The season is drawing to a close and we’re starting to get a real good look at who the serious contenders are to take the flag. No one can deny how strong the Adelaide Crows are looking and even the GWS Giants. However, as we saw last year when the Western Bulldogs came in seventh and won the premiership, you can never write off the teams that finish a little bit further down the ladder.
So, who are the major dark horses that could upset the frontrunners in this season’s playoffs?
Funnily enough, the Bulldogs are hitting their stride at the perfect part of the season. They once again sit in seventh and have won four out of their last five matches. In another positive boost for the club, star midfielder and defender Easton Wood has avoided the knife and won’t require surgery on his hamstring, with the club confident he will be ready for finals football if they can secure a top-eight spot. The Doggies don’t have the easiest run home, though, facing the Giants, Port Adelaide and Hawthorne. They will have to be at their best if they have any chance of making it in.
The Port Adelaide Power are still in the mix, sitting in fifth, but with such a bad record against the top teams so far this year, it’s hard to see them making much of an impact come September. They have a relatively easy run home, though, coming up against Collingwood, the Gold Coast and the Bulldogs. With only four points separating fifth to 11th place, they will feel they probably need to win all three games.
What a season it has been for the sensational Sydney Swans! After their worst start to a season in 24 years and becoming the first team to go 0-6 after being in a Grand Final the previous season, they have managed to turn it all around and are now bombarding their way into finals contention. They are currently in seventh place and the latest AFL tips currently have 100% confidence in them defeating Fremantle this weekend, proving how much of a dangerous side people think they are. They have to face the Crows the week after, though, and that will be their real test before what should be an easy win for them against the hapless Carlton Blues considering the Swan’s form.
Sitting four points behind these three teams in eighth is the Essendon Bombers. They have the daunting task of taking on the Crows in their next game and will be praying for other results to go their way if they can’t manage an upset. Fortunately for the Dons, their two last matches come against opposition that they will be quite confident of overcoming. Firstly, they meet the Gold Coast Suns, then finish up the year at home to the Freemantle Dockers.
The West Coast Eagles, Melbourne Demons and Saint Kilda also sit on 40 points. These teams all have a mathematical chance of finishing in the eight also and it’s going to be a spectacularly tight finish to what has already been an amazing year of footy.