AFL rules out concurrent games for ‘live’ teams in possible round 23 finals logjam

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The AFL says it has not and will not consider playing any “live” round 23 matches concurrently to avoid teams taking advantage of the tight battle for finals positions, given the evenness of the season.

Fairfax Media has fished out its crystal ball to predict the outcomes of the remaining matches for the 11 teams in finals contention. We have five teams from positions seven to 11 finishing on 48 points.

In soccer competitions around the world, including the English Premier League and World Cup, games on the final match day are played concurrently to avoid the situation where some teams have a clearer picture than others of what result they require.

An AFL spokesperson said the unpredictability of percentage takes care of that risk, because with each point scored within games, percentage changes. It is extremely unlikely that teams would finish equal on percentage, the spokesperson said, because that meant teams would need to score the same number of points for and against across a whole season.

The spokesperson also said playing matches concurrently would not happen because of broadcast deals.

The last time anything like the scenario presented in this 2017 ladder predictor was seen was in 2002, when three teams between positions eight and 10 – West Coast, Geelong and Hawthorn – finished on 44 points.

Geelong beat Hawthorn in the final round to go equal with the Hawks on points, but because West Coast defeated North Melbourne, and finished with a better percentage, the Eagles snuck into the finals.

There was also a thrilling finish to the 1987 home and away season, with Melbourne defeating Footscray to beat the Bulldogs to a finals position. However, if Geelong had beaten Hawthorn, the Cats would have made the finals.

Meanwhile Carlton’s Stephen Kernahan kicked a goal after the siren so the Blues beat North Melbourne and finished on top of the ladder, giving them the week off.

All of those games in 1987 were played concurrently because this was common throughout the season at the time.

For what it’s worth, if two teams finish equal on wins and percentage – meaning they had the exact same points for and points against tallies for the year – their head-to-head results are used to determine ladder position.

If the two teams have played only once, and they drew on that occasion, then there is a coin-toss to determine who finishes higher.

Predicted: The run home

Geelong and Adelaide sit at the top of 2017’s predicted ladder, with the Crows taking top position despite the fact they should lose to the Cats on Friday night. Geelong are Adelaide’s bogey team, having not beaten them since 2013.

The Crows began 2017 in sparkling form but since they lost to Geelong in round 11 they haven’t been as devastating as they were earlier in the year. The influence of Rory Sloane has dwindled when tagged, as has the consistency of their forwards, although they did set very high standards in that dazzling early period.

And after all, we were reminded of their power through their wins over the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne the past two weeks.

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Port Adelaide will finish third, ahead of GWS in fourth on percentage. The Power are flying under the radar somewhat, perhaps because of a heavy loss to Essendon and a defeat at home to Richmond, but look like storming home with five wins to end the year.

Their mauling of West Coast at Domain Stadium was ominous, as is the form of Ollie Wines, Paddy Ryder and Brad Ebert.

GWS should be thrilled to finish in the top four given the injuries they’ve endured. At various stages of 2017 they’ve been without Brett Deledio, Ryan Griffen, Stephen Coniglio, Matt Buntine, Jacob Hopper and Devon Smith for five games or more.

They get some of those players back, and keep players like Steve Johnson, Josh Kelly and Phil Davis fit, and a premiership assault is very possible.

Sydney’s remarkable run, after being 0-6 to start the season, has been thrilling to watch.

They’ve looked great following that horror start, particularly in wins over Richmond, Melbourne and GWS. Importantly, Buddy Franklin is fit and firing, as are their midfield guns. If any team is to win the flag from outside the top four, it’s Sydney. Although Richmond supporters might have something to say about that.

Sunday’s win over the Lions proved that sometimes they can rely too heavily on Dustin Martin, but there were enough signs from players like Brandon Ellis, Anthony Miles, Kane Lambert and Dion Prestia to show they could get their first finals win since 2013, and who knows, get to a prelim.

Essendon, who currently sit 10th on the ladder, will have the highest jump by moving into seventh position.

To do it they will win four of their final six games. That looked unlikely a couple of weeks ago after consecutive final term capitulations to Sydney and Brisbane, but after two strong wins against Collingwood and particularly St Kilda, the Bombers look like surging home, thanks in no small part to the football Joe Daniher is playing.

Melbourne, whose midfield is currently riddled by injury, will scrape into the eight on percentage with West Coast, St Kilda and the Bulldogs missing out.

The Dogs have struggled to replicate their rabid and relentless footy of 2016 and with Jake Stringer, Tom Boyd and Travis Cloke currently out they will battle in the forward 50. There wasn’t much in their win over Carlton to suggest a changing of fortunes.

St Kilda have shown significant improvement this year but their 10th position will still be disappointing, the evenness of the season perhaps their only tonic. They lack one more consistent A grade outside midfielder to help Jack Billings, while too much is still left to veteran Nick Riewoldt up forward.

As for West Coast, they’ve put in too many below averages performances for a side of their talent. Losses in Melbourne to Essendon and Hawthorn and at home to GWS and Port Adelaide ultimately costing them a finals spot.



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