Round 22 of the AFL season was in no uncertain terms the most important of 2019, with top four, top eight and premiership ramifications felt throughout the competition.

Here’s how it looked for punters: 

Minor premiers, major shock

Let’s start up in Brisbane, where the Lions’ win over the Cats puts them a game clear on top of the ladder with just one game to play. Chris Fagan’s side started as marginal $1.78 favourites but it was Geelong who controlled most of the day. That is, until the final term where the home side surged among the roar of the heavily-invested locals. Former Cat Lincoln McCarthy took a hanger and converted within the final two minutes to seal a famous win. It was their ninth in a row. The Lions, undoubtedly, have been the story of the year in 2019. When you consider they were $67 chances with Palmerbet to win the minor premiership this AFL season, their amazing journey is perhaps only just getting started.

Grand final prelude?

As brilliant as the Lions have been, it was hard watching the incredible Richmond v West Coast clash on Sunday afternoon and not coming to the conclusion that we were likely watching the two grand finalists for 2019. The two sides slugged it out firstly in the dry, then in greasy conditions after a Melbourne downpour. The Tigers ($1.55 pre-game favourites) eventually saluted after one of the toughest games of the AFL season. But they were certainly made to work for it. After the pair were locked on $3.75 equal premiership favourites pre-game, the win moves Damien Hardwick’s men into $3.50, ahead of West Coast now at $4.20.

Top eight flipped on its head

The weekend could hardly have gone better for the Western Bulldogs, who started in eleventh and finished inside the AFL top eight. Big losses felt by Fremantle, Port Adelaide the Adelaide (the three sides directly above them before round 22), combined with a stirring 61-point win over the Giants (which they started as $2.20 outsiders with Palmerbet) has launched them inside the top eight. In fact, with the beleaguered Crows to come this weekend, Luke Beveridge’s men are $1.30 fancies to finish inside the top eight. This from a side that, after round 14 were considered $13 outsiders to make their first AFL finals since 2016.

Slump in the city of churches

And finally, a word on the city of Adelaide. The city whose two AFL teams had perhaps their worst round for the season at the time they could least afford it. After two stirring wins over Essendon and the Swans, the Power were fancied ($1.74 favourites) to overcome North Melbourne and make the AFL finals. In fact, they were $1.40 to do so before the round kicked off. As it turned out, an insipid effort saw them run out 86-point losers. And, all of a sudden, they’re looking unlikely to make the eight. They not only need to beat Fremantle this weekend, but rely on the Dogs losing.

But the biggest drop-off was saved for their crosstown rivals. Adelaide, you might remember, were apparent locks to make the eight, at $1.05 with Palmerbet at the mid-season bye. Just two wins in nine, however, sees their 2019 season all but done. They need a miracle against the Dogs this week to squeeze back inside. At $10, they need a lot to go right.