One more round, and the top eight still isn’t settled. Fantastic. Again, the ratings are pretty settled this week, as you’d expect in a round that had minimal upsets.
1. Port Adelaide (last week: 2)
As routine a win as the Power would’ve possibly liked at this stage of the season. They’re yet to wrap up the minor premiership, however. If the Lions beat the Blues next week, then Port’s final game of the season against the Pies will decide who gets top spot.
2. Brisbane Lions (last week: 3)
Secured the double chance and finals at home. Quite literally the perfect year for the Lions to do so, given the location of finals in their home state. As mentioned above, Brisbane could still secure the minor premiership – they just cannot drop the Blues game.
3. Richmond (last week: 5)
According to many, the Tigers are now the premiership favourites. I’m not so certain – not because the Tigers aren’t excellent (they are), but because it’s such a weird season I wouldn’t want to label any team as favourites. But, yes, the Tigers are hitting a good vein of form at precisely the right time.
4. Geelong (last week: 1)
Not the worst loss they’ll ever have, but it’s always depressing to lose a clash billed as “match of the round”. Doubly annoying to – depending on who you ask – immediately cede their premiership favouritism to the team they’d just lost too.
5. West Coast (last week: 4)
In very 2020 fashion, it’s bemusing the Eagles took until the penultimate round of the year to officially, officially confirm their slot in the top eight. But while that’s the good news, they’re now dealing with an injury to Jeremy McGovern, and the fact that top four mightn’t eventuate. Still a tough mountain to climb.
6. Collingwood (last week: 6)
And they’ve locked up a finals spot. Mason Cox wasn’t half bad, but the star was Jordan de Goey, who kicked four goals in a (uncomfortably celebrated) return to footy.
7. Western Bulldogs (last week: 8)
A top eight spot is in their hands. Win against Freo, and they’re in. Lose, and they need to rely on the Demons and Giants losing, too. My money is on them making it; the possibilities are endless from there.
8. St Kilda (last week: 7)
The shine has well and truly come off the Saints. They’re no longer guaranteed to make finals – something which didn’t seem like a realistic proposition a few weeks ago – and now almost certainly have to topple the similarly inconsistent Giants to more or less secure a spot. An impact in finals though? Negligible.
9. Melbourne (last week: 11)
They live to fight another day. A mammoth enigma now simply has to beat the Bombers next weekend to sneak into finals. Their destiny is almost entirely in their own hands, and we know how that usually turns out.
10. GWS Giants (last week: 9)
In what was a battle of the two deeply inconsistent teams, the Giants blew their chance at finals. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: Leon Cameron’s contract extension standing out like a sore thumb. Bizarre.
11. Fremantle (last week: 12)
Freo blowing up critics arguments by kicking … (checks notes) … just south of 100 points. Granted, they were playing North, but Freo are close to the best team outside the top eight at the minute. Good things coming in 2021.
12. Carlton (last week: 10)
Well, that was horrific. They avoided the label of being the first to lose to the Crows – and, really, right now the shame surrounding losing to the South Aussies isn’t much there – but it was still a terrible performance for the Blues, who’ve had a good year.
13. Gold Coast (last week: 13)
Pretty admirable against the Magpies, but, like last week, they’re looking like the need the off-season. At the very least, making a finals-bound competitor work for the win is a good sentiment.
14. Sydney Swans (last week: 14)
Very much gallant – and threatened a big, big boilover – but were outclassed by the Lions. One game to go; Geelong going to be a massive challenge, but one the Swans will probably relish.
15. Adelaide (last week: 16)
I’m only half joking when I say they’re the form team of the competition. It’s fantastic to see the Crows get some confidence back – even at this late stage. Amazingly, it’s possible that they may yet avoid the wooden spoon.
16. Essendon (last week: 15)
Another week, another loss, another column of me struggling to find optimism for the Dons. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, they won their first opening term since Round 2. Not that it did much good.
17. Hawthorn (last week: 17)
The loss was expected but Hawthorn’s most intriguing development came just as I was writing this piece. On Monday, the club confirmed the retirements of Paul Puopolo and Ben Stratton. Thus ends the careers of two Hawks legends, and, at the same time, the middling captaincy of Stratton.
18. North Melbourne (last week: 18)
The season can’t end soon enough for the Kangas, who may yet fall to become wooden spooner – they’d need to lose, by a lot, to the Eagles and have the Crows score an unlikely victory over the Tigers. They’ll probably avoid it, but who knows.