AFL 2022 ladder predictor: Every club’s first six rounds analysed

A new season always brings hope. But which clubs are in for an early reality check? Take a look where your club will be at Round 6.

The first six rounds tend to set the tone for the season in the AFL.

Who does your team play and how many games will they win?

News Corp AFL reporter Chris Cavanagh has had a good look at the draws to come up with some predictions.

Are you more or less optimistic about your side? Scroll down to see the predicted ladder and have your say in the comments below.

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ADELAIDE

Rd 1: Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval (L)

Rd 2: Collingwood @ MCG (W)

Rd 3: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (L)

Rd 4: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 5: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval (L)

Rd 6: Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium (L)

TALLY: 1-5

There were some good signs from the Crows in the back half of last season and they look to be building with a young group. But they face three finalists from last year in the first six weeks, plus Fremantle and Richmond teams which are expected to rise. Key forward Taylor Walker made a blistering start to last season, but he won’t be there for the first three weeks this year as he serves his suspension for a racial slur. Adelaide should snag one win against a rebuilding Collingwood. Anything more than that would be a bonus.

Adelaide will be without forward Taylor Walker for the first three rounds. Picture: Getty Images
Adelaide will be without forward Taylor Walker for the first three rounds. Picture: Getty Images

BRISBANE

Rd 1: Port Adelaide @ GABBA (W)

Rd 2: Essendon @ Marvel (W)

Rd 3: North Melbourne @ GABBA (W)

Rd 4: Geelong @ GMHBA (L)

Rd 5: Collingwood @ GABBA (W)

Rd 6: Gold Coast @ Metricon (W)

TALLY: 5-1

Four of the Lions’ first six games are in Queensland, including three at the Gabba fortress where they went 9-2 last season. Brisbane lost three of its first four matches to start last season, but would be eyeing very different fortunes this time around. Lions fans will be looking forward to seeing a fit Cam Rayner back on the park after his ACL injury last year. Can the No. 1 draft pick finally deliver on his sizeable potential?

CARLTON

Rd 1: Richmond @ MCG (L)

Rd 2: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 3: Hawthorn @ MCG (W)

Rd 4: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium (W)

Rd 5: Port Adelaide @ MCG (L)

Rd 6: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (L)

TALLY: 2-4

The Sam Walsh injury is a massive blow for Carlton, with the gun young midfielder set to miss at least the first month of the season with an ankle. But there are some other puzzle pieces that were not at Princes Park last year. Recruits Adam Cerra and George Hewitt are big inclusions for the onball brigade and will help cover the Walsh loss. Blues fans will also be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing a fit Charlie Curnow line up alongside Harry McKay in the forward line. Carlton looks like the best chance of beating Richmond in a Round 1 match since it last achieved that feat in 2012. But you have to give the proven Tigers the edge for now.

Sam Walsh is set to miss at least the first month for Carlton. Picture: Michael Klein
Sam Walsh is set to miss at least the first month for Carlton. Picture: Michael Klein

COLLINGWOOD

Rd 1: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 2: Adelaide @ MCG (L)

Rd 3: Geelong @ MCG (L)

Rd 4: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 5: Brisbane @ Gabba (L)

Rd 6: Essendon @ MCG (L)

TALLY: 0-6

It’s clearly going to be a rebuilding year for Collingwood under new coach Craig McRae, who has a relatively tough initiation. The Magpies have five of their first six games in Melbourne, which helps. But they finished last season 2-7 and it’s hard to see where the goals are going to come from once again. They won’t be without a chance against travelling sides Adelaide and West Coast, but it’s hard to pencil in any wins from the first six games just yet.

ESSENDON

Rd 1: Geelong @ MCG (L)

Rd 2: Brisbane @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 3: Melbourne @ MCG (L)

Rd 4: Adelaide @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 5: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 6: Collingwood @ MCG (W)

TALLY: 3-3

It couldn’t be a much tougher first three weeks for Ben Rutten’s Bombers, who face three of the top four sides from last year, including reigning premier Melbourne. The worry for Essendon is the absence of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (personal leave/calf) for at least the early part of the season. The lively forward was the Bombers’ second-leading goalkicker last year and the now-retired Cale Hooker was the third-highest goalkicker. Between them, that’s more than three goals a game that Essendon had last year which it needs to now find from another source.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti won’t be on the field for Essendon in the early rounds. Picture: Michael Klein
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti won’t be on the field for Essendon in the early rounds. Picture: Michael Klein

FREMANTLE
Rd 1: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (W)

Rd 2: St Kilda @ Optus Stadium (W)

Rd 3: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (W)

Rd 4: GWS @ Optus Stadium (W)

Rd 5: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium (L)
Rd 6: Carlton @ Optus Stadium (W)

TALLY: 5-1

It’s a favourable first six weeks for the Dockers, who don’t face any of the top six teams from last year. Four of the first six games are also at Optus Stadium, where Fremantle went 7-4 last season. Justin Longmuir’s side missed finals by just one game and percentage last season and should be one of the teams to jump up this season — if they can stay fit. But after last year’s injury list was at times as long as Santa’s Naughty list, that’s a big ‘if’.


GEELONG

Rd 1: Essendon @ MCG (W)

Rd 2: Sydney @ SCG (L)

Rd 3: Collingwood @ MCG (W)

Rd 4: Brisbane @ GMHBA Stadium (W)

Rd 5: Hawthorn @ MCG (W)

Rd 6: North Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena (W)

TALLY: 5-1

Every year we think the Cats are going to drop off. Every year they defy the critics. With this fixture, Chris Scott’s side should be able to set themselves up for another big year. Geelong faces three of the bottom five sides from last season in Collingwood, Hawthorn and North Melbourne. It gets fellow top-four side from last year — Brisbane — at GMHBA Stadium, where the Cats have been almost unbackable for over a decade. Geelong has the wood over Essendon in recent times, but the Swans in Sydney will be a tough task.

The ageing Geelong side can still pack a punch, particularly at GMHBA Stadium. Picture: Getty Images
The ageing Geelong side can still pack a punch, particularly at GMHBA Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

GOLD COAST

Rd 1: West Coast @ Perth Stadium (L)

Rd 2: Melbourne @ Metricon Stadium (L)

Rd 3: GWS @ GIANTS Stadium (L)

Rd 4: Carlton @ Metricon Stadium (L)

Rd 5: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 6: Brisbane @ Metricon Stadium (L)

TALLY: 0-6

The air went right out of the tyres of the Suns with the news that key forward Ben King would miss the season with an ACL injury. Having kicked 47 of Gold Coast’s 201 goals last year, he was the player that coach Stuart Dew could least afford to lose. It leaves the Suns looking very slim for goalkicking options in the front half. Add in a tough first six weeks and Gold Coast looks like being in a world of pain once again.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Rd 1: Sydney @ Accor Stadium (L)

Rd 2: Richmond @ MCG (L)

Rd 3: Gold Coast @ GIANTS Stadium (W)

Rd 4: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (L)

Rd 5: Melbourne @ MCG (L)

Rd 6: St Kilda @ Manuka Oval (W)

TALLY: 2-4

The Giants only face two finalists from last year in the first six weeks with Melbourne and Sydney, but have also got teams who are expected to improve in Richmond, Fremantle and St Kilda. Plus, for the first five weeks they will be without their best and most important player in Toby Greene as he serves out the rest of his suspension for umpire contact from last year. Coach Leon Cameron would be desperate to start the season better than 2-4 — but it might be tough to do a lot better.

Toby Greene still has five weeks to serve on a suspension. Picture: Getty Images
Toby Greene still has five weeks to serve on a suspension. Picture: Getty Images

HAWTHORN

Rd 1: North Melbourne @ MCG (W)

Rd 2: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (L)

Rd 3: Carlton @ MCG (L)

Rd 4: St Kilda @ MCG (L)

Rd 5: Geelong @ MCG (L)

Rd 6: Sydney @ UTAS (L)

TALLY: 1-5

It’s hard to know what to expect from the Hawks to start the season under new coach Sam Mitchell. They are due to get back James Sicily and Jack Gunston from long-term injures this season, which will be a huge boost. Hawthorn also finished last season in a positive vein, scoring three wins and two draws from its last six matches. But that was under former coach Alastair Clarkson and Mitchell is his own man. It wouldn’t greatly surprise if the Hawks pinched another game or two in the first six, but you couldn’t count on it.

MELBOURNE

Rd 1: Western Bulldogs @ (W)

Rd 2: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium (W)

Rd 3: Essendon @ MCG (W)

Rd 4: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (W)

Rd 5: GWS @ MCG (W)

Rd 6: Richmond @ MCG (W)

TALLY: 6-0

The Demons won their breakthrough premiership last year and don’t look like dropping off in 2022. They have not lost any of their premiership players over the summer and have not had any injuries of concern, either. If anything, Melbourne could be even stronger this year with the return of Adam Tomlinson from injury and the rise of some of the young players including forward-ruckman Luke Jackson. It’s no surprise to see the Demons firm favourites to go back-to-back. Watch out.

Adam Tomlinson returns from injury for Melbourne this year. Picture: Getty Images
Adam Tomlinson returns from injury for Melbourne this year. Picture: Getty Images

NORTH MELBOURNE

Rd 1: Hawthorn @ MCG (L)

Rd 2: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 3: Brisbane@ The Gabba (L)

Rd 4: Sydney @ SCG (L)

Rd 5: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 6: Geelong @ Blundstone Arena (L)

TALLY: 0-6

There is plenty for North Melbourne fans to look forward to this year, most notedly seeing No. 1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis in action. There is a clear sense of optimism around Arden Street that the wheel is turning. But it’s not an easy first six games for a team that won only four matches last season. There are four of last year’s finalists in there, plus a West Coast side which finished ninth. The best chance of snagging an early win looks like being against Hawthorn in Round 1.

PORT ADELAIDE

Rd 1: Brisbane @ The Gabba (L)

Rd 2: Hawthorn @ Adelaide Oval (W)

Rd 3: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (W)

Rd 4: Melbourne @ Adelaide Oval (L)

Rd 5: Carlton @ MCG (W)

Rd 6: West Coast @ Adelaide Oval (W)

TALLY: 4-2

There is a bit of heat on the Power entering 2022 after a second successive preliminary final defeat last year — by 71 points to the Western Bulldogs. It was an embarrassing result on Port’s home turf at Adelaide Oval and one that Ken Hinkley’s side will be keen to make amends for. The Power face only two of last year’s fellow finalists — Brisbane and Melbourne — in the first six rounds and have four games at Adelaide Oval. That should get them off to a pretty good start.

Port Adelaide will be keen to make amends after last year’s preliminary final. Picture: Getty Images)
Port Adelaide will be keen to make amends after last year’s preliminary final. Picture: Getty Images)

RICHMOND

Rd 1: Carlton @ MCG (W)

Rd 2: GWS @ MCG (W)

Rd 3: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 4: Western Bulldogs @ MCG (L)

Rd 5: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (W)

Rd 6: Melbourne @ MCG (L)

TALLY: 4-2

Coach Damien Hardwick admitted he wasn’t at his best last year and neither was his team. Injuries did not help, either. But all reports out of Punt Rd are that both Hardwick and the Tigers are refreshed and ready for another crack at it. Carlton will be a challenge in Round 1, but the Tigers haven’t lost to the Blues in their opening match of the season since 2012. Richmond then gets a Giants side missing star Toby Greene and a St Kilda outfit that struggled last year. Matches against last year’s two grand finalists — Western Bulldogs and Melbourne — will be tricky. But Hardwick would be fairly happy to get away to a 4-2 start.

ST KILDA

Rd 1: Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 2: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium (L)

Rd 3: Richmond @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 4: Hawthorn @ MCG (W)

Rd 5: Gold Coast @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 6: GWS @ Manuka (L)

TALLY: 3-3

After playing finals in 2020, last season was a flop for the Saints. Out-of-contract coach Brett Ratten would be determined to get off to a strong start this year and his side is capable of that. They don’t play any of last year’s finalists in the first five games, which is a handy springboard into the season. That said, matches against Fremantle (in Perth) and Richmond won’t be easy. We will find out a lot about St Kilda in the early rounds. If they are serious, they should beat the Dockers and Tigers and start the year 5-0. But it’s hard to tip that with any real degree of confidence just yet. This is a side that started last year 2-4, with three of those losses coming by over 50 points.

Brett Ratten needs a good start to the year at St Kilda. Picture: Getty Images
Brett Ratten needs a good start to the year at St Kilda. Picture: Getty Images

SYDNEY

Rd 1: GWS Giants @ Accor Stadium (W)

Rd 2: Geelong @ SCG (W)

Rd 3: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 4: North Melbourne @ SCG (W)

Rd 5: West Coast @ Optus Stadium (W)

Rd 6: Hawthorn @ UTAS (W)

TALLY: 5-1

The bolter into the top-eight last season, the Swans don’t look like dropping off. They are teeming with young talent and are playing an exciting brand of footy that saw them become the third-highest scoring team in the AFL last season. The list is fit — including veteran spearhead Lance Franklin — with midfielder Callum Mills (Achilles) being the only real concern in the medical room. The game against Geelong is a 50-50, but the Swans went 6-2 at the SCG last year and one of their wins there was against the Cats.

WEST COAST

Rd 1: Gold Coast @ Perth Stadium (W)

Rd 2: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 3: Fremantle @ Perth Stadium (L)

Rd 4: Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 5: Sydney @ Perth Stadium (L)

Rd 6: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval (L)

TALLY: 3-3

The Eagles should not have too many problems swooping on two wins to start the year, given they face two of the bottom three sides from last season to kick things off. But after that, the going gets a little tougher for a side that is coming off a disaster second half of 2021 which saw them score just two wins from their last nine games. On paper, the Eagles still look good. But the list depth appears to lack and recent injuries to key players Oscar Allen (foot) and Jamie Cripps (shoulder) are not what coach Adam Simpson needs as he tries to turn around the fortunes of the club.

Can the Bulldogs bite back after last year’s Grand Final heartbreak? Picture: Getty Images
Can the Bulldogs bite back after last year’s Grand Final heartbreak? Picture: Getty Images

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Rd 1: Melbourne @ MCG (L)

Rd 2: Carlton @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 3: Sydney @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 4: Richmond @ MCG (W)

Rd 5: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium (W)

Rd 6: Adelaide @ Mars Stadium (W)

TALLY: 5-1

Some teams become broken by a Grand Final loss like the Western Bulldogs suffered last year.

But it’s hard to see that happening with a Bulldogs side coached by Luke Beveridge. The rematch against Melbourne to open the season will be intriguing.

Can Bevo’s team bite back? They will be underdogs, but that’s how the side from Whitten Oval has long liked it.

There is only one other finalist from last year in the following five games, all of which are in Victoria. So, regardless of the Round 1 result, the Bulldogs should be sitting pretty after Round 6.

Originally published as AFL 2022 ladder predictor: Every club’s first six rounds analysed

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