Time to just copy and paste what I wrote about Richmond last week. Despite not really facing any huge challenges so far this year, they have built a huge lead over other teams. It’ll be interesting to see how the Richmond predictions change over the course of the season, once they face more seasoned opposition.
This week had 2 winners and 2 losers with >10% of movement in their finals chances, each of whom played another of the 4 teams:
- Geelong gained a huge 23%. They’ve had some serious doubt surrounding them, particularly after the Sydney game in round 6 and due to their huge injury list, but they seemed to pass on everyone’s concern to GWS, the huge loser of their Friday night game last week. That said, despite the star-studded midfield that Geelong has, it has been less-decorated players like Mitch Duncan and Tim Kelly that have been the driving force in Geelong’s midfield. It’ll be interesting to see if that is Chris Scott’s tactic moving forward.
- West Coast gained just over 10%. The folks at HPN wrote an article last week about how they’ve been faring and they proved it again on the weekend, knocking off the team they barely bested in last year’s already-legendary elimination final – and doing that without Luke Shuey, who HPN highlighted as a key contributor. They may lose an important player in Nic Naitanui this week (I’m not going to go into that debacle, but I seriously doubt the suspension would hold up at a tribunal), but Scott Lycett has also been a very handy ruck this year. The Eagles look good, and I think we’re starting to see more evidence to suggest that Adam Simpson and the rest of his coaching staff are seriously good at what they do.
- GWS Giants lost a little under 23% after their shellacking at the hands of Geelong. It was a game that could’ve affected each team either way, with both fighting to remain in the top 8, but GWS collapsed fairly quickly and didn’t attempt to get back up. Like Geelong, GWS are also missing a lot of players due to injury. However, it’s clear that Dylan Shiel and Stephen Coniligio cannot shoulder the load by themselves. After consecutive preliminary finals, they’re in trouble and may not get there again this year. However, once the injuries stop I expect that they’ll be firmly in the top 8 at the home & away season’s end.
- Lastly, Port Adelaide, who lost more than 15%. The model thought Port were a decent chance to defeat West Coast, but they ended up beaten and bruised by a superior side. I don’t think there’s much to be drawn from the performance, it seemed like an off-day for them, but they were largely ineffectual and they only had 1 streak of 5 goals where West Coast had 4 streaks of 2, 2, 6 and 3 goals.
I might look further into using goal streaks, it seems like an interesting potential stat and it can be easily scraped from AFLTables.
Richmond are the sole premiership favourites at this point, with Adelaide, Sydney and West Coast staying as dark horses. Once again, I don’t expect them to stay this dominant for the remainder of the year, but who knows when they’ll next be challenged. Will it be North Melbourne this week, or West Coast the week after?