Win Loss Ratio: 9-1
Season so far:
The Hawks have had an incredibly impressive start to the season. Facing up against every team from the 2012 finals series in the first seven rounds, the Hawks came out with a 6-1 record. Since then, they have been in cruise control against the easy-beats of the competition in GWS, Gold Coast, and Melbourne. In addition to this, the Hawks’ injury list has remained relatively short, with key players being rested against weaker opposition. The loss of Matt Suckling does not seem to have affected the Hawks’ game style at all, and the addition of Brian Lake to their defensive line-up has filled what used to be Hawthorn’s only glaring weakness. While the club’s upcoming games will be far more competitive, with Carlton, West Coast, and Brisbane to face the rampaging Hawks after their round 11 bye, it is unlikely for the club to lose any games until the rematch with Geelong in round 15.
Biggest Improver: Bradley Hill
One of Hawthorn’s rising stars is the indigenous speedster, Bradley Hill. Over the past 12 months, Hill has gone from being gifted games as the substitute in 2012 to now being one of Hawthorn’s most important outside runners. So far this season, Hill is averaging 15.4 disposals and a goal per game, with a career-best performance of 21 disposals, seven marks and a goal being vital to Hawthorn’s narrow win against North Melbourne in round five. With Hill yet to turn 20, his averages will most likely trend upward as he matures into his role in the Hawthorn side.
Biggest Slider: Michael Osborne
Turning 31 in July, Osborne was close to not being on an AFL list at the end of last season. In the 2012 free agency period, Hawthorn was able to make room for Jonathan Simpkin as a de-listed free agent by de-listing Osborne from the senior list. It was a nervous wait for Osborne, before being picked up by Hawthorn at pick 70 in the National Draft. This year, the Hawthorn veteran appears to be feeling the effects of old age creeping in. Having only played five games for the season, Osborne seems to have been replaced by younger players such as Paul Puopolo and Luke Breust.
Prediction for the rest of the season:
Hawthorn has a relatively easy run home, which should all but guarantee a top-four finish at the conclusion of the home and away season. It is highly likely for the Hawks to win 10 out of their next 12 games, with the only realistic chances of defeat being Geelong and Sydney.
Port Adelaide Power
Win Loss Ratio: 5-5
Season so far:
After a dream start to the year, in which Port Adelaide was 5-0, the club has come crashing back down to earth. Early wins against GWS, Melbourne, and Gold Coast were expected, however wins against West Coast and Adelaide made the rest of the competition stand up and take note. With a string of relatively close losses, with the exception of games against Richmond and Geelong, Port Adelaide are not as far off the pace as many are saying. Currently sitting at 5-5, it will be a very difficult prospect for the Power to make the finals, given their relatively tough draw in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, it has been impressive seeing the cultural changes that Ken Hinkley has brought to the club. The players can rarely be accused of not giving their all, and it is clear that they believe in their new coach.
Biggest Improver: Chad Wingard
Wingard is one of the biggest surprise packets of 2013. In only his second season, the lightly-built youngster is showing why he was taken at pick six in the 2011 National Draft, averaging 21.8 disposals and 1.8 goals for the season. Wingard had a standout performance against Adelaide in the round three Showdown, gathering 25 possessions, taking six marks and kicking three goals in the final quarter to win the game for Port Adelaide. As he matures and adds muscle to his frame, Wingard’s star will continue to rise. Barring injury, there is no reason for Wingard to not be among the competition’s elite within three years.
Biggest Slider: John Butcher
Ravaged by injury in the early stages of his career, Butcher has an air of expectation that follows him whenever he plays. Labeled “The Future” by many, he hasn’t done much to justify such a nickname. In his two games so far in 2013, Butcher has been sub-standard at best. He has kicked only one goal from those two games, from multiple scoring shots. In Port Adelaide’s game against Geelong at AAMI Stadium, Butcher shanked two kicks out on the full from 25 and 35 metres. His marking, widely considered one of his strengths, has also suffered. Several times this year, Butcher has been unable to hold onto regulation marks, and the opposition has scored as a result. While still only 21 years old, there will be many Port Adelaide supporters hoping that Butcher can turn his form around and begin to have an impact at AFL level. The round 12 game against GWS would be a good place to start.
Prediction for the rest of the season:
After facing GWS in round 12, Port Adelaide have a month from hell, coming up against Sydney, Collingwood, Essendon, and Hawthorn. It is highly unlikely that the team will be able to recover from a 6-9 record. With finals off the table, 2013 should be treated as a development year for the Power. More games will likely be given to younger players, such as Andrew Moore, Jack Hombsch, and Nathan Blee. If the club finishes around 12th at the end of the year, it should be considered a success.