Hugh McCluggage celebrates a goal during Brisbane's clash against Port Adelaide in round 15, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THE LADDER has, quite literally, been flipped on its head.

Splitting the ladder in two across its first 16 weeks gives a true depiction of the remarkably topsy-turvy nature of the campaign so far and proves that anything could still happen in the back part of the season.

For example, after round seven, Hawthorn was second-last on the ladder. But, if you were to have started the season from round eight onwards, the Hawks would be sitting pretty in second place.

In contrast, after round seven, Geelong was unbeaten at the top of the table. But, if you were to start the season after that point, the Cats would be stuck inside the AFL's bottom four.

It's a similar story for both Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne. They were happily in the top four after round seven, but have been among the seven worst sides in the League following that point.

The Cats, Giants and Demons have endured the most significant drop-offs from round seven, with the Hawks clearly enjoying the most improvement.


However, Sam Mitchell's side is closely followed by last year's grand finalists.

After round seven, Collingwood was 10th and Brisbane was 13th with both of their finals hopes clinging by a thread. However, both have been top-four teams ever since and appear primed to take another shot at the flag in 2024.

Such contrasts in how the year has gone so far gives an indication that, unless it's mathematically impossible for a team to miss the finals in the last part of the campaign, don't rule them out.

Historically, the top eight always changes significantly across the final month. In fact, in the top-eight era dating back to 1994, there have only been three occasions where it hasn't changed within the last four weeks.


The outlier was 2016, when the top eight didn't change after round six. In 2010, it was locked in by round 11. In 2006, it was finalised in round 15. In every other year, it's changed during the final four matches.

That's bound to be the case again this year, in what is proving one of the most unpredictable and wild seasons of fluctuation yet. But which team will come from nowhere? And which side will fall off the cliff?


1. Geelong
2. Sydney
3. Greater Western Sydney
4. Melbourne
5. Port Adelaide
6. Carlton
7. Essendon
8. Fremantle

9. Gold Coast
10. Collingwood
11. Western Bulldogs
12. Adelaide
13. Brisbane
14. St Kilda
15. West Coast
16. Richmond
17. Hawthorn
18. North Melbourne


1. Sydney
2. Hawthorn
3. Brisbane
4. Collingwood
5. Carlton
6. Essendon
7. Fremantle
8. Western Bulldogs

9. Gold Coast
10. St Kilda
11. Port Adelaide
12. Melbourne
13. Adelaide
14. Greater Western Sydney
15. Geelong
16. West Coast
17. North Melbourne
18. Richmond