We’re getting close to the end of the season… does that make you as sad as it makes me? In five weeks, there’ll be no more Gold Coast games, no more Melbourne or Carlton games and no more St Kilda games.

Hmmm, maybe there’s not a lot to be sad about after all.

But something to smile about is the eighth instalment of the Mongrel Punt Player Power Rankings, which are designed to highlight both the players surging and those with a great body of work behind them.

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Now, if you’re new to this, please give yourself a refresher. We compile these rankings fortnightly. 100% weighting is given to players for points scored over the previous four rounds, with previous rounds weighted at 50%.

1st Rankings – published after R4

2nd Rankings – published after R6

3rd Rankings – published after R8

4th Rankings – published after R10

5th Rankings – published after R12

6th Rankings – published after R14

7th Rankings – published after R16

The weighting system reflects players who are both surging, and have a good body of work behind them. It allows for a lot of movement within the rankings, and can see players make huge runs based on four weeks of really good footy.

The four positions are rated differently. Defenders are assessed on things like Rebound 50s, Intercept Possessions, and One-Percenters, amongst other things. Mids for Inside 50s, clearances and both number and quality of disposals. Forwards for tackles inside 50, contested marks, and score involvements. And Rucks are scored on hit outs, clearances and sneaking forward to snag a couple of goals. Disposal efficiency is a big factor for the backs, who can accumulate easily, and also for outside mids. There are heaps more criteria used, and bonus points are awarded to those players who statistical targets in wins, but I’m not here to give it all away. This is our system, damn it!

I’m not saying this is the definitive system for ranking players – it has several flaws I’m already looking to adjust in the off-season, but this is where we’re starting, and I reckon we’re getting a great picture of who is in red hot form, who is starting to slip, and who never really got going this season.

So let’s start with the defenders.

 DEFENDERS

 1 – JAMES SICILY

2 – HARRIS ANDREWS

3 – SHANNON HURN

4 – JAKE LLOYD

5 – TOM STEWART

6 – ZAC WILLIAMS

7 – BACHAR HOULI

8 – DANIEL RICH

9 – MARK BLICAVS

10 – RORY LAIRD

ANALYSIS

Sicily makes it back to the top of the defenders list on the basis of his dominant outing against Mason Cox. That best on ground performance really placed the spotlight both on how good Sicily is in the air, and also on the ineptitude of Cox to hold his ground in body-to-body contests.

Jake Lloyd continues to compile amazing stats, and after making the AA squad of 40 last season, should take the next step this year.

Rory Laird makes the top ten here but fails to crack the overall 50. Still a warrior, he has failed to impact games the way he did in both 2017/18.

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Nic Newman, Dane Rampe, Brodie Smith, Jeremy McGovern and Jack Crisp are well within striking distance, with McGovern falling out this time due to his recent suspension.

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MIDFIELDERS

1 – LACHIE NEALE

2 – TIM KELLY

3 – JACK MACRAE

4 – ADAM TRELOAR

5 – CLAYTON OLIVER

6 – TRAVIS BOAK

7 – LUKE SHUEY

8 – NAT FYFE

9 – BRAD CROUCH

10 – TIM TARANTO

ANALYSIS

Plenty of big scorers in this bunch, with seven of the overall top ten coming from the midfield.

When you look at this bunch, the key is their consistency. Even a bloke like Fyfe, who missed with injury this week, has had regular big outings. Then a guy like Crouch, coming off a few quiet ones, drops 35 touches and is right back in the mix.

Would you rate Tim Taranto a top ten mid in the game? Given those missing from this list (Dangerfield, Bont, Cripps) probably not, but I’m not sure he won’t be this time next year. He has the complete game, and will work just as hard defensively as he will offensively – players like him are worth their weight in gold.

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Ben Cunnington, Andrew Gaff, Patrick Dangerfield, Dayne Zorko, Zach Merrett and Josh Dunkley are all hovering around the mark. I left Stephen Coniglio’s name out because the only door he’s knocking on is that of the physio.

FORWARDS

1 – JEREMY CAMERON

2 – JACK DARLING

3 – LUKE DAHLHAUS

4 – GARY ABLETT

5 – TOM HAWKINS

6 – ANTHONY MCDONALD-TIPUNGWUTI

7 – TOM LYNCH (RICH)

8 – LINCOLN MCCARTHY

9 – CHARLIE CAMERON

10 – GRYAN MIERS

ANALYSIS

Four Cats… hmmm, doing a lot right early in the year, weren’t they? Because since the bye, I reckon they’ve been pretty ordinary.

Jack Darling has had a massive month and is now playing the kind of footy he did in the first ten games of 2018. His contested marking is back and he is converting on the scoreboard. The Eagles can afford to nurse Josh Kennedy through on the basis of Darling’s form, and that is an absolute luxury.

Look at that Brisbane Lions pair lurking down the bottom there… ready to pounce. As a small tandem, how underrated are they? You hardly hear about McCarthy unless you support Brisbane.

And Tom Lynch is making some big claims over the past month… so much so I felt I needed to apologise for some of my pre-season doom-saying.

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Robbie Gray, Ben Brown, Aaron Naughton, Tom Lynch (Adel), Luke Breust and Brody Mihocek are all in the mix, with Lynch being quite amazing considering the amount of time he missed. He was really looking great prior to his time away.

RUCKS

1 – BRODIE GRUNDY

2 – ROWAN MARSHALL

3 – MAX GAWN

4 – JARROD WITTS

5 – REILLY O’BRIEN

6 – STEFAN MARTIN

7 – SCOTT LYCETT

8 – TODD GOLDSTEIN

9 – MATTHEW KREUZER

10 – BEN MCEVOY

ANALYSIS

Yes, yes, all hail Grundy, but there is another on the horizon.

Whilst many eyes have been on the development of Reilly O’Brien, the emergence of Rowan Marshall and the undisputed number one ruckman at St Kilda has been wonderful to see. Combative, resilient and with skill by foot, Marshall is the poster boy for recruiting a mature age ruck.

The one shining light for Gold Coast at the moment is the man in the middle, Jarrod Witts. He has been a pillar of strength for the club at a time when they’ve needed him most. Taking the ball from the ruck, and taking the responsibility of clearing it himself, have been something Suns fans would probably like to see less of, but that will largely depend on the development of their young mids (I liked Will Brodie last week).

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Tom Hickey, Rhys Stanley, Shane Mumford and Cal Sinclair are on the cusp on cracking the top ten, but really, at this stage if you’re not in the top ten rucks in the game, it is probably reflective of where you’re at overall.

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THE TOP 50

(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

 

50 – MARK BLICAVS (50+)

Rarely beaten, Blicavs has had double figures in the one percenter category in his last two games. He can play on tall or small and is key to the Cats’ defensive six as we head toward September.

49 – DANIEL RICH (50+)

And Brisbane fans say “about time!” Has been wonderful off half back all season but always seems to miss stat triggers (for this system anyway) by one or two. Great to see him kick a pivotal goal in his 200th game.

48 – CHARLIE CAMERON (50)

Has kicked multiple goals in the last three weeks, and his four snags against Port were a match-winning performance as his teammates came under heavy physical fire. Charlie answered in the way it matters – on the score board.

47 – BACHAR HOULI (50+)

Would be my preferred rebounding defender if I was putting together a team to win a flag right now. So much poise, and great by foot. His 30 disposal game against the Giants was a lesson in how to play the sweeper role.

46 – TODD GOLDSTEIN (47)

Almost dragged the Roos over the line against the Lions with a huge last few efforts. Still has plenty to give as the number one ruck option, and his clearance work has been great over the past month.

45 – LINCOLN MCCARTHY (42)

Has found a new lease on life in the Brisbane forward line. Finding plenty of the ball in recent weeks as he gets more adventurous in his role.

44- DUSTIN MARTIN (41)

You’re going okay when you’re contending for a top two position and this bloke is 44th overall, huh? Has just been doing enough, but the threat is there… and if he does more than threaten in the finals, many will be wondering why they doubted him

43 – SCOTT LYCETT (17)

Massive games after the Ryder omission, but has been limited since as opposition rucks have worked out how to nullify his impact somewhat

42 – JAEGER O’MEARA (32)

Disposal efficiency hurts O’Meara, as he gets a lot of the ball, but is constantly under pressure. Great clearance work, and tackling over the journey.

41 – LACHIE HUNTER (50+)

Excelled in the half back role usually occupied by Caleb Daniel while he was out, and then was moved to the wing this past week and was nowhere near as potent.

40 – DION PRESTIA (49)

Such an unsung midfielder. Consistently around the 30-disposal mark, and is now doing his work in a winning team. Might be close to the Tigers B&F this season.

39 – MARCUS BONTEMPELLI (14)

A bit of a lean fortnight for the Bont sees a bit of a topple down the list. Probably not the right system (right now) to emphasise Bont’s brilliance, as he has been the match winner for the Dogs a couple of times. I need to find a way to reward that next season.

38 – PATRICK CRIPPS (E28)

Let the criticism of the system begin… how can Crippa be so low? Check out his last month or so, then get back to me. Hasn’t been his dominant self in a while, but his early season form sees him remain in the mix.

37 – JOSH DUNKLEY (50+)

He has had a massive month, and only his early season forward play (and the average level of said play) keep him from being higher. His 39 disposal/15 tackle game against Melbourne was a monster outing.

36 – STEFAN MARTIN (30)

Solid but not spectacular – I reckon that sums Martin up. Some good recent clearance work, and his 52 hit out game against GWS was a supreme ruck effort.

35 – ZACH MERRETT (50+)

Had a very nice last couple of weeks, which has elevated him to the rankings, but overall it’s been an inconsistent year for Merrett where he’s accumulated, but like Andrew Gaff, hasn’t really had a lot of impact with his touches. That changed in the last couple of weeks.

34 – DAYNE ZORKO (40)

Has been hitting the scoreboard in the last month and his willingness to apply pressure inside forward 50 has improved his rating here.

33 – REILLY O’BRIEN (E21)

Just signed on with the Crows again, so I guess the future of Sam Jacobs is anyone’s guess. Had20+ disposals twice in the last three weeks, and his second efforts to tackle and follow up his taps have been impressive over the journey.

32 – ZAC WILLIAMS (22)

Was thrown into the middle by Leon Cameron against the Pies in a middle finger to the doubters move by the coach, making a move no one expected. And Williams responded with an impressive return, that included ten tackles.

31 – STEPHEN CONIGLIO (13)

Well, we won’t see him in here again, which is a damn shame, because he was probably a top ten performed player in the league before his injury. I really hope he signs with the Giants and creates a legacy there.

30 – TOM STEWART (27)

Riding some really consistent early season work. One of few players to hit the 10+ rebound 50 trigger regularly.

29 – JAKE LLOYD (38)

Has so many detractors, but in his role as the distributor out of defence, there are few better. Just had the lazy 42 touches this past weekend… another day at the office for Lloyd.

28 – TOM LYNCH (RICH) (50+)

Ahhhh, here he is. One of the best months of footy from him in a long while have seen him make the jump into the top 50. 18.5 touches and three goals in his last two games, as well as good contested marking numbers serve him well.

27 – PATRICK DANGERFIELD (50+)

Jumps back in courtesy of his 32 disposal/23 contested possession outing against the Saints

26 – JARROD WITTS (35)

Consistently hits the hit out and clearance trigger to be awarded points. Would be a monster in this if Gold Coast could occasionally get a win

25 – SHANNON HURN (19)

Blistering start to the season has tapered off since the bye, but his body of work holds him in good stead. Stat highlight of his last four games was ten rebound 50 disposals v Hawthorn. Otherwise, not much to write about.

24 – HARRIS ANDREWS (48)

What a shame he’ll be missing this week, just as he was surging toward the top of the defenders’ list. Scores heavily in one percenters every week, and adds intercepts to make him a dual threat in the air.

23 – ED CURNOW (50+)

So, a bit of a correlation between a coach departing and a tagging midfielder doing what he does best resulting in his first appearance here, don’t you think? Has topped ten tackles twice in the last four weeks, and had 15 clearances against the Dockers.

22 – ANDREW GAFF (16)

Went backwards for the first time in a while, right after I predicted he’d be top ten by this period. Has had 30+ in three of the last four, but that seems to be the only stat he regularly hits

21 – ANTHONY MCDONALD-TIPUNGWUTI (E28)

Amazing that he is in here. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad, he’s horrible. Tackle numbers and tackles inside 50 are his strong suit. The goals are a bonus.

20 – TOM HAWKINS (24)

After five straight weeks where he snagged four goals, Tomahawk has not kicked more than two goals in a game since Round 12. The bye, huh? Hits the Cats collectively and individually, it seems.

19 – GARY ABLETT (18)

Tapering off a little in preparation for finals, Gaz? Has not had 20+ disposals since Round 12, though he has been working harder defensively, notching seven tackles twice in the last three weeks.

18 – BEN CUNNINGTON (12)

A bit of a fall here… cue the outraged North supporters, I suppose. Has not cracked 30 touches in the past three games. Hopefully that sheds a little light on his six-spot fall.

17 – LUKE DAHLHAUS (E21)

Continues to confound me. I have no idea how he is doing so well, other than the fact numbers do not lie, and his disposals as a small forward, and his occasional forays into good tackle numbers are keeping him in the top 20

16 – TIM TARANTO (25)

I know a lot of people don’t take notice of GWS games – they should, because this bloke is worth watching. He is Elliot Yeo, only with a bit more Mongrel in him. He had 11 tackles to half timeon the weekend… amazing.

15 – JAMES SICILY (11)

After a failed experiment as a forward, Sicily went back to doing what he does best – and beat the hell out of Mason Cox in the process. It was probably his most complete game to date as a defender.

14 – MAX GAWN (6)

Injury derailed his quest to challenge Grundy in these rankings, and probably damaged his claims to the number one ruck position in the AA team as well.

13 – BRAD CROUCH (15)

Should win the Crows’ best and fairest quite comfortably, given his consistency. Rebounded from a couple of leaner weeks with a 35-disposal blast against the Bombers – one of the few Crows to stand up.

12 – JACK DARLING (36)

Welcome back, Jack… we’ve missed you. Just like that, Jack Darling has returned to form and made all those people doubting him, or lamenting his form bite their tongues. Personally… the Mongrel always believed in Jack. 😉

11 – NAT FYFE (7)

Missing this week hurt… but prior to that, Fyfe had not hit the magical 30 disposal mark for three straight games. If we’re talking Brownlow chances, perhaps his three goals against the Hawks get him a vote, but this four week stretch will be a very low vote period for him.

10 – JEREMY CAMERON (23)

A six goal bag, and bang… Jezza is back in the top ten. It was the sixth time this year that he has topped four goals in a game, and it looks as though, barring disaster, he has the Coleman sewn up this season.

9 – LUKE SHUEY (9)

Guys, Shuey is having a career-high year for disposals. That actually surprised me, but he is also doing a bit of everything. His R15 games was one of the highest scoring games of the year as he filled up the stat sheet in multiple categories

8 – ROWAN MARSHALL (20)

Surprise packet? Not if you’ve been paying attention. 20+ touches in three of his last four games, and six clearances per game in that period have catapulted him up the rankings. Pay attention – he is the future of the St Kilda ruck division, yet still they’re looking for a ruckman… ugh!

7 – TRAVIS BOAK (3)

Incredibly solid season for the former captain – I am not sure what else he could do to help his team. Easily a career-best statistical season as his team falls down around him

6 – CLAYTON OLIVER (10)

He’s like one of those students who excels in a class despite being surrounded by idiots… and that’s what the Dees have resembled this year – a classroom for of clowns. Amazingly, the one who looks most like a clown has produced the most consistent statistical season.

5 – ADAM TRELOAR (8)

Mr Consistent. Has had 30+ disposals in 14 games this season, which is quite remarkable. Pendlebury may be the class of the Magpie midfield, but Adam Treloar is the workhorse. I reckon he’d be happy to have Taylor Adams back to share the load.

4 – JACK MACRAE (5)

Going from strength to strength. I won’t write too much about him, but if I leave this here – Over his last six games, he is averaging 33.6 disposals. Hard to knock his ranking based on those numbers.

3 – TIM KELLY (4)

Is he getting a little weary? His previous work is bolstering his position here, with just one 30+ disposal game in the last four. I think he may take a hit in the next rankings, with two of his most recent games registering under 20 touches. His disposal totals in wins v losses is quite damning.

2 – LACHIE NEALE (2)

Has come in for some tough treatment recently, but refuses to yield. His clearance and contested touches numbers keep him well in contention, and is one of just two players to repeat as second place in the rankings.

1 – BRODIE GRUNDY (1)

What a year for Grundy – continues to hit statistical milestones, and has seen off every challenger for this position. Would almost be a crime for someone to have a blinder to end the season and displace him.

ANALYSIS

Ah Mr Grundy… as contenders have risen and fallen away (Ablett, Gawn, Boak, Kelly), Grundy has maintained a standard of excellence since the first ranking period after Round Four. I really expected for the rankings to fluctuate quite wildly dependent on recent form, but Grundy’s entire season has been full of highlight games, the most recent of which was his lone-hand against the Giants, where he racked up 31 disposals (22 contested – insane for a big fella), nine tackles, 11 score involvements and 10 clearances. He owns two of the top three highest scoring games of the year, and had the Pies won this, he would’ve had three.

Big leap for Jack Darling on the back of a stellar four weeks of footy, which is exactly what these ratings are supposed to reward. He is averaging 14 touches, four goals and three and a half contested grabs a game over that period.

And how about my man, Rowan Marshall, who not only climbs the ladder, but has stepped on a few along the way? I read with interest that the AFL rankings have him second overall since Round 11, so I feel as though his jump in these rankings is completely justified. I asked the question on the Mongrel Facebook as to whether Marshall is the third best ruck in the game at the moment. Truthfully, I didn’t believe it myself – it was more just a question – but I have a feeling if we’re asking that question in a couple of years, it will be met with a resounding positive response, and maybe some discussion about where in that top three he sits.

Tom Lynch (Rich) makes his first appearance deep in the rankings (he may have been in the 40s once… I don’t want to check) as he is riding a rich vein of form. He is now the league leader in contested grabs per game and even led his team in contested possessions last week as he puts his stamp on this Richmond season.

Big falls for Bont, who despite being good over the past fortnight, was unable to capitalise on a great four weeks prior to that. Jack Macrae, on the other hand, has been more than capable of backing up his good form as he is in the midst of a six game streak of 30+ disposal games. Add to that high contested disposal and tackle numbers and you have the makings of a high ranking. The Dogs winning a few certainly helped as well.

Clayton Oliver’s position, despite Melbourne’s foul season, is testament to his output. He tackles, wins clearances, gets the hard footy and basically puts that Demon midfield on his back, akin to the way Patrick Cripps did earlier in the year.

Speaking of Cripps, I know there’ll be a few who question his position, but in reality, he has had one legitimately dominant game since Round Nine. Yes, his early season form was spectacular, but since then, injury and lack of form have conspired to drop him down the list.

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WHO’S OUT? (PREVIOUS RANK LISTED)

LUKE PARKER (26)

MICHAEL WALTERS (31)

ELLIOT YEO (33)

JAMIE CRIPPS (34)

JEREMY MCGOVERN (37)

DOM SHEED (39)

TOM HICKEY (43)

AARON NAUGHTON (44)

DANE RAMPE (45)

JOSH KELLY (46)

Wow, a West Coast exodus seemingly. Five Eagles drop out after an ordinary fortnight. How does that happen? Hickey has done little – we don’t need to delve too deep there. Nor do we need to with McGovern as he was suspended for a week. Sheed has gained points only once in the last four weeks, which hurts him, and Yeo has been incredibly unlucky in missing points-triggers by one stat in a few cases. For him and Sheed, one big game would see them straight back in next ranking.

 

WHO’S KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?

Gryan Miers and Robbie Gray are both close from the forwards, with Michael Walters also not far away due to his combined mid/forward points. Another big outing from Toby Greene would also see him start to rise.

Nic Newman and Rory Laird are sitting just outside the top 50, as are Dom Sheed, Elliot Yeo and Matt Crouch

WHICH TEAMS ARE BEST REPRESENTED?

BRISBANE – 7

GEELONG – 7

RICHMOND – 4

GWS – 4

WESTERN BULLDOGS – 4

WEST COAST – 4

COLLINGWOOD – 2

MELBOURNE – 2

PORT ADELAIDE – 2

HAWTHORN – 2

ESSENDON – 2

NORTH MELBOURNE – 2

ADELAIDE – 2

CARLTON – 2

SYDNEY – 1

FREMANTLE – 1

ST KILDA -1

GOLD COAST SUNS – 1

So there we go – another fortnight; another Mongrel Player Power Rankings. Again, big thanks go to Vinyl Media for their continued support. Without them, this column doesn’t happen.  If you could give them a like on their Facebook Page, which would be a real help for both them, and us, I’d really appreciate it.

See ya in two weeks. Stay Mongrel.