Western Bulldogs
Position: 14th
Win Loss Ratio: 3-7
Points: 12

Season so far:
Patience is a virtue if you’re a salt-of-the-earth Footscray supporter. Yet in recent weeks, there’s been a bit to get excited about, as the Dogs head into their break off the back of two consecutive wins. The discoveries of gun prospects Jackson Macrae and Jake Stringer, the development of third-years such as Mitch Wallis and the return to form of Adam Cooney are massive bonuses. Under the mentorship of Brendan McCartney, the Dogs have been accused as being one of the forgotten teams of the AFL already this season. A host of injuries to key players such as Matthew Boyd, Shaun Higgins and now Tom Williams hasn’t aided their cause, yet a win against top eight contender Port Adelaide will give them confidence ahead of the back half of the season.

Biggest Improver: Tom Liberatore
Very tempting to put Adam Cooney here. Liberatore had his off-field misdemeanour well-documented in the latter part of season 2012. Has come on in leaps and bounds in 2013, demonstrated by a career-best, 35-possession effort in the win over Port in Darwin last weekend. As far as inside players are concerned, Liberatore is in the elite bracket ranking first in the league for clearances and sixth in the league for contested possessions, meanwhile averaging 22.7 disposals a match.

Biggest Slider: Liam Jones
In a team crying out for a power forward since Barry Hall retired, Jones’ 13 goals in 10 games does little to set Bulldogs fans’ minds at ease. In the top seven in the league for contested marks, yet averages 1.6 marks inside 50. As the club’s leading goal kicker and missing the likes of Ayce Cordy, he needs to be raising his overall marking averages from 3.8 closer to double figures and closer to the big sticks. Epitomises why the Dogs struggle to kick winning scores.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
Western Bulldogs are faced with a stern challenge immediately after the break, when they take on Collingwood. They then face an intriguing contest with Richmond, before approaching winnable games with Melbourne and GWS. It will get sincerely harder after that, playing just one team (Melbourne) not in the current top 10 from Round 14 onwards.

Ladder Prediction: 16th

Richmond Tigers
Position: 7th
Win Loss Ratio: 6-4

Season so far:
Richmond have put together another year with brilliance and some downright ordinary football. Fortunately for Tiger fans, the positive outweighs the negative and they head into their mid-season break inside the top eight. Only one win has come against a current top eight side in Carlton (Round 1), yet wins against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium and the Eagles over in the west demonstrate that this team-oriented playing group has matured. No more is this evident than the Tiger’s sitting 2nd in the AFL for disposal efficiency. While Jack Riewoldt sits casually at number 3 in the Coleman with 31 goals, it no longer seems that the enigmatic No. 8 is forced into being the yellow-and-black’s one-man-show, with plenty of mates picking up the slack.

Biggest Improver: Luke McGuane
After five rounds, had combined with twin-power forward Riewoldt for 31 goals – McGuane nailed 15 of them. His numbers have dipped a touch in recent weeks, but the fact that McGuane has 17 to his name as a second forward is a major plus for Richmond. Typically a defender, McGuane’s switch to the forward line – like so many before him – has been a masterstroke on coach Damien Hardwick’s behalf. Averages a tick under 2 goals a game and now forcing opposition coaches to have some put time put into him.

Biggest Slider: Robin Nahas
Just about the smallest player in the competition must be feeling the heat of his security on Richmond’s list at the half way point of the year. He has managed just five games in 2013 for three goals. As with small forwards, has only had 38 total possessions in the year, but only three majors (0.6 goals per game) isn’t a good enough return. Contrast his year to the same stage in 2012, Nahas had kicked 14 goals, averaged 16 disposals per match and polled a Brownlow vote.

Prediction for the rest of the season:
Richmond face four very winnable games following their break as they face Adelaide, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne all in Melbourne. A danger game looms in Cairns when they take on Gold Coast, but there’s plenty more challenges awaiting Richmond before the home-and-away season’s end that – dare I say it – could well see the Tigers slip at the final hurdle.

Ladder Prediction: 9th