With only 5 rounds left in the home and away season, there are a number of massive games that have huge ramifications on the make-up of the top eight. We take a look at AFL.com.au and their AFL Ladder Predictor, to see how each team will fair in the remaining five rounds of the home and away season. While making the finals is the main priority for a few clubs, the shot at a double chance in the top four is heating up, with five teams in the running. The top four is from where the premiership is won, and in fact, only two teams from outside the four have reached a preliminary final since the new format was introduced in 2000. So anyone outside can kiss their premiership chances goodbye.
So, what matches are we highlighting as crucial to the composition of the eight? Unfortunately for Carlton fans, there’s a lot, including what may end up being a “winner takes eighth” match against Port Adelaide in the final round
Round 19: Carlton vs Fremantle (Etihad Stadium)
Clubs impacted: Carlton, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Essendon, Sydney
A welcome relief to Carlton fans, with a match against Freo finally happening in Melbourne for the first time in three years. Despite this lopsided stat, Carlton holds a 3-2 record against their opponents from the West, so maybe the home ground advantage doesn’t play a huge role here. Carlton is on a bit of a roll at the moment, with three consecutive wins after their horrid performance against the Pies. Freo’s performance of late has been a bit up and down, with a strange outing at the MCG against Richmond, but inspired wins against Adelaide and West Coast has kept them well in the hunt for the top 4.
Round 19: Collingwood vs Essendon (MCG)
Clubs impacted: Essendon, Collingwood, Sydney, Fremantle
As if both clubs didn’t need enough motivation before heading out against an arch rival, massive finals implications are at stake for Essendon. Not pencilling in Collingwood’s place in the top 8, but only a catastrophic collapse will see them lose their spot, so let’s just assume they play like they should. Essendon were totally outclassed by the Hawks, and struggled early on against an inspired GWS outfit, and only just put away the Bulldogs. Collingwood, unfortunately for them, (but joy to every other AFL supporter) fell victim to the Suns, and only beat GWS based on superior fitness in the 4th quarter. Either way, both teams need this win to catapult themselves towards a competitive finals berth
Round 19: Adelaide vs Port Adelaide (AAMI Stadium)
Clubs impacted: Port Adelaide, Carlton
Ah the local derby. Always a joy to watch no matter their position on the ladder. With added weight behind this given Port Adelaide’s position in the eight being threatened by Carlton, a win is crucial here. Looking at matches to come, this is a crucial battle which may set the tone for Port’s final month. Starting the year with 5 wins in a row, followed by 5 losses, streaks have been a major player in their season, and their post-bye form has been a bit up and down. Massive wins over the Swans and Collingwood were followed by losses against Essendon and Hawthorn, and not great showings against St Kilda and Brisbane show their late season form may be waning. Nothing like a derby to get you fired up again though.
Round 21: Richmond vs Carlton (MCG)
Clubs impacted: Richmond, Carlton, Port Adelaide
Based on a number of different scenarios, this could even secure a spot in the eight for the Blues earlier than expected. A win for Carlton makes it incredibly different for Port Adelaide to keep up with them, and considering Port’s draw, it may be too much to ask for. This game will have no real impact on the top 4, or home ground advantage in the finals, given all Melbourne teams will play at the MCG. What this match will count for though is huge momentum going into the final weeks of the season. A win for Carlton could see them with 6 in a row, assuming they beat the Dogs the week before, while a win for Richmond will see them grow in confidence with another victory over a quality side.
Round 22: Geelong vs Sydney (Simonds Stadium)
Clubs impacted: Geelong, Sydney, Fremantle, Essendon
What an absolute cracker of a match just 2 weeks out from the finals. Meeting at a similar stage last year, this heavyweight battle could turn out to be another classic. It is quite clear the top 3 sides in the competition are Geelong, Sydney and Hawthorn, but the pecking order going into the finals is yet to be determined. As Sydney showed last year, a loss to a quality side like Geelong did not derail their premiership aspirations, it may have had the opposite effect, with the Swans exposed to quality finals-like footy a fortnight before the real deal. A win for either side here should guarantee a top 4 spot, so there is a lot riding on this contest. Coming into play will be Geelong’s insane record at their home ground, not losing since 2011. Funnily enough, against Sydney.
Round 22: Carlton vs Essendon (MCG)
Clubs impacted: Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Sydney, Port Adelaide
Sorry Blues fans’, another one. What a draw the Blues have been dealt, but to make the finals, you have to deserve it, and a win against Essendon here will definitely be well deserved. Best case scenario for the Blues involves 7 wins in a row, cementing their spot in the finals before their Round 23 match against Port Adelaide. This is Essendon though, and in a season in which they’ve surprised us so many times, something strange is bound to happen. Meeting earlier in the year, the Bombers got up by 5 points in classic, a match the Blues really should have won. A win for the Bombers will go a long way to securing a top 4 spot.
Round 23: Carlton vs Port Adelaide (AAMI Stadium)
Clubs impacted: Carlton, Port Adelaide
What a dream scenario for the AFL. In all likelihood, both teams will head into Round 23 with 11 wins apiece, and the winner will take eight spot. Saying this game means a lot to both clubs is a significant understatement, but for the Blues especially, this means a whole lot more. Mick Malthouse taking the reins in the offseason was supposed to put the Blues straight into premiership contention, but not to be. But a finals berth will at least give Carlton supporters something to cheer about. For Port Adelaide, well, no one expected them to be in this situation. Port Adelaide fans shouldn’t be too disappointed with a loss, with a great roster, coach and club management sending them to finals for many years to come.
Round 23: Sydney vs Hawthorn (ANZ Stadium)
Clubs impacted: Sydney, Essendon, Fremantle
WOW. What an amazing encounter a week before the finals. Quite possibly the top two sides in the competition smacking into each other in what will no doubt be one of the matches of the season. What can we say about this match that won’t be talked about in the weeks leading up to it? These teams match up so well against each other, both playing a highly accountable and contested brand of footy. Hawthorn with their potency in going forward is knocked back by the Swans and their measly defence, while the Swans midfield can be matched by the big bodies of the Hawks’ engine room. Jarryd Roughead spending time in the midfield this season may be solely based on the presence of Josh Kennedy. Tune into this one. It’s going to be a cracker
Top 4 minimum wins
Hasn’t the draw between Sydney and Fremantle stuffed things up? There are so many ways in which the Top 4 may end up, but looking at all the scenarios, it seems as if 17 wins is what it will take to get in. Assuming Hawthorn is safe on top with 15 wins and only 2 losses, what does each club need to get into the 4?
Geelong (14 wins, 3 losses)
Needs 3 wins against: North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, West Coast, Sydney, Brisbane
Sydney (13 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw)
Needs 4 wins against: Western Bulldogs, Collingwood, St Kilda, Geelong, Hawthorn
*Will make it in with 3 wins if Fremantle are restricted to 4 wins.
Essendon (13 wins, 4 losses)
Needs 4 wins against: Collingwood, West Coast, North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond
Fremantle (12 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw)
Needs to win all 5 remaining matches against: Carlton, GWS, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, St Kilda
Top 8 minimum wins
Based on how things are shaping up, a total of 12 wins will get the final spot in the finals. At the moment, we believe this is a 2 horse race, but don’t discount a late season dip in form by Richmond or Collingwood (especially when you look at the Pies’ draw. Woah.) So what do these four teams need to get into the finals?
Richmond (11 wins, 6 losses)
Needs 1 win against: Hawthorn, Brisbane, Carlton, GWS, Essendon
Collingwood (11 wins, 6 losses)
Needs 1 win against: Essendon, Sydney, Hawthorn, West Coast, North Melbourne
Port Adelaide (10 wins, 7 losses)
Needs 2 wins against: Adelaide, Geelong, Gold Coast, Fremantle, Carlton
Carlton (9 wins, 8 losses)
Needs 3 wins against: Fremantle, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Essendon, Port Adelaide
* Will need to win at least 1 more game than Port Adelaide over the next 5.
Our top 8 is as follows
- Hawthorn: 20 wins, 2 losses
- Geelong: 19 wins, 3 losses
- Essendon: 18 wins, 4 losses
- Sydney: 16 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw
- Fremantle: 16 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw
- Richmond: 14 wins, 8 losses
- Collingwood: 13 wins, 9 losses
- Winner of Carlton and Port Adelaide: 12 wins, 10 losses
Some notable results
- Essendon winning their 5 remaining games to take 3rd spot
- Sydney falling to both Geelong and Hawthorn. A win against either of these 2 will need a loss from Essendon to move into 3rd
- Fremantle win only 4 out of their 5. Winning all 5 will see Sydney drop to 5th if they win only 3
- Port Adelaide can make things a whole lot easier by winning the derby this weekend.
So there we have it, a pretty detailed look at what remains for season 2013. This season has thrown us some massive curveballs, and who’s to say it won’t happen again. The great thing about sport is its unpredictability, and Collingwood and Geelong’s losses to Gold Coast and Brisbane respectively, have shown us that the AFL is a very even competition at the moment. Some memorable and finals’ bearing results late last year included North Melbourne downing Collingwood, Brisbane over Adelaide, as well as Essendon finishing with 7 consecutive losses. There will no doubt be some of these losses this in the final 5 rounds, which may completely derail top 4 or finals aspirations for these teams. One thing’s for sure, the remaining rounds of the home and away season will be memorable, and the top 8 sides will no doubt deserve their spot in September