It’s the time of year when clubs look towards the second half of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our January report cards?

Semester Summary: With a first full pre-season under her belt and time to mould a squad in her own vision Brisbane Roar coach Mel Andreatta has reinvigorated the 2010-11 W-League champions after a disappointing 7th placed finished in her first campaign. With just four rounds left to play Andreatta’s side sit atop the W-League standings four points clear of their nearest rivals Newcastle Jets and perhaps more importantly eight in front of fifth placed Perth Glory – cementing their grip on a return to finals football after a seasons absence. Unbeaten on the road and boasting the leagues stingiest defence the Roar look well on track to add a record-equalling 3rd premiership to their name.

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Areas of excellence: The Roar’s league-best defence marshalled by Matildas Clare Polkinghorne and Mackenzie Arnold has been key to their success so far. They’ve kept a league high five clean sheets and conceded the fewest goals, leaking just nine in the nine matches they’ve played so far. Aside from disappointing 4-1 and 3-0 home losses to Perth and Newcastle respectively the Roar defence has been almost impenetrable. The club has only conceded one goal on the road this season. The addition of American duo Carson Pickett and Celeste Boureille has added an extra level of stability to the Roar defensive unit.

Areas in need of improvement: Having scored a meagre 15 goals last season, the second lowest tally of any side in the league, Roar came into this season knowing more goals were a necessity. Despite being just two goals short of that tally in early January Roar are the lowest scoring side in competition’s top six. In addition, Roar have had the most shots of any side this season and the second lowest conversion rate showing there is still much work to do in this area. Hong Kong international forward Wai Ki Cheung was signed by Andreatta to lead the line but has been a disappointment so far with the striker yet to find the net this season. Roar will be hoping the recent addition of Emily Gielnik will add some much needed bite to their front-three.

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Top students: Club captain Clare Polkinghorne has been a stalwart for the Roar this season. The centre back who has played every minute of the campaign so far has been key to the Roar’s defensive success. A 71.4% success rate in tackles and 72% success rate in duels show just how dominant Polkinghorne has been at the heart of the Roar defence. However it’s not just defensively that Polkinghorne has excelled with the 98-cap Matilda chipping in with two goals and two assists this season as well.

Class clown: Hong Kong international Wai Ki Cheung who was signed turn around Roar’s misfortune in front of goal has done little to impress so far. The striker has been unable to find to net for the league leaders in 8 appearances so far this campaign. After starting the first seven matches of the season, Cheung appears to have lost her spot in the starting eleven to Allira Toby in recent weeks. With Cheung being an unused sub for the first time this season in the Roar’s 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory on the weekend – a match that took the Roar 80 minutes to find a winner it appears Andreatta’s patience with the forward has run out.

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Grade: A

Outlook: Four points clear with just four rounds left to play. The equation is simple for Andreatta’s charges, take the points in their final three matches against City, Adelaide and Canberra and they will be crowned champions. Andreatta’s biggest test yet as Roar coach may well be her ability to deal with the weight of expectation that will be placed upon her squad in the coming weeks.

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Currently studying a Bachelor of Digital Media and Communication at Southern Cross University, Thibault is a digital content editor at Gold Coast City and works as a football correspondent for APN Newspapers. Olympique Lyon and Socceroos fan, passionate about the growth of football in Australia.