Wow, time really flies when you’re having fun, eh? Round 23 and the end of the regular season already.
We’ve already waved goodbye to some veterans who have retired, and this weekend we’ll see more. Stay tuned to the BigFooty social channels for plenty of tributes to the players playing their final game this weekend.
But it’s time again to rank the level of interest in every game this weekend. Despite the hype by AFL Media the round 23 fixture doesn’t have too many noteworthy matches but there’s enough here to keep footy fans interested before the snooze fest that is the pre-finals bye week (stay tuned for a special edition of the Interestometer next week).
So, let’s get into it.
#1 – Richmond (4th) v Brisbane (1st)
Nobody, and we mean nobody, would have seen the importance of this game when the fixture was released in October last year. Most would have expected it to be a walk in the park for the Tigers with Lions not travelling well and while maybe expected to be pushing for finals, still not of any great threat. Fast forward 10 months and boy haven’t things changed. The Lions are a juggernaut at the moment and have catapulted to the top of the ladder in a stunning season to date. Despite that most expect the Tigers to be there on that last Saturday in September. This game is bigger than most probably realise. If the Lions lose they will almost certainly lose a first up home final. If they win though, they have a clear path to the Grand Final. The Tigers have plenty to lose too. If the Pies beat the Bombers on Friday – as the punters are expecting – then a loss for the Tigers means an almost certain drop into the sudden death territory of the finals, 5th place.
#2 Eagles (3rd) v Hawks (9th)
Yes, the Eagles went down to the Tigers last week but it was only just. They are in the right form at the right time of the year for the most part. Much the same could be said of the Hawks who have somehow stayed well under the radar this year and yet sit on the cusp of a finals berth. Doubt they would do any damage at all should they make it but that doesn’t dent how interesting this game should be. For the Eagles a home final could be on the line. They have to make up 5% to leapfrog the Lions but a loss in some circumstances could see them face Brisbane in Brisbane in week 1. Unlikely but possible.
#3 Dogs (8th) vs Crows (10th)
Bit of a surprise here. Why? Pretty simple. Whether the Dogs win or lose… or I guess if the Crows win or lose, will have a dramatic impact on the finals make up. Really hard to see the Dogs not winning this by plenty given the Crows recent form but with a potential finals spot on the line both teams will be hungry. Whether this game will be as hot as anticipated might all rest on the match the night before between the Eagles and Hawks. If the Hawks get up the Crows are going to win by plenty more than the Hawks to overhaul their percentage difference. It’s times like these you wish Round 23 games that impact the eight were all played at once. Can you imagine the drama of that?
#4 Power (11th) v Dockers (13th)
See #2 for explanation of this one. Of course if the Dogs win earlier in the day it will be a moot point but interesting nonetheless.
#5 Cats (2nd) v Blues (16th)
This one is all about the Cats. They got pipped at the post by the Lions last week but it was hot, damn hot, out on the ground. It was a brutal game physically so it will be interesting to see if the Cats can hit the finals with a wet sail or if they will limp in. As someone pointed out on Fox Footy last night, they have gone 5-5 in the last 10 weeks and yet they sit 2nd on the ladder and a win could well see them back on top (assuming the Lions lose to the Tigers). The Blues, well, for all they’ve turned around this season, they’re still 16th on the ladder. They have won three of their last five and will desperately want to see out the year with another win.
#6 Pies (5th) v Bombers (7th)
When the Round 23 fixture was release a few weeks back this was the game I was looking forward to most. And then the Bombers went and got beaten by 100 points and stunk it up to the point that they looked like they might even miss finals. Statistically they were destroyed last week… but they were playing the Dockers, so of course, Freo being Freo meant the Bombers came out with a very handy road win. None of that means much though because even if they win tonight’s game they cannot move on the ladder – assuming the Giants don’t slip up against the Suns. The potential reward for the Pies is huge, a top four berth. The Bombers resting three of their stars just takes even more of an edge off this one. But still… worth a look.
#7 Swans (15th) v Saints (14th)
Buddy’s 300th – That is all!
Friday August 23
Collingwood v Essendon, MCG, 7:50pm
Saturday August 24
Sydney v St Kilda, SCG, 1:45pm
North Melbourne v Melbourne, Blundstone Arena, 2:10pm
Geelong v Carlton, GMHBA Stadium, 4:35
West Coast v Hawthorn, Optus Stadium, 8:10pm
Gold Coast v GWS, Metricon Stadium, 7:25pm
Sunday August 25
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide, Mars Stadium, 1:10pm
Richmond v Brisbane Lions, MCG, 3:20pm
Port Adelaide v Fremantle, Adelaide Oval, 4:40pm