AFL REPORT CARD HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON
NORTH MELBOURNE (A+)
What’s working: Getting great service from their host of veterans, notably Jarrad Waite and Daniel Wells.
What’s not: Easily beaten in contested possessions in only loss to Sydney.
Key: Brad Scott says North have only put in a couple of four-quarter performances despite 10-1 record.
Ladder: 2nd (A+)
What’s working: Lance Franklin is back to his mercurial best. Ruck-forward Kurt Tippett having an outstanding season.
What’s not: Fullback Ted Richards has battled concussion and Heath Grundy has had his vulnerable moments.
Key: Carefully managing gun youngsters Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley and Callum Mills.
What’s working: Gun recruits Patrick Dangerfield, Lachie Henderson and Zac Smith.
What’s not: Consistency. Expectations after a great start were tempered by losses to Collingwood and Carlton.
Key: Getting Mitch Clark back could be the missing piece of the puzzle.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (A+)
What’s working: The Bulldogs own the stingiest defence in the AFL. Mature-aged defender Marcus Adams has been an inspired pick-up.
What’s not: Long-term injuries to Bob Murphy and Jason Johannisen. Ruckman Will Minson still can’t get a look in.
Key: Get a bit more oomph in attack and top-four is a near-certainty.
What’s working: Most of their veterans are still playing well and they’ve introduced some promising youngsters.
What’s not: Jarryd Roughead’s cancer fight transcends football but he is also badly missed in attack.
Key: Skipper Luke Hodge has only managed four games. Getting him back is vital to the four-peat bid.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (B+)
What’s working: Tom Scully keeps getting better, Rory Lobb is going to be a star and Steve Johnson has still got it.
What’s not: Successive losses to Adelaide and Geelong show a continued frailty on the road.
Key: Belief. The Giants have all the talent but not enough experience – not yet.
WEST COAST (B-)
What’s working: Josh Kennedy as a dominant key forward and Nic Naitanui as the best tap ruckman going around.
What’s not: Lewis Jetta has been a letdown in first year since crossing from Sydney.
Key: Coach Adam Simpson needs to resolve his team’s woes away from Fortress Subiaco.
What’s working: With Josh Jenkins and Eddie Betts leading the way, the Crows possess the most potent attack in the league.
What’s not: Can also concede points at an alarming rate.
Key: Coach Don Pyke says his defensive structures are a work in progress.
PORT ADELAIDE (B-)
What’s working: Charlie Dixon is on the improve. Jackson Trengove doing a great job as a makeshift ruckman.
What’s not: The six-game suspension to Tom Jonas has been compounded by injuries to other key defenders.
Key: Picture will be much clearer following the big round-12 clash with the Bulldogs.
What’s working: Brendon Bolton is coach of the year to date, Bryce Gibbs has been terrific and Jacob Weitering looks a superstar of the future.
What’s not: That Liam Jones leads the goal-kicking with 13 speaks volumes about their lack of potency in attack.
Key: Have already exceeded expectations in 2016. Getting games into the kids remains the top priority.
What’s working: The Demons are scoring more and winning more too. Max Gawn has arrived as a top-line ruckman.
What’s not: Still consistently inconsistent. Can’t be relied upon to win games when they start as favourites.
Key: Getting key forward Jesse Hogan to sign a contract extension.
What’s working: Adam Treloar in the midfield and American recruit Mason Cox in attack.
What’s not: Travis Cloke’s fall from grace has been mystifying. Injuries have hit the Pies more than most.
Key: Effort, every minute of every game.
ST KILDA (C)
What’s working: Skipper Nick Riewoldt has been a mainstay and Josh Bruce keeps growing as a forward.
What’s not: Despite the positives, can’t be excused huge losses to the likes of West Coast and Adelaide.
Key: Need to take some scalps to show the fans they are on the right track.
What’s working: Dustin Martin is now an elite midfielder and Alex Rance has again been outstanding in defence.
What’s not: Plenty. Six losses in a row. Ruckman Ivan Maric is in the VFL and recruit Chris Yarran hasn’t been sighted.
Key: Finals are almost certainly off the table. Need to make big calls on several stalwarts.
GOLD COAST (D+)
What’s working: Tom Lynch has continued his rise to AFL stardom.
What’s not: Have been cruelled by injury. Gary Ablett not the dominant figure of years past.
Key: The club is standing firmly behind Rodney Eade, who will get plenty of latitude to tinker with his line-up and game-plan.
What’s working: At least put tanking talk to bed when they snapped a 10-game losing streak against Essendon.
What’s not: Have lost Aaron Sandilands and Nat Fyfe for the season. Matthew Pavlich looks to have gone on one year too long.
Key: Getting Lachie Neale to sign a new long-term deal.
What’s working: Precious little. Victory over Gold Coast the only bright point in horrendous 1-10 start to the season.
What’s not: Dayne Beams can’t get on the park, the Lions have the worst defence in the league and struggle to kick goals.
Key: Play the kids and bring Josh Schache along as quickly as possible.
What’s working: The patched-up Bombers surprised many when they managed to win a game – against Melbourne. John Worsfold appears a shrewd appointment.
What’s not: Top-up players a mixed bag at best. The Bombers have scored the least points of any side by a long way.
Key: Keep getting games into gun youngsters like Darcy Parish.