The Halftime Grades on the 2024 AFL Season

It’s Half-Time in the AFL
Life During Wartime

Given each team plays 23 games this year, the halfway mark of the season falls somewhere between Rounds 11 and 12, with each club having 12 more games to improve their lot before the end of the season. The battle for hierarchy and positions starts to really heat up from here on in.

As we enter the third quarter of the season, how has your club performed during the second quarter of the season (rounds 7-11), and what does your club need to do to improve their rankings as we enter the third quarter (Rounds 12-18 includes the bye) of the season?

Since the start of Round Seven, some clubs have performed well, some clubs okayish, while other clubs have, well… let’s just say they are looking forward to the bye and a chance to reset, while a handful of clubs have already started planning for season 2025.

Premiership aren’t won in May, so it is not beyond reasonable expectation some clubs who may have been a bit disappointing to start the season will attempt to mount a fresh challenge in the second half of the season.

Strange things happen in the second half of the season, as form teams tighten up and the chasing pack start to prey upon the weak.


The Formula

After Round Six (first quarter), in an earlier article, I graded each club, as each club will be graded for their performances over the last five rounds (second quarter), and finally all clubs will be graded overall for the season to date (half time). For example, Geelong was given an A+ for the first quarter but as they have lost four of their last five games in the second quarter they will be given an E, however they are still sixth on the ladder, so their halftime grading ia C+ (percentage is taken into consideration).

I am also going to mention what score your team has averaged for and against during the first eleven rounds.

As for the Talking Heads reference, figure it out.


Half Time – Life During Wartime


Adelaide Crows – 12th (113.0%)

1st Quarter grade (1 win) E
2nd Quarter grade (3.5 wins) B-
Halftime grade (4.5 wins) C-
Average score 83.6 for and 74 against

The Crows are, by definition, the unluckiest team in the league. They never seem to be on the receiving end of any 50/50 umpiring call, especially in the dying seconds of matches. From the time Ben Keays kicked a goal, adjudged a point late last year, through to Izak Rankine’s fifteen step run being adjudged running too far two weeks ago, the Crows have not been able to take a trick in close encounters.

It is academic now, but the Crows need to start making their own luck.

Adelaide have started to push their way up the ladder in the second quarter, and with a healthy percentage for a team so low on the ladder, they are one the teams most likely team to mount a serious charge at a finals berth in the second half of the season, but they will need to win at least nine matches.

Next 6 matches:
Hawthorn (MCG), Richmond (h), Sydney (h), GWS (h), Brisbane (Gabba) and St Kilda (h).


Brisbane Lions – 13th (111.6%)

1st Quarter grade (2 wins) C-
2nd Quarter grade (2.5 wins) D
Halftime grade (4.5 wins) D+
Average score 84 for and 75 against

An observation was made about the Lions over the weekend as to whether or not their senior players embrace and trust the younger brigade of players coming through the system this year? It is food for thought, but I feel it is just one of many questions that need to be asked about the Lions on and off field performance this year.

Something is drastically wrong at Brisbane, presently. Last weekend, they were poised to run over the top of the Hawks, which they would have done last year, but instead it was the Hawks who ran over the top of them. All teams lose matches, but this was a bad loss, and it was reflective of their year to date.

Injuries, loss of form by some players, and fatigue from a shortened pre-season are reasonable excuses to throw up, but the Lions are currently in free-fall, and things don’t look like turning around any time soon. I sense, and I hope I am wrong, but there maybe bigger internal problems at the club affecting the on-field performances.

I am going to ‘no man’s land’ now and ask the question which every media outlet is afraid to explore with any sensibility. Are the ongoing investigations and proceedings arising from Chris Fagan’s alleged involvement in the Hawthorn Racism Claim affecting the Brisbane Football Club? I have no opinion about the ongoing proceedings, but both Chris Fagan and Alastair Clarkson must be feeling the pinch about how long these proceedings have been going on, and nervous as to when and how will they end. I am just putting that out there.

Like the Crows, the Lions need to win at least nine of their remaining matches to make a charge at the finals.

Next 6 matches:

Bulldogs (Marvel), St Kilda (h), Power (Adelaide Oval), Melbourne (h), Crows (h) and the Eagles (Optus).


Carlton – 8th (104.9%)

1st Quarter grade (5 wins) A
2nd Quarter grade (2 wins) D
Halftime grade (7 wins) C+
Average score 93.1 for and 88.8 against

The Baggers leak more scores against than any other of the team down to Hawthorn (14th) who have any chance of participating in the finals this year. Carlton’s percentage is problematic.

For the rest of the season, as well as accumulating wins, the Blues will have to start belting teams by big margins to improve their percentage to a competitive level. Percentage maybe the difference between finishing top 4, or even making the finals for the Baggers.

I reviewed the Blues win over the Suns last weekend and I thought the additions of Adam Saad and Mitch McGovern returning from injury did tighten up their defensive unit. They held the Suns to reasonable score against, but leaking three goals in the last five minutes did their cause no good. Carlton must plug their leakages up back, especially junk time goals.

Carlton’s second quarter of the season is not as bad as it looks with only two wins over the Dees and the Suns, and other than being belted by the Swans, the losses against the Cats and the Pies were honourable.

More will be known about the Blues over the next two weeks before their bye when they play the Power and the Bombers.

Next 6 matches:

Power (Adelaide Oval), Essendon (MCG), Geelong (MCG), Richmond (MCG), GWS (Engie), and the Bulldogs (Marvel).


Collingwood – 7th (107.1%)

1st Quarter grade (3 wins) B-
2nd Quarter grade (3 wins, 2 Draws) B+
Halftime grade (7 wins effectively) B
Average score 86.2 for and 80.5 against

Technically the Pies have not lost a match since Round Seven, but they had two draws against the Bombers and the Dockers, and they only just fell over the line against the Crows, so I am conflicted as to how to grade the Pies properly. Effectively, the Pies have had four wins out of five games, which is good by any standard.

Collingwood have been, and continue to be riddled with injuries, so just cause could be made they have performed better than expected thus far. The one thing I will say about the Pies, the senior players embrace the kids, but the kids in return are expected to contribute to the team as well, to which they have.

With substantial injuries to De Goey, Cox, Mitchell, McStay, Elliott, Mihocek, Howe, and others, the depth of the Pies list will be tested over the coming weeks. The kids will need to well and truly stand up and then some. If the Pies are still in finals contention come Round 18, I will dip my lid to them.

Next 6 matches:
Bulldogs (Marvel), Melbourne (MCG), North Melbourne (Marvel), Suns (Cararra, or whatever that ground is called now), Essendon (MCG), and Geelong (MCG).


Essendon – 2nd (104.4%)

1st Quarter grade (4 wins) A
2nd Quarter grade (4 wins, 1 Draw) A+
Halftime grade (8.5 wins) A+
Average score 84.6 for and 81.1 against

Since being completely belted by the Power in Round Four, this Essendon squad has not lost a game, albeit with a draw against the Pies in Round Seven. It is a remarkable run of success for a club most had being closer to the bottom of the ladder by now than the top.

Brad Scott is probably the most underrated coach in the AFL. In 2014 and 2015, Scott coached an average North Melbourne team to two consecutive Preliminary Finals, yet people are now shocked the Bombers are now sitting second on the ladder. Scott, of the B variety, knows how to get the best of the players under his command, and it does not overly surprise me he has the Bombers up and running this year.

Hopefully for Bomber fans, the first (or second) weekend in September this year will see the Bombers win their first final in 20 years. For the record, the 4th of September 2004 was the last time the Bombers won a final.

Essendon fans have reason to be excited. It is more than likely the boys from The Hangar will win six or more games in the second half of the season and given their great start to the year it will ensure them a place in September action, and a chance to win a final.

Next 6 games:

Suns (Carrara, or whatever it is called now), Carlton (MCG), West Coast (Marvel), Geelong (MCG), Collingwood (MCG), and Melbourne (MCG).


Fremantle – 9th (110.6%)

1st Quarter grade (3 wins) C
2nd Quarter grade (3 wins, 1 Draw) B+
Halftime grade (6.5 wins) C+
Average score 76.5 for and 69.1 against

Fremantle deserve a mulligan for their loss against the Swans in Round Nine, given the emotion felt by the players after the tragic death of Cam McCarthy. It is to their credit they were able to rebound after that game with a win over St Kilda and a draw against the Pies last week.

The outpouring of emotion was still evident last week when Captain, Alex Pearce, saluted the heavens after he kicked a rare goal in honour of his fallen mate. Along with the flowers being laid in the goal square after the Swans match by Pearce and Fyfe, Pearce’s gesture last week was all class, and it emphasised the depth of emotion still being felt at the club.

At the halfway mark of the season the Dockers are well situated to have a decent crack at stringing enough wins together to make the finals.

Next 6 matches:

Melbourne (Darwin), Bulldogs (Marvel), Suns (h), Swans (SCG), Tigers (h), and Hawthorn (UTAS).


Geelong – 6th (110.7%)

1st Quarter grade (6 wins) A+
2nd Quarter grade (1 wins) E
Halftime grade (7 wins) C+
Average score 93.4 for and 84.4 against

Seven straight wins by the Cats was a great start to the year, but the four straight losses and total loss of form is hard to comprehend. Injuries are partially to blame, but all clubs suffer some injuries and still find a way to graft out a win or two. So, what has happened to the Cats?

I am not picking on Tom Stewart, as he will go down as a great Cat when he retires, but his lack of form and touch is symbolic of the rest of the club. The Cats don’t lose at GMHBA Stadium, but this year the Power and the Giants have rolled them at home, while the Suns completely demolished them in Darwin in what was the worst defeat suffer by the club since Chris Scott has been in charge.

While the Giants defeated the Cats last week, about midway through the third quarter when they were facing down the barrel of another big defeat, miraculously the out of form players suddenly found some form. If a positive can found from a defeat, then it was the return to form of the whole team from the midway point of that third quarter.

Write of the Cats at your own peril, is the saying, but the football world will be watching with interest to see how they perform over the winter.

Next 6 matches:

Richmond (h), Sydney (SCG), Carlton (MCG), Essendon (MCG), Hawthorn (h), and Collingwood (MCG).


Gold Coast Suns – 10th (108.2%)

1st Quarter grade (3 wins) B-
2nd Quarter grade (3 wins) C
Halftime grade (6 wins) C
Average score 90.5 for and 83.6 against

Confession time, HB’s pet project team for the year is the Dockers, while my pet project is the Suns, and at the halfway mark of the year I like what the Suns are doing under Dimma. Maybe it is a side effect of medicinal Mary-Jane, but this club has a certain calm about them, and they seem to be employing a long-term strategy to get success.

Damian Hardwick was honest with his assessment of the Suns when he stated he had about 80 percent of the pieces in place at the start of the year. Unless I am mistaken, Dimma’s ambition would be to instil a winning culture in the club. The first step would be to win all home games at all costs, and it should be noted, the Suns have not been beaten at People First Stadium this year, and they are turning the worst named Stadium in the AFL into a fortress. The next step is to get a few scalps on the road, other than Darwin.

The primary aim for the Suns this year would be a winning season, and if that includes making the finals, then it is a bonus. The Suns are on course for twelve wins plus this season, so long as the less experienced players don’t lose form as the season drags on.

Next 6 matches:

Essendon (h), St Kilda (Marvel), Fremantle (Optus), Collingwood (h), North Melbourne (Marvel), and the Power (h).


Greater Western Sydney Giants – 5th (114.6%)

1st Quarter grade (5 wins) A-
2nd Quarter grade (2 wins) C-
Halftime grade (7 wins) B+
Average score 91.2 for and 79.5 against

After thrashing the Lions in Round Seven, the Giants had a bit of horror run losing three straight matches before getting their season back on track last week at GMHBA Stadium. The Big Big Sound’s losses at the hands of the Bombers and the Doggies were bad losses, and not just because that they lost, but rather they looked listless in both of those games.

If the Giants form loss was a mere blip on the radar, then it would be fair to say they cannot afford anymore blips this year.

GWS are in a logjam of teams who are fighting for a spot in the top 4, and their destiny is in their own hands. The Giants are good team, but now is the time for them to prove they are great team capable of making it to the last Saturday in September.

Next 6 matches:

Hawthorn (UTAS), Power (Engie), Sydney (Engie), Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), Carlton (Engie), and Richmond (MCG).


Hawthorn – 14th (82.8%)

1st Quarter grade (1 win) E
2nd Quarter grade (3 wins – should have been 4) B
Halftime grade (4 wins) C
Average score 73.5 for and 88.8 against

I will eat my own words, as my quarter time season report on the Hawks was scathing, and I even questioned if the club had any meaningful or sustainable gameplan. I was wrong, and I admit it. The Hawks have been the surprise packet of the second quarter of the season.

Since being bashed up by the Swans in Round Seven, the Hawks have won three out of their last four matches, and it should have been four on the trot, but they got stage fright late in the game against the Power.

There is a lot to like about the Hawks, both short term and long term. Sam Mitchell has this team playing with a team first work ethic and it is paying dividends. Even setbacks, like the loss to the Power are seen as learning experiences, rather than failures or setbacks.

One final point, James Sicily is possibly the most influential Captain in the AFL alongside Max Gawn, and while the Captain of the All-Australian team rarely comes from a team who don’t make the finals, James Sicily deserves that honour this year (as long as he maintains form and doesn’t get suspended).

Next 6 matches:

Adelaide (MCG), GWS (UTAS), Richmond (MCG), Eagles (Optus), Geelong (GMHBA), and Fremantle (UTAS).


Melbourne – 4th (116.9%)

1st Quarter grade (4 wins) B+
2nd Quarter grade (3 wins) B-
Halftime grade (7 wins) B
Average score 82.2 for and 70.3 against

My Kingdom for a Forward

Melbourne is the lowest scoring team of any club currently inside the eight, however, they are the second-best team at containing opposition to low scores. One end of the ground is covering up for the weaknesses at the other end of the ground, and to this stage of the season the sleight of hand has the Dees in a very healthy position, but is it sustainable?

The Lever and May show has been Melbourne’s defensive weapon since it’s Premiership year in 2021, but for the next few weeks Jake Lever will be out due to injury. May and Lever are Melbourne’s one two punch, and their combined defensive skills means the Dees have been able to wallpaper over their lack of scoring strength up the other end, but with Lever out the Dees forwards are now exposed.

Fritsch is good for a couple of goals each week, Van Rooyen is coming along nicely, but he is still a kid and needs time, Pickett and Chandler play well in spurts, Petty is really a back-man, Ben Brown is in and out the team, and while Petracca is more than capable of going forward and scoring goals, it robs the midfield of their Brute.

Despite all the above, the Dees are still positioned to have a serious crack at a second Premiership with this current crop of players, and if they can sort out a forward line capable of kicking more goals, then they might just steal the Flag this year.

Next 6 matches:

Fremantle (MCG), Collingwood (MCG), North Melbourne (MCG), Brisbane (Gabba), Eagles (MCG), and Essendon (MCG).


North Melbourne – 18th (55.9%)

1st Quarter grade (0 wins) F
2nd Quarter grade (0 wins) F
Halftime grade (0 wins) F
Average score 65.9 for and 118 against

With an average losing margins of 52.1 points per game, the Kangas are a club in disarray, and I fear for their future unless something drastic occurs.

Alastair Clarkson probably was the right appointment as Coach, but given what I said about Chris Fagan, the timing for North Melbourne to appoint him could not have come at a worse time.

I’ll be honest here, who would want to be the number one draft pick at the end of the year knowing you are going to end up at Arden Street? Some reward for being the best young player in the country, I think not.

North don’t need (don’t deserve) anymore young players, they need mature, battle-hardened players to bolster their stocks to lead and support the young players currently at the Club. Sadly, for North Melbourne, most of the players who fit the battle-hardened category will find their way to Tasmania. Other than draft picks, the AFL need to find alternative ways to help North, and that may mean lucrative incentives for well credentialed, established players to come to the club.

Sheezel, Wardlaw, LDU, Larkey, Duursma, and a host of other talented young players deserve more from their careers than winning a game or two every year. As a neutral supporter I feel sorry for the talent pool going to waste at North without any end in sight.

For what is worth, North’s next 6 matches:

Eagles (Optus), Collingwood (Marvel), Melbourne (MCG), Bulldogs (Marvel), Suns (Marvel), and Sydney (SCG).


Port Adelaide – 3rd (117.4%)

1st Quarter grade (4 wins) B+
2nd Quarter grade (4 wins) A-
Halftime grade (8 wins) A
Average score 91.5 for and 78 against

Port Adelaide currently sit third on the ladder, with the third-best percentage in the competition, and yet they are not fancied to win the flag, given they are currently $15.00 according to a betting agency (I would normal not mention gambling agencies on here, but this must be an anomaly).

Am I missing something?

Even allowing for Victorian bias, I am perplexed the Power are flying so low under the radar. I get all the hype surrounding the Bombers, Blues and Pies, but this club has done very little wrong to be the despised outsider of the teams in contention. Go figure!

Any club which makes the finals on a consistent basis like the Power have been doing for a few years now while eventually have a September where everything flows, and while the Power’s recent record in September is average to say the least, to write them off this year I fear may be a huge mistake.

The doomsayers may be proven correct come the end of the year, but at present everything is coming up Milhouse for the Power.

Next 6 matches:

Carlton (h), GWS (Engie), Brisbane (h), St Kilda (Marvel), Bulldogs (h), and Gold Coast (at the ground formally known as Carrara).


Richmond – 17th (61.6%)

1st Quarter grade (1 win) C-
2nd Quarter grade (0 wins) E
Halftime grade (1 win) E
Average score 63.1 for and 102.7 against

I don’t think there would be a worse job in the AFL than being the new coach of club which was a dynasty team. Adam Yze has walked into the back end of a party, and he is finding himself sweeping up the left-over mess from one hell of a time.

Injuries, fatigue, and the loss of several legendary players over the summer sees the once mighty Tigers sitting second last on the ladder. The injury list at Tigerland is severe. A few weeks ago, I counted at least seven players with numbers 40 or higher on their backs. Yes, the odd player likes a number in the 40’s, but such numbers are usually reserved for players who need a year or two under their belts before they are ready for AFL football.

I have asked some Tiger mates if they are they upset about this year, and their response has unanimously been the same, “We have won three flags since 2017, so who cares if we have a shit year or two. If this is the price of success, then it was worth it.” Fair point.

The Tigers have clearly bottomed out after a successful period, and the rebuild for the future starts now. The Tribe, while still celebrating, will soon start dropping truckloads of manure at Punt Road again if they are in the same position this time next year – that is guaranteed.

Next 6 matches:

Geelong (GMHBA), Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), Hawthorn (MCG), Bali (the Bye), Carlton (MCG), Fremantle (Optus), and GWS (MCG).


St Kilda – 15th (90.4%)

1st Quarter grade (2 wins) D+
2nd Quarter grade (1 win) E
Halftime grade (3 wins) E
Average score 71.2 for and 78.8 against

I have so many friends who love the St Kilda Football Club with an absolute passion, and normally they just give a little ‘sigh’ when things turn pear-shape. Accepting this is St Kilda and it is just the way it is, but not this year. The Saints faithful are angry this year, and maybe is about time they started being angry.

From making the Finals last year to just three measly, uninspiring wins this year is not good enough, and it is not even entertaining. Watching a St Kilda game this year is like watching paint dry as they average just over 71 points a game.

Note to Ross Lyon, you came back to this Club as the Messiah and promised more than what the club had been delivering previously. Never ever make a promise the broken-hearted unless it is in your power, and you intend to deliver on that promise. To Saints supporters, your rhetoric must sound like just another promise that won’t come to fruition. Actions talk Ross, and…

I’ve am being harsh here, but it must be frustrating to follow the Saints.

Next 6 matches:

Eagles (Optus), Suns (Marvel), Brisbane (Gabba), Port Adelaide (Marvel), Sydney (Marvel), and Adelaide (Adelaide Oval).


Sydney Swans – 1st (150.1%)

1st Quarter grade (5 wins) B+
2nd Quarter grade (5 wins) A+
Halftime grade (10 wins) A+
Average score 102.9 for and 68.5 against

Cheer, cheer the red and the white – they are clearly best team in the competition to this point of the year, but it is only May and there is no trophy for being on top of the ladder at the halfway mark of the year.

The preseason injuries to Callum Mills and Luke Parker, in hindsight, have been a blessing in disguise. Heeney, The Chad, Errol, Paps, and others, have embraced the point of difference Grundy, Adams, and Jordan have brought to the club, and even the stoic John Longmire has adapted the Swans game plan accordingly to be a more attacking style of game, while still maintaining defensive dominance and pressure.

It is only May, but the Swans will finish in the Top 4 (most likely top) given the are a game and a half ahead of Essendon and at least two games plus percentage ahead of the chasing pack.

Next 6 matches:

Geelong (SCG), Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), GWS (Engie), Fremantle (SCG), St Kilda (Marvel), and North Melbourne (SCG).


West Coast Eagles – 16th (70.8%)

1st Quarter grade (2 wins) B
2nd Quarter grade (1 win) D
Halftime grade (3 wins) C-
Average score 69.1 for and 97.7 against

Harley Reid and the West Coast kids

I am being generous to the West Coast Eagles given them a C-, but this club was not expected to win a game this year, but then this kid called Harley Reid, that’s right, Harley Reid, don’t forget the name, rode into old Perth town and suddenly became the biggest thing to hit the west since the discovery of gold.

Reid has sparked the Eagles to be competitive this year. Along the journey they have suffered some heartache, but they have gathered a few precious wins, which gives HOPE.

The Harley Effect has inspired some old battle worn warriors to find form again after a few years in the wilderness. Waterman and Darling are leading the forwards by example, while the old firm of Barrass and McGovern are back doing what they do best up back, while the Kelly Gang are taking control of the midfield.

With Oscar Allen and Elijah Hewitt returning from injury soon, there may well some more hootin tootin good times ahead out west.

Next 6 matches:

St Kilda (Optus), North Melbourne (Optus), Essendon (Marvel), Hawthorn (Optus), Melbourne (MCG), and Brisbane (Optus).


Western Bulldogs – 11th (121.3%)

1st Quarter grade (3 wins) C
2nd Quarter grade (2 wins) D
Halftime grade (3 wins) C-
Average score 92.7 for and 76.5 against

Before the start of the last round and the injuries to Aaron Naughton and Ed Richards, I would have written the Dogs have gone from being ‘flat track bullies’ to serious contenders, but alas Naughton’s knee buckled and, in that instance, so did the Dogs season.

Or did it?

This is one time I hope I am wrong. Since the injuries to Tony Liberatore and Cody Weightman occurred a few ago, Luke Beveridge completely restructured his team and in the process the predictability of the Dogs game plan was revamped by a style of play capable of going deep into September. I can’t explain it, but it just looks right.

Liberatore, Naughton, Weightman, Richards and Coffield, are all expected to return sometime later in the year, so the soldiers left standing need to galvanise and dig deep as a unit and win enough matches to keep the Dogs close enough for a late season assault on the finals when the cavalry returns.

This week’s match against a injury riddled Collingwood at Marvel is shaping up as a ripper as both clubs will need to lean heavily on young, inexperienced players to carry the load.

Next 6 matches:

Collingwood (Marvel), Brisbane (Marvel), Fremantle (Marvel), North Melbourne (Marvel), Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), and Carlton (Marvel).