A look at the ladder progression of the four teams still in contention for the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiershipcompetition reveals several interesting facts.
During the first four weeks, the Richmond Tigers gave some indications of being vulnerable to the dreaded premiership hangover syndrome so expertly manifested by the Western Bulldogs following their 2016 premiership.
The Tigers were 12th at the conclusion of the second round. They climbed to ninth in the third round, and then all the way to third at the end of Round 4. All symptoms of hangover disappeared from that point, as the Tigers went to the top following Round 5 and stayed there for four straight weeks.
They then dropped to second for Rounds 9 – 12, but then seized control following Round 13 and stayed there for the remainder of the home-and-away season.
West Coast also had a bit of a slow start, but climbed immediately and held the top sport for the four weeks between when Richmond first took control for the first time and when they took the first rung for the remainder of the season. From Round 4 on, the Eagles were never lower than number two, but for Rounds 13 – 15, when they went down one spot to number three.
Collingwood was up and down all season. They did do enough to stay in the top eight every week, save for the first nine rounds. The climbed into the top eight in Round 10 and stayed there for the balance of the season.
Melbourne was in the top eight every round, save for Rounds 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 at the outset of the season. They were never on top, yet the bookies seem to think that one goal or three behinds is all that separates them from West Coast, as the Eagles are 2.5-point favourites.
The only other clubs to have a sniff of the top rung, other than Richmond and West Coast, were Greater Western Sydney in Rounds 1, 2 and 4, and Port Adelaide in Round 3.