Hawthorn were rankings leaders all year, and never headed. In fact, only West Coast got close, nudging a 1 goal weaker margin at best. The Hawks actually got better as season 2015 rolled on. They started on 1441 points and finished on 1513, after peaking at 1538, just before the finals.
Deserved AFL champions.
For West Coast, they were one of the top 5 stories of the year. Unheralded by most but surprisingly tipped for second by the FMI calculations, they certainly turned it on this year. Solid wins home and away, all the while (to most eastern states eyes at least) 'flying under the radar'.
Under the FMI system, they started 2015 ranked 8th, though closely grouped to teams in 5th to 8th. From round 2 onward they progressed up the FMI chart through 6th, 4th, 3rd and eventually 2nd by round 14.
From then, they consolidated their 2nd placed ranking and nearly caught the Hawks.
Both West Coast and Hawthorn finished the season clearly as the best 2 teams, both at least 2 or 3 goals better than the rest of the competition.
As before, the modest tip was like last year, only out by a big factor.
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Also the FMI tips were in consensus with most this year, as per this list as posted on BigFooty by the FMI account:
Squiggle: Hawks by 15
ASAP Index: Hawks by 11
MatterOfStats: Hawks by 9.5 (using all-predictor average)
FootyForecaster: Hawks by 8
FootyMaths: Hawks by 7
Massey: Hawks by 2Add to that Roby's call of Hawks by 17 and Ted Hopkins by 20 and you have a reasonable consensus Grand Final.
The final 2015 rankings are:
As mentioned before, the FMI system determined West Coast to be a prime mover before the season had started, listing them in the top 2. It also listed fellow 'Groper-state team Fremantle as slipping to 5th.
With a minor premiership under their belt, you could say that Fremantle are not sliding, but the table above and chart below shows a different picture. The year for Fremantle has been one for wins, but not for dominating output, as posted a week back.
Some chat recently about Fremantle and their performance, as well as how good have Hawthorn been this year, prompted the chart below.
The four most widely tipped Premiership contenders have been plotted round by round against their FMI Rankings points, and the West Coast have been added in to highlight their exceptional season.
Hawthorn, under this system, have not regressed at all in 2015, and even 'switched up a gear' from about round 16 on.
Of the other pre-season listed 'contenders', all have dumped ranking points over the season, with Port Adelaide having a horrid mid year run, and Sydney fading in the latter rounds. Both bounced back somewhat before or during the finals.
Fremantle also shed points, but at a more slower rate, mostly from solid football that generated wins but not 'momentum'. Playing Fremantle was this year about a grind or a chase. It was never about being crushed and demoralised.
Fremantle won by 60 points or more twice (68pts vs Melb in Rnd 5 and 73pts vs N Melb in Rnd 8), while also suffering two losses by 60 or more.
Hawthorn? Ten games won with 60pts or more margins inflicted. None back the other way.
Second best in this category? West Coast with 5 wins by 60pts or more.
To win two flags in a row, and then find ways to improve further to a third flag (and 10 smashings through the year) is a phenomenal effort.
They can be beaten, as seven teams found this year. But stopping them totally is going to take something special as well.