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Round 23 Review – Premiers done, Dog days, Charlie salutes

Round 23 of the 2023 AFL season saw the Cats bundled out, the Dogs suffer the year’s biggest upset, and Charlie Curnow go back-to-back.

Premiers done, Saints locked in

They won last year’s flag. They’ve played finals in 15 of the last 16 AFL seasons. But Geelong’s hopes of going back-to-back were officially snuffed out by St Kilda in a sombre end to their 2022 campaign that will now see them finish outside the Top 8. The Cats started $1.66 favourites to knock off the Saints ($2.18) but were outrun and overrun by Ross Lyon’s impressive outfit. It spells not only the end of Geelong 2022 season, but perhaps the end of an era for Chris Scott’s side. This is a midfield that has been beaten up at various stages throughout the season, and dominated in the ruck. They started the year as short $1.05 chances to make the AFL finals. But they bow out in 2023 with many questions hanging around their list.

For St Kilda, though, the win has seen them seal a September berth. It’s been a roller-coaster time at the Saints since Ross Lyon’s reintegration as coach. They started the season as $3.75 Top 8 outsiders with Palmerbet, but after going 8-4 into the halfway mark had shortened into $1.53. From there they lost four of their next six and at $2.75 looked likely to be squeezed out. But they’ve won four of their last five to secure a first AFL finals series since 2020.


Dog of a day as Eagles seal season’s biggest upset

We’ve seen some big upsets in 2023. GWS knocked off the reigning premiers at Kardinia Park as $7.30 underdogs earlier this year, before Fremantle one-upped the Giants and won in Geelong as $9.45 rank outsiders. But while impressive, those two boilovers have nothing on what we saw in Round 23. The beleaguered West Coast travelled to Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon as rank $13.00 outsiders against the Western Bulldogs. In calculating Top 8 permutations in the final rounds, many fans and punters had simply pencilled in a Dogs win before assessing what was to come. But Adam Simpson’s men had other ideas.

Led by Jamie Cripps’ surprise five-goal ($34 pre-match to kick 4+), the Eagles sealed the biggest upset of AFL season 2023 to claim a second win of an otherwise torrid campaign. It leaves them — quite incredibly given their output this year — as being able to avoid the wooden spoon next weekend if things falls their way. But while the upset was nothing short of astounding, the story was all about the Dogs ($1.02 favourites). How they found a way to lose to one of modern footy’s poorest sides in a must-win, September-on-the-line game is beyond many. They now have to win in Round 24 and hope the Giants lose to Carlton to squeeze in. The upset loss saw them lengthen from $1.50 to $3.75 finals chances.

Sunday’s events also had huge ramifications elsewhere, securing a Top 8 spot for the Swans and Saints and allowing them to breathe easy heading into the final round of the year.

Curnow goes back-to-back

He started Round 23 as the the $1.35 Coleman Medal favourite. And by the end he had all but sealed back-to-back medals. Carlton’s Charlie Curnow pulled Carlton ($1.57) up off their bootstraps after a poor start against Gold Coast ($2.36), single-handedly dragging the Blues back into the contest and not just finishing with five goals ($4.10 pre-game with Palmerbet) but taking a match-saving mark in defensive-50 in the final minute. Curnow’s bag took his AFL season tally to 75 and Coleman lead to 10 over Adelaide’s Taylor Walker. And when Walker could only manage two goals in his side’s controversial loss to Sydney, it all but granted Curnow a second medal to go with his 2022 honour.  It also means a Carlton player has won the last three Coleman Medals (after Harry McKay claimed the honour in 2021).

Curnow started the season as a $9.00 second-favourite for the Coleman (behind Tom Lynch at $8.00). Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron shortened into the early outright favourite but by AFL Round 10 Curnow had dragged him back. The pair were neck and neck for a number of weeks before Curnow pulled away by himself after Round 15. Despite a late charge from Walker (looking for a first ever Coleman Medal), he maintained and eventually lengthened his lead and next week will (almost certainly) be crowned as a deserved winner.



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