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Round 20 Wrap

August 18th 2008 08:50
With Round 20 out of the way we are now two weeks from the start of the 2008 AFL Final Series. The competition is certainly starting to hot up, so let’s have a look at the results from the weekend.

Collingwood and Port Adelaide kicked off the round on Friday night at AAMI Stadium, with the Magpies running out easy winners by 29 points. Port Adelaide's season was declared over a long time ago by coach, Mark Williams, and it is becoming increasingly obvious their heads are onto 2009 already. While Collingwood were never challenged in the match, it must be said that their opposition was not the strongest. Their big challenge will be Sydney this week, it is a must win game for them to consolidate their position in this year’s finals.

Saturday saw Essendon host the Adelaide Crows in a match that was dominated by the South Aussies. Adelaide ran away to be big 56 point winners. Not only did this win for the Crows ensure their a finals spot, it also gave them an opportunity to finish in the top four. The fifth placed Crows are half a game behind North Melbourne on the table. Although with games against St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs in the last two rounds, it is hard to see them any higher than they currently are.

The big battle was at the MCG on Saturday with last placed Melbourne hosting second to bottom West Coast. Melbourne lead for the majority of the day and ran out winners by 34 points. It was clear very early on in the season that neither of these teams would feature in September action, but it has been proven that both clubs have some promising signs for the years to come.

Sydney hosted reigning premiers Geelong on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium. Geelong proved too strong and beat the Swans by 39 points. Geelong now sit clear by four games on top of the table. It seems that there is nothing that can stand in their way of back to back premierships. The class, determination and depth of their squad is leagues above all the other teams at the moment. Sydney need one win out of their next two games to secure their finals position. They play Collingwood and Brisbane, and if they beat both could possibly still find themselves in fourth position.

In one of the surprises of the week, the Brisbane Lions upset the highly fancied Western Bulldogs by 11 points in front of their home crowd. Brisbane now find themselves one game out of the top eight, and with games against Carlton and Sydney, you would think they need to win both to sneak in. The Western Bulldogs will almost certainly finish 3rd and take on Hawthorn in the first week of the finals for the opportunity to have a week off. The next two weeks should be spent fine tuning their game and ensuring they are ready for this big clash.

In the biggest upset of the round, and one of the biggest of the year - Richmond kept their finals dream alive by downing Hawthorn by 29 points. The Tigers have match ups against Fremantle and Richmond in the last two rounds and would need to win both to have a chance at scoring an unlikely spot in this year’s September action. Hawthorn have already secured a top 3 finish and will be looking to regain their suspended and injured stars before their clash with the Bulldogs in week one of the finals series.

With their season on the line Carlton could not overcome the rejuvenated Kangaroos. North Melbourne scored a great 51 point victory to push them up into 4th position. It could depend on other results to see whether they will hold their spot, as they clash with the unstoppable Cats this week, before playing Port Adelaide in Round 22. Whilst the year is over for Carlton fans - their side has shown a great deal this year and should be a genuine contender is years to come.

In a brutal game over in the west, St Kilda moved one step closer to ensuring they have a spot in this year’s finals - downing the Dockers by 43 points. The Saints are going to have to fight to keep their spot in their last two games, with match ups against the Crows and the Bombers. With Richmond and Brisbane knocking on the door - St Kilda is going to have to prove they deserve their spot.

Whilst Geelong sits perched on top of the AFL ladder and seemingly leagues above everyone else - the race for the finals is still well and truly alive. And if history has taught us anything it is that once you're in there - anything can happen!
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