The penultimate round of football is done and dusted, with plenty of drama and some sad farewells.
One round to go until finals, and the minor premiership, top two, top four and even top eight are all still up for grabs. Here’s the rankings.
Last week: 2
Phwoar. I’ve blogged some wonderful matches for The Roar, but Saturday’s Brisbane-Geelong clash is destined to be among the best.
It would’ve been foolish for anyone to consider Brisbane dead and buried headed into the final term, and Lincoln McCarthy’s sensational mark and goal epitomised the Lions’ glorious resurgence. Richmond at the G is going to be one helluva challenge, but a welcome one.
Last week: 3
Marvellous win at the G. Notwithstanding the fact that – technically – the Tigers were favourites, I was caught off guard when I checked the scores midway through the first term to see the Eagles leading by 25 or so points.
The game tightened after that, and with both sides producing thrilling footy, it was going to be heartbreak for one group of fans. It wasn’t the Tigers’ formidable Victorian support base who were disappointed. The Lions next week is shaping up to be a cracking game.
Last week: 1
Argh! So close! The West Australians may have played in one of the best matches of the year, but would be frustrated to let that one slip, particularly given they lead by a fair bit earlier on in the clash.
West Coast need to navigate a surprisingly tricky encounter with the Hawks next week to secure a top four spot – something you’d expect them to be able to do. Still very much premiership contenders, just stuck in a pack of a few of them now.
Last week: 4
Heartbreak at the death! It’s easy, but ignorant, to make jokes about the Cats apparent demise, but need I remind you that they’re still in contention for the minor premiership, and led for large periods of Saturday’s first versus second clash.
They should win against Carlton next week – it’s at home – but their finals destiny remains uncertain. Don’t write them off, but I’ll admit they’re slipping a bit from contention.
Last week: 5
There’s been lingering doubts about Collingwood for a little while now, and even past fortnight’s easy wins over the Suns and Demons weren’t super convincing.
Alas, Saturday afternoon’s powerful win over the Crows saw the black and white show off their offensive weapons, and briefly elevate themselves back into the top four.
They’ll begin Round 23 in fifth, but still a chance to sneak their way to a double chance if things go their way. And they beat a bipolar Essendon outfit, of course.
Last week: 10
There’s been a lot of conjecture about this column and its ranking of the Western Bulldogs. And I’ll admit: I’ve been continually underrating (and underestimating) them.
They’ve won seven of their last nine, including a brilliant performance in dismantling a lacklustre Giants outfit. They’re in the eight (for now) but you’d expect them to remain there, given they face an poor Crows outfit next week. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to face them in a final.
Last week: 6
The Giants are stumbling their way from game to game as much as a drunkard stumbles his way from pub to pub.
Finals are guaranteed, but they’re on a decisively wayward trajectory, and finals are going to be nothing much at all unless they can get their act together. It’s fortunate they’ve got the Suns next week, which may (however momentarily) steady the ship.
Last week: 8
Ah, that bloke by the name of Roughead goes alright, eh? A superb outing for the legend, booting six goals in an emotional Sunday afternoon clash.
There’s been plenty of talk about putting him on the flight to Perth for next week’s big clash against the Eagles. Honestly, why shouldn’t they? Do it, Clarko!
Last week: 11
Mighty fine win that, statistically, would’ve been a loss if they were taking on any other team. The Bombers – a week after their horror, 22-goals-conceded-in-a-row performance – went into Saturday’s clash with great intent and it worked for them, even if it wasn’t the prettiest clash.
Finals are locked in now, at long last. Collingwood, and then a date with destiny, rapidly approaching.
Last week: 7
Oh my goodness. That was a bad one, to say nothing but the very least.
Port were horrid to begin with, horrid when they should’ve come back into and, weirdly, reached an even worse level of horrid in the final term.
I enjoyed the game of Robbie Gray, but it was a disastrous loss just when they’d worked their way into the eight. It could be a blessing, or a curse, that they face Freo next weekend.
Last week: 12
The win was a fantastic – and a necessary response – to last week’s shocker, but the pure depth of their win is something to behold.
They demolished Port in contested footy (+51), overall disposals (+207), inside fifties (+22), and, of course, on the scoreboard (winning by 86 points). Couple all that with Ben Brown’s ten goals, Nick Larkey’s five majors and a superb performance from Todd Goldstein, this was North’s very best.
Last week: 9
Horrific loss – their worst at the Adelaide Oval – but insanely, an even worse loss to their South Australian rivals three hours later on Saturday thrust the Crows back into the eight for the night.
What happened to the competitive Adelaide side that impressed against the Eagles last weekend? Their season is essentially done, and taking on a hot Bulldogs side next week is one final headache.
Last week: 13
Losing to Carlton no longer has a negative stigma attached to it, but the Saints would be disappointed all the same.
Brett Ratten’s men experiencing the ultimate high and ultimate low of footy in one fortnight – winning and losing a close one.
Last week: 15
Not bad, not bad. The Blues rewarded newly appointed coach David Teague with a genuinely exciting victory over the on-again, off-again Saints, and thrilled the home of footy in the process.
A bump up the rankings this week a good way to celebrate, I reckon.
Last week: 14
I want to give a quick reminder that Freo dominated many of the key statistical areas in Saturday night clash, leading disposals (+72), contested possessions (+55), clearances (+14) and inside fifties (+11).
Yet they still lost by 32 points and slammed shut their unlikely finals hopes for good. Perhaps it was fitting – a retro round complete with a proper retro performance. Credit to fans (and the Dons) for their great sportsmanship in seeing off Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne, though.
Last week: 16
Six-game losing streak be damned, a horrendous Demons opposition was far too easy for the Swans.
They again demonstrated a considerable amount of young talent to win perhaps the most lacklustre Friday night offering in a long while, with Ollie Florent’s 28 touches perhaps the best of the bunch. St Kilda next week provides a real possibility to end the season on a high.
Last week: 17
The joke is well and truly on anyone who thought that Melbourne couldn’t possibly sink too much lower.
Friday night’s clash was a good chance for the Demons to, you know, put away some of their demons, but they were pummelled by another lowish team.
This season cannot end quicker enough for the Dees, who scored zero majors during the second and third terms.
Last week: 18
Precisely nothing to report other than they lost, but their sportsmanship during Roughy’s last clash was admirable. One more game to play, and then into a much needed off-season for the Suns.