WITH round 17 done and dusted the final eight has all but taken shape.
The West Coast Eagles look like they are the real deal, the Hawks cantered through Carlton on their way to a huge win and the Dockers kept the Tigers dream of a top-four finish at bay with a last gasp victory.
Let’s take a look at how it ended up.
How did Round 17 change the big markets?
Friday night saw the Hawks further underlined their premiership credentials with a crushing 138-point victory over the Blues.
It was an unmitigated disaster for Carlton, which failed to register a major until late in the second quarter.
The Hawks were simply dominant, led up forward by Jack Gunston with six goals.
The loss puts the Carlton board in a precarious position.
Caretaker coach John Barker’s chances of securing the Carlton head coaching role on a permanent basis took a massive hit, with last week’s odds on favourite to succeed Mick Malthouse sliding to second on the market at $3.25 with Sportsbet.
Current Fremantle assistant Simon Lloyd is the $2.75 favourite to gain the senior position at the Blues.
The win places the Hawks at almost even money for the flag this year with Sportsbet, with the $2.10 on offer the best punters will get from the various outlets.
With a tough run to the finals ahead for the Hawks – including back-to-back matches against top–four aspirants Richmond and a road trip to play West Coast – it looks unlikely that they will be able to prise a coveted top-two spot away from the teams in the west.
This means Alistair Clarkson’s men would have to travel to Domain Stadium to face either the Dockers or the Eagles in the first week of the finals.
Saturday afternoon at the MCG saw the match of the round between the Tigers and the Dockers, with Fremantle prevailing by four points in dramatic circumstances.
The Tigers had the lead with less than two minutes to play, but an ill-directed kick in from Richmond defender Bachar Houli saw the ball turned over; which then ended up in the hands of veteran midfielder David Mundy.
Mundy coolly slotted the goal with just seconds remaining on the clock to snatch the unlikely victory.
The loss severely dents Richmond’s top four aspirations, with William Hill now listing the Tigers as $8 outsiders to secure a double-chance.
With only one match in the run home against a team currently in the top eight – the derby against fellow Western Australians the West Coast – a top-two finish is all but assured barring a complete capitulation.
Fremantle are currently $2.30 favourites with Sportsbet to finish atop the AFL ladder at the conclusion of the 2015 home and away season.
Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium saw a battle between two sides fighting for a finals position, with the Dogs overcoming the Magpies by 18 points.
The Bulldogs lead for most of the day and were well served by emerging midfielder Lachie Hunter, who had a career-high 32 disposals and Tory Dickson, who kicked a game-high four majors.
The Pies were gallant without full forward Travis Cloke, but were left short up forward, despite a strong showing from father-son prospect Darcy Moore.
Moore gave the Collingwood fans a glimpse into the future with a four goal effort that displayed all his athleticism, marking prowess and straight and strong kicking that made him such a dominant junior player.
Darcy Moore is currently at $101 with Sportsbet to take out the Rising Star award in 2015.
It was a win that both sides needed to stay alive, with the Bulldogs now optimistic of their first finals series this decade and the Pies lamenting another lost opportunity.
William Hill has the Dogs at $1.43 to make the finals this year and Collingwood at $1.48 to miss out.
Sunday afternoon twilight saw the Eagles continue on their winning ways, this time eviscerating the Sydney Swans to the tune of 53 points.
The Swans were left without a key forward after Lance Franklin was a late withdrawal, with only youngsters Brandon Jack and Isaac Henney the multiple goal kickers with two each.
The win places the Eagles squarely in the premiership market, with a home final now all but assured, the prospect of travelling to Perth to face the West Coast at Domain Stadium a frightening situation.
The Eagles are now on the second line of premiership betting at $4.75 with Sportsbet.
The Sydney Swans premiership chances in the eyes of the punters have taken a massive hit, with last year’s Grand Finalists now $8 outsiders with Crownbet to hoist the 2015 cup.
A big blow for the Gold Coast Suns with superstar captain Gary Ablett ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The dual Brownlow medallist sustained a knee injury early in Saturday’s loss to the Crows, and scans revealed the damage on his knee will require at least two months recovery time.
The loss of Ablett leaves the Suns bereft of leadership on the field, and Sportsbet have acted accordingly, moving the Suns to second favourite to have the least amount of wins in 2015 at $2.15, only just ahead of the Brisbane Lions with are at $2.10.
Hawthorn defender Matt Spangher will miss at least the next month of football after he sustained a hamstring injury early in Friday’s huge win over Carlton.
Spangher’s loss is James Frawley’s gain, as the off-season recruit has all but recovered from a shoulder injury and should be eligible for selection against Richmond on Friday night.
Brisbane Lion on-baller Dayne Beams is weighing up whether to have season ending shoulder surgery in a bid to be fit for the pre-season, or tough it out and see the season through.
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