There is still plenty to be decided when the home and away season is concluded with nine Round 23 games this weekend.
Collingwood will be gunning for a top four spot at the expense of either Richmond Tigers or West Coast Eagles, while Geelong Cats are hoping to stay ahead of the latter two sides – and possibly the minor premiership – and secure one of the top two spots along with current leaders Brisbane Lions.
Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Adelaide Crows still have hopes of securing a place in the eight with Western Bulldogs the only team they can eliminate.
We preview all nine games:
Collingwood v Essendon Bombers
Collingwood head into Round 22 in 5th position on the ladder. They need to defeat Essendon if they are to have any hope of landing in the top four at the conclusion of the weekend and thus securing a double chance. Last weekend, Nathan Buckley’s side destroyed Adelaide by 66 points in Adelaide. On the same weekend, Essendon secured a finals spot by knocking over Fremantle by 32 points in the west. The Bombers sit in 7th position and could progress to 6th but would need an unlikely stumble from GWS, who face the lowly Gold Coast this weekend. Collingwood claimed the ANZAC Day clash this season by four points and also won both games between the two sides last season. They should be too good again.
Prediction: Pies -26.5 ($1.85 TopBetta)
Sydney Swans v St Kilda
It is the last game of the home and away season for the two sides as both are out of the finals picture and will be playing for pride. Sydney head in as favourites on the back of the home ground advantage as well as an impressive display in Round 22 that saw them conquer Melbourne by 53 points. That win snapped a six game losing streak for the Swans and their win-loss record reads as 7-14. St Kilda have won nine of their 21 matches and went down to Carlton by 10 points last weekend. Despite their poor record against Sydney, St Kilda can go very close to pulling off an upset.
Prediction: Saints +16.5 ($1.95 TopBetta)
North Melbourne v Melbourne Demons
The two sides step out for their final game of the 2019 season and it is North Melbourne that will start as favourites on the back of some superior recent form. The Kangaroos demolished the finals contenders, Port Adelaide, by 86 points in Round 22 and have won nine games for the season, including two of their past three. On the same weekend, Melbourne’s disappointing campaign went from bad to worse as they suffered a 53 point defeat at the hands of Sydney. That loss was the Demons sixth in succession and they will finish the season in 17th spot. With Ben Brown looming large in the goal square for North, this could be another day to forget for Melbourne.
Prediction: North -25.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Geelong Cats v Carlton
This shapes as a huge contest from a finals point of view with Geelong needing to win in order to finish in the top two and thus securing a home final. The Cats lost their grip on top spot after going down to Brisbane by a point in Round 22. The Lions are now the top ranked side heading into the last round of the home and away season. Geelong’s opponents for Round 23, Carlton, are out of finals contention and are in 16th position on the ladder. However, the Blues have won six of 10 under their new coach David Teague and can push the Cats. The emerging side come off a 10 point win over St Kilda and can give Geelong a big fright.
Prediction: Carlton +31.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)
Gold Coast Suns v GWS Giants
The end of the season couldn’t come quick enough for the abysmal Gold Coast Suns who have won just three games. Those three victories came in the first four rounds and they have lost 17-straight. GWS sit sixth with a 12-9 record but have lost their past two matches. They can boost morale heading into the finals will little trouble beating the Suns. There is a clear mismatch between the two sides and this one could get ugly with the Giants wanting to regain some form after being smashed by the Western Bulldogs. They will meet Essendon or the Bulldogs in an elimination and will be wanting to hone their skills before finals begins.
Predictions: Giants -46.5 ($2.90 TopBetta)
West Coast Eagles v Hawthorn
There is plenty at stake. West Coast need a win to have any chance of securing a home final. If they secure the four points and either Geelong or Brisbane lose their respective matches, the 2018 premiers will gain the home final that comes with a top two finish. Hawthorn are currently in 9th position and a win will see them jump into the top eight. However, they will then need the Western Bulldogs to go down to Adelaide the following day. The two sides last met in Round 15 and since then the Hawks have won five of seven, but it should be season over after this game for Hawthorn.
Prediction: Eagles by 1-39 ($2.16 TopBetta)
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide Crows
The Western Bulldogs are making a late charge for September action and winning here secures them a spot in finals. If Essendon lose, the Bulldogs can jump up to seventh on the ladder and book an elimination final against the GWS Giants – the team they embarrassed last week 126-65. The Crows come off a 66-point loss to Collingwood at home, and now need a miracle to turnaround percentage with the Bulldogs. The Doggies have won their past two matches and can book themselves a spot in finals with a win over the Crows.
Prediction: Bulldogs -18.5 ($1.87 TopBetta)
Richmond Tigers v Brisbane Lions
Richmond hold their own fate in their hands. If they beat the ladder-leaders, they secure a top four berth which looks crucial this season. They will know whether Collingwood was able to beat Essendon on Friday night; a Pies loss means the Tigers can afford to lose and still retain a spot in the top four. The Tigers and Lions have motored home to finish the home and away season. Richmond’s winning streak sits at eight and the Lions’ at nine. The Lions are first on the ladder with a 16-5 record while the Tigers are fourth with 15-6. Last week we had mouth-watering clashes with the Lions defeating the Cats by one point and the Tigers were six-point victors over the Eagles. Richmond have proven unstoppable at the MCG and can finish the home and away season with another victory.
Prediction: Tigers by 1-39 ($2.08 TopBetta)
Port Adelaide v Fremantle Dockers
Port Adelaide head in as favourites for this game and will need to win to be any hope of making the eight. The equation for the Power is complex as they need both the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn to lose their respective games. Ken Hinkley’s side have themselves to blame if they miss out and come off a disastrous Round 22 performance that saw them go down to North Melbourne by 86 points. Their opponents, Fremantle, sit 13th on the ladder and have registered just one win fewer than Port Adelaide over the course of the season. They went down to Essendon by 32 points last weekend. Power should get the win they need, but will it be enough?
Prediction: Power -18.5 ($1.90 TopBetta)