It came down to a race in two.
The Swans and the Power were the best-performed road teams all season, and with one round to go, they were locked at the top of the table, with just points-differential separating them.
It all came down to the final round. Here’s how it played out.
But first, the regular spiel…
We’ve heard it for years – the teams based outside Victoria have it tougher.
Forced to travel interstate almost every second week, they clock up enormous miles as they traverse the country to be part of this sport we love.
Meanwhile, we get some Victorian-based clubs cracking the sads when they have to play at Marvel Stadium instead of the MCG, and vice versa. Or those who get a little nasty when a move away from Kardinia Park is floated.
So, how do the teams fare away from home, and who is travelling best at the moment?
The Mongrel has devised a little ladder to assess who is the best road team in the league. Oh, the Vic teams will still get a look in if they’re good enough, and whilst I fully expect a number of fans to say this system is rigged to favour non-Victorian teams… I really don’t care. And if so, how are the Dees and Dogs in the top four? Stop your whining, fella!
So, how does it work?
The Road Warrior Ladder is named after one of the best Tag Teams of all-time. Don’t come at me with your Demolition garbage, or your Powers of Pain crap… they were Road Warrior rip-offs… who were, in turn, rip-offs of the 1980s movie, Mad Max.
It was called The Road Warrior in the United States because… geez, I’m not a film buff. Do your own homework.
Anyway, you get four points for an interstate win and two points for a win at an away venue that IS NOT played at the venue you consider your home ground. I don’t care if it’s not your home game – you’re still at the ground you play your home games at. The Road Warrior Ladder Nazi isn’t concerned with your feelings.
Tasmania is considered a home game for Hawthorn. You choose to play your home games there – you cop it. Same with GWS and Canberra – if it’s your choice, you wear it.
Now that my belligerence is out of the way, let’s get to business.
THE FINAL 2021 ROAD WARRIOR LADDER
1 – SYDNEY 36 PTS (361 POINT DIFFERENTIAL IN ROAD WINS)
2 – PORT ADELAIDE 36 PTS (235)
3 – GWS 32 PTS (193)
4 – MELBOURNE 28 PTS (270)
5 – WESTERN BULLDOGS 24 PTS (198)
6 – BRISBANE 22 PTS (231)
7 – GEELONG 20 PTS (230)
8 – ST KILDA 20 PTS (156)
9 – GOLD COAST 20 PTS (89)
10 – RICHMOND 14 PTS (173)
11 – ESSENDON 14 PTS (115)
12 – WEST COAST 12 PTS (102)
13 – FREMANTLE 12 PTS (86)
14 – ADELAIDE 12 PTS (66)
15 – COLLINGWOOD 10 PTS (40)
16 – NORTH MELBOURNE 8 PTS (17)
17 – HAWTHORN 6 PTS (39)
18 – CARLTON 4 PTS (11)
And the Swans really got lucky in the final round, coming up against a Gold Coast team who, by this stage of the year, every year, have the cue well and truly in the rack. Not only did they pick up the win, they shit it in! With an 87-point belting, they secured the Mongrel Punt Road Warrior Championship for 2021.9.2I know what you’re thinking – who cares, given they were bundled out in the first week of finals, right?
Well, you have a point, albeit a very shallow one. You see, what the Swans accomplished in 2021 was to go from a team that was not up to scratch in the 2020 season. They suffered injuries and played a defensive style of footy to cover their losses. That was not who this Sydney team is, and with stars returning, getting in shape, and adding to their list with talented youngsters, the Swans were just about the best team in the league to watch in 2021.9.2And the fact they were able to do it on the road for nine interstate wins should give the indication that they’re maturing quickly.
The Dees finished strong, as well, coming from 44 points down to pinch the game at the death against the Cats. However, they needed a huge margin to get close to Sydney, and were unable to pull it off.
Carlton finished last in a display that indicated the complete opposite of the Swans – seriously, they take two steps forward and three steps back at times. With just one road win in total, unless they start scheduling games at Ikon Park in 2022, this team needs a foot in the arse.
All hail Sydney – 2021 Mongrel Punt Road Warrior Champions.
A damn shame they went out in the first week – I had the feeling they could have made some real noise this season.
Not a bad little concept, this one – Covid has really spiced things up. Two weeks to flatten the curve… yeah.