Round 23 of the AFL season – the last home and away round for the year – sees four clubs battling it out for the final spot in the top eight.
Friday 23rd August, 19:50 (AEST)
|L.Greenwood, M.Scharenberg, J.Howe||B||C.Hooker, P.Ambrose, M.Gleeson|
|HB||J.Crisp, D.Moore, B.Maynard||HB||C.McKenna, M.Hurley, M.Redman|
|C||T.Phillips, S.Pendlebury, C.Mayne||C||A.McGrath, Z.Merrett, A.Saad|
|HF||J.Thomas, B.Mihocek, W.Hoskin-Elliott||HF||J.Begley, S.McKernan, T.Jok|
|F||J.Elliott, J.Roughead, C.Brown||F||A.McDonald-Tipungwuti, M.Brown, J.Laverde|
|FOL||B.Grundy, A.Treloar, T.Adams||FOL||T.Bellchambers, D.Shiel, D.Clarke|
|I/C||J.Madgen, J.Noble, T.Varcoe, R.Wills||I/C||D.Parish, K.Langford, A.Francis, B.Ham|
History: Played 238: Collingwood 131 v Essendon 103 (4 draws).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 6, 2019: Essendon 10.9 (69) lost to Collingwood 10.13 (73).
Final Thoughts: What loomed as a season-defining clash for Essendon is now little more than a pre-finals training run. After impressively bouncing back and defeating Fremantle last week, the Bombers will almost certainly remain in either seventh or eighth. Unless the Suns can upset the Giants, they won’t be able to reach sixth to secure a home elimination final. For Collingwood (currently fifth), however, the incentive is much stronger on Friday night. A win would see them into the top four, provided either one of Richmond or West Coast loses. The double-chance would be a huge boon for a club that has faced its fair share of controversies in the second half of the season. Nathan Buckley’s side have won their last three against the Dons, and start as favourites at the MCG.
Saturday 24th August, 13:45 (AEST)
|T.McCartin, D.Rampe, L.Melican||B||S.Savage, J.Carlisle, N.Brown|
|HB||J.Lloyd, C.Mills, J.McVeigh||HB||J.Newnes, S.Rowe, H.Clark|
|C||O.Florent, L.Parker, G.Hewett||C||J.Billings, S.Ross, N.Hind|
|HF||J.Dawson, L.Franklin, N.Blakey||HF||J.Battle, J.Bruce, B.Acres|
|F||T.Papley, A.Aliir, I.Heeney||F||J.Lonie, T.Membrey, B.Long|
|FOL||S.Reid, J.Kennedy, K.Jack||FOL||R.Marshall, J.Steven, J.Steele|
|I/C||R.Fox, D.Menzel, J.Rowbottom, B.Ronke||I/C||L.Dunstan, D.Hannebery, J.Sinclair, C.Wilkie|
History: Played 216: Sydney 136 v St Kilda 77 (3 draws).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 12, 2018: St Kilda 7.13 (55) lost to Sydney Swans 19.12 (126).
Final Thoughts: It’s celebration time at the SCG, with the Bloods faithful saying their goodbyes to premiership players Kieran Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Smith and Heath Grundy (only Jack and McVeigh will be playing of the four). They’ll also celebrate Buddy Franklin’s 300th, with the star forward returning for his first game since round 14. The Swans are undefeated against the Saints at the SCG since 2009 and start this one as fairly firm $1.43 favourites. The Saints have given a strong account of themselves since interim coach Brett Ratten took over, but after last week’s loss to Carlton it remains to be seen whether they can get themselves up on the road for one last crack in 2019.
Saturday 24th August, 14:10 (AEST)
|M.Williams, S.Thompson, J.Pittard||B||J.Hunt, S.Frost, C.Salem|
|HB||J.Macmillan, R.Tarrant, S.Atley||HB||J.Lewis, J.Lever, N.Jones|
|C||T.Dumont, S.Higgins, J.Polec||C||J.Harmes, A.Brayshaw, B.Stretch|
|HF||K.Turner, N.Larkey, J.Ziebell||HF||J.Kennedy-Harris, B.Fritsch, J.Melksham|
|F||T.Thomas, B.Brown, C.Zurhaar||F||C.Wagner, B.Preuss, C.Petracca|
|FOL||T.Goldstein, J.Simpkin, B.Cunnington||FOL||M.Gawn, J.Viney, C.Oliver|
|I/C||T.Garner, N.Hrovat, S.Durdin, M.Wood||I/C||C.Spargo, M.Hibberd, A.Neal-Bullen, M.Hore|
History: Played 161: North Melbourne 76 v Melbourne 84 (1 draw).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 3, 2018: Melbourne 18.15 (123) defeated North Melbourne 13.8 (86).
Final Thoughts: With both sides outside the AFL finals in 2019, this game means little in the context of 2019. It should be, however, the game North Melbourne confirm their first Coleman Medal winner since John Longmire way back in 1990. Ben Brown’s 10-goal haul last week against Port Adelaide saw him spectacularly overtake Jeremy Cameron to lead by four going into the final round. And against a Dees side bereft of confidence, it’s difficult to think he won’t clinch the medal convincingly. North have won four of their last five against Melbourne and, should they bring the heat they did against the Power, they’ll prove far too strong for a Dees side begging for 2019 to end.
Saturday 24th August, 16:35 (AEST)
|Z.Tuohy, M.Blicavs, H.Taylor||B||N.Newman, L.Plowman, W.Setterfield|
|HB||M.O’Connor, L.Henderson, T.Stewart||HB||D.Thomas, J.Weitering, S.Petrevski-Seton|
|C||M.Duncan, P.Dangerfield, C.Guthrie||C||L.O’Brien, P.Dow, E.Curnow|
|HF||G.Ablett, E.Ratugolea, G.Rohan||HF||M.Kennedy, H.McKay, L.Casboult|
|F||L.Dahlhaus, T.Hawkins, J.Henry||F||J.Silvagni, P.Cripps, M.McGovern|
|FOL||R.Stanley, T.Kelly, J.Selwood||FOL||M.Kreuzer, M.Murphy, S.Walsh|
|I/C||J.Bews, B.Parfitt, G.Miers, Q.Narkle||I/C||K.Simpson, Z.Fisher, D.Cuningham, J.Deluca|
History: Played 219: Geelong 100 v Carlton 117 (2 draws).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2018: Geelong 11.7 (73) defeated Carlton 5.15 (45).
Final Thoughts: While for much of the season it looked like Geelong would storm to the minor premiership (they were $1.05 with Palmerbet after round 12), all of a sudden they’re a chance to miss out of a home final altogether. That is, should they lose to Carlton this weekend, which would be a considerable upset. Should either West Coast or Richmond win, they will leapfrog the Cats into the top two spots. However at $1.16 favourites, Chris Scott’s side should prove too strong. A win (and a Brisbane loss to the Tigers) would see them, after all, minor premiers.
For Carlton, they’re looking to put the cherry on top of a brilliant second half of the season. While it sounds strange given they’ll likely finish 16th, the Blues faithful enter the off-season with perhaps more optimism than they’ve had at any stage of the last five years. A first win at the Cattery since 1996 would see the Teague Train full steam ahead.
Saturday 24th August, 19:25 (AEST)
|J.Lukosius, C.Graham, J.Harbrow||B||S.Taylor, P.Davis, A.Tomlinson|
|HB||C.Ballard, C.Burgess, J.Murdoch||HB||H.Shaw, A.Corr, L.Whitfield|
|C||P.Hanley, T.Miller, B.Fiorini||C||D.Lloyd, T.Taranto, S.Reid|
|HF||A.Sexton, S.Day, A.Young||HF||M.de Boer, H.Himmelberg, B.Daniels|
|F||M.Rischitelli, B.King, B.Ainsworth||F||I.Hill, J.Cameron, A.Kennedy|
|FOL||J.Witts, D.Swallow, L.Weller||FOL||S.Mumford, H.Perryman, Z.Williams|
|I/C||J.Bowes, J.Dawson, S.Lemmens, D.MacPherson||I/C||I.Cumming, L.Keeffe, J.Kelly, J.Finlayson|
History: Played 12: Gold Coast 4 v GWS 8.
Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2019: GWS 19.12 (126) defeated Gold Coast 6.7 (43).
Final Thoughts: The Giants are utterly bereft of confidence heading into September, having been belted in their last two games. While a win on the Gold Coast would seal a home elimination final in the first week of September, they’ll need more than just four points to re-ignite a season that is petering out. Welcoming back some injured players, however, Leon Cameron will welcome the chance to get some run into the legs of returning players. The Suns, meanwhile, are winless since way back in round four, and look all but set to finish 2019 on 18-straight defeats.
Saturday 24th August, 20:10 (AEST)
|S.Hurn, T.Barrass, B.Sheppard||B||J.Scrimshaw, J.Frawley, J.Sicily|
|HB||J.Nelson, J.McGovern, L.Jetta||HB||B.Hardwick, B.Stratton, C.Nash|
|C||A.Gaff, E.Yeo, J.Redden||C||R.Henderson, J.O’Meara, T.Scully|
|HF||J.Cripps, J.Darling, L.Ryan||HF||P.Puopolo, T.O’Brien, I.Smith|
|F||W.Rioli, J.Kennedy, O.Allen||F||L.Breust, J.Gunston, B.McEvoy|
|FOL||T.Hickey, D.Sheed, L.Shuey||FOL||J.Ceglar, L.Shiels, J.Worpel|
|I/C||J.Waterman, C.Masten, L.Duggan, J.Petruccelle||I/C||S.Burgoyne, D.Howe, C.Wingard, O.Hanrahan|
History: Played 51: West Coast 28 v Hawthorn 23.
Last Meeting: AFL Round 15, 2019: Hawthorn 9.17 (71) lost to West Coast 11.11 (77).
Final Thoughts: Of the three sides trying to snatch eighth in round 23, Hawthorn is the least fancied of the lot ($14 to finish in the top eight with Palmerbet): firstly, because this week Alastair Clarkson’s side are up against the second-favourites for the flag, on their home turf nonetheless. And secondly, the Hawks are relying on the Dogs to lose to the Crows.
Whatever the case, the in-form Hawks have hardly been better placed in 2019 to have a real crack in the west. They haven’t beaten the West Coast in Perth since 2015. The Eagles are coming off a bruising encounter against the Tigers – a clash that some called the best of 2019. A win over the Hawks (and a loss to either Geelong or Brisbane) would see them claim an all-important home final in week one of September.
Sunday 25th August, 13:10 (AEST)
|T.Duryea, Le.Young, H.Crozier||B||R.Laird, D.Talia, L.Brown|
|HB||J.Johannisen, Z.Cordy, E.Wood||HB||B.Smith, J.Kelly, W.Milera|
|C||L.Hunter, M.Bontempelli, E.Richards||C||P.Seedsman, B.Crouch, D.Mackay|
|HF||B.Dale, J.Schache, S.Lloyd||HF||C.Jones, T.Walker, T.Lynch|
|F||B.Smith, A.Naughton, T.McLean||F||E.Betts, D.Fogarty, R.Douglas|
|FOL||T.English, J.Dunkley, J.Macrae||FOL||S.Jacobs, M.Crouch, R.Sloane|
|I/C||M.Suckling, J.Trengove, R.West, P.Lipinski, C.Porter, W.Hayes, B.Williams, R.Smith||I/C||H.Greenwood, R.Knight, B.Gibbs, K.Hartigan, A.Otten, A.Keath, R.O’Brien, L.Murphy|
History: Played 44: Western Bulldogs 23 v Adelaide 21.
Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2018: Adelaide 9.9 (63) defeated Western Bulldogs 2.14 (26).
Final Thoughts: The Dogs are one of the competition’s most in-form sides, and in the last couple of months have shortened from $151 premiership outsiders into $21. Are we seeing a repeat of 2016 at play? With six wins in their last eight games – the latest a 10-goal trouncing of the Giants – Luke Beveridge’s side looks set to be the side no one wants to face this September. To get there, though, they need to win this week. The Crows are still a chance for finals, but having lost four of their last five, will need to muster something we haven’t seen for some time should they wish sneak into the eight. Even then, they need to rely on other results going their way.
Sunday 25th August, 15:20 (AEST)
|D.Astbury, N.Broad, D.Grimes||B||.Hodge, H.Andrews, M.Adams|
|HB||B.Houli, N.Vlastuin, J.Short||HB||A.Witherden, D.Gardiner, D.Rich|
|C||B.Ellis, D.Prestia, J.Caddy||C||L.McCarthy, D.Zorko, M.Robinson|
|HF||D.Rioli, J.Castagna, K.Lambert||HF||C.Cameron, E.Hipwood, H.McCluggage|
|F||J.Graham, T.Lynch, J.Riewoldt||F||O.McInerney, D.McStay, J.Berry|
|FOL||I.Soldo, S.Edwards, D.Martin||FOL||S.Martin, L.Neale, J.Lyons|
|I/C||T.Cotchin, J.Ross, S.Bolton, K.McIntosh, N.Balta, J.Aarts, M.Chol, L.Baker||I/C||J.Walker, C.Rayner, C.Cox, L.Taylor, Z.Bailey, R.Mathieson, B.Starcevich, N.Answerth|
History: Played 29: Richmond 20 v Brisbane 8 (1 draw).
Last Meeting: AFL Round 4, 2018: Richmond 16.14 (110) defeated Brisbane 2.5 (17).
Final Thoughts: This pre-finals blockbuster should provide a number of talking points heading into September. Namely, can Brisbane’s footy hold up at the MCG against the premiership favourites? And conversely, will the Tigers’ structure quell the free-flowing Lions? On a more immediate front, a win for Chris Fagan’s side secures them the minor premiership which, to be frank, is staggering when you consider where they were at the start of the season. Having finished 15th in 2018, the Lions were a distant $67 with Palmerbet to finish on top this season and have undoubtedly been the story of 2019. For the Tigers, a win could see them finish in the top two (pending other results) and secure a home qualifying final.
Sunday 25th August, 16:40 (AEST)
|D.Houston, T.Jonas, R.Bonner||B||T.Duman, J.Hamling, C.Blakely|
|HB||H.Hartlett, J.Westhoff, D.Byrne-Jones||HB||D.Tucker, G.Logue, R.Conca|
|C||X.Duursma, T.Rockliff, K.Amon||C||B.Hill, E.Hughes, E.Langdon|
|HF||R.Gray, C.Dixon, S.Gray||HF||A.Brayshaw, M.Walters, A.Cerra|
|F||T.Marshall, P.Ryder, C.Rozee||F||B.Matera, C.McCarthy, S.Switkowski|
|FOL||S.Lycett, O.Wines, T.Boak||FOL||S.Darcy, N.Fyfe, D.Mundy|
|I/C||M.Broadbent, R.Burton, S.Mayes, B.Frampton, C.Sutcliffe, W.Drew, T.McKenzie, S.Powell-Pepper||I/C||M.Crowden, L.Schultz, B.Banfield, B.Bewley, T.Colyer, S.Jones, R.Nyhuis, J.Carter|
History: Played 36: Port Adelaide 19 v Fremantle 17.
Last Meeting: AFL Round 13, 2019: Fremantle 15.10 (100) defeated Port Adelaide 12.7 (79).
Final Thoughts: Port’s finals hopes hang by a thread after last week’s dismal 86-point loss to North Melbourne. They not only need to win this clash but rely on crosstown rivals Adelaide beating the Dogs (*but not by too much) and the Hawks losing to West Coast. At $4.50 with Palmerbet to finish in the top eight, Ken Hinkley will take confidence in the fact they’ve won all four games against Fremantle at Adelaide Oval. The Dockers, meanwhile, are reeling after the sacking of Ross Lyon this week. Having lost seven of their last nine games, the club face yet another year without finals. Having failed to turn up for several big games in the latter half of the season, it’s difficult to see them motivated for this clash which, in essence, represents merely playing for pride.