Published 20 August 2018 on news.com.au
ONLY one round remains in the 2018 AFL season and the remaining games can cause a series of finals shifting moves.
Nine games to go and over the final three days six of them have consequences for the teams hoping to put themselves in the best position when September action rolls around.
Richmond sit comfortably atop the ladder and can afford to sit back next weekend and watch as the rest of the teams squirm.
The number of teams who can make a September appearance again grew shorter after round 22 with North Melbourne’s slim hopes dashed at the hands of Adelaide.
Melbourne locked in their spot for what will be a first finals appearance in 12-years after recording a win over a top eight team for the first time this season by defeating the West Coast Eagles.
Only Port Adelaide who currently sit in ninth can leapfrog into the finals and they’ll need a miracle to occur if they’re to make it.
As the remaining games draw closer, just who teams will be lining up opposite once the action heats up is anyone’s guess.
Geelong should be able to comfortably take care of business when they take on the Gold Coast Suns at home. The Suns have lost their last three games by an average margin of 58 points.
With so many scenarios that can occur during the final round, here’s every teams current standings along with a predicted finish and just how the first week of the finals will look.
1) RICHMOND 17-4 win-loss, 68 points, 138.3 per cent
The Tigers secured their first minor premiership since 1982 with their win over Essendon and have nothing left to play for. But this is one of the most ferocious sides the game has seen, don’t expect them to take a backward step.
To come: Western Bulldogs (MCG) — Saturday 2:10pm.
Will finish: First and will host Qualifying Final 1.
2) WEST COAST 15-6, 60, 120.8
The Eagles are still in the box seat to secure a top-two finish despite their loss to Melbourne. They face a difficult task against a pesky Brisbane outfit, but with a home final on the line they should get the job done.
To come: Brisbane (Gabba) — Sunday 1:10pm.
Predicted finish: Second and will host Qualifying Final 2.
3) COLLINGWOOD 14-7, 56, 120.7
The Magpies have been decimated by injuries but continue to walk away with win after win and will venture over to Perth for a meeting against the Dockers who are coming off the worst performance in the clubs history.
To come: Fremantle (Optus Stadium) — Saturday 4:35pm.
Predicted finish: 3rd and will take on West Coast in QF2.
4) HAWTHORN 14-7, 56, 120.5
Alastair Clarkson is a coaching genius and he’s once again got the Hawks clicking at a high-gear. A huge final game on the road with a potential double chance on the line awaits.
To come: Sydney (SCG) — Saturday 7:25pm.
Predicted finish: Sixth and will host Elimination Final 2.
5) SYDNEY 14-7, 56, 110.6
Never, ever, write off the Sydney Swans and there premiership credentials. Just when we all think they’re down and out the Swans surge back into contention. Firing at the perfect time with one big clash to go.
To come: Hawthorn (SCG) — Saturday 7:25pm.
Predicted finish: Fourth and will take on Richmond in QF1
6) GWS Giants 13-7-1, 54, 118.1
Much like Collingwood the Giants have continually been on the wrong end of injuries, with key players going down at inopportune times. One final road trip with a win handing them a potential finish as high as third.
To come: Melbourne (MCG) — Sunday 3:20pm.
Predicted finish: Seventh and will take on Hawthorn in EF2.
7) MELBOURNE 13-8, 52, 129.8
The Demons will play finals for the first time since 2006 after a courageous road win over West Coast. And will look to ride that emotional high when they face the Giants in the second last game of the 2018 season.
To come: GWS (MCG) — Sunday 3:20pm
Predicted finish: Fifth and will host Elimination Final 1.
8) GEELONG 12-9, 48, 125.7
Gold Coast would have to pull off one of the games biggest upsets if they’re to topple the Cats at home, Geelong should be able to lock up their spot in September and send their fans home happy.
To come: Gold Coast (GMHBA Stadium) — Saturday 1:45pm
Predicted finish: Eighth and will take on Melbourne in EF1.
9) PORT ADELAIDE 12-9, 48. 109.6
A horrid final quarter against Collingwood cost Port Adelaide dearly and although they’ll want to finish their season on a high, they’ll slip into the eight but will fall back out once the remaining games take place.
To come: Essendon (Adelaide Oval) — Friday 7:50pm
Predicted finish: Ninth.
Week 1 of 2018 AFL Finals
Qualifying Final 1: Richmond Tigers vs Sydney Swans
Elimination Final 1: Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats
Elimination Final 2: Hawthorn Hawks vs GWS Giants
Qualifying Final 2: West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies