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The run home: Round 23

Ashley Browne, AFL Media  August 21, 2017 9:36 AM

AFL 2017 Round 22 - Adelaide v Sydney

The Swans were just out of reach of Adelaide on Friday night

1. Adelaide

62 points (15 wins, five losses, one draw) 139.9 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: West Coast (Domain Stadium)

If the Crows win:
- The minor premiership is theirs

If they lose:
- They will still finish top if Geelong beats GWS. If the Giants win then they will drop down to second

Quick take: The Crows can't drop from the top two, but won't want to flirt with their form, so expect them to go hard at West Coast in the last ever AFL game at Domain Stadium next Sunday. They had a few sore bodies after Friday night and the nine-day break will freshen them, but you can't think the word 'resting' is in Don Pyke's vocabulary.

Predicted finish: First
Predicted final match-up: 
Qualifying final v Geelong @ Adelaide Oval

2. Greater Western Sydney

60 points (14 wins, five losses, two draws) 118.3 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Geelong (Simonds Stadium) 

If the Giants win
- They are guaranteed a top-two finish. Will be minor premiers if Crows lose, otherwise it's second place and a home qualifying final

If they lose
- Could easily fall as low as fourth if the Tigers beat St Kilda by enough, given the gap between the two teams is only 1.6 percentage points. If not, third place and another trip to face the Cats in a qualifying final awaits 

Quick take: The Giants are 0-2 at Simonds Stadium and need to break that duck to earn two home finals in what is a magnificent – and fortuitous – piece of fixturing by the AFL. Selection for the Giants will be interesting. Rory Lobb shapes to return but what about Steve Johnson, who knows every blade of grass and every breath of wind at that stadium?

Predicted finish: Second
Predicted final match-up: Qualifying final v Richmond @ Spotless Stadium 

3. Geelong

58 points (14 wins, six losses, one draw) 115.5 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: GWS (Simonds Stadium) 

If the Cats win
- Second spot is theirs and a likely qualifying final against GWS

If they lose
- Will drop to fourth if Richmond beats St Kilda, but if the Tigers fail to win then they will stay third.

Quick take: Do the Cats have the scoring power to go with the Giants? Having Tom Hawkins back is particularly timely, but it will be the biggest game the club has played without Joel Selwood in 11 seasons. The Cats and Giants might play each other two weeks in a row, but there will be no holding back on Saturday night. The sequel can be dealt with a week after that.

Predicted finish: Fourth
Predicted final match-up: Qualifying final v Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval

4. Richmond

56 points (14 wins, seven losses), 116.7 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: St Kilda (MCG) 

If the Tigers win
- They are guaranteed the double chance and could finish third if they make up the 1.6 percentage gap to GWS and the Giants lose. They will finish third if GWS beats Geelong.

If they lose
- Could drop as low as sixth if they lose to the Saints and both Sydney and Port Adelaide win, which they likely will.

Quick take: The Tigers more than took care of business against Fremantle. They were ruthless. Big Sunday finale against Saints who touched them up last time and Nick Riewoldt's final game only adds to the occasion. But they’ll go much better than last time and on their home deck as well. Expect 75,000 to be there.

Predicted finish: Third
Predicted final match-up: Qualifying final v GWS @ Spotless Stadium


5. Port Adelaide

52 points (13 wins, eight losses) 123.1 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Gold Coast (Adelaide Oval)

If the Power win
- At least one home final is assured. They could finish as high as fourth if the Tigers lose and the Swans don't make up the slim percentage gap. Could still drop to sixth if the Swans post a massive victory over the Blues.

If they lose
- Will still finish fifth or sixth given their percentage gap over the Demons.

Quick take: A powerful finish – the last five goals of the match – ensures a home final for the Power. There is such a large difference between Port’s best and worst so you wonder whether Ken Hinkley would want a tougher opponent than lowly Gold Coast in the season finale to iron out a few kinks.

Predicted finish: Fifth
Predicted final match-up: Elimination final v Essendon @ Adelaide Oval

6. Sydney

52 points (13 wins, eight losses) 122.7 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Carlton (SCG)  

If the Swans win
- Could finish as high as fourth if the Tigers lose and the Power lose or don't win by plenty.

If they lose
- Will still finish fifth or sixth given their percentage gap over the Demons.

Quick take: There is not one team the Swans will fear between now and a run to the Grand Final. Adelaide, GWS, Geelong, Richmond, Melbourne and Essendon … the Swans have knocked them all over. They lost to Port in the season opener but that’s ancient history and the only side to have knocked them over since round six is Hawthorn, which will be spectating next month. What a ride they are taking us on.

Predicted finish: Sixth
Predicted final match-up: Elimination final v Melbourne @ SCG


7. Melbourne

48 points (12 wins, nine losses) 106.4 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Collingwood (MCG)

If the Demons win
- Will finish seventh, can't make up the 16-point percentage gap on Port and Sydney.

If they lose
- Will still make the finals as long as one of Essendon and West Coast loses. Could drop to ninth if the Bombers win and Eagles beat the Crows and make up the 2.3 percentage gap.

Quick take: A few nervy moments for the Demons on Sunday when the Lions came at them late, but they're almost locked and loaded for the finals now. Beat Collingwood on Saturday and they're in. 

Predicted finish: Seventh
Predicted final match-up: Elimination final v Sydney @ SCG

8. Essendon

44 points (11 wins, 10 losses) 106.1 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Fremantle (Etihad Stadium)

If the Bombers win
- Will play finals as long as the Eagles don't beat the Crows by enough points to make up the 1.8 percentage gap. Could finish as high as seventh if the Dees lose.

If they lose
- Will need to rely on all of West Coast, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs losing to make the finals.

Quick take: The Dons successfully negotiated the tricky visit to Metricon Stadium and still control their own finals destiny. Win against Freo next Sunday, and they're in. But if they lose and the Bulldogs beat Hawthorn on Friday night then they miss out. If the Dogs lose and the Bombers lose, then John Worsfold's men face an anxious few hours to see whether Adelaide beats West Coast and Richmond beats St Kilda to ensure they make it. 

Predicted finish: Eighth
Predicted final match-up: Elimination final v Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval  

 

9. West Coast

44 points (11 wins, 10 losses) 104.3 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Adelaide (Domain Stadium)  

If the Eagles win
- They will make the finals if Fremantle upsets Essendon. Could also finish above Melbourne if the Dees lose to Collingwood and the Eagles make up the 2.1 percentage gap.

If they lose
- They could only make the finals in the unlikely scenario where the Bombers get smashed and drop below the Eagles on percentage. They would also need the Dogs and Saints to lose in that scenario.

Quick take: The Eagles have been unable to string consecutive wins together since rounds six to eight and that ultimately will prove their undoing in 2017. What sort of effort can they muster for their last ever game at Domain Stadium as well as the likely farewell games for Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell?

Predicted finish: Ninth

Fantasy form watch: Unlikely heroes start to shine

10. St Kilda

44 points (11 wins, 10 losses) 98.9 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Richmond (MCG) 

If the Saints win
- Can only make finals if Essendon, West Coast and Western Bulldogs all lose.

If they lose
- Will finish 10th or 11th depending on percentage.  

Quick take: The Saints will know if they’re still alive when they run out to play the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. Chances are they won’t be because even if the Dogs lose to the Hawks, the Dons are near certainties to beat Freo. Sunday should be all about one last effort for Nick Riewoldt. Que sera, sera. 

Predicted finish: 10th

11. Western Bulldogs

44 points (11 wins, 10 losses) 97.4 per cent

The run home
Rd 23: Hawthorn (Etihad Stadium)

If the Bulldogs win
- Can only make finals if Essendon, West Coast and St Kilda all lose.

If they lose
- Will finish 10th or 11th, depending on percentage.  

Quick take: The Dogs aren't officially finished for 2017 but their premiership defence is on life support. First, they need to beat Hawthorn on Friday night in an emotionally-charged farewell game for Luke Hodge. Then they need Essendon to lose to Fremantle, St Kilda to lose to Richmond and West Coast to lose to Adelaide. They're every chance of knocking over the Hawks, but the other outcomes seem less likely.

Predicted finish: 11th