Power, Suns have taken Giant strides
GWS won two games in its first season in 2012 ... against Port Adelaide and Gold Coast. Yep, that's how bad the Power and Suns were going.
The Giants showed no sign of any regret they hadn't taken Chad Wingard with one of the first five picks they had in the 2011 national draft. The Power though was probably ruing not having stuck with former rookie Jonathan Giles after he dominated Matthew Lobbe and claimed three Brownlow votes in that round 19, 2012 clash.
And while giving them a year's head start, Giants forward Jeremy Cameron already stood head and shoulders above Tom Lynch, Sam Day and Charlie Dixon on his way to kicking 29 and 62 goals in 2012 and 2013, respectively - far more than the Gold Coast trio's collective tallies of 26 and 39.
But, as Port and Gold Coast continue their growth into genuine forces - with the help of burgeoning stars Wingard and Lobbe, and Lynch, Day and Dixon - and now sit first and third on the ladder, the GWS bandwagon that was up and rolling after a first-round win over Sydney, has not just hit a couple of major bumps in the road - in the form of consecutive 100-point floggings - it has stalled and rolling backwards.
As many as 13 Power players who were part of that 2012 defeat to GWS, that cost coach Matthew Primus his job, helped their club to a watershed win over Hawthorn last week, illustrating new coach Ken Hinkley's ability to extract the best out of his players - those who were there before his arrival, and those recruited after.
Ensuring 'Suns' and 'rise' would be the two most overused words, but most apt, in 2014, Gold Coast's players are finally making the advancements in their games some may have began to doubt would occur two years ago.
The Giants will hope they can make a similar progression in their fourth season.
But the lack of development shown by many of their players in their third, must be of major concern to the club, and the AFL.
JAMIE BENNELL (WC) Reborn as Eagles' No.1 rebounding defender after five years as a struggling small forward at Melbourne. STEVEN MAY (GC)Has dethroned Hawk Josh Gibson as the spoiling king. JACK HOMBSCH (PA)South Australian now settled into Power defence after starting with GWS. DANE RAMPE (SYD)Played with the Bulldogs' reserves in the VFL, but the Sydneysider is now at home with the Swans. JACK FROST (COL)After two games in 2013, the cool-as-ice defender has stepped up to take the big jobs - Lance Franklin etc. MATTHEW JAENSCH (ADE)The Hahndorf product is sixth for total marks and eighth for total rebounds in his fifth season.
JARED POLEC (PA)Averaged 12 disposals in 16 games as an unhappy Lion. Averages 23.6 in nine as a happy Power player. DION PRESTIA (GC)Stepping out of Gary Ablett's shadow to rank fifth for total possessions. BRAD HILL (HAW)Beat older brother Stephen to premiership medal and now gone past him in averaging 23 touches a game. MATTHEW LOBBE (PA)(Pictured) The Power big man's presence continues to grow. DOM TYSON (MELB)Justifying Melbourne giving up draft pick No.2 for him, lifting disposal average from 15 in 13 games with GWS to 24 in nine with Demons. CAM GUTHRIE (GE)Tagger now getting plenty of his own ball, averaging 18 touches.
MATT WHITE (PA)Spent eight seasons at Tigerland, but having his best at Port, with career-highs of average disposals (16) and significantly, total goals (13). JOSH JENKINS (AD)Didn't play a game at Essendon, but been the Crows' main target, booting three bags of four goals. JACKSON MACREA (WB)No second-year blues, with his disposal average rising from 18 to 26. ROBBIE GRAY (PA)Finally showing best after knee reco in 2011, averaging 23 touches and kicking 15 goals - as many as he got in 20 games in 2013. TOM LYNCH (GC)The new contested marking king (22) has kicked 15 goals in past four games. BRANDON MATERA (GC)Shades of uncle Phil, has booted 18 goals in eight games, after slotting 18 from previous 27.