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Aussie Rules: A look ahead to the finals campaign

The AFL home and away season is done and dusted and the top eight now get a short break before heading into the business end of the season.

The finals campaign will start on 1st September and run through to the grand final which will return to the MCG on Saturday 24th September.

So who is the hot fancy to go all the way? Who is the dark horse? Can anyone stop minor premiers Geelong? These are the questions that the whole of the AFL community will be asking.

Now the top eight is locked in it is time to take a look at each side and weigh up their chances of going all the way and winning the flag.

Bearing in mind that those sides outside of the top are at a disadvantage. The Western Bulldogs were the last side to finish outside of the top four before going on to win the grand final.

That was back in 2016 and shows the tough task that is facing Fremantle, Brisbane, Richmond and the Bulldogs this year.

However it can be done and no-one can be written off. Let’s take a closer look at each side.

Geelong

 2/1

The Cats last won the flag in 2011 but have consistently played finals since then without adding to it. This could be the year they do.

They have bounced back well from a heavy defeat against Melbourne in last year’s preliminary final and coach Chris Scott has been the mastermind. The way he has managed the veteran players like Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood has been key.

Geelong head into finals on a 13-game winning run and confidence will be sky high. First up is a clash with Collingwood at the MCG.

Melbourne

 23/10

The Demons have not been producing the results of last season but still managed to finish second on the ladder and will be a huge threat.

They know how to win a grand final having done so in 2021. Melbourne have a list packed with quality and if they click are in with a great shout of going back-to-back.

Simon Goodwin’s side looked in good touch as they thrashed the Brisbane Lions last week and will be confident heading into the opening finals game with Sydney.

Sydney Swans

The Swans have been one of the form teams in the comp over the last couple of months when rising up the ladder to finish in third spot.

They picked up a couple of big wins over Fremantle and Collingwood in the closing weeks and have shown this season they can beat anyone on their day.

A clash with Melbourne at the MCG will be a huge test but they beat them 73-61 there earlier in the season and can do so again.

Collingwood

8/1

The Magpies have been outstanding this season and lost just once in the last 13 games to make the top four.

They showed on more than one occasion during that run they know how to get the job done. That was again evident when they edged out Carlton by one point on Sunday.

Collingwood are seen as a dark horse to go all the way and win the flag.

Fremantle

18/1

The Dockers have had a tremendous season when making finals for the first time since 2015, and will now be looking to go deep into finals.

But there can be no slip ups. They start with a home game against the Western Bulldogs and if they come through that will need to win another two games on the road to make the grand final.

It is a big ask, but Freo have shown they can beat anyone on their day and have a quality list made up of youth and experience.

Brisbane

 25/1

The Lions are used to being in the top two. But that has not helped them in previous years as they have yet to reach the grand final.

Maybe going the long way round could weigh in their favour. They have been pretty inconsistent this season and have struggled away from the Gabba.

They will be thankful they start on home soil when they entertain Richmond.

Richmond Tigers

11/1

The Tigers are certainly a club who know how to win a grand final having won three in four seasons recently.
They have slipped down the ladder over the last couple of seasons but are back in finals after missing out in 2021.

The Tigers will fancy their chances of going deep but first must overcome a Brisbane side they beat by seven points on 31st July. Albeit in Melbourne.

Western Bulldogs

33/1

The Doggies will draw on their experience of winning the grand final from outside of the top four back in 2016. Much has changed since then but coach Luke Beveridge is still in charge.

The Bulldogs made the grand final last season but were thrashed by Melbourne at Optus Stadium in Perth.

They now return to the same venue to face Fremantle in the elimination final. Freo beat the Doggies in Melbourne at the start of August but Beveridge’s side cannot be underestimated in a do-or-die clash.

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