In previous years, the competition has found itself a clubhouse leader early in the year, a side which makes a breakaway from the chasing pack and is able to establish itself as a dominant side ahead of the finals.
Think St Kilda and Geelong in 2009, Collingwood in 2010 and the Cats and the Pies of last year.
These sides cemented themselves at the top and they benefited in the long run.
Not in 2012.
Sides have regularly upset the supposedly superior teams and several premiership favourites have been defeated by sides outside the eight. As a result, this new phenomenon has left punters and tipsters baffled as they search for a side that will consistently produce the goods on any given weekend.
Fortunately, these radical differences have not affected life in the Blunders team. With more sides becoming competitive, mistakes are having a bigger influence on the results of games, leaving most of us in awe the errors made by these professionals.
Zac Dawson, Fremantle
It was a dark performance from Fremantle against local rivals West Coast, and it was mistakes like Dawson’s which truly made it an embarrassment for the battling club.
The Eagles were pulling away from Fremantle, and the Dockers’ defence was under the pump. Midfielder Luke Schuey had broken away and found Jack Darling open near the point post.
Dawson, Darling’s opponent, clearly had one thing on his mind: to stop Darling from running around the mark and improve the angle for his shot at goal.
Unfortunately for Zac, his vigilant effort to block Darling’s attempt to improve the angle allowed Darling to stroll past Dawson and kick the goal from directly in front.
Next time, perhaps remember that although playing on and snapping the shot after improving the angle is a definite preference for most forwards, it pales in comparison to the option of lackadaisically strolling into an open goal.
Lance Franklin, Hawthorn
This incident has been harped on a bit in the media this week, leading to claims of ‘selfishness’ from the star Hawk forward.
But we’re not even going to discuss the fact he could have handballed to Jordan Lewis, although it does make the incident look worse.
Buddy is one of the competition’s best, he’s won two Coleman Medals at the age of 25, routinely kicks Goal of the Year contenders and is being paid to kick goals. So when he has the ball inside 50, he has every right to take the responsibility of converting the major.
However, he makes things hard for himself.
When Franklin received the ball running into 50, he was 10 metres clear of an opponent, and he had to have known he had support around him for a shepherd if it was required. Let’s be honest, how many players could run ‘Buddy’ down from behind? There wouldn’t be many.
Franklin instead elected to run towards the boundary and attempt what was now a difficult shot, he could have ran to 20 metres out and kicked, but instead kicked from 40.
An easy shot was available for Buddy, but he tried to get a further degree of difficulty vote from the judges. It’s not needed, just do what has to be done to get your side the six points.
Karmichael Hunt, Gold Coast
I deliberated about this entry for several reasons, most of all, because Hunt has an NRL background and is still learning a lot about our game.
But having seen his improvement in the first two months of the season, there was no way I could leave out his blunder on the weekend.
Yes, Karmichael is still learning the dos and don’ts of the sport, but some things probably should be learned at this point. Things such as ‘don’t turn the ball over when you’re kicking from the back half, kick it down the line if there are no options’.
Karmichael tried to centre the ball as the Suns were attempting to methodically move the ball forward, but it was a poor decision.
If you freeze the frame as the ball hits the ground, you will see that Port Adelaide had five players in the vicinity of the ball, Gold Coast had one.
Who was on the ground?
As you can imagine, it did not take long for Port Adelaide to convert the error into a goal.
Simon Black, Brisbane
This entry proves that sometimes a blunder will be committed by a champion of the game, and Black’s mistake on the weekend was as bad as they come.
Early in the first quarter, the Kangaroos had jumped the Lions, kicking the first two goals. Brisbane needed to settle, and having the ball in the hands of Black would usually result in the right decision being made and a target being hit.
On Sunday, things were strangely different.
Black centred the ball casually, and Jack Ziebell intercepted the kick and went back and kicked the Kangaroos third goal for the day. Black has a track record of sublime ball use, so to see such a terrible error from his hands certainly came as a shock.
However, it did not stun the Kangaroos, who finished the half 52 points ahead – a lead too much for the Lions to pull back.
Hero of the Week
For winning consecutive games for the first time since 2010, Port Adelaide gets the nod as this edition’s ‘Hero of the Week’.
It may not seem like much, but it is a sure sign that Matthew Primus has his club on the right track, and definitely dismisses the talk that he had lost the faith of the players, which was dominating the headlines as little as two weeks ago.
Although they may have only beaten winless Gold Coast to achieve this feat, one has to remember the result of the clash between the sides last season, in which Port Adelaide capitulated to a memorable Suns comeback in front of their home crowd.
This year, they travelled up the coast, comfortably accounted for their opponents and set their sites on what suddenly looms as a very attainable target: three wins in a row as they face the struggling Blues at AAMI Park.