After 22 rounds of one of the closest seasons in recent memory, we have the eight that will play finals…

And Port.

You Port and Essendon fans claimed that I was too harsh last week, now you can play off for 9th… well done. The Tigers have taken out the Minor Premiership after a good year in Victoria, while the Dees have finally made finals after 12 years watching on. Today I look at round 23 and how each game will impact the positioning of the top eight. The three games not mentioned have no impact on finals and weren’t worth writing about.

Starting us off is Port Adelaide v Essendon at Adelaide oval, I put this game in because I found it funny that Port will need a Melbourne loss and a 312-0 win over the Dons to match the Dees percentage…  In short, the Power is out.

Saturday arvo at the Cattery is a must win if the Power defeat the Dons the night prior. A Dees loss to the Giants and a big win will see the Cats finish in 7th. After the whooping the Cat’s gave to the Dockers last Saturday, I can only fear what’s in store for the Suns. With Hawkins sitting 4 goals behind Jack Riewoldt for the Coleman, 10 goals could be a possibility if it’s a thrashing and they’re kicking it to him every possession. The most likely outcome sees the Cats head to Sydney to face either the Swans or the Giants. Having beaten the Swans up there earlier, and having belted the Giants when they weren’t travelling so well should give the Cats a lot of confidence, but the match will be tough either way.

Our next big game is the Pies taking on the Dockers out west. For Collingwood, it is a must-win if they plan to finish 3rd, however that may result in another trip out west again once finals begin. I’d say the best thing for them would be to finish 4th and try to take out the Tigers at the MCG, saving the weaker Eagles for the Prelim if the qualifying final doesn’t go their way.  If the Pies win, but only just, the Hawks could swoop in and steal 3rd from them with only 0.2% separating the teams going into the round. Only way the Pies can drop out of the Top four is with a loss and a Sydney and Hawthorn draw. How good would that be?

This week’s blockbuster is Sydney v Hawthorn at the SCG. A Saturday night special will be upon us as both teams battle for the second chance and a path to the prelim. A Hawks win could see them jump the Pies if the Hawks can pull off a slightly better margin than the Pies, or if the Pies lose. Just like the Pies, the conundrum of having to go to Perth for the first week is daunting, but who they play come finals will be the least of their worries Saturday night. Sydney on the other hand, have poor percentage, meaning that a win will put them into 4th, but no higher. A loss to either side means dropping to 6th.The Dees are playing the Giants so either team will have the points and or percentage to overtake the loser of Saturday Night’s clash.

I’m one of the few people that believe that Brisbane has something special and is a year or two away from contending. At the Gabba they have proven themselves to be a tough opponent for any side. Expect a tough Lions side to take it right up to the Eagles on Sunday arvo. The Eagles are playing for 2nd spot and losing will see them drop to 3rd if the Swans win, and 4th if the Hawks win. This could be a belting delivered by the Eagles as Brisbane have nothing to play for, but Brisbane are a proud club and would love the chance to spoil the end of the Eagles season.
I’ll be honest, I wrote the Demons off last week after they lost to the Swans, not due to lack of effort, but because they had two quality opponents ahead of them and had just lost to the Swans in a winnable game. Yet here they are. I’m disappointed I won’t be able to start giving their fans crap about missing finals again, but hey, three teams are in finals that weren’t in there last year, so yay for progress?

To the game, if a Saturday night blockbuster wasn’t enough for you, the 2 young bulls of the competition lock horns in a do or die game for a home final. Expect nothing left on the table, we’re in store for a ripper. The Giants will be tested on the G, and the big ground may leave some of their players feeling sore. In the past three weeks at Spotless and Etihad, 10 Giants players haven’t been able to finish games due to injuries. Look for Melbourne to play the wings and run to really test the Giants’ conditioning – this is the part of the season where good players drop off and great players shine. I feel like this game will separate the men from the boys. Sunday arvo at the G, going to be a classic.

That’s it, 6 games that can change the finals landscape… 5 if you don’t count Port. What a season. Looking forward to what round 23 has to offer us, with top 4 still up for grabs and home finals on the table. It’s laid out to be a beauty of a round. Thanks for reading – stay Mongrel.

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