Kangaroo’s dual premiership David King believes the 2022 AFL premiership race has blown wide open, with up to seven clubs able to win this year’s flag.
And a ‘ladder that matters’ further strengthens Fremantle’s cause as true contenders, highlighting Collingwood’s drastic improvement and suggesting Melbourne has ‘the wobble’.
The first tear Sunday night’s panel dissected the AFL ladder after round 12 and the ensuing race for the eight.
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Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna suggested seven teams were legitimate top-four opportunities, while five other teams would compete for eighth spot – the ladder position now occupied by Collingwood after the tight win over Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs’ loss to Geelong.
While Melbourne still tops the ladder with 10 wins, the flag race story has completely turned around in the past two weeks following Fremantle’s and Sydney’s upset wins over the Dees at the MCG, respectively.
Just two wins now separate the first-seeded Demons and seventh-seeded Blues, with Carlton and St Kilda both having a match in hand after parting ways on round 12.
“It’s now underway for the premiership — and it’s the first time we’ve said that this year,” King told Fox Footy’s first tear†
“It’s been Melbourne for the first four to six weeks just going around 70 per cent and they’ve just had a couple of wins and we thought ‘that’s just grown up Melbourne and they’ll get better as the season goes on’. But at some point moment you have to call a spade a spade.
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“If you look at the ladder now, you could take a case all the way down to even a wildcard option from Carlton (in seventh spot) who goes crazy for a month or six weeks at the end of the season and wins the flag .
“I’m a huge fan of where Geelong is going, Fremantle made a big deal (on Sunday) and Melbourne has the wobble, there’s no doubt about that and you have to accept that.
“Geelong are the ones who come really hard. Not necessarily winning and losing, but the way they play.”
Montagna and King then pointed to ‘the ladder of destiny’, which states how each club has fared against the top eight teams so far this season.
And only two clubs – Fremantle and Collingwood – have ‘winning’ records after round 12.
‘LADDER WITH THE LOT’ — RECORD AGAINST THE TOP EIGHT TEAMS IN 2022
1. Fremantle (4-2, 109.1%)
2. Collingwood (3-2, 109.1%)
3. Gold Coast Suns (3-4, 93.7%)
4. Brisbane Lions (2-2, 108.1%)
5. Western Bulldogs (2-3, 102.0%)
6. Sydney Swans (2-2, 100.8%)
7. Geelong Cats (2-3, 95.3%)
8. St Kilda (2-2, 89.4%)
9. Hawthorn (2-5, 84.1%)
10. Melbourne (1-2, 94.6%)
11. Carlton (1-2, 90.9%)
12. Richmond (1-4, 87.9%)
13. Port of Adelaide (1-4, 78.1%)
14. West Coast Eagles (1-4, 50.6%)
15. Adelaide Crows (0-6, 67.7%)
16. GWS Giants (0-7, 66.4%)
17. Essendon (0-6, 63.4%)
18. North Melbourne (0-7, 48.0%)
“Fremantle is the one that stands out,” Montagna said. “In the last two weeks they have eliminated the top team and the second team.
“And Collingwood is probably that surprise package that got the three wins.”
While some clubs have played as many as seven games against teams from the top eight this year, Melbourne and Carlton have only had three encounters with teams within the eight. The Dees and Blues are 10th and 11th respectively on the top eight ladder with 1-2 records.
“They (the Demons) have yet to play Carlton, but have yet to play Geelong, but have yet to play Brisbane and they will play against Collingwood next week,” Montagna said.
“There are teams where you think: ‘Gosh, we haven’t seen a large sample yet’. I threw up a few weeks ago with Melbourne on ‘let’s see them against the other best (clubs)’ as they had a pretty soft draw until the St Kilda match – and they beat them but they lost their last couple against contenders in Sydney and Fremantle.”
King said the ladder proved how competitive the 2022 season was, pointing out that only five teams – the Dockers, Magpies, Lions, Bulldogs and Swans – had a percentage of over 100 against the top eight clubs.
“It’s just so even, it’s so unpredictable,” he said.
“It has a lot to do with home field advantage, how healthy you are and it’s not about who you play, but when you play them.”
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