The Western Bulldogs are one of the most watchable teams in the competition.
And, when on song, Jake Stringer is one of their most exciting players.
At only 22 years of age, the forward has proven he can be a match winner, but does he produce the goods often enough for a player of his obvious talent?
Stringer had a phenomenal 2015, and although his numbers in disposals and marks are very similar this year, he is down from 2.6 goals a game to two, and has kicked three or more only seven times.
His tackling numbers are down from 2.7 a game last year to 1.8 this season, too.
Stringer was expected to build on his 2015 and improve but his stagnation has made the comparisons between him and Gary Ablett Snr look silly.
The Bulldogs will take heart from the fact that when a game is on the line, Stringer often lifts.
But they’ll need more consistent performances from him from now if they’re to play a significant role in the premiership race.
The Weekend Preview
An unlikely win against the Giants last week kept West Coast’s top-four aspirations alive.
They must defeat ladder-leaders Hawthorn at home on Friday to keep that push going – but for the Hawks, success will sew up a top-two spot and an all-important home final. This should be a Friday night cracker in the West.
Most at stake
North Melbourne are still in danger of falling out of the top eight. A win over Sydney would not only guarantee them a place in September, but also prove they deserve a finals berth. A big loss, and all eyes are on Melbourne on Sunday.
Brisbane are in for an absolute hiding from Geelong. Patrick Dangerfield was quiet for the first three quarters last week against Richmond, but he will dominate the Lions midfield for a Cats side who are still stinging from their poor effort against the Tigers.
Round 21 was one of the most exciting of the season, with five games decided by less than a goal. Don’t expect a repeat, though, as most matches appear fairly one-sided.
One to watch
Collingwood mature age recruit Rupert Wills is only three games into his AFL career, but has already impressed with his tackling pressure.
Wills laid the most tackles for a debutant with 11 in Round 19 and bettered that by one last week. He looks a real find.
Surprisingly, umpires boss Hayden Kennedy admitted his men got it wrong in not awarding a free kick against Essendon’s Conor McKenna for kicking a rushed behind from 20 metres out. You can be sure that will be amended this weekend. Defenders, be aware.
Feeling the heat
Carlton’s start was better than expected, yes, but the Blues have lost nine in a row. Brendon Bolton will have put his players under the pump this week after a loss to Brisbane. Expect a fired-up Carlton against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
Jack Grimes can’t get a look in at Melbourne despite another 40-possession plus haul. He’s banging the door down but the Dees don’t appear to be interested.
The difference in what a key player at a powerhouse club wants – and what the club are willing to pay him – is not just big. It is enormous. Said club are getting very nervous about the situation with rivals swirling.
Don’t set the IQ
After an agonising loss to the Eagles last week, the Giants will be taking their frustration out on West Coast’s cross-town rivals Fremantle on Saturday. You can give this one a swerve.
Jamie Radford also writes for footyprophet.com – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.