AFL

Not too many elite sporting competitions in the world play an entire season just to eliminate half the field. But this is Australia. And we do things differently.

Putting a form line through the top 8 out of 16 teams over 22 weeks can have its intricacies (who played who, where, and how often) but Crikey is seldom daunted by such statistical challenges.

The Crikey Hot Form Guide to the Finals works by aggregating the season performance of each of the top 8 teams as per their winning percentage against each other. The table below ranks the teams from highest to lowest games won against all other top 8 teams.

Rank

Team

Games vs
top 8 teams

Won

Lost

Winning %

AFL
Ladder

1

Geelong

10

7

3

70%

1

2

West Coast

9

6

3

66.66%

3

3

Adelaide

10

6

4

60%

8

4

Port Adelaide

10

5

4

50%

2

5

Hawthorn

10

5

5

50%

5

6

Collingwood

9

4

5

44.44%

6

7

Kangaroos

10

3

7

30%

4

8

Sydney

10

3

7

30%

7

Geelong (Crikey Ranking # 1, AFL Ladder Finish # 1)

The out and out flag favourites lost only three games to top 8 teams during the year and two of those were early days. Players are fit, supporters are happy and the Cats are flying. The one to catch.

West Coast (Crikey Ranking #2, AFL Ladder Finish #3)

When competing against the best, the Eagles’ record is second only to Geelong’s. Based on those figures, back to back flags are still a real possibility for the bad boys from the West.

Adelaide (Crikey Ranking #3, AFL Ladder Finish #8)

The Crows may have snuck into the 8 by only half a game but their ability to lift against quality teams is obvious. If anyone can come from the back of the pack with a serious challenge, it’s Adelaide.

Port Adelaide (Crikey Ranking #4, AFL Ladder Finish #2)

The Power are young, quick and full of surprises — the most recent of which was a last gasp victory over competition powerhouse Geelong. Port Adelaide would be dark horses had they not finished so high up the ladder. Go well.

Hawthorn (Crikey Ranking #5, AFL Ladder Finish #5)

Like Port Adelaide, the Hawks broke even in games played against other finalists. Unlike the Power, Hawthorn’s last victory against a top 8 team was way back in round 13. Look to others.

Collingwood (Crikey Ranking #6, AFL Ladder Finish #6)

The Pies have lost more than they’ve won against the best teams, but two of their four victories have come against this week’s opponent, the Swans. It might be enough to avoid an early farewell to Spring time football but form doubtful to be good enough after that.

Kangaroos (Crikey Ranking #7, AFL Ladder Finish #4)

The Roos earned their top 4 spot by consistently beating the clubs underneath them. Problem is, most of those aren’t playing any more. Three wins out of ten against top 8 teams might be a better indication of where the Kangas are sitting.

Sydney (Crikey Ranking #8, AFL Ladder Finish #7)

The Swans have defeated only two teams — Port Adelaide and Hawthorn — out of this year’s top 8. Worse still, they face recent bogey-team Collingwood in the first elimination final. All signs are pointing to ‘No’ … so write off the Bloods at your own peril.

Crikey’s Hot Form tips for week one of the finals are:

  • West Coast
  • Adelaide
  • Collingwood
  • Geelong

NRL

Twenty-five. Strange number of weeks to play a preliminary competition over, isn’t it? Which is why Crikey have decided to look at just 11 (or, in some cases, 12) home and away games to decide who really deserves favouritism for the ’07 flag.

As with the AFL version, the Crikey Hot Form Guide to the NRL Finals works by aggregating the season performance of each of the top 8 teams as per their winning percentage against each other. The table below ranks the teams from highest to lowest games won against all other top 8 teams.

Rank

Team

Games vs top 8 teams

Won

Lost

Winning %

NRL Ladder

1

Storm

11

10

1

91%

1

2

Sea Eagles

12

8

4

66%

3

3

Eels

12

6

6

50%

5

4

Cowboys

11

5

6

45%

3

5

Warriors

11

5

6

45%

4

6

Bulldogs

12

5

7

41%

6

7

Rabbitohs

11

4

7

36%

7

8

Broncos

12

3

9

25%

8

Melbourne Storm (Crikey Ranking # 1, NRL Ladder Finish # 1)

If not for a field goal, the Storm would have a 100% record against all the teams they could possibly play in this year’s finals series. Minor Premiers, heaviest scorers, most miserly defence … sounds just like last year, doesn’t it?

Manly Sea Eagles (Crikey Ranking #2, NRL Ladder Finish #2)

Manly is the team with the most to gain from a little case of history repeating should the Storm again falter. The only team in the top 8 to have beaten Melbourne this year, the Sea Eagles are also clearly the next best. Recent form is a slight question mark.

Parramatta Eels (Crikey Ranking #3, NRL Ladder Finish #5)

The Eels’ form against the other finalists is pretty good. It’s just a shame they weren’t better against the bottom half teams — a trip across the ditch in the first week of the finals may then have been avoided.

North Queensland Cowboys (Crikey Ranking #4, NRL Ladder Finish #3)

Control-C, control-V as the kids say. This week, the Cowboys line up against the Bulldogs at home, the same opposition who almost overcame a 28 point deficit against them last week. The form says that’s unlikely to happen again.

New Zealand Warriors (Crikey Ranking #5, NRL Ladder Finish #4)

With the utmost confidence in our statistical analysis, Crikey will be tipping against the Warriors at home this weekend. The last time the natives went down at Mt Smart Stadium (so to speak) was in round 13 when flag favourites Melbourne beat the Warriors by two points. Now doubt all Parramatta fans are now brimming with brio.

Bulldogs (Crikey Ranking #6, NRL Ladder Finish #6)

The Bulldogs have lost seven out of the 12 games played against top 8 teams this year, including two from two against the Cowboys. Expect a trifecta despite last week’s late surge.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (Crikey Ranking #7, NRL Ladder Finish #7)

Whilst the Crikey Hot Form Guide does not expressly advocate it, the Rabbitohs look capable of pulling off the upset of the first week of finals. The Bunnies’ recent form is good, and includes a victory over this week’s opponent, Manly. Consider.

Brisbane Broncos (Crikey Ranking #8, NRL Ladder Finish #8)

The defending premiers go into the finals with a decimated list and a 68-22 drubbing under their belts. Expect other substances under the Broncos’ belts come Sunday night — they’ll be off to the pub.

Crikey’s Hot Form tips for week one of the finals are:

  • Eels
  • Cowboys
  • Sea Eagles
  • Storm

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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