Top three players: Marty Brennan, Simon Curtis, Aidan Johnson
Surprise packet: Brad Carman
In a nutshell: Demanded respect after handing premiers Albury its biggest hiding in 10 years by 71 points in round two. Fell to Wangaratta by five goals in round five, but kicked five in the final minutes, so it could have been a hiding. Then had average form against Yarrawonga and Corowa-Rutherglen, but bounced back against top three contenders Myrtleford with a seven-goal final quarter.
Main area to improve: Were exposed by Wangaratta's height in the forward line, although Brant Dickson and Adam Butler were out, while Nick Meredith struggled in his first game in three weeks as he battled a shoulder injury.
Top three players: Elliott Powell, Shaun Daly, Luke Daly
Surprise packet: Riley Bice
In a nutshell: The loss to Lavington was so un-Albury, given it's won seven of past 10 flags, with a lack of desire. Posted expected big wins over Wodonga and North Albury, before the bombshell - the club parting company with profile recruit Peter German. Since then has won five straight and hasn't looked like getting beaten.
Main area to improve: As has been the case in recent years, the Tigers will need to manage their older players. They have eight regulars 30-plus, so you would think Chris Hyde, Dean Polo & Co. would have a rest against some or all of the bottom three in Corowa-Rutherglen, Wodonga and North Albury.
Top three players: Lachie Dale, Ryley Sharp, Ryan Crisp
Surprise packet: Blake Parker
In a nutshell: Had the draw from heaven in the first six weeks, not playing a top three team, but still could not have dreamed they would start six-nil. Suffered stage fright against Albury and then kicked poorly against Lavington, but guaranteed a return to the top five for only the second time in 12 years with a stunning upset of Wangaratta.
Main area to improve: Improving the level of concentration. When you've struggled for much of the past decade, it's not easy to be 'on' for long periods, so when the Saints are challenged in the second half of the season, they can't return to old habits.
Top three players: Joe Richards, Michael Bordignon, Ben Speight
Surprise packet: Luke Saunders
In a nutshell: When the Pies beat Lavington in round five, they were the team to beat. Four rounds later, they're out of the top three and have lost three games. However, the Pies were without six of their best 10 in the shock loss to Myrtleford last week, so there's a genuine excuse and that's why they just got a pass mark. Once they're back though, there's no excuses not to win the comp with that list.
Main area to improve: The team's lacking confidence, so once the guns - Michael Newton, Daniel Sharrock & Co. return - the unit has to convince itself it's the best team in the league and play accordingly.
WODONGA RAIDERS (5TH)
Top three players: Brodie A'Vard, Brodie Filo, Jarrod Hodgkin
Surprise packet: Tom Bracher
In a nutshell: When they got hammered by grand finalists Wangaratta by 107 points in round one, it looked grim, but then rebounded superbly to topple Yarrawonga by 37 points, a team they were set to battle for a finals spot. Sit in the top five, albeit just .2 ahead of Wangaratta Rovers. Given they lost five of their top seven players over summer, including Jydon and Matt Neagle, a top five finish would be an outstanding effort.
Main area to improve: Stay with the top teams for longer. Led Albury at quarter time and should have been closer than the 22-point deficit heading into the final term.
Top three players: Nathan Cooper, Dylan Stone, Raven Jolliffe
Surprise packet: Ed Dayman
In a nutshell: Started with a 68-point loss to Albury, broke a 19-match losing streak against Corowa-Rutherglen the following week and then announced themselves with a five-point last-minute loss to Myrtleford in round three. Quite remarkably, could have been seven-two, although Raiders' experience in tight moments proved the difference in round six. But for a team to go from a winless wooden spoon to a finals contender is as good as it gets.
Main area to improve: Attack. If the Hawks are to do the 'near impossible' and play finals, they must score more. Are averaging 77 points per game, while Wangaratta and Albury are 121. Rovers have two players in double figures for goals in Dylan Stone (19) and Raven Jolliffe (10). Raiders have four.
Prediction: 6th (could be 5th but will need VFL players Tom McCaffrey and Charlie Thompson, along with under 18s star Nick Murray to play more)
Top three players: Tim McAuley, Mark Whiley, Will Gorman
Surprise packet: Will Gorman
In a nutshell: When the Pigeons lost by 37 points to Raiders early, the alarm bells were ringing. Will almost certainly miss finals, falling one short of equalling Wangaratta Rovers' record of 14 straight campaigns (1969-1982). Been belted by injuries and Morris medallist Tyler Bonat hasn't played. Like Wangaratta, the injuries are the reason they received a pass mark.
Main area to improve: Firepower. Averaging 82 points, which is not good enough for a team which rivals most for inside 50s. The loss of Brandon Symes with an ACL in round seven further eroded the scoring ability.
Top three players: Andrew Pretto, Jarred Lane, James O'Connell
Surprise packet: Leigh Schulz
In a nutshell: You knew they were in trouble when Rovers hammered them by 62 points in April. Boast just the one win against North Albury and given they picked up a number of strong recruits, such as ex-Sandringham best and fairest Shane Tregear, that's not good enough. However, again, injuries have cruelled them.
Main area to improve: Continuity. The list is changing every week due to injuries, so there's no consistency.
Top three players: Dylan Beattie, Tom Johnson, Daniel Wortmann
Surprise packet: Gabe Crothers
In a nutshell: When winless North Albury upset Wodonga in round six, you could have heard a pin drop. Three weeks later the winless Wodonga toppled the Roos and the joint was jumping. North (round 14) and the Roos (17) will decide the season's success or not.
Main area to improve: Coach Zac Fulford has stated a number of times the club needed to score more and that still applies as it boasts only two more points than North Albury. But the Bulldogs need to defend better behind the ball as they're averaging 113 against.
NORTH ALBURY (10TH)
Top three players: George Godde, Isaac Muller, Simon Hillier
Surprise packet: Clay Moscher-Thomas
In a nutshell: That win over Wodonga brought coach Isaac Muller to tears. The 22-year-old has a brutal introduction to coaching, losing four of the club's best over the off-season.
Main area to improve: Improving skill execution. The Hoppers will turn the ball over in good position and then chase tail.
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