The chase is on. It could be scoffed at earlier in the year when it was suggested that a side could win the flag from outside the top 4, but who’s laughing now? Geelong, clearly, can never be counted out. Their run home sees a mega-blockbuster against Hawthorn next Friday night, West Coast in Perth, St Kilda, the Bulldogs and Sydney in Geelong, which is tough, but their win has shown that tough simply may not be enough to stop the Cats as they amp up for September.
The Eagles desperately needed that percentage recovery, as it will lead to West Coast jumping either Adelaide or Collingwood should either side slip up. Moreover, it was just the sort of stabiliser that the Eagles needed before one of the hottest derbies in a while, with Freo needing to win to keep their finals hopes alive while West Coast want to crack the top 4.
Oh boy. If Carlton make the finals, it will be a case of falling into the eight rather than making it on their own merit. The massive injection of luck that they received on Saturday night will surely have to be repeated in order for the Blues to get their, but there’s still life signs in the hope of September.
10 wins now, coupled with Essendon’s loss, sees North looking at 7th spot at the end of Round 23. They have one guaranteed win against GWS in round 23, as well as a probable against the Bulldogs. The Roos have to take on Collingwood as well as Fremantle in Perth, but looming large is the clash with Essendon in two weeks’ time, a match which very well could be the sealer for finals one way or the other for both sides.
Somehow the Saints remain discounted from finals contention. Such an idea is strange, as they sit on 9 wins (equal with Carlton) and have an easier run home, with games against GWS and Melbourne. They continue to quietly chip away at their chances, and a slip or two elsewhere will see them into September action.
Hawthorn’s 23rd player
The Hawks have both Lance Franklin and David Hale to return. Max Bailey seems the obvious omission for Hale, but the Buddy question looms large. Hawthorn’s forward line is in fact performing damn well without him. Someone has to go to fit the guy leading the Coleman chase… but who?
Another week, another ‘honourable’ loss. 8 of Richmond’s games have been decided by a margin of two goals or less, of which they’ve won two, against St Kilda or GWS. If they’d converted another two for a 50-50 win rate, they’d be 9-8 and well in the finals hunt. Instead, their chances are almost certainly over once again.
The wheels are quickly falling off the Bombers’ season. With their continuing injury list and the numerous other sides who are hunting finals that they play between now and the start of September action, there is still the risk that Essendon could miss the finals due to the realities of their run home.
Melbourne and the Bulldogs
The silence is deafening. The seasons are over already for both, and it’s without a care by most in the footy world.
The more this season goes on, the less impressive the Crows seem despite their ladder position. When Adelaide lose, it seems to be a whimper more than a tight contest, with a fifteen to twenty minute lapse in concentration leading to huge scoreboard damage.