Round 23 of the 2022 AFL season was the most tense finale to a home and away campaign in decades, culminating in an unforgettable MCG classic.
Here’s how it looked for punters:
Blues’ hearts ripped out. Again
If Carlton hearts were ripped out last week in a last-gasp loss to Melbourne, then what happened on Sunday afternoon at the MCG was far, far more gruesome. At 24 points up against Collingwood at the final break, it looked every bit like the Blues would seal their first AFL finals foray since 2013. The wait had been long – but they had one foot in the Top 8. However they squandered a number of chances, and left the door ajar. And the Pies prized it open in clinical fashion. When Jamie Elliott yet again sealed a one-point win, Carlton missed the finals by 0.6 per cent having finished equal on 12 wins with the Western Bulldogs. In the lead-up there was no separating the sides who were $1.92 apiece throughout the week, and that price proved to be spot-on as the Pies saluted by the barest of margins.
Less than a month ago, Michael Voss’ side were near certainties to make the AFL Top 8 with Palmerbet, at $1.04. But they bottled it, again. It will be a long summer for long-suffering Blues fans.
Carlton were in the top 8 after every round except the last this season.
The last team to do that was… Carlton in 1977.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) August 21, 2022
Pies’ fairytale continues
On the other side of the equation is Collingwood, whose fans can hardly believe what they’re witnessing. After finishing 17th in 2021 and sacking coach Nathan Buckley, expectations weren’t particularly high for incoming coach Craig McRae. And after starting 4-5, the Pies were $4.50 just to squeeze into the Top 8. Since that time, McRae’s young side have gone 12-1 to — incredibly — seal a Top 4 finish which was a distant $26 at that same time post-Round 9.
Their Sunday heroics — a ninth single-digit win since Round 11 — sees them seal a qualifying final against minor premiers Geelong on Saturday week. They start that clash as $2.98 outsiders. But who could tip against them with any real confidence? They’ve undoubtedly been the story of the AFL season to date.
"If we get to a final and it's close, this group is going to believe." ♨️🥧
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) August 21, 2022
Dogs squeeze in, Dees and Swans seal double chance
The ramifications of Carlton’s heartbreaking defeat was most rewarding for the Western Bulldogs. Another gritty win (over the Hawks after starting $1.37 favourites) for Luke Beveridge’s men meant they drew level with the Blues on 48 points and edged ever-so-slightly ahead on percentage. Elliott’s heroics saw them seal an elimination final in Perth against the Dockers, which they start at $2.81 in early markets.
The most dominant win (in the high-profile games) over the weekend was undoubtedly Melbourne, who dispatched Brisbane in a winner-takes-all clash to determine an AFL Top 4 spot. The Dees started as marginal $1.96 outsiders but prevailed by 58 points in a 10 goal-plus swing on the pre-game line. Sydney were less clinical in their win over St Kilda, but sealed a Top 4 spot nonetheless. It wasn’t enough to leapfrog the Dees on percentage, meaning the pair (who finished second and third respectively) play off on Friday week in a huge qualifying final at the MCG. The early market has: Melbourne $1.45, Sydney $1.78.
Suspect the Swans might actually be as happy playing Melbourne at the MCG as at home, their side now suits it I reckon. Have won six of their last nine there, lost the others by no more than nine points, and beat the Dees there in Round 12. Should be a cracker. #AFLSaintsSwans
— Rohan Connolly (@rohan_connolly) August 21, 2022