Tuesday, 20 March 2012

AFL season prediction: 15th-13th

Before today’s post I’d just like to say a small piece about sport and tragedy. The collapse of Fabrice Muamba on the field for Bolton during Saturday’s FA Cup match and the passing away of the AFL great Jim Stynes this morning remind us that life can be all too fleeting.

I sincerely hope that Fabrice makes a full recover from his cardiac arrest and manages to lead a long & rewarding life. Whilst Jim Stynes died far too young, he left a profound influence on the game he loved and on many people in his adopted homeland & beyond. Both men’s amazing stories show us how sport can enrich the life of not just its participants, but also of the wider community.
Now on with today’s AFL post, with my predicted ladder continuing from 15th to 13th:

Port Adelaide Power

Why here: Port only narrowly escaped the wooden spoon last season after winning on the final day of the regular season. They’ve had an impressive pre-season, but still lack the quality & depth most other teams in the competition possess and will struggle to get the goals needed to win enough games, particularly outside of Adelaide.

Key man: During the off-season, key onballer Travis Boak reaffirmed his commitment to the Power by stating that he had fallen in love with the club and had no desire to leave. Boak led the Power last year in disposals, clearances and inside 50s, and the future captain will once again be looked upon to provide the ball to Port’s forwards.

One to watch: John Butcher burst onto the scene late last year scoring 11 goals in 4 games, including 6 from 6 disposals against the Western Bulldogs. He’ll be expected to play the majority of games for the Power this season, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he can keep up his impressive goals to games ratio up over a full season.

This season will be a success if… Port Adelaide manage to keep in touch with the 8 for the majority of the season. They’re still probably a couple of seasons away from pushing for a finals spot, so anything more than 8 wins would be a good result.

Brisbane Lions

Why here: Michael Voss may still be much-loved in Brisbane, but he has done little so far to convince me that he possesses the tactical nous to take the Lions to the next level. Brisbane possess a lot of talent and the ability to worry most teams on their day, but lack the fight to really push for a finals spot.

Key Man: Jonathan Brown will again miss the start of the season due to injury, so I’ll pick Matthew Leuenberger as my key man for Brisbane. The young ruck had a career-best season in 2011 and is at the age where rucks really start to come into their own. With the ability to dominate the hit outs and make a contribution around the ground he can become a genuine star.

One to watch: Jared Polec only managed 3 games in an injury-interrupted debut season for the Lions, but should see much more game time this year. The sublimely skilled midfielder will add some much needed class to Brisbane’s midfield.

This season will be a success if… the Lions can manage to win the majority of their close games. Last year in games decided by 3 or less goals they went 2-7. A reversal of that stat would provide a significant boost up the ladder.

Melbourne Demons

Why here: The Demons should be looking to make a push for the finals after several years in the wilderness, however I’m far from convinced about their ability to consistently perform each week. They’ve gathered an impressive off-field staff, but I think their playing squad lacks a little experience and is still a couple of years away from making the top 8.

Key man: James Frawley has emerged over the past few seasons as one of the best back men in the competition. Following in the footsteps of his illustrious uncle, he’s able to successfully negate the impact of the game’s premier forwards whilst staying within his limitations.

One to watch: High-flying Jeremy Howe is making a mark for himself as one of the most spectacular players in the AFL. The young forward played 13 games and kicked 18 goals in his debut season and should make even more of an impression this time round.

This season will be a success if… Mark Neeld and his coaching team manage to add a bit of competitive fire to the Demons. They have a tough start to the season, so how they perform early on could be crucial.

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