As the 2017 Home & Away season winds to its inevitable conclusion, movement returns to the HPN Team Ratings.
The Swans are beginning to crest towards the “Premiership Contender” part of the HPN Team Ratings, which we loosely define as an overall team rating of more than 105% and individual component ratings north of 100%. After an extremely sluggish start down back, Sydney is now the third best side in the competition defensively – with a fair chance of leaping over Port into second.
We’ve mentioned this before, but the return of Dane Rampe has played a critical role to improvement. Some defenders are versatile, some are extremely good at their job, but Rampe is the rare combination of the two. Rampe’s return has allowed Grundy to move to a more negating role, and taken some of the pressure of Lewis Melican, who has blossomed as a result. Having Rampe’s ability to cover ground and contest as a their man up has allowed the other Swan half backs a little more freedom to attack knowing that there is a safety net behind.
The Swans still have issues – namely in the non-Franklin, non-Papley parts of their forward line, but they are starting to approach their 2016 form.
Switching with Sydney this week is Geelong, who are a fundamentally different team without Dangerfield and Selwood. Duncan and Hawkins missing this week does not help either. The sprint towards finals has turned into a limp just as Geelong run into one of the harder parts of their schedule.
Port didn’t lose a place this week but they lost significant ground in everyone’s eyes including those of our ratings, with another loss to a top eight side on the resume. No-one doubts the raw talent of the Power forward line, but their ability to score against good defences is becoming concerning.
For that matter, on the form of the last two weeks, Melbourne looks more like the Demons of 2008 than earlier this year. The constant shifts of players around the ground has seemingly led to a loss of cohesiveness, either players running into each other and spoiling each other when they do. Time is not on the Demons side here either, and if they can’t turn it around against the undermanned Saints this week their season may over.
Every side left in the battle for the flag this year has a flaw, or several, that may stop them from hoisting the cup. From haphazard forward delivery leading to poor conversion up forward (Richmond), to a loss of the territory battle (Eagles and Bombers), to a forward set up that requires a side’s best midfielder to play forward for massive chunks instead (Bulldogs), each side has an Achilles Heel. Even Adelaide, of which we pointed out last week.
For many, the Giants present as the most evenly balanced team, but they are yet to get their best 22 on the park this year at the same time. On paper the Giants at full strength are probably the most formidable matchup – but as 2017 has shown football isn’t played on paper. Even at full strength the Giants seem susceptible to multiple quality tall forwards and quick spreading run, such as the set up employed by Adelaide so effectively.