AFL Round 23, the final round, wrapped up as the top 4 places resolved themselves and the top 8 qualifiers remained the same. Here is your look at all the action.
Hawthorn and Collingwood Wins Secure Final Top 4 Positions
Hawthorn claimed the win of the round, nipping fellow finals qualifiers Sydney at the SCG 83-74 thanks to a late push in the final term to secure the win. Missing Lance Franklin and Luke Parker the Swans were at a disadvantage in the contest and although Jake Lloyd and Isaac Heeney turned in solid performances it was the Tom Mitchell led Hawks that got the win. Paul Puopolo, Ricky Henderson, and Jack Gunston combined for 7 goals while Liam Shiels had 26 disposals for the Hawks and ruck Ben McEvoy posted 52 hit outs.
Collingwood joined Hawthorn in the top 4 with a 76-67 win against Fremantle, in a game that was tougher than expected. The Pies pulled away at the last as Brody Mihocek and Jaidyn Stephenson combined for 5 goals and Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury combined for 62 disposals. Brodie Grundy also had a huge game in the ruck. Bradley Hill, Ed Langdon, and Lachie Neale were best for the Dockers while Hayden Ballantyne booted 4 goals in the final game of the year for Freo.
Richmond Holds off Bulldogs Challenge
Richmond‘s MCG winning streak was nearly snapped by the Western Bulldogs, who have found form in the final games of the season. The Bulldogs kept it competitive throughout leading disposals, free kicks, tackles, and clearances but yet again the Tigers found a way to win. Dustin Martin and Coleman medal winner Jack Riewoldt were best on ground for the Tigers, Riewoldt kicked 5 goals while Martin had 33 disposals. Jack Graham also added 3 goals and Dion Prestia was also impactful. For the Dogs Jack Macrae had another incredible game with 43 disposals, Lachie Hunter and 3 goal scorer Billy Gowers were also great. Richmond heads into finals as the top seed while the Bulldogs will have confidence for next year.
West Coast, Melbourne, and Geelong Head Into Finals In Good Form
The West Coast Eagles scored a road win over the upset minded Brisbane Lions 98-72. The Eagles ran away with a win thanks to big games from Jamie Cripps and Jack Darling (7 goals combined) and Elliot Yeo putting in another All-Australian performance. Dom Sheed and Luke Shuey led in disposals. For Brisbane best on ground were Dayne Beams, Nick Robertson, Tom Cutler, and Stefan Martin.
Melbourne destroyed a low scoring and defensively soft GWS Giants side 102-57. The win gives the Dees a home final that is deserved after Christian Petracca and Tom McDonald combined for 6 goals, and Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver posted 62 disposals combined while Max Gawn was again good from the ruck. Stephen Coniglio and Callan Ward were best for GWS with Coniglio their only multi-goal scorer.
Geelong knew they were in finals heading into the game, but they still did their jobs against Gold Coast winning 142-40 in one of the most lopsided games of the season. Patrick Dangerfield had 4 goals and 34 disposals while Tim Kelly and Tom Hawkins combined for 5 goals. Mitch Duncan also had 29 disposals in the midfield. Veteran Michael Barlow and Jarrod Harbrow were best for the Suns, who have endured a miserable finish to the year.
Essendon, Adelaide, and North Melbourne Finish The Year With that Winning Feeling
Essendon were out of finals but they still got a win over Port Adelaide to ensure the Power finished the year in awful form and missed out on finals after a strong start to the season. Essendon won 111-89 and led throughout as Port was again held under 100 points. Devon Smith, Kyle Langford, the delisted Brendon Goddard, and Zach Merrett were best for the Bombers, while Justin Westhoff (5 goals) and ruck Paddy Ryder were best for Port. Mitch Brown, Langford, and Jayden Laverde combined for 9 goals despite normally being depth players for Essendon.
Adelaide crushed wooden spoon holders Carlton 165-61, other than Patrick Cripps Carlton was poor all over the ground while Rory Laird (34 disposals), Josh Jenkins (7 goals), and Rory Atkins were best for the Crows. Jordan Gallucci, Eddie Betts, and Atkins combined for 10 goals.
North Melbourne ensured they remained just outside of the finals spots as they have exceeded all expectations this season. The Roos defeated rivals St. Kilda 117-94 as Ben Brown, Jack Ziebell, and the retiring Jarrad Waite combined for 9 goals. Trent Dumont had 38 disposals for the Roos while Jack Steele, Jack Steven, and Seb Ross combined for over 100 disposals in the St. Kilda midfield. Steven and Steele also had 4 goals between them.
AFL Finals matchups
Double Elimination Games
Richmond vs Hawthorn (MCG)
West Coast vs Collingwood (Optus Stadium)
With home advantage the top 2 seeds will be favored in the double elimination finals.
Single Elimination Games
Melbourne vs Geelong (MCG)
Sydney vs GWS Giants (SCG)
Melbourne vs Geelong looks like a cracker with both teams full of potential but not always consistent. Both Sydney and GWS lost in the final round, and their rivalry clash is a high stakes game that could go either way.