Just two weeks after slipping to ninth on the ladder – with a poor percentage, the Swans have clawed their way back to sixth and given themselves a red-hot chance of finishing inside the top four.
With just two rounds left to play this season, the run home couldn’t be more difficult for the Swans if the AFL tried, with both their opponents firmly entrenched inside the top four.
The Swans’ renewed self-belief was not dented, and with stirring wins against Collingwood and Melbourne – both were inside the top four at the time – the Swans’ destiny is in their hands.
There’s no shortage of crucial matches in the coming fortnight, guaranteed to keep viewers glued to their television screens, while the AFL take a hands-off approach to rule tweaks, with one of the most thrilling finishes to a season in recent history.
The Swans face one of the toughest runs home with matches against Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn to round out the season. After losing four from five, including an inexplicable loss to the Suns, the Swans slid from second to ninth.
With their next two games against teams above them, two wins sees them jump both teams and finish inside the top four. They can finish as high as third if Collingwood drops one match, or fourth. One win ensures they finish in the top 8, while they risk dropping out of the eight if they lose both.
Predicted finish: 4th / 15-7
The Hawks have enjoyed an incredible resurgence this season off the back of great form from their old firm and have surged back towards the top of ladder. Their destiny is in their hands, with two wins sealing a top-3 finish, but a loss to the Swans – should they beat Greater Western Sydney this weekend, will knock them from the top 4.
Like the Swans, it’s all in their hands.
Predicted finish: 5th / 14-8
Greater Western Sydney
Despite falling like flies, with hardly a ruck division or forward line to speak up, the Giants keep finding ways to win. While the Swans have been lauded for their two most recent wins, the Giants have ground out wins when they’ve been expected to lose. They’re showing grit and determination that premiership teams of years past have displayed, but the big question looms – will they have a fit team to play in finals?
They have a massive fortnight of football coming up and could finish anywhere from third to sixth. Even if they lose both matches, they’re guaranteed finals football for the third season in a row.
Predicted finish: 6th / 13-8-1
Melbourne keep finding ways to throw themselves under the bus and stab their fans in the hearts, with another narrow loss to a team inside the top 8. The Demons find themselves high on the ladder having beaten all the teams outside the top 8 but have yet to beat a team inside the top 9. With matches against the Eagles in Perth and Giants at the MCG, they run a real risk of dropping from fourth to ninth in three weeks.
Top 4 is out of their hands – they have to keep winning to get there and rely on results, while one more win will be enough to secure finals.
Predicted finish: 7th / 13-9
There are heartbreaks, then there’s heartbreaks. Scenes of jubilation mixed with scenes of hearts breaking across South Australia. The Eagles were always going to come hard in the last quarter, and they managed to squeak through, mustering the last two goals of the game in the last 40 seconds. McGovern marked and kicked a mongrel truly after the siren to consign the Power to yet another after-the-siren loss to the Eagles, and eighth on the ladder.
With games to come against Collingwood (MCG) and Essendon (AO) without Charlie Dixon, Dan Houston and Paddy Ryder, winning is going to be as tall an order as they come. Collingwood’s not without their own injury issues, while Essendon will be going hell for leather to squeeze into the top 8.
Predicted finish: 9th / 13-9
Squeaky bum time; they went big on Ablett, Selwood and Dangerfield, and it has rarely paid dividends. They’re all match winners, but together, they simply don’t click. Dangerfield and Ablett simply aren’t defensive runners, something that Hawthorn exposed and took full advantage of. The Cats came back with a vengeance in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but it was too little, too late, as the Hawks held on for a crucial win.
As for finals, it’s out of their hands, and like Port Adelaide and Melbourne, winning is something they simply have to do, if they want to make the finals. While teams around them have shockingly difficult draws, the Cats take on Fremantle and the Suns at GMHBA.
Predicted finish: 8th / 13-9
Collingwood have been the surprise team of the season so far, jumping as high as second before slipping to fifth with two rounds left. They’ve had an injury list almost as long as some clubs’ have players but have found a number of gems in their roughage. Jordan De Goey has played some inspired football, while Sidebottom and Pendlebery have been enormous in the midfield, well supported by Adam Treloar and Brodie Grundy.
Their first real test comes in the form of Port Adelaide at the MCG, who simply must win to stay in the hunt for finals, before finishing off the season against Fremantle in Perth. They’re already guaranteed finals football for the first time since 2013 and could finish in their highest home-and-away position under Nathan Buckley if they win both games.
Predicted finish: 3rd / 15-7
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