Port will be looking to improve on its poor win/loss record of the past few years, and an injection of fresh new talent should help it on its way. The Tigers will be looking to firmly ensconce themselves in the top eight. The Saints will be hoping that they’ve still got what it takes to mix it with the flag contenders.

 

Port Adelaide
2012 win/loss record: 5-16-1
2012 ladder position: 14th
2013 projected ladder position: 11th – 13th

This year could possibly be the year that the Power start their charge up the ladder Starved of finals success since the glory days of the 2004 premiership, the Power have, in recent years, been characterised by a lack of appetite for the ball and a lack of skill and flair around the ground.

Port Adelaide was constantly typified by its inconsistency in 2012 – the Power would play well for a quarter or two, but the lack of skill of their players would ultimately see them fall by the wayside.

Perhaps the biggest fillip for the Power was that they managed to retain the signature of star midfielder Travis Boak after he fielded a lucrative offer from Geelong. One of the most important cogs in their team, Boak’s decision to remain at Alberton suggests that perhaps the future is looking bright.

The team’s biggest win came against the Kangaroos, who coughed up a 32-point lead in the final quarter to hand the Power a rare victory. The Power’s ability to dig deep and get over the top of their more highly-fancied opponent also suggests improvement.

Prediction
Thanks to some brilliant drafting, the Power should be capable of eight or nine wins, even perhaps more. Port Adelaide needed to recruit skilful players in all parts of the ground and that’s exactly what it did on draft day.

Ollie Wines will provide some much-needed class and grunt to the midfield brigade whilst Tom Clurey looks as though he’ll develop into a talented key defender. Mason Shaw has all the makings of a power forward, perhaps one day providing a foil in attack for the developing John Butcher and Justin Westhoff. The addition of Kane Mitchell, a star with Claremont, will also add some much needed dash to the team.

The Power’s smart trading also looks to have paid dividends this year, especially the recruitment of cheap-as-chips defender Lewis Stevenson from West Coast, which looks like a brilliant move.

Although a lot will need to go right for the Power to see some success this year, one can be certain that they will aim to blood some of their new players with Wines a tip to play in Round 1. This being the case, this developing team should be able to string together some consistency this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them finish in the top 10 if they play to full potential.

 

Richmond
2012 win/loss record: 10-11-1
2012 Ladder Position: 12th
2013 Prediction: 8th – 10th

2012 was another interesting year for the Tigers, one that promised so much but once again failed to deliver. It was a year of ‘discovery’ for the team – they finally discovered which forward combinations worked best and blooded some fantastic young players.

However, it was the team’s failure to ascend the ladder that frustrated many Richmond fans. This team has been threatening to challenge for a top eight­­ berth for the last few years but has never quite been able to reach it; 2012 was much the same. Wins over more highly-ranked opposition, including the Swans and the Hawks, were coupled with disappointing losses to teams the Tigers should have defeated, namely Gold Coast.

Nonetheless, there were many on-field positives for the Tigers in 2012. They unearthed some new young talent in Brandon Ellis and Steve Morris, whilst senior players Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Shane Tuck went to new heights.

Prediction
Season 2013 should be the first time in a long time that the Tigers make the finals. Some astute drafting has seen them assemble a good band of young players to take them forward, whilst the current nucleus of players that have been around the club for a little while are starting to develop into quality players.

The Tigers got their man at pick 9 with Nick Vlastuin joining the club. The recruitment of key defender Troy Chaplin from Port Adelaide and forward Chris Knights from the Crows should prove fantastic additions to the Richmond team, and will go a long way to completing the side.

A tough draw, especially in the opening half of the season – in its first six rounds, Richmond plays Carlton, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, Fremantle, and Geelong – will do the Tigers no favours.

However, the Tigers of 2012 showed a lot of spirit and a newfound consistency. If the same can be seen in 2013, it will stand them in good stead for a very successful season.

 

St Kilda
2012 win/loss record: 12-10
2012 Position: 9th
2013 Prediction: 8th – 10th

2012 proved to be another interesting year for the Saints. An opening-round loss to Port Adelaide got their season off to a rocky start, but two wins against Carlton, eventual premiers Sydney and a watershed win over recent nemesis Essendon led the Saints to a decent season. However, it was clear that the Saints had some issues with the ruck division being ravaged by injury and a dearth of key defenders being highlighted against key power forwards.

Unlucky to miss the finals with 12 wins under their belt, the Saints unearthed some good young talent in season 2012. Young defenders Jack Newnes and Tom Simpkin developed into defenders of the future for the Saints, whilst rookie Sam Dunnell had a big impact in the midfield in his few matches. Lightning quick forward Rhys Stanley also made big strides and looks to have cemented a permanent place in the forward line. Likewise, small forwards Ahmed Saad and Terry Milera were revelations last year, both having a major impact and taking some pressure off ageing champ Stephen Milne.

The Saints’ game plan under Scott Watters showed signs of progressing last year. Whereas under previous coach Ross Lyon the Saints were typified by their manic defensive pressure, new coach Watters has brought a more balanced approach to their game, as shown by the Saints’ newfound willingness to use the corridor and the added emphasis on balancing defence with attack.

Prediction
2013 shapes as another extremely even season, which means the Saints, with an ageing list and a dearth of star youngsters, will find it difficult to finish firmly ensconced in the top eight. However, the game plan they developed in 2012 should stand them in good stead for being a serious contender for the seventh or eighth spot on the ladder come season’s end.

The Saints’ 2013 draft choices were interesting, selecting flashy line breaker Nathan Wright with their first-round choice, as well as hard nuts Josh Saunders and Brodie Murdoch. Spencer White, an enigmatic forward, could be anything but has yet to prove himself at the highest level. However, 2013 should see the further development of some of the Saints second and third-year players, namely tackle machine Jack Steven, Stanley and young forward Arryn Siposs.

Some good recruiting also has the Saints in good stead. Pinching Tom Hickey from the Gold Coast delivers a much-needed foil to Ben McEvoy in the injury-ravaged ruck division, whilst nabbing key defender Dylan Roberton from Fremantle will go some way to addressing the Saints’ lack of key defenders.

Whilst there is still some work in front of them, if the Saints’ younger players can continue to develop in 2013, they should be contenders for another finals berth