Port Adelaide and St Kilda clear outliers on AFL age ladder

Popular belief suggests that finals football is an older man's game. Port Adelaide begs to disagree.

The Power side that pummelled Carlton by 103 points at Adelaide Oval on Friday night had an average age of 24.7 years, making it the fifth youngest team in the AFL at the weekend.

Port is a clear outlier on the age ladder. The correlation between where a team ranks in terms of average age, and where it is placed in the competition is strong. Hawthorn, Sydney, Fremantle and Geelong populate the double-chance spots on the ladder and were, on average, the oldest teams in the competition last weekend.

Likewise North Melbourne and Essendon combined to fill positions six and seven on both ladders.

But there were a couple of major anomalies - one of them the Power, who will play Fremantle in Perth on Saturday for fourth spot.

Collingwood's wretched injury run in recent weeks translated into the Magpies lying below even the Power, with the callow outfit that overran GWS the fourth youngest in the AFL at the weekend ahead of only Greater Western Sydney, the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast.

There are some alarming signs for St Kilda, the fifth oldest team at the weekend. For all the Saints' flaunting of its next generation, the 22 players who were defeated by Richmond on Sunday included 13 aged 25 or over and seven of those were in their 30s. Only one, Lenny Hayes, has announced that this season will definitely be his last.

The Western Bulldogs, widely perceived to be a youthful team, are mid-table, with veterans Daniel Giansiracusa (who plays his last game on Sunday), Robert Murphy, Matthew Boyd and Dale Morris boosting the mean age.

Both the Saints and Bulldogs suffer from a dearth of players in the middle age bracket of 23 to 27. The Dogs had just six players in that range at the weekend, while St Kilda had only five - one of whom (Cameron Shenton) was playing just his 13th game.

The respective lists continue to pay the price for sub-par recruiting years between 2006 and 2010 - the final three of which saw both sides finish in the top four every year.

The Power does have a relative advantage compared to most teams, with last weekend's team ranked seventh for average games played. The disparity between age and experience is a testament to some of the early work done by sacked coach Matthew Primus in 2011 and 2012 - years in which he infused his team with young players, perhaps to his ultimate detriment.

The last three premiership teams - Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong - all had an average age in excess of 26.

Premiers Hawthorn in 2008 and Collingwood in 2010 were tipped at the time to enter a period of dominance, however it took until 2013 for the Hawks to salute again, while the Magpies have fallen away and need to defeat Hawthorn on Friday night to make the top eight.

This story Port Adelaide and St Kilda clear outliers on AFL age ladder first appeared on WA Today.