This weekend is the final week of what has been a stellar 2016 AFL season before embarking on the highly-anticipated finals series. There are a wide variety of scenarios that could play out over the course of the weekend and the match of the round should shed some light on the make-up of the top four when the Crows and Eagles clash in Adelaide in Friday night footy.
On Saturday the Cats, who are also in contention for the minor premiership, play the Demons at Simonds Stadium before Carlton and Essendon play for pride at the MCG. Then The Swans have a chance to potentially wrap-up the minor premiership with a big win over Richmond at the SCG before The Suns and Power and North Melbourne playing to secure eighth position against the Giants.
On Sunday St Kilda, who is a very slight chance of making the eight (depending on North Melbourne’s result) plays the Lions, before the premiers Hawthorn host old foes Collingwood at the MCG. The final match of the regular season sees Fremantle clash against the Western Bulldogs at Perth’s Domain Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Friday, August 26, 7:50pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
The Crows will surge past the Swans (who have a game in hand) if they can topple the in-form Eagles in Adelaide in the final regular season Friday night fixture. If the Crows somehow jag the minor premiership, it will be one of the most unlikely of wins, considering they were at one stage at $17 just to make the finals and a $34 premiership shot. In Adelaide’s favour is the home ground advantage and a good recent record against West Coast.
The Eagles did what not too many other teams have been able to do in 2016; beat Hawthorn. And while, West Coast has been criticised for Jekyll and Hyde performances when you compare home and away records, they look to be steadily improving outside of Perth. A win in this final round clash against the Crows could sew up a top four spot. The Eagles’ premiership odds have ballooned out to $26 after opening as the $4.75 favourite.
Saturday, August 27, 1:45pm (AEST) @ Simonds Stadium
If other results swing Geelong’s way, they could collect their first minor premiership since 2008. The current equal third favourites have been back into $5.50 during the week after starting the season as a $15 chance with UBET. Last weekend the clinical Cats put the lowly Lions to the sword, racking up more than 100 points in the 60-point flogging.
Melbourne has had a relatively successful season so far and they would love nothing more than to knock-off one of the flag favourites in their last game of the year. The highlight of Melbourne’s season was undoubtedly their 29-point win over the defending premiers Hawthorn a few weeks ago. The Dees then managed to back-up that win by defeating Port before their run came to an end at the hands of Carlton.
Saturday, August 27, 2:10pm (AEST) @ MCG
The fact the understrength Bombers have managed to win two games in 2016 is a pretty solid achievement. After Essendon’s punishment was handed down, not many punters expected them to win one, let alone two matches without 12 of their best players. In fact the Dons’ odds of winning the flag exploded after the AFL handed down its findings, going from $67 to a whopping $501 before settling $1001 in mid-May.
Carlton finally found its way back inside the winner’s circle again last weekend when they beat the in-form Demons in Melbourne. Prior to that game, the Blues were riding a very concerning nine game losing streak. During that losing streak the Blues even fell to teams like the Lions and St Kilda, when they really should have beaten them.
Saturday, August 27, 4:35pm (AEST) @ SCG
The Swans are the outright flag favourites at the quote of $3 and victory over the Tigers in front of their home Sydney fans would almost certainly see the Harbour City club secure its first minor premiership since 2014. At one stage this year, the Swans were considered a $13 chance of winning their first flag since 2012. Sydney’s win last weekend (and Hawthorn’s loss) saw them gain the premiership lead on percentages despite winning by just nine points.
Richmond can’t play finals footy this year after they came into the season with so much promise. It will be hard to motivate the players to perform to the best of their ability against the flag favourites. Coach Damien Hardwick’s contract extension is on the line and with a good recent record against the Swans, the players should have plenty of confidence they can knock over Sydney.
Saturday, August 27, 7:25pm (AEST) @ Metricon Stadium
Neither the Suns nor the Power are any chance of playing in the finals but both sides will be keen to finish off their disappointing seasons in style. Gold Coast is in 15th position on the ladder and are coming off four straight losses to the Demons, Giants, Bombers and Magpies and have won just six matches this year. Last time the Suns clashes with the Power, it ended in an easy Port victory.
Port Adelaide went down swinging in the Showdown last weekend against the Crows, making it two local derby losses to their arch-rivals. The Power started the season with plenty of promise, with UBET installing them as a $7 chance to snare its first flag since 2004. The Power also opened as a slim $3.75 chance of making the grand final and $2.25 of making the top four but both dreams have now come to an end.
Saturday, August 27, 7:40pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
North Melbourne is almost certainly guaranteed to be playing in the first week of the finals and their opponents could realistically be the Giants away from home. The record-breaking Boomer Harvey was again sensational, despite his side losing to the Swans in Sydney last weekend. The 21-year seasoned veteran booted three goals, two behinds while amassing 32 disposals.
GWS can, with a win, possibly crack the top four in what would be a mammoth effort for the AFL’s newest club. Now in its fifth season, the Giants will play in their maiden finals campaign and coach Leon Cameron could not be more proud of his men. Last weekend the Giants returned to the winner’s circle after a buzzer-beating goal saw them fall to the Eagles the previous week.
Sunday, August 28, 1:10pm (AEST) @ Etihad Stadium
St Kilda is the only team with a hope of making the AFL finals series but they will need a ridiculously huge win over the Lions to be any chance of leap-frogging the Kangaroos for eighth spot on percentages. The Saints have had a turbulent year that has yielded some monumental wins and disappointing losses. Last week St Kilda narrowly beat Richmond and will look to finish its regular season with victory over the lowly Lions.
Brisbane has had a season to forget but at least they won’t be taking home sport’s ugliest and most shameful prize; the wooden spoon for last place. Last week, the Lions were predictably outplayed, out enthused and outmuscled against a far superior team in the Cats. Geelong powered home in that match by 60 points but many pundits would have expected a more polished performance by one of the flag favourites.
Sunday, August 28, 3:20pm (AEST) @ MCG
Hawthorn is at risk of missing out on the top four after dropping two of its past three matches that included losses to the lowly Demons and last year’s runner-up West Coast. Should the Hawks dispose of Collingwood at the traditional home of AFL football, they will guarantee themselves a top four spot and, depending on other results, could even be a chance at clinching their first minor premiership since 2013.
Collingwood has been in the news for most of the week after all-time great Dane Swan was forced to retire. The premiership winner and Brownlow Medallist enjoyed a stellar career with Collingwood and even stated in his retirement presser he would not like to be remembered at all! Last weekend the Pies clinically accounted for the out-of-sorts Suns by 71 points at Etihad.
Sunday, August 28, 4:40pm (AEST) @ Domain Stadium
The final match of the final round features the Dockers and Bulldogs at Perth’s Domain Stadium in a must-win match for the Dogs if they want to improve their top four hopes. By the time the ball is bounced the majority of positions will be decided but because of their inferior percentage to most other top eight teams, the Bulldogs will almost need something of a miracle and a massive win to improve their hopes of a second chance card.
The Dockers are no hope of playing finals footy; in fact the Dockers will go from hero to zero in the space of 12 months after clinching last year’s minor premiership and this year finishing a dismal 16th. Coach Ross Lyon would struggle to pin-point where it all went disastrously wrong for his side but the loss of 2015 Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe early in the season and a long lay-off for Aaron Sandilands severely hampered Freo.