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AFL 2018 finals promise a tight finish to a smashing season

Alastair Clarkson has rebuilt his Hawthorn Hawks outfit in 12 months. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
28th August, 2018
4

This year’s AFL finals features many teams that have just scraped into the eight, suggesting we’ll have one of the closest series in years.

Essendon were in the mix until they loss to Hawthorn, North’s one-quarter fadeout against the Dogs cost them their place, and who would have thought Port would miss out when they were sitting in fifth at Round 17, on 44 points.

Melbourne were precariously close to repeating 2017 and missing out on percentage – until their win against the West Coast in Round 21 – while Sydney may were lucky not to miss out, despite having been sitting in second after Round 14.

Meanwhile, the Hawks were tenth after Round 17, but have locked down the double chance.

Profile of the finalists

1. Richmond
With six wins on the trot since Round 18, the momentum is with them after the premiership drought was broken last year, and they’re favorites to win back-to-back.

That said, Geelong were the best team in the comp in 2008, so were St Kilda in 2009, Hawthorn in 2012 and Adelaide in 2017 – the best team doesn’t always win.

What’s more, having won so many games in a row, a loss may really hurt them at this stage of the competition – if they lose in the quarter-final, they could be out in straights set.

2. West Coast
The loss of Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff hurts, but in their favour is the two home games they’ve earned, which means they can make the grand final with home support.

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3. Collingwood
They have been hardest hit in terms of injury, yet they defied the odds to secure the double chances, which also relieved the pressure on Nathan Buckey over the absence of finals football since 2012.

They will make the preliminary finals at least and eanr another crack at Richmond.

4. Hawthorn
After being smashed by the Bulldogs in 2017, here they come with ball-magnet Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara, at even money to end Richmond’s era as kings of MCG.

Remember, in 2008, it was this club that beat Geelong on the last day of the season.

5. Melbourne
Doubts over the club were buried when they got over West Coast at Perth. The Dees could use the Bulldogs’ 2016 flag as encouragement to end a premiership drought that dates back to 1964.

6 and 7. Sydney and Greater Western Sydney
The winner will probably bow out in the semi-finals stage due to injuries and a lack of depth.

8. Geelong
This team is inconsistent, having lost twice to Hawthorn and Richmond, but have their core players available and healthy ahead of the elimination final.

So who will feature in the grand final?

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Based on form, we should see Richmond face either Hawthorn or Collingwood.