And then there were eleven. After a cracking round nineteen that saw the Tigers hold off an injury hit but brilliant Collingwood, the Swans sink further into trouble with a loss to the Bombers and Carlton actually notch a win, there looks to be only eleven teams left in the race for the top eight. The Adelaide Crows all but dropped out of contention after being overrun by a revitalized Melbourne in the city of churches, while the Giants marched into top four contention with yet another win, this time over a plucky but inaccurate Saint Kilda.
After another top notch round of footy, Richmond holds onto top spot on the AFANA Power Poll as a result of its 47 point win over the Adelaide Crows, damaging the Crows chances of returning to finals football in 2018. Collingwood had to fight hard to defeat a determined Essendon, while the Swans stumbled at home against a very impressive Geelong.
Port Adelaide kept in touch with the top two after a comfortable win over Saint Kilda, the Eagles returned to the winners list in the “battle of the decimated forward lines” as they held off the Giants in Perth, and the Hawks solidified their run at the finals with a second half blitz to defeat the Bulldogs.
Just eight teams remain. In one of the tightest finishes in AFL history, the final regular season round had footy fans reaching for their calculators until the last few minutes of the final game of the year between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles. Incredibly, the 29 point Eagles victory was enough to see them through to the final eight, while Melbourne, sitting a game and percentage inside the final eight prior to the round, saw their finals dreams shattered on the back of a shock loss to Collingwood and the Eagles win.
There is just one minor round of the AFL season to go. In what has been an incredible season to date, we still do not know which eight teams will play in the finals, and amazingly, which teams will get the all-important double chance.
The only team guaranteed to finish top two is the Adelaide Crows, who maintain the top spot on the AFANA power poll despite a narrow loss to the rampaging Sydney Swans in Adelaide on Friday night. Speaking of the Swans, the Sydneysiders became the first team in history to make the finals after starting the season 0-6. To top it off, the Swans are a chance to move into fourth place next weekend, boosting their chances for a ride all the way to the premiership.
Where does this leave the other 16 teams as we head into the round 23? Let’s take a look.
1. Adelaide Crows (Last time - 1)
The Giants just hold off a rampaging Adelaide Crows this week in top spot due to a gutsy road win over in Perth against the West Coast Eagles. The Crows crushed Fremantle to stay firmly on the Giants heels in the race for number one in the AFANA AFL power poll.
1. Greater Western Sydney Giants (Last Week - 1)
A solid crowd of around 24,000 filtered into a sunny Metricon Stadium in anticipation of an excellent game of football between the up and coming Gold Coast Suns and the visiting Collingwood Magpies. With positions tight for a Top Eight finish, a Gold Coast win would set them up with a real chance to play Finals for the first time in their short history, while Collingwood was looking to consolidate a Top Eight spot and possibly challenge those in the Top Four.
G Michael reporting for AFANA from Adelaide, South Australia
A brilliant performance by Patrick Dangerfield saw the Crows blitz Gold Coast by a whopping 91 points in Round 23. With support from Scott Thompson, the young Crow took the game apart in the second half to amass 36 possessions for the game whilst also scoring two goals. As both Dangerfield and Thompson firm among the favorites for the Brownlow Medal, the Crows secured a Top Two position for the season, returning to the Finals for the first time since 2009 and ending the home and away with an equal club record of 17 wins for the season.