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Aussie Rules: What we learnt from the final round

The AFL home and away season is now done and dusted and following a dramatic and exciting final round, the make up of the finals has finally been decided.

Heading into the final round we knew that Geelong were the minor premiers but there was still a lot to sort out below them.

It could not have been more exciting and the round lived up to all the hype leading into it.

Melbourne confirmed second spot with a win over Brisbane on Friday night but all the real drama was saved for Sunday when Collingwood edged out Carlton by a point at the MCG.

The win confirmed Collingwood’s place in the top four and at the same time pushed their arch rivals out of the top eight.

Carlton were replaced by the Western Bulldogs who had won at Hawthorn earlier in the day.

Sydney also overcame a scare to beat St Kilda by 14 points, which confirmed their place in the top four, at the expense of Fremantle who dropped to fifth despite beating GWS on Saturday.

Now the dust is starting to settle let’s take a closer look at what we learnt from a gripping three days of AFL footy.

The finals have now been decided

It has been an exciting home and away season and there is now a short break before we return for the finals campaign at the start of September. And we look set to be in for a cracker if the regular season is anything to go off.

So who is playing who?

The action gets underway at the Gabba in Brisbane on Thursday 1st September with the second elimination final between the Brisbane Lions, who finished in sixth and Richmond who finished seventh.

The first elimination final between fifth-place Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs, who finished eighth, will take place at Optus Stadium in Perth on Saturday 3rd September.

Of course the loser of both of those games goes straight out, so it is do or die.

Sandwiched in between are the qualifying finals. The second qualifying final is first to go on Friday 2nd September at the MCG.

It will see second-placed Melbourne take on Sydney Swans who finished third. Then on Saturday 3rd September the minor premiers Geelong will entertain fourth-placed Collingwood, again at the MCG.

The winners will go straight through to the preliminary finals, while the losers do get a second chance and will go on to play the winners of the elimination finals in two semi-finals.

The winners of the semi-finals then go through to the preliminary finals and will be one step away from the big dance at the MCG on 24th September.

It really is too close to call but the winner usually comes from the top four. Geelong are priced at 2/1 to go on and win the grand final, Melbourne are 23/10, Sydney Swans 5/1 and Collingwood 8/1.
 

Essendon have axed Ben Rutten as coach

The Bombers had a disastrous season when finishing 15th on the AFL ladder with just seven wins to their name.

This after they finished in finals in 2021. So it came as no real surprise when on Sunday Essendon announced that Rutten would be leaving the role he has held for the last two seasons.

We also learnt that Essendon made a late play to get Alastair Clarkson on board as their new coach but it came too late as the former Hawthorn boss had already agreed to take the North Melbourne job.

Essendon will now be looking to make an appointment before the trade and draft periods in a month.

It is no surprise that former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is being linked. So too are former Essendon coaches James Hird and Kevin Sheedy, along with Don Pyke.

Heartbreak for Carlton as they miss the eight

Carlton looked to have a place in finals in the bag after winning eight of the opening 10 games of the season.

They were even being talked about as genuine premiership contenders. However they went on to lose six of the last eight games including a one-point defeat against Collingwood on Sunday.

That allowed the Western Bulldogs to leapfrog over them and meant Carlton missed out on finals for a ninth straight season.

However in fairness they have still made remarkable progress from last season and under coach Michael Voss the future does look to be a bright one.

"I don't tend to look at it (as a failure). It (2022) is a massive step forward. There will be a time when we sit down through the week and unpack the whole season and what it looked like, but we had a goal to create a transformation here and we've gone a long way to be able to do that," Voss said after Sunday’s loss.

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