AFL mid-season report card part one: premiership fancies to guilty pleasures | AFL

Winter is here. The Demons have finally been knocked off, the bottom few sides are abnormally bad, Buddy has kicked over a thousand goals, and Kane Cornes has found 100,000 things to object to. Starting with the top eight, here’s how your team tracks midway through the 2022 season.


They were cruising to their 18th win on the trot at half-time on Saturday.

Unlike some of the great teams of the last 20 years, the 2022 Dees don’t pulverize the opposition or look to put on a show. They dial it up as required. Gawn, Petracca, and Oliver raffle the three votes each week.

But then they changed their name; Langdon hurt his ribs, Petracca fell ill, May got concussed, and Fremantle went whoosh. The Dockers’ 10-goal burst will be on high rotation across the competition. Did they work Melbourne’s locks? Did they turn the premiership race on its head? The reality is the Dees had an off day. They had excuses. Their opponents played out of their skins. Melbourne hasn’t got warm yet, but they’re still the clear No 1 seed.

Best and fairest: Clayton Oliver


This is probably the closest Brisbane’s been to a flag since 2004. They were a bit listless in Geelong and Launceston, but they’re capable of scintillating football, particularly at the Gabba, where they’re pretty much unbeatable in home-and-away games. They’ve had a good run with injuries in recent years, but they’re starting to bite in 2022, particularly up forward. They’re starting to leak goals too. Their next four opponents are Fremantle (away), St Kilda, Melbourne (out), and the Western Bulldogs. We’ll have a much clearer picture then.

Best and fairest: Lachie Neale


They were coming off two losses in the wet when they forfeited about 25 percentage points and incurred the wrath of their normally imperturbable coach. But it’s hard to remember a Fremantle side that’s played better than the one unleashed late on Saturday afternoon – perhaps the opening quarter of the 2012 elimination final or the following year’s qualifying and preliminary finals. They’re defensively sound, well coached, have an even spread of contributors, and will soon welcome back a two-time Brownlow medallist. However, you wouldn’t back them with your worst enemy’s money on a heavy track.


Best and fairest: Andrew Brayshaw

St Kilda

The Saints didn’t have a great summer. Coffield tore an ACL, and Clark, Billings, Geary, and Ryder were all injured. There was a sameness to them in round one. They looked one-paced and bland. The only real source of excitement came from a former concreter in the ruck. But they’ve exceeded all expectations since. They’re a great second-half team, rolling all over the top of Fremantle, Richmond, Geelong, and GWS after the main break. Kicking 4-18 in the tropics may prove costly, however. And their run home is tough, with eight games against the top eight sides.

Best and fairest: Jack Sinclair and Jack Steele

Jack Steele of the Saints. Photograph: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/Getty Images


The Herald Sun recently dsuggestedthat Carlton is the ideal second team to support. For any Victorian over 35, it was a comical suggestion. But they’re a guilty pleasure. They’re the best story and crew to watch, and when they’re humming, perhaps the hardest to counter. The old timers can’t get enough of them – hard at the contest, an uncomplicated game plan, and tall options up forward. It’s senior school football.

But Jacob Weitering’s cracked AC is an enormous blow. He calms them down, straightens them up, and often saves the day. He’s rarely out-marked. They looked bereft without him on Sunday. With Jones refusing the jab, and McKay, McDonald, McGovern, and everyone else with Scottish ancestry currently unavailable, they may be at their tipping point.

Best and fairest: Patrick Cripps


Modern footy changes every few months. But Geelong is the great constant. You could set your watch to them. Still, it takes a lot for the Cats to impress us. It takes a lot to impress their fans. As always, they won’t go away. They’re the competition’s audit. They put sides to sleep. They put plenty of their supporters to sleep. And they’re not going too badly. They’ve dropped three games by less than two goals. They’ve unearthed a star in De Koning. But Dangerfield can’t get his body right. There’s a shelf life to playing like that. It makes the career of Joel Selwood all the more remarkable. He’s been playing like a crazed lunatic for 15 years and is still an outstanding footballer.

Best and fairest: Tom Stewart

Callum Mills of the Swans tackles Richmond’s, Dustin Martin. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos/via Getty Images


This is a very different Swans side to previous years. There’s less crash and bang and more run and spread. However, they’ve struggled for consistency within games and threw in a shocker against Gold Coast. But they’re always a formidable proposition in Friday night games at the SCG. Franklin, in particular, always seems to find another leg in those fixtures. If he hadn’t whacked Cotchin and earned a week’s rest, they would have fancied their chances against Melbourne on Saturday night.

Best and fairest: Callum Mills

Western Bulldogs

“In these times where we’re processing the inherent effects of Covid, its uncertain legacy and the future, the uncertainty about the environment, the carbon footprint worldwide, and now the atrocity of the Russian advancement on Ukraine, there are questions we ask of ourselves. What kind of person am I? And what would I do if I could influence some of these significant events that will threaten our futures?”

Joe Biden? No, Luke Beveridge. He’s a perennial puzzle, the Bulldogs coach. He had a very odd start to the year. He likes to experiment, chop, and change his side, particularly in the early rounds. It can send Dogs supporters spare. But after stumbling along for several months, they’ve finally found their groove. Naughton is flying, Libba is back in the middle where he belongs, and they finally have a bit of ruck stability. They encountered witches’ hats last week. This Friday’s opponent represents a far stiffer challenge.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.