Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield has made a record-equalling eighth appearance in the All-Australian team and been selected as captain for the first time.
With the 2020 AFL season drawing to a close, there are several massive clashes when it comes to making or missing the top eight.
Here’s who will win these three do or die clashes.
St Kilda vs GWS
A game between one of the most improved vs most disappointing teams this season, this Friday night game will be one of the best of the season.
If Greater Western Sydney win, they’re still a chance. If St Kilda lose, they’re most likely out but a win sees them in their first finals series in eight years.
It should be entertaining too, with both teams coming off a loss in Round 17 and in patchy form (GWS are 2-2, St Kilda are 1-3). Ever since their induction in 2012 as well, the Giants lead the series 5-4, but there has been one draw.
They aren’t the highest disposals per game teams, with St Kilda averaging 294.1 disposals (tenth most) and GWS also averaging 298.3 disposals per game (seventh most), but the Saints average 67.3 points (fourth most) whereas the NSW side only average 61.1 points per game (eight most).
In the end, it’ll come down to the midfield battle and I see the Saints just getting over the top.
Prediction: Saints by ten points.
Essendon vs Melbourne
Essendon will be farewelling experienced and legendary coach John Worsfold and looking towards next season, while Melbourne can make the finals again.
The Dees are 2-2 in their last four, while the Dons are 1-3.
They’re both a high clanger team – third and fourth in clangers per game respectively – but the Demons still average more points per game at 60.2 (ninth in the AFL) and Essendon only averaging 55.6 points per game (13th).
This game hinges on who has the better game of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Christian Petracca. When McDonald-Tipungwuti is hot, he lights up any game. Petracca, given his season, just lights up every game. I see the latter dominating enough to see the Dees win and gain a potential finals chance.
Prediction: Melbourne by 21 points.
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs
This decides whether or not Melbourne and/or GWS make the finals, in a massive battle between a team improving by the week and a team who’s been in finals contention nearly every year since that miraculous 2016 premiership.
Both teams are in solid form too, with Freo 2-2 and the Bulldogs 3-1. Since 2015 between the pair though, the Dockers have won five while the Bulldogs have only won twice.
They’re also both high disposal users, with the Dockers averaging 299.9 disposals and 72 marks per game (sixth and seventh respectively), compared to the Dogs averaging 312.2 disposals per game (third most) and 64.3 points (seventh most).
The Bulldogs though are 4-0 at Cazalys Stadium and are in pretty hot form. Despite Freo having a couple of good wins against North Melbourne and Melbourne, I see the Dogs winning it and going on to make the finals again.
Prediction: Bulldogs by 14 points.