Myles Stedman


 

HAWTHORN HAWKS: A+++

One for each of their three-peat premierships.

The Hawthorn Hawks have won the AFL premiership again, just when it looked like they might not this year.

Defeated in the qualifying final by the eventual runners-up, the West Coast Eagles, Hawthorn took the back door to the Grand Final, defeating Adelaide and Fremantle at Domain Stadium to once again make it to the big dance.

Once they were there it was all elementary against the far too inexperienced and off the pace Eagles, winning by 46 points to claim their third premiership crown in a row.

Can they achieve the ultimate and level Collingwood’s 85-year-old record of four premierships in a row? I wouldn’t be one to bet against them.

MELBOURNE DEMONS: C+

The Demons had their best season since 2010, improving four sports up the ladder to 13th in their second season under Paul Roos.

The very fact that the club is finally heading in the right direction is good enough for their grade of C+, but even more positive is the fact that Melbourne look like they’re finally starting to build a solid young core.

Perhaps the most impressive stat regarding the club this year is the fact that five of their seven wins this year came from teams sitting above them on the ladder, which says a lot about the experienced leadership Roos brings.

This off-season, Melbourne have already staked their claim to be aggressive in trade period, netting Jake Melksham from Essendon and pitching for Greater Western Sydney’s Thomas Bugg.

However, after the importance of experience at the club was revealed this season, they need to make sure they adequately replace the likely departing Jeremy Howe, Jack Watts and Jimmy Toumpas.

To climb the ladder next year, they’ll have to beat some big clubs, such as Collingwood. A few years ago, this would’ve thought to have been impossible. Now? Perhaps not.

NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS: A

The Kangaroos once again proved they are a force to be reckoned with later in the year, winning an unexpected two games in September, including beating Sydney in Sydney.

In the end it was West Coast that were simply too hard to topple at home, and despite staying in the game for three quarters, could not manage the last quarter effort against the Eagles and the crowd.

Many think coach Brad Scott may once again have saved his job with North’s post-season performance, but there is no arguing against the inspiring leadership the man provides when the stakes are at their highest.

The Kangaroos showed for the most part of the year that they still have plenty of work to do to become a premiership team, but two prelims in a row is no small feat.

If they can manage to add some more experience this season in the vein of Nick dal Santo, Shaun Higgins and Jarrad Waite, they will continue to move in the right direction and sooner or later may give themselves a chance in the Grand Final.