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Premiership Season 2016 - Round 13 Review

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The first of the bye rounds (with six teams of the 18 teams having a week off) saw Geelong establish itself as a firm premiership favourite, after the Cats crushed the Dogs on Saturday night to move to the top of the ladder. Meanwhile, another side that knows a thing or two about premierships, Hawthorn, moved into the top four for the first time this year, after it pipped North Melbourne in a bruising encounter. North might have lost top spot as a result, but it lost no admirers, taking it right up to the Hawks to demonstrate that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Further down the ladder, Fremantle is fast putting the memories of its 10 losses in a row behind it. The Dockers won their third game on end, this time against ninth-placed Port. The win moved them up to 15th and virtually set the top eight in concrete. Port and Melbourne, which lost to Sydney, are already two games plus a hefty percentage away from the eight, and the draw for the next nine weeks could see that gap widen further by season's end.

Notwithstanding the fact that the top eight may already be set, the battle within the top eight is as enthralling as we've seen in many a long year. Only a game separates the top six sides, something that's not been the case as late as round 13 before in the AFL era. Had Adelaide not had a bye this week, we may have even seen the top seven sides separated by only one game.

The North-Hawthorn game was one of two for the weekend that promised to be a great match-up between two contenders and it proved to be so. The Roos made the early running but the season Hawks fought back and eventually looked to take control before a late fightback from North saw the gap closed to two points. A late goal to Puopolo after a free kick saw Hawthorn home by nine, with the Kangaroos left to rue poor kicking for goal, the final score 11.18 to 14.9.

Saturday at the Gabba saw an all-too-familiar tale play out for Brisbane. The Lions were competitive against West Coast for a quarter, trailing by just a point at the first break, but were blown away by the Eagles in the second term, who kicked seven goals to one to lead by 36 points at the half. The Lions improved after the long break, but the damage was done and West Coast cruised to a 49-point win to shore up its place in the top eight.

Fremantle's resurgence continued apace at Subiaco later that day, the Dockers outlasting Port Adelaide to record a 17-point win, their third in a row after having lost their first 10 matches of 2016. Reflecting the abject nature of their turnaround, the Dockers' wins have seen their percentage improve to an extent where it is now greater that of seven other sides, including Carlton, St Kilda, Richmond and Collingwood above them.

While Friday night at Docklands delivered on its 'blockbuster' promise, the same could not be said of Saturday night. The Western Bulldogs kicked the first score of the night, a point to Jack Macrae but thereafter gave barely a yelp, save for a brief third-quarter fightback, as Geelong, led by their dynamic midfield duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, put the Pups to the sword, winning in a canter by 57 points to secure top place on the ladder and deserved premiership favouritism.

Sunday at the SCG presented the possibility of another interesting affair, with the improving Melbourne taking on the might of Sydney. As rain tumbled, the Demons made a good early start but once the Swans got going, they proved unstoppable and, led by a four-goal performance from Buddy Franklin, powered away to a 55-point win.

The final match of the round was the one that promised to deliver the least, excitement-wise, but it proved to be one of the best match of the weekend as bottom-placed Essendon took it right up to GWS, and at times threatened to take it away from the Giants. The Dons were 12 points ahead at the half and still within two goals in time on of the last quarter but a late flurry of GWS goals saw the Giants home by 27 points.

While Geelong's premiership favouritism is well-earned, it pays to remember that the Cats have lost to both Carlton and Collingwood within the past month, and the fact that only four premiership points divides the top six teams means that a slip-up from any of those sides could see a complete reshuffle in the ladder's upper echelons and a new favourite installed at a moment's notice. 

The 2016 season thus far has been the source of great fascination and the remainder of it promises much more intrigue to come.

Leading goalkickers after round 13

47 - Lance Franklin (Syd)
46 - Josh Kennedy (WCo)
39 - Tom Lynch (GCo)
37 - Josh Jenkins (Adel)
33 - Eddie Betts (Adel)
32 - Jack Gunston (Haw)
31 - Jesse Hogan (Melb)
30 - Luke Breust (Haw)
29 - Taylor Walker (Adel), Jack Darling (WCo), Charlie Dixon (Port)


Videos sourced from YouTube, courtesy of the AFL.

R-13, Ladder

Team GP PTS %
GEEL 13 40 143.33
SYD 13 40 140.89
NTH 13 40 121.28
HAW 13 40 118.36
GWS 13 36 135.03
WBULL 13 36 119.75
WCE 13 32 128.93
ADEL 12 32 127.89
PORT 13 24 108.15
MELB 13 24 103.73
CARL 12 24 84.65
STK 12 20 86.61
RICH 12 20 84.69
COLL 12 16 84.54
FREO 13 12 87.97
SUNS 12 12 70.90
BRIS 13 4 60.71
ESS 13 4 56.09


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.