optimum. It’s now or by no means for the Dees in what looms as an interesting 12 months forward the place we’ll study simply how hungry this group is for extra success.

B

– Ben Cotton

Ben McKay to be supplied 7-year deal? | 00:42

PORT ADELAIDE (17-6, 112.7% – misplaced semi-final to GWS)

Three phrase evaluation

Ken’s rollercoaster trip

What went proper

One of many large shock packages this season, the Energy bounced exhausting from exterior the highest eight again into flag rivalry behind its new-age midfield stars Zak Butters and Connor Rozee. With the rising duo and Jason Horne-Francis, Port confirmed it has certainly one of, and possibly, the most promising midfield within the recreation. Elsewhere from a person standpoint, Dan Houston had a career-best All-Australian season alongside Butters and Rozee and consolidated himself as among the best half backs within the recreation. The membership’s bounce again was all of the extra spectacular in a contract yr for Ken Hinkley, the place, it was going to take one thing particular for him to retain his job. However by mid-season, the remainder of the footy world was calling for the Energy to fast-track contract negotiations with their coach, such was the wave of momentum of the staff because it occupied a top-two spot. It will definitely did so, re-signing Hinkley for 2 extra years amid rumours of a personal succession plan with Josh Carr. For a lot of the season, it was Collingwood and Port seen as the 2 premier sides together with Hinkley’s troops happening a club-record 13-game profitable streak, so for a key chunk, there was so much to love.

What went improper

The defence was clearly a giant situation and an space of the bottom no staff real about contending can afford to wrestle in. It included the Energy being ranked ninth within the comp in key stats with out the footy because it once more relied too closely on Trent McKenzie and others to play undersized, whereas skipper Tom Jonas fell out of the 23 altogether. The membership additionally simply ran out of steam and misplaced its spark by the point the true stuff began — dropping out of finals in straight units as criticism got here straight again on Hinkley and whether or not it was the proper name name to increase him. There have been at all times questions marks how a comparatively younger aspect would fare because the season progressed and when the strain stakes went up in September. However the publicity if such younger expertise ought to a minimum of serve Port nicely long run. Although the membership had a type droop late within the residence and away marketing campaign — dropping four-straight video games from rounds 18-21 — it was in a position to stabilise thereafter with three-straight wins main into the finals, the primary mockingly a 51-point smashing of the Giants.

What they want

The 2 apparent issues are upgrades within the ruck and in defence — and the membership has already locked onto its targets, albeit questionable ones when it comes to whether or not they can genuinely take the membership to a different degree. Port within the commerce interval will look to herald Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher to bolster its defence and Jordon Candy to be its No. 1 ruck in 2024, however all are comparatively unproven. They’ve additionally been linked to Ivan Soldo for extra ruck aid. However how they purchase all their targets will probably be intriguing given the membership’s lean draft hand — solely holding picks 37 and 43 after buying and selling its first-rounder final yr. The membership may additionally look to make adjustments to its defensive system, although it actually seems to extra personnel than something letting it down.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

9pm: Port is in one thing of a transition section. With that, there’s a fairly wide selection of prospects for subsequent yr, although it’s exhausting to see the membership dropping off an excessive amount of, it simply may not be as near contending because it appeared this yr. They’ve proven that their finest is nicely and really adequate to combine it with the highest sides they usually have critically elite top-end expertise. If they’ll mould their listing round when Butters, Rozee and Horne-Francis are all on the peak of their powers, look out.

B+

– Ben Cotton

McKay set for return towards Lions | 01:34

ST KILDA (13-10, 107.8% – misplaced elimination remaining to Larger Western Sydney)

Three phrase evaluation

Eyes extensive open

What went proper

4 wins to start out the season was sensible they usually have been proper within the combine towards top-four sides Collingwood and Port Adelaide within the opening seven rounds. Ross Lyon brings up the likes of Mitch Owens, Anthony Caminiti, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Marcus Windhager at nearly each press convention and it’s simple to see why. Their improvement and the indicators of promise proven are an excellent signal for the longer term as Lyon and firm put together to construct their subsequent premiership-contending aspect across the younger, rising brigade. For all of the criticisms of the Saints, they remained within the prime eight for the whole season. Callum Wilkie had a career-best yr, Jack Sinclair was implausible and Rowan Marshall was huge, taking that into September with an enormous elimination remaining. Brad Crouch additionally has been a dependable performer. There’s promise for subsequent season, however Lyon’s first full low season in cost will probably be seismic.

What went improper

Accidents got here thick and quick for the Saints all through the season, with Max King amongst these key roleplayers . They needed to put out a makeshift ahead line for a big a part of the season and though it carried out admirably it was not one prepared to fireside come September. The midfield depth has been acknowledged by Lyon and will probably be an space of focus this low season. Jade Gresham has proven his huge potential at levels but additionally spluttered alongside at others. They wrestle to attain, which has remained a criticism of Lyon-coached sides, though it needs to be famous the personnel isn’t precisely bursting on the seams with goalscoring capability simply but.

What they want

They want extra midfield depth, which Lyon acknowledged in his post-match press convention on Saturday. Liam Henry has nominated the Saints as his membership of selection, which is an effective begin to the low season. In addition they want a dependable second ahead to work alongside King. Nobody expects a season with out damage, however a cleaner run on that entrance can be a godsend for them.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

6pm: The Saints’ learn on their listing will come this low season with the quantity and forms of strikes they make, however this can be a aspect that’s trying to develop alongside its younger contingent, so premiership success isn’t going to return within the quick future. Competing within the finals this yr was most likely the utmost this present formation of staff may muster and it’s no imply feat. The true work begins now for Lyon and his expenses.

Season grade

B

– David Zita

‘I assumed we had extra in us than that’ | 08:16

SYDNEY SWANS (12-10-1, 110% – misplaced elimination remaining to Carlton)

Three phrase evaluation

An admirable restoration

What went proper

That the Swans have been even taking part in finals was some type of effort given they have been within the backside 4 in spherical 17. It might not have been their yr, however the likes of Errol Gulden and Chad Warner but once more confirmed they’re stars that may solely develop brighter within the coming seasons. Lance Franklin’s retirement was by no means going to be simple, however the younger forwards behind him are beginning to grasp the alternatives that come when a legend of the sport isn’t drawing the soccer so usually. Isaac Heeney is getting again to a few of his finest soccer too. A draw and two tight losses (to Port Adelaide and Larger Western Sydney) put them up towards the wall to make finals however credit score to them for getting there and for pushing Carlton to the ultimate seconds.

What went improper

Six losses in eight matches put them on the again foot they usually did nicely to make the finals given the place they have been. Accidents have been at their most prevalent within the again six, with Paddy McCartin, Tom McCartin and Dane Rampe all . They have been blown off the park a number of occasions, essentially the most notable of which was a disappointing grand remaining rematch towards Geelong in Geelong, shedding by 93 factors. Their ruck shares weren’t efficient for essentially the most half and it wants addressing this low season.

What they want

They want extra key place depth, which is why they’re concentrating on Brodie Grundy and Ben McKay amongst others. There was curiosity in Matt Crouch earlier than he signed a two-year extension with Adelaide, which speaks to a need for some extra midfield depth. Dane Rampe can’t be the defensive linchpin ceaselessly and Paddy McCartin’s retirement makes the McKay play much more urgent. The Swans really feel they’ve a listing to contend now and don’t need for an excessive amount of from a list-build perspective.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

8pm: The Swans are in a great place with their listing and are well-placed to make a deeper run subsequent season. Recruits this low season will probably be key, however one other pre-season for the likes of Gulden and Warner will probably be invaluable. They’re primed to develop once more subsequent season and it’s a brand new starting of types with out Lance Franklin there for the primary time in a decade.

Season grade

B-

– David Zita

Carlton get rid of Swans in thriller | 03:19

9. WESTERN BULLDOGS (12-11, 108.7%)

Three phrase evaluation

Main reset required

What went proper

Marcus Bontempelli couldn’t have carried out way more for his aspect this season, usually carrying his staff on his again and rescuing it to win a number of matches. The Canine skipper will probably be proper within the combine for this yr’s Brownlow Medal, with Josh Dunkley’s transfer to Brisbane permitting Bontempelli to dominate as an inside midfielder this season and common career-high contested possessions, tackles and clearances. Tim English can be a giant probability to earn a maiden All-Australian blazer because the beginning ruck. The No. 1 rated ruck within the AFL, he averaged essentially the most disposals, inside 50s, intercepts and marks of any ruck, whereas he additionally averaged career-high hit-outs-to-advantage. Tom Liberatore additionally had a career-best yr in his twelfth season on the Bulldogs’ listing. Elsewhere, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Ed Richards emerged in career-best seasons, whereas the acquisition of Oskar Baker was worthwhile. General, the Canine have been among the many league’s prime 4 groups for clearances, contested possessions and inside 50s as they reignited their contest and territory recreation.

What went improper

For such a talent-laden listing, how was this staff previous to Spherical 24 scrapping for eighth spot when it actually ought to’ve been among the many large boys contending for a house qualifying remaining and, subsequently, premiership cup? With three weeks left, the Bulldogs misplaced video games to bottom-three groups Hawthorn and West Coast — defeats that finally price them a spot in September. However the actuality is the Canine solely received three video games towards top-eight sides this season, in order that they’re ninth-placed end might be correct. Two 50-point losses towards Melbourne and St Kilda to start out the season set a foul tone, whereas six of their defeats have been by two objectives or much less. Whereas they received a lot of the ball, they ranked tenth for offence, suggesting there’s an overuse and/or a connection situation. And for a staff final yr lauded for its ball motion, the Canine had large points on this space in 2023, rating fifteenth for defensive 50 to inside 50 conversion and Sixteenth for kick ranking. They have been hit exhausting by damage, particularly down again with Sam Darcy, Ryan Gardner, Jason Johannisen, Liam Jones and Alex Keath all lacking large chunks of the season. And the actual fact they have been ranked 18th within the competitors for defensive one-on-one contest win price suggests they nonetheless have large points down again. Individually, Jack Macrae was nicely under his finest this season, the acquisition of Rory Lobb appeared to trigger extra issues than options and, amid commerce hyperlinks to Geelong, Bailey Smith struggled to have the identical affect he had final yr.

What they want

Contemplating the numbers and Liam Jones’ age, probably one other key defender — though there’s hope final yr’s prime choose Jedd Busslinger will be capable of have an effect in 2024 with a full pre-season. However it appears midfield depth could be on the agenda, which is exceptional contemplating a number of years in the past when Adam Treloar joined the Canine, the footy world was questioning how they have been going to suit so many on-ballers right into a beginning 22. The Canine must also be large gamers within the draft. They’ve Picks 10 and, because it stands, 17, so they might make a play for Gold Coast’s Choose 4. That may make sense as a result of the Canine must also be requested to match a first-round bid on athletic 200cm father-son prospect Jordan Croft, whose dad Matthew performed 186 video games for the membership. Croft is speedy and agile, but additionally an correct kick in entrance of objective. Ideally for the Canine, they choose up a smaller/hybrid sort with one pure choose and Croft with one other.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

9pm: Effectively, 9pm in response to the taking part in listing on paper. However as a result of the Canine have turn into such an untrustworthy staff, it’s a 9pm given with out confidence. Going by the messaging out of the membership, Luke Beveridge is considered the proper man to maximise the Canine’ listing. Now extra teaching expertise will doubtless be hunted in a bid to bolster Beveridge’s assist and alter the combo round him. It occurred with nice success at Richmond below Damien Hardwick on the shut of 2016 and it seems set to be the strategy the Canine take into 2024. It must work.

Season grade

D+

— Ben Waterworth

“It’s a LEGAL motion” – professionals on Maynar | 00:47

10. ADELAIDE CROWS (11-12, 116.8%)

Three phrase evaluation

Many ‘what ifs’

What went proper

A lot for a staff that completed exterior the highest eight. In actual fact AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson declared halfway by way of the season the Crows had the capabilities to win the premiership. With 11 wins — together with victories towards Carlton, Brisbane and Port Adelaide — the Crows had their finest season below Matthew Nicks, beating their earlier better of eight final yr regardless of having the third-youngest and second-least skilled listing within the competitors. They turned Adelaide Oval right into a mini fortress, profitable 9 of their 13 matches at their residence venue whereas narrowly shedding to flag contenders Collingwood and Sydney by one level. The Crows have been additionally one of the thrilling groups to look at within the competitors, ending No. 1 within the competitors for each factors scored and scores per inside 50. And the actual fact they have been additionally among the many prime six groups for factors from turnovers and time in ahead half suggests Nicks has carried out a recreation plan that may carry them success sooner or later. The choice to nominate Jordan Dawson as captain was genius, with the midfielder in All-Australian rivalry. Izak Rankine was one of many recruits of the season as he completed with a career-high 36 objectives, whereas 33-year-old Taylor Walker additionally had a career-high 76 objectives to complete second within the Coleman Medal. Ben Keays, Max Michalanney, Jake Soligo, Luke Pedlar and Nick Murray all emerged, too.

What went improper

Losses away from residence — and plenty of shut losses. The Crows received simply two video games exterior of Adelaide — an unconvincing three-point win over Hawthorn in Tasmania and a 45-point victory over the 18th-placed Eagles at Optus Stadium. And 7 of the Crows’ 12 losses have been by below three objectives – they usually have been both in entrance of, or degree with, their opponent in all however certainly one of them. Three of their 5 single-figure margin losses have been towards top-four sides Brisbane on the Gabba (six factors), Melbourne on the MCG (4) and Collingwood on the MCG (two). Nicks mentioned after the Melbourne loss: “Execution ultimately is what’s price us the sport.” Adelaide additionally wasn’t sturdy defensively, ending ninth for common factors conceded and, concerningly, 14th for factors conceded from clearances. Defenders Tom Doedee and Nick Murray additionally ruptured their ACLs late within the season.

What they want

Midfield depth. That’s extra more likely to come by way of the draft quite than on the commerce desk. However may they take a look at fringe Collingwood midfielders Josh Carmichael and Finlay Macrae, who’ve been tearing it up within the VFL however struggled to cement their spots within the AFL aspect? West Adelaide Carmichael may enchantment contemplating he’s 23 years outdated and an SA product. An intercept defender is also a precedence for the Crows this low season. No defender on the membership has rated elite for intercept marks this season, whereas their No. 1 interceptor for a number of seasons, Doedee, stays unsigned and may very well be on the transfer at season’s finish. They picked up father-son gun Max Michalanney in final yr’s draft, however with Doedee probably gone and Nick Murray to overlook a whole lot of subsequent season resulting from damage, the Crows may goal an interceptor like Esava Ratugolea.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

8pm: After exceeding so many consultants’ pre-season expectations in 2023, the hazard for the younger Crows is they might take a step backwards subsequent season in an ultra-competitive league. However twin All-Australian Leigh Montagna prompt the Crows are “coming with a rush” in 2024. Nicks has already established a sustainable recreation type right into a younger listing that noticed so many gamers prolong their contracts this season. Add one other pre-season into this taking part in group coupled with the heartbreak of shedding so many shut video games this season, the Crows will probably be higher ready to face up in clutch moments subsequent season, particularly away from residence. All they want to do that low season is add layers, each to their listing and to their recreation plan. Try this they usually’ll be a serious menace subsequent yr.

Season grade

A-

— Ben Waterworth

Kingy goes in on ‘flop-penheimer’ Energy | 02:23

11. ESSENDON (11-12, 89.7%)

Three phrase evaluation

Eyes extensive open

What went proper

The Bombers stormed out of the blocks, profitable 4 of their first 5 matches, with a 27-point win over Melbourne in Collect Spherical mightily spectacular. Kyle Langford flourished up ahead, serving to cowl for the injured Peter Wright within the first half of the season and ending the yr off strongly as nicely to guide all comers on the Bombers. Zach Merrett stepped up as captain and gave his all, whereas Nic Martin’s begin to the season was superior. A few of their losses have been extraordinarily aggressive towards prime sides, together with Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

What went improper

The way in which they completed was the largest disappointment, with two meek showings prefaced by two slender wins over the underside two sides on the ladder. Regardless of their positive factors, their lack of ability to cease groups shifting the ball stays a thorn of their aspect, whereas they completed because the fourth-worst defensive staff within the competitors for factors towards. Having to ship Peter Wright in for surgical procedure within the opening fortnight of the season was a setback, regardless that Kyle Langford rose to the problem. Jordan Ridley going out with damage late within the season harm the Bombers considerably, with Brandon Zerk-Thatcher struggling to cowl. Jake Stringer was nicely under what many would’ve hoped from the matchwinner.

What they want

As Brad Scott mentioned after their remaining match of the season, there are some important gaps between the place the Bombers wish to be and the place they’re presently. An intense pre-season seems on the playing cards, as does the need to drill into gamers the necessity for a very good low season. They want some extra key-position depth in defence, which is why they’re eager on Ben McKay, who would slot in properly alongside Jordan Ridley within the again six.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

6pm: Brad Scott has hinted on a number of events this season the membership will probably be at its finest sooner or later quite than the current and their younger brigade is continuous to develop. Zach Merrett, Peter Wright and Jordan Ridley will probably be at their finest for the subsequent few years and the membership will hope the advance of the youthful gamers will coincide with a few of these years. That, plus some savvy strikes within the commerce house, ought to see them across the mark in a few years, with enchancment anticipated in 2024.

Season grade

B-

— David Zita

“We’ve got to do it once more” | 03:09

12. GEELONG CATS (10-12-1, 112.6%)

Three phrase evaluation

The hangover hits

What went proper

After dropping the opening three matches of the yr, the Cats went on a five-match profitable sequence to assist reignite the religion. Jeremy Cameron seemed one of the best participant within the competitors throughout that interval. There have been some promising indicators from Tanner Bruhn and Ollie Henry of their first season on the Cattery. Gryan Miers got here into his personal and acquired the eye of the footy world as one of the best objective help participant within the competitors.

What went improper

Three losses to start out the season had everybody assuming the premiership hangover was actual and it proved to be so regardless of the Cats rallying at levels. They may by no means get their finest aspect out on the park or at their finest lengthy sufficient to mount a real cost at a premiership defence. Jeremy Cameron was unimaginable early within the season however dropped off quickly and was nursing a shoulder damage on the shut of the marketing campaign. Tom Hawkins was sluggish to start out the yr and a spate of accidents hit the membership all year long, affecting their backline most. They have been nicely overwhelmed in the midst of the bottom at varied levels — they dropped to eleventh within the league for contested possession differential and Sixteenth for clearance differential — and seemed to desperately miss the sheer will of generational captain Joel Selwood.

What they want

The Cats’ midfield is in want of serious assist, with lots of the aspect’s common engine room on the improper aspect of 30. It’s why there have been requires the Cats to go exhausting at restricted free agent Darcy Parish, in addition to contracted Canine midfielder Bailey Smith, who was annoyed in a half-forward function to complete the season.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

6pm: If the damage listing is naked they usually usher in a big-name recruit like Parish or Smith, the Cats could have yet another probability at a flag, however it’s exhausting to shake the sensation final yr was the elusive and solely flag they could get below this present group of gamers.

Season grade

C

— David Zita

The Cats missed out on the finals after profitable the premiership final season (Photograph by Michael Willson/AFL Images through Getty Pictures).Supply: Getty Pictures

13. RICHMOND (10-12-1, 93.6%)

Three phrase evaluation

Hardwick period over

What went proper

The Tigers have been in a position to keep aggressive all year long regardless of the change of coach, overcoming the lack of spearhead Tom Lynch to a season-ending foot damage to maintain their scoring energy in test. Beneath Andrew McQualter, the Tigers ranked fifth within the competitors for scoring chains and first for scores per inside 50, sustaining their spectacular ball motion with Daniel Rioli having fun with a fruitful full season off halfback. The recruitment of Tim Taranto additionally proved successful, with the midfielder having a worthwhile season, and looms as one of many favourites to win the Jack Dyer Medal in his first season on the membership.

What went improper

After beginning the yr hoping for one final dance, the Tigers misplaced their chew. After a controversial finish to the 2022 season and a super-competitive yr, many (together with Damien Hardwick) thought the Tigers would rise one final time, however it was to not be. They shortly fell out of top-four rivalry and have been eradicated with a few weeks left within the season. Richmond’s DNA below Hardwick and in the midst of their premiership period was constructed of factors from turnover and factors from ahead half intercepts. In 2022, the Tigers ranked second and first in each these classes however this yr, slumped to thirteenth and tenth in a dramatic drop-off. The Tigers famously received the primary of their premierships with a small ahead line, a place that has been so worthwhile for them of their current period. The Tigers may solely handle 27 objectives from their small forwards this season, rating seventeenth throughout the competitors. With a brand new coach coming in, will the Tigers get again to what made them formidable or will the Tigers get a brand new DNA to construct their new dynasty?

What they want

An skilled key defender — and it simply so occurs there are a number of in the marketplace this yr. The Tigers are nicely stocked for younger key place depth with Tylar Younger, Samson Ryan and Jacob Bauer exhibiting indicators all year long they’ll fill key posts for the subsequent era of Richmond. Fellow teen Josh Gibcus didn’t characteristic this yr as he battled hamstring accidents however is seen as a participant of serious promise at Punt Rd. With Robbie Tarrant and Jack Riewoldt retiring, the recruitment of one other key defender would alleviate the strain on Younger (21) and Gibcus (19) within the quick time period whereas additionally permitting the pliability for Noah Balta to swing ahead and line up with Tom Lynch within the ahead line. And as talked about above, a small ahead with some scoring energy must be a precedence, whether or not that’s by way of the draft or free company.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

4pm: Richmond ticked previous midnight and can try to start the climb again up with a brand new coach. There may be sufficient high quality nonetheless on the Tigers listing that they might bounce shortly, however are their holes too tough to fill for a top-four end within the subsequent couple of years? Possibly they don’t go straight again into rivalry, however they shouldn’t languish down the underside for lengthy.

Season grade

D+

— Jono Baruch

14. FREMANTLE (10-13, 96.7%)

Three phrase evaluation

Late cost nugatory

What went proper

The Dockers have lastly discovered themselves their finest Matthew Pavlich alternative in assault – seven years after the membership nice retired. Younger West Aussie Jye Amiss produced an impressive season and stays a critical contender for the Rising Star given he’d performed simply three matches earlier than locking down his function in Freo’s ahead line. Amiss was classed as above common for each objectives and accuracy in promising indicators of what’s to return. Footy ‘unicorn’ Luke Jackson confirmed why Freo went so exhausting to safe him, standing tall in Sean Darcy’s absence within the ruck and offering choices each in assault and within the midfield. Caleb Serong banked an elite particular person yr averaging greater than 30 disposals a recreation. The Dockers’ late-season type was excellent as they racked up three wins and pushed prime 4 finishers Brisbane and Port Adelaide all the best way. Between Rounds 20-23, Fremantle was ranked first for factors towards and second for each opposition factors from turnover and opposition defensive 50s to inside 50 – sitting at a remarkably low 17 per cent for that stat. However that late season type got here too late to salvage 2023.

What went improper

Whereas Amiss was a shining mild, the Freo ahead line – and getting it in there – continued to be a difficulty for Justin Longmuir’s males. The Dockers have been ranked thirteenth for factors for and 14th for each scores per inside 50 share and factors from turnover. When the likes of Lachie Schultz and Michael Frederick discovered house up the bottom, they hit targets. However too usually there wasn’t anybody to take that large seize at half-forward, with Matt Taberner lacking a lot of the season by way of damage, Josh Treacy nonetheless in his early days and Luke Jackson having to juggle ruck duties together with his new function as a ahead. The Nat Fyfe expertise as a ahead didn’t work earlier than his yr was once more reduce quick by damage. The Dockers appeared to lack management at occasions throughout their horror six-loss run post-bye in seven video games. Alex Pearce was in his first yr as captain after taking up from Fyfe, however that transfer didn’t appear to offer the identical type of inspiration the younger mids wanted. The absence of a retired David Mundy within the midfield couldn’t be underestimated both.

What they want

Defensively the Dockers are sound. However ought to Hayden Younger transfer into the midfield, after he produced some excellent shows late season, it may depart them a mid-sized backman quick. Heath Chapman and Nathan O’Driscoll each struggled with type and damage however may get that decision up in 2024. It’s within the midfield and in assault the place Freo want a lift. What may the Dockers get for the likes of Matt Taberner and Liam Henry? The aspect want to verify they arrive out winners in any deal for these two. Taberner stays contracted however couldn’t get on the park, whereas prime 10 choose Henry is broadly tipped to discover new alternatives. The Jaeger O’Meara transfer didn’t repay, as he completed with a median season in AFL Scores Factors, however the Dockers want to search out one other related midfield goal so as to add some expertise and take the strain of the likes of Serong and Andy Brayshaw. That’s the place Nat Fyfe may are available – however can his physique stand up to a return to the midfield?

What time is it on the premiership clock?

4pm: The Dockers aren’t there, however they’ve acquired a few of the key components for a profitable recipe. They’ve acquired solely 5 gamers on their listing over the age of 30 in an excellent present of younger expertise coming by way of. Michael Walters is the senior statesman of the bunch at simply 32, with a number of their gamers now heading into their footballing prime. If Fremantle can discover a goal inside 50 – apart from Amiss – and hit him, they are going to be a contender for these latter prime eight spots.

Season grade

D

— Catherine Healey

Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin hung up the boots (Photograph by Daniel Pockett/Getty Pictures).Supply: Getty Pictures

15. GOLD COAST SUNS (9-14, 91.7%)

Three phrase evaluation

Dew underwhelms once more

What went proper

There have been levels all through 2023 the place it appeared like this budding Gold Coast aspect had lastly arrived and would make its first ever finals look. It included a patch all through the center of the yr the place the membership received 5 of seven video games – beating each the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide in Darwin – with Noah Anderson, nonetheless simply 22, and Matt Rowell, 21, main the cost from the midfield and taking their video games to new heights with Touk Miller sidelined. That is mirrored by Gold Coast rating seventh within the league in contested possession differential and fourth in clearances differential. Their finest footy was very a lot finals worthy amid calls from Fox Footy pundits in June that the Suns have been a “critical footy staff”, whereas they seem to have discovered their long-term ahead pairing with Jack Lukosius and Ben King. Charlie Ballard confirmed he may very nicely be essentially the most underrated key defender within the recreation in an excellent All-Australian calibre season, rating second within the league in contested defensive one-on-ones, second in intercept marks and third in intercept possessions. Gold Coast additionally unearthed younger gun Bailey Humphrey as an thrilling a part of its future, whereas the membership’s VFL staff loved a dominant season, ending first on the ladder to showcase its depth of high quality.

What went improper

Although there have been promising indicators, it felt like a repeat of final yr – and others earlier than it. After a powerful begin to the season, the Suns light within the second half of the marketing campaign, together with losses to Carlton by 59 factors coming off their bye and Collingwood by 78 factors a fortnight later. It’s a win-loss enterprise and it was at all times going to be robust for the already below strain Stuart Dew to retain his place from there. Gold Coast made the decision to sack its coach after 5 and a half seasons in early July and thus waive the white flag on its season, handing Steven King the reins for seven video games. They might finally win simply 9 video games – one fewer than final yr – and end within the backside 4. The membership clearly missed Miller for almost all of the primary half for the season, whereas Ben King struggled to get again to his finest type in his return from an ACL damage. From a statistical standpoint, their kicking ranking was the second-worst within the league they usually dropped off considerably in key territory stats together with rating Sixteenth in factors from turnover, Sixteenth in factors from ahead half intercepts, 14th in ahead half intercepts and twelfth in time in ahead half.

What they want

The Suns have arguably already acquired the factor they want most within the type of new coach Damien Hardwick of their bid to go to a different degree. Hardwick has already been unveiled because the Suns’ fourth full-time coach in an thrilling acquisition, maybe essentially the most important within the membership’s historical past. It’ll add a more durable edge and extra grit, the place you sense the Suns will probably be broadly tipped to be one of many large risers in 2024. From an on-field perspective, they don’t need for a lot, with Hardwick even declaring that 80 per cent of the present listing would lead it to its first flag. May the triple-premiership coach look to pry any of his outdated gamers – both these just lately retired or out of favour – up north? Or perhaps even a sure three-time Norm Smith medallist? They’re additionally set to herald extra elite younger expertise in Academy draftees Jake Rogers, Jed Walter and Ethan Learn, with the ties to the trio that means the membership will store its first Choose, the No. 4 choice. At this stage, it’s extra necessary for the Suns to retain their expertise and guarantee this present crop stays dedicated to the membership in comparison with these of years previous, with Izak Rankine the newest star to depart.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

6pm. As loopy because it sounds, may the Suns contend subsequent season? Though Gold Coast went backwards this yr, historical past reveals there’s at all times a staff that comes from exterior the highest eight into the highest 4 calculation. Gold Coast actually has the expertise to bounce exhausting at some stage, notably now with Hardwick on the helm. After all, they’d accept a maiden finals look earlier than something, however the gifted Suns have boundless potential as a staff to keep watch over, even when they have been nicely off the mark in 2023.

Season grade

D

— Ben Cotton

‘Final minute factor!’ Sam Taylor stars | 01:51

16. HAWTHORN (7-16, 80.2%)

Three phrase evaluation

Finest Sixteenth ever?

What went proper

Hawthorn entered 2023 with, clearly, the youngest and least-experienced listing within the competitors after some daring low season calls. And of the 28 Fox Footy pundits surveyed pre-season, 15 predicted the Hawks to say the wood spoon. So to complete the season with seven wins has been seen by the footy world as a giant tick. There have been shock wins over top-four groups Collingwood and Brisbane in video games that had a finals-like depth and a 116-point annihilation of West Coast. And there have been heartbreaking losses to Adelaide, Richmond and the Giants (twice) the place the Hawks confirmed nice promise. The Hawks have a transparent on-field course and model below Sam Mitchell. They confirmed off a threatening offensive recreation and blistering ball motion whereas additionally they turned a way more dependable stoppage and contested possession staff. After being ranked seventeenth for clearance differential from 2015 to 2022, the Hawks completed 2023 seventh in that stat and sixth for contested possession differential. The transfer of Will Day onto the ball was a masterstroke, Jai Newcombe continued his enchancment, James Worpel recaptured his finest type and Conor Nash was a wildcard discover. James Sicily had a ridiculously good season and is definitely in line for a maiden All-Australian blazer, rating first within the competitors for marks and second for intercepts, whereas he was the No. 1 rated key defender for common disposals. Dylan Moore thrived on the sector in his first yr within the membership’s management group, free agent acquisition Karl Amon picked up from the place he left off at Port Adelaide, second-year participant Connor Macdonald had a giant back-end to the season and triple premiership ahead Luke Breust – clearly the oldest and most skilled participant on Hawthorn’s listing – completed with 47 objectives.

What went improper

For the entire Hawks’ promise, there have been some horrid performances. Eight of their 16 losses have been by 9 objectives or extra they usually conceded some large scores, coughing up 100-plus factors 9 occasions. The Hawks completed the season ranked Sixteenth for each factors scored and factors conceded — so for all of the glass half-full chat, a Sixteenth-placed end is bang on. Elsewhere, Changkuoth Jiath struggled with damage and performed simply eight video games, ex-Docker Lloyd Meek most likely didn’t have the specified impression in his first yr with the Hawks and Denver Grainger-Barras once more couldn’t cement his spot in one of the best 22.

What they want

Contemplating these factors scored/towards rankings, the Hawks are scouring the important thing ahead and defender markets. They’ve come late for North Melbourne free agent Ben McKay, whereas they’ve additionally been linked to off-contract Cat Esava Ratugolea. The Hawks will once more go to the draft this yr. They’ll choose up a star with a top-five choose — versatile 195cm prospect Daniel Curtin or dynamic 189cm ahead Zane Duursma will probably be of their combine — then doubtless match a first-round bid on father-son prospect Will McCabe, a speedy 197cm defender who has nice endurance and loves flying for his marks.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

2pm: Whereas the image seems is extra rosy now than what it was pre-season, the Hawks are clearly in a long-term mindset and, you’d assume, nonetheless a number of years away from their subsequent premiership push. And so much can go improper in a number of years to flip the rising listing construct script. However as Mitchell additionally flagged in October final yr: “There may be completely no ceiling on what this group can obtain or pace restrict on how shortly it may be carried out.” And the truth is the short-term ache hasn’t been as demoralising as many predicted it will. Possibly Hawks followers have already endured the worst of the ache?

Season grade

B+

— Ben Waterworth

17. NORTH MELBOURNE (3-20, 71.5%)

Three phrase evaluation

No Clarko miracle

What went proper

The Alastair Clarkson period kicked off on such a constructive word after the Roos received their first two video games. Sadly, all of it largely went downhill from there (however extra on that later). Maybe extra thrilling than something, North has discovered two absolute gems in prized draftees Harry Sheezel, who ought to take residence the Rising Star Award, and George Wardlaw, in a silver lining from the Jason Horne-Francis commerce. Nick Larkey goes from power to power, ending with a career-best 71 objectives to complete third within the Coleman Medal race and consolidate himself as one of many premier key forwards within the competitors to construct round. North additionally improved on the contest, going from being ranked 14th and 18th within the competitors in clearance differential and clearance effectivity respectively final yr to eleventh and eighth in 2023. Regardless of what their document suggests, the constructing blocks are there for a vibrant future because the membership continues to maneuver into a special period after the retirements of Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington.

What went improper

Clarkson’s psychological well being break from Could to August was a tragic state of affairs and unlucky blow for North. And in some methods, it made it really feel just like the legendary coach’s first yr on the membership was a write-off. Simply when the struggling Roos, who’ve completed backside of the ladder the final two seasons, had one thing go their manner, it was shortly taken away from them. However even earlier than Clarkson’s depart of absence, it was clear this aspect nonetheless had a technique to go. Tarryn Thomas was one other off-field distraction regardless of sturdy type within the again half of the yr. The membership endured a 20-game shedding streak and seemed set to complete final once more – however a minimum of, permit them to draft doubtless Choose 1 Harley Reid – earlier than upsetting Gold Coast in Spherical 24. It marked the Roos’ fourth-consecutive bottom-two end, that means they’ll once more search one other help package deal from the AFL. North had large issues at both finish of the bottom, rating seventeenth within the league in each factors for and factors towards. Griffin Logue, who was recruited to bolster their defence, suffered a brutal ACL blow, whereas the likes of Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jy Simpkin, Cameron Zurhaar and Tristan Xerri’s campaigns have been additionally disrupted by damage. Their subsequent wave of midfielders coming by way of, reminiscent of Tom Powell and Will Phillips, struggled to take their video games to a different degree.

What they want

Put merely, they nonetheless want to enhance in a number of areas. The Roos clearly want extra assist at ether finish of the bottom, however of nice concern for his or her defence, they’ll be with out Logue for many of subsequent yr, whereas Ben McKay is broadly anticipated to depart as a free agent. McKay leaving mightn’t be the worst factor within the greater image although if it nets North Picks 2 and 3, the place the membership can proceed to carry elite younger expertise by way of the door. Given North hasn’t been linked to any key backs (which is a dry market), it suggests they’ll as a substitute look to present extra alternatives to the likes of Miller Bergman, Kallan Dawson and Josh Goater subsequent yr and develop them. However may they give the impression of being so as to add a cheaper-priced veteran defender, one that won’t even be on an AFL listing? On the different finish of the bottom, Larkey is crying out for assist. Getting somebody like Jack Silvagni can be invaluable, although it’d frankly be a tough promote proper now. Recruiting apart, it’s extra maturing and pure inside enchancment that’s the large key to serving to the Roos get to a different degree.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

1pm. Whereas the Roos went into 2023 as one thing of a wildcard, notably with Clarkson on the helm, it shortly turned obvious they nonetheless have a whole lot of work to do. Although issues may flip shortly for the membership past 2023 because it continues so as to add elite younger expertise, North Melbourne followers might want to stay affected person and belief the method for now.

Season grade

F

— Ben Cotton

18. WEST COAST EAGLES (3-20, 53.0%)

Three phrase evaluation

Hit floor zero

What went proper

Oscar Allen’s return at a time when the Eagles have been desperately crying out for a goal in assault was most likely West Coast’s greatest constructive in a horror season. At simply 24, Allen confirmed he can lead a ahead line in retired nice Josh Kennedy’s absence, as he kicked 53 objectives in a season – a couple of in each 4 of West Coast’s objectives for 2023. Add within the truth he didn’t characteristic in any respect in 2022 resulting from damage after which performed a whole lot of this season by way of ache resulting from availability points on the membership — and the expectation is he’ll solely go higher in 2024. Midfielder Tim Kelly was one other standout for the struggling Eagles as he additional proved his critics improper. The Eagles did hand over a hefty commerce hand to safe the West Aussie, however Kelly did all the pieces he may to elevate the membership. The one highlights for the yr got here late within the season once they racked up two wins within the house of 4 weeks – and ranked seventh within the AFL for strain throughout these weeks, in response to Champion Information.

What went improper

This may very well be a really lengthy listing, so we’ll give the summed up model: Accidents, sickness, type and a mountain of strain on coach Adam Simpson all conspired to supply West Coast’s worst ever season in membership historical past. Not solely did the Eagles cop 5 100-plus level drubbings in a single season, they completed with a woeful share of simply 53. One in all their highest-paid gamers Andrew Gaff was so out type he was dropped to sub for Spherical 18. A decimated defence – affected by rumours of star Tom Barrass’ potential commerce to the Swans – was below siege week after week. And in assault, apart from the lone hand from Allen, there was no goal. The Eagles completed the yr ranked because the competitors’s worst staff for factors scored, scores per inside 50, factors towards and opposition rating per inside 50. Within the center, West Coast was the worst within the AFL for contested ball and clearances as rookie Reuben Ginbey was left to shoulder a load of the strain – and it took its toll together with his season reduce quick by damage.

What they want

Route. Unrest has plagued the membership all yr, and with the blowtorch positioned squarely on coach Adam Simpson, questions have to be requested of these pulling the strings above him. An absence of excessive draft picks has cruelled their listing, together with the actual fact they’ve stored veterans who both haven’t produced or haven’t been in a position to get on the park. The large precedence is to discover a ruckman after Nic Naitanui’s retirement. Regardless of incomes himself a two-year contract extension on the finish of 2022, Naitanui didn’t characteristic in any respect in 2023 earlier than calling time. Bailey Williams has stuffed in admirably, however isn’t the reply as primary ruck. They’ve been linked to Essendon’s Nick Bryan, however they’re additionally protecting tabs on Bulldogs star Tim English, though he’s contracted for one more season. Some extra ahead line assist for Oscar Allen may additionally turn out to be useful. However it’s within the midfield the place they desperately want somebody to win the exhausting ball, particularly with out Luke Shuey there in 2024. This season confirmed that with no hardened ball-winner like Shuey, they only couldn’t get the ball ahead.

What time is it on the premiership clock?

12.01pm: Neglect the premiership clock. Finals aren’t even an possibility for this membership within the close to future. It’s a sorry state of affairs at West Coast with the membership’s listing tipping over and their rebuild solely simply starting. Coach Adam Simpson has repeatedly warned it’s going to worsen earlier than it will get higher on the Eagles. And with simply three wins coming in 2023, that’s a scary prospect. They’ve simply misplaced virtually 800 video games of AFL expertise too, with the retirements of Shannon Hurn, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui.

Season grade

F

— Catherine Healey


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