WITH round 20 in the books the top-eight now looks to be set in stone.
The Crows and Kangaroos recorded vital wins to move clear of the logjam towards the tail of the top-eight, with a loss to the Hawks potentially ending Geelong’s finals run.
The Eagles recorded an impressive victory over the Dockers to keep their home qualifying final chances alive while the Western Bulldogs maintained their spot in the top-four with a crushing victory over the Demons.
The Tigers and Swans kept within reaching distance of a double-chance with important wins against the Suns and Magpies respectively to maintain the pressure on the Dogs in fourth place.
There were plenty of important matches over the weekend so let’s take a look at the action.
Round 20 review – Eagles down the Dockers to maintain their top-two chances
The round began on Friday night with the Swans outlasting the Magpies to keep their top-four chances alive with a spirited 11 point victory at the SCG.
The win keeps the Swans right in contention for a double-chance opportunity at the end of the season.
Sydney were led superbly by prolific on-baller Tom Mitchell who ended the game with a career-high 41 disposals.
One sour point for the victors was the loss of Luke Parker to a broken leg after getting tangled up in a nasty tackle late in the match.
Parker still remains hopeful that his season is not over but the stoutly build midfielder would need the Swans to make a deep September push to be any chance of taking the field again in 2015.
The loss spells the end of Collingwood’s finals hopes, with William Hill still offering a sizable $41 dollars on the Pies to pull off the miracle.
Saturday night saw the renewal of one of modern footballs fiercest rivalries, with Hawthorn brushing aside Geelong to the tune of 36-points at the MCG.
The Hawks led from start to finish and never looked in danger of conceding defeat after piling on seven goals to three in the opening quarter.
The reigning premiers were lead masterfully by their captain Luke Hodge and livewire forward Cyril Rioli, who combined for 10 goals.
The win further strengthens Hawthorn’s premiership credentials, with the Hawks now into $2.10 with Sportsbet to win the 2015 flag.
Another strong performance from Hawthorn midfielder Sam Mitchell has propelled the veteran Hawk into Brownlow medal contention.
Sportsbet has Mitchell as joint fifth favourite along with Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield at $14 to be named the fairest and best player in the AFL.
Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium saw the Bulldogs consolidate their position inside the top-four with a resounding 98-point win over the lowly Demons.
The Dogs kicked eight goals in the first term whilst holding the Demons to just two behinds to set up the victory.
The 15-goal win handed the Western Bulldogs a much needed percentage boost going into the final three rounds of the season, with Luke Beveridge’s men over 10 percentage points clear of the fifth placed Sydney Swans.
Despite holding a position inside the top-four, Crownbet has the Dogs as $3.00 outsiders to secure the double-chance heading into the finals.
The reluctance of the bookmakers may stem from the fact that the Dogs travel west to take on the Eagles in round 21, but with the Swans facing the Giants at Spotless Stadium they are no certainties to register four points.
The round concluded in the West with the Eagles snapping a six-game losing streak against the Dockers to record an impressive 24-point victory over their Western Australian rivals.
The Eagles kicked six goals within the opening 15 minutes of the match to set up the victory, with a four goal haul from Ross Glendinning medallist Josh Hill being the decisive contributor for the derby.
The Dockers seemed out of sync for the entire match, and despite a last quarter rally to get them within three goals, they never looked like taking the lead at any stage.
Despite conceding defeat, the Dockers still remain $1.28 favourites with Sportsbet to take out the minor premiership.
With the top-two positions on the ladder all but secured by the Eagles and the Dockers, the possibility that neither team will have to leave Perth until Grand Final day is a very real prospect.
Both teams are at $2.00 with Sportsbet to make the 2015 Grand Final.
The big injury news out of the weekend was the broken leg suffered by Sydney superstar Luke Parker.
Parker’s leg got caught underneath him after being tackled by an opponent midway through the fourth quarter and had to be taken from the field with the assistance of the Sydney medical staff.
The broken leg more than likely spells the end of Parker’s 2015 season, but the Swans are hopeful they can progress deep into this year’s finals series long enough to give their star on-baller ample time to recover.
Superstar forward Lance Franklin is also no certainty to return for the 2014 Grand Finalists with a lingering back injury not healing as fast as the Swans would have liked.
Another blow to West Coast’s already depleted back stocks with Will Schofield ruled out for potentially a month after sustaining a hamstring injury in Sunday’s victory over the Dockers.
With a top-two finish within their grasp it is unlikely that Schofield will be risked in the next three weeks with the Eagles instead focused on getting him ready for a possible home qualifying final.
Lights out for Power as punters jump sinking Port Adelaide ship
AFL multi tips, exotics & best bets for Round 9, 2015
2016 AFL Grand Final bonuses, free bets & money back specials
Geelong vs. Sydney Preliminary Final line & disposal betting tips
Sydney leads 2016 AFL premiership market as focus turns to finals
Josh Kennedy goal scorer & Coleman tips: Round 22 Eagles vs Hawks
Dalhouse and Treloar disposal betting, AFL Magpies vs. Bulldogs
Richmond vs. Collingwood betting & Dustin Martin disposal tips