What do the results of round 23 mean? Basically the final 8 is set with regard to the actual teams. Positions 1, 4 and 5 are settled. There is a possibility that there could be some shuffling around in the other positions. In fact, if Collingwood beats Geelong and Hawthorn thrashes the Gold Coast, both possible, then Hawthorn can finish 2nd! Regardless of the shuffle the following finals will be played like this:
Collingwood V West Coast at the MCG (maybe Etihad?)
Hawthorn V Geelong, Carlton V Essendon and St Kilda V Sydney.
But we should not get ahead of ourselves as we still have a round to go. Teams outside the 8 need to find sufficient motivation to win their last game and it will also be interesting to see the strategies of the final 8 teams and coaches as to how they approach their last home and away game with player availability, tactics and other aspects they will consider as they prepare for finals. If Richmond beats North then the Tigers will finish 9th – not bad. As well as Richmond winning, if the Bulldogs win and Melbourne win then Fremantle finish 13th!
Collingwood 20.12.132 defeated Fremantle 8.4.52
With 12 goals to 2 at half time Collingwood had the game in the bag. They extended the lead to about 90 points in the 3rd quarter but must have taken pity on the Dockers in the last quarter allowing Freo to outscore them. The winning margin was as expected. Swan, Pendlebury, Krakaoer, Beams, Didak and Cloke contributed strongly for the Pies. Freo lost another 2 players during the game with Ibbotson doing a shoulder and Faulks was badly hurt in a marking crash that saw him being stretchered from the ground and taken to hospital. Fremantle will be happy to see the season end and Collingwood now needs to gear up for the big game against Geelong.
Hawthorn 16.17.113 defeated Western Bulldogs 10.7.67
The Doggies kept pace with the Hawks up to half time but Hawthorn was just too good after the big break kicking away to win reasonably easily in the end. Buddy contributed 5 goals to just about wrap up the goal kicking. Hodge was the best for the Hawks along with Sewell and first year player Puopolo. Hall kicked 4 for the Bullies. Hawthorn seemed to cruise a bit and maybe their qualifying final against Geelong is uppermost in their mind.
Sydney 15.9.99 defeated Geelong 12.14.86
Sydney what? You have to hand it to the Swans, they always seem to play better with their backs against the wall and with a terrible personal tragedy that occurred during the week it seems it was some hidden motivational factor that gave them a win against the Cats at Skilled for the first time in 4 years. It’s finals for Sydney after this win. Goodes was the dominant player on the ground with 30 touches and a goal. Bartel played well for the Cats who play Collingwood next week.
West Coast 13.11.89 defeated Brisbane 11.15.81
If you had your money on the Lions going into the second part of the 3rd quarter you could have thought your money looked safe. By the end of that quarter the Eagles had closed the gap from 29 points to 2. West Coast put their nose in front in the last quarter and held on to secure 4th place on the ladder. Impressive. The Eagles will finish with 16 or 17 wins which a couple of years back would have been enough to give you top spot on the ladder so take that into context when you try to gauge their improvement from wooden spooners last season. Brisbane lost a lot of close games so they will be a lot better next year.
St Kilda 19.21.135 defeated North Melbourne 10.10.70
As usual, form doesn’t count for a lot when we talk about these two teams. Somehow North had a 155 point turnaround from last week and really was disappointing against the Saints who secured their finals position. It helped their cause when gun forwards Reiwoldt and Milne fired after a couple of lean weeks and kicked 9 goals between them. Congrats to the Saints who started the season with 1 win from 9 games and clawed their way back into contention. Their game against Carlton next week will tell us just how well they have come back.
Richmond 17.19.121 defeated Adelaide 15.9.99
I looked at the score half way through the 3rd quarter then went out knowing an Adelaide win was no problems and my tip was okay. What happened? Anybody? Bicks? Crows boys? Anybody? Hmmm. Norman Gunston kicked 5 for the Crows and Vickery 4 for the Tigers. Crotchin and Martin played very well for Richmond and van Berlo and Vince for Adelaide. The Crows head west to Perth to play the Eagles next week and Richmond plays North for 9th spot on the ladder.
Melbourne 17.10.112 defeated the Gold Coast Suns 12.10.82
Gold Coast gave a good account of themselves and pushed the Demons all the way. Melbourne really won the game in the 3rd quarter when they kicked 6 goals to 1. That was the difference in the match. The Suns have a tough finishing game against the Hawks next week while Melbourne gets another one on the platter with a game against the Power…..maybe.
Essendon 17.18.120 defeated Port Adelaide 17.11.113
So the Power is 6 goals ahead 5 minutes into the last quarter. My heading was reading ‘Port defeated Essendon’. Then? I listen to the Bombers kick the next 7 goals with Hurley and Collier starring and Port lost the game. Essendon have a lot to think about before their elimination final against the Blues next week and the Power? They just have a lot to think about period. To let that game slip without making some significant changes on the field to protect their last quarter 6 goal lead and to try and stop the Essendon run-on seems a bit strange. That’s footy!