Midpoint of the 2018 AFL Season: Winners and Losers, Best Players, and Best Tipsters
With the 2018 AFL regular season halfway done, many fans of the game will be hoping that the second half of the season is completely different from the first, unless you're a West Coast supporter of course.
The dominant theme of the last three months has been injuries, upsets, blowouts and low-scoring games. Take away West Coast's surprising domination, Melbourne's marvels going forward, and Richmond's MCG form and you're left with a number of underwhelming performances, with many clubs lower on the ladder than they expected to be.
After back-to-back fairytales in the past two seasons, will there be a third with the Demons claiming the flag this year? Will Richmond go back to back? Or is the premiership trophy heading interstate?
Since their opening round defeat to the Swans, West Coast have been dominant, not losing again with half the season remaining. Even if West Coast are as half as good in the remaining eleven rounds, a top-eight spot looks all but wrapped up. Coach Adam Simpson will be targeting the minor premiership in a bid to avoid complacency amongst his players.
Halfway into the year, there have been no symptoms of second-season syndrome for the Tigers, who have carried on their merry way. Undefeated at the MCG since Round 13 last year, Richmond will be looking to capitalise on their dominance at the home of footy to spearhead a back-to-back premiership tilt.
Surely, Melbourne fans. Surely, this is the year when you break your eleven-year finals drought and get to watch your beloved Dees come September. With bags of young talent coming to the fore, Melbourne appear to be set for a long stint in the top eight.
The definite surprise packages of the year, North Melbourne have defied all pre-season expectations and are nestled just inside the top eight. Brad Scott has worked wonders with his maligned squad, who show no signs of slowing down. Making the finals will be a tough ask, but the Roos continue to rise to the challenge and defy critics.
At the halfway point, the Saints are the team who have probably had the most disastrous season given pre-season expectations. After the retirement of Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna, there was the definite sense that the Saints' young players would stand up. Instead, they have only gone backwards, in what is set to be another long year for St Kilda and their fans.
Like the Saints, Carlton's young players - Patrick Cripps excepted - have failed to step up. Their cellar-dweller position on the table is well deserved. Only a massive improvement will see the Blues avoid another wooden spoon.
As the Grand Final runners-up, the Crows would have expected redemption this year, not further suffering. Their form of late suggests they won't even make the eight. While injuries have played a big role, the Crows need to show more in the second half of the season.
The club that has been the most blessed with high draft picks has also been the hardest hit by injury in 2018. After a huge slump from Rounds 5 to 10, the Giants are starting to get their classy players back and need to be making the top 8 with the quality they have on the park.
The ultimate ball-magnet has continued his rise into one of the comp's best mids. If Mitchell can maintain his form in the second half of the season, the Hawks might just pinch a finals berth.
The Brownlow favourite before he was rubbed out with suspension, Fyfe has undoubtedly returned to his form of 2015. Now with captaincy responsibilities, Fyfe has led from the front and been at the heart of everything good for the Dockers this year.
Despite his costly misses in front of goal, big ruckman Max Gawn has been key to Melbourne's superb start to the season. Unparalleled in high-quality hit-outs, it's all the other stuff that Gawn does around the ground that makes his such a valuable asset.
Whether the Giants have been up or down, it has been Coniglio who has stood out in the middle of the park. A dynamic ball-winner, Coniglio has contributed in the goal-scoring department when his forwards have been firing blanks.
Leading (and failing) Celebrity Tipsters
Finding himself at the summit of the celebrity leaderboard at the halfway point of the season, the multi-skilled Brereton has shown that he has one of the keenest Aussie Rules minds in the business.
Young Herald Sun journalist Chris Cavanagh has shown wisdom way beyond his years. A close second behind Brereton on the leaderboard, Cavanagh will be looking to out-tip his big-name opponents in the second half of the season.
Coming in third on the ladder is Fox Footy's Mark Robinson. Robbo always calls it like it is, and that honesty is certainly paying dividends with his astute tipping this season.
Warney sits towards the tail end of the leaderboard, demonstrating that he should probably stick to cricket commentary and his latest advertising campaigns. We can forgive him though. Not everyone can be an expert AFL tipster.
At rock bottom on the leaderboard after Round 12 is former great of the game Chris Judd. Judd is a player who has failed to translate his prowess on the park into AFL tipping smarts off the park. He needs to stop channelling ex-club Carlton and start performing like his other ex-club, West Coast.