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AFL Round 17 Review: Finals spots still up for grabs

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The second Footy Frenzy has come to a close, allowing us to sit back, take a deep breath and summarise the last few rounds. Here’s everything from round 17 and what you need to know heading into the final week of the 2020 AFL Premiership home-and-away season.

Four clubs fighting for two finals places

St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and the GWS Giants are all in the race for a spot in the finals, but only two of those teams can finish inside the top eight.

The Saints had myriad chances to put away the West Coast Eagles early in round 17, but the 15-point loss leaves Brett Ratten’s men in seventh place with three teams hot on their heels.

Luke Beveridge’s Bulldogs were clinical in their win over the Hawks, and the four-quarter display was all the more impressive given premiership midfielder Toby McLean went down with an ACL injury early in the contest.

It was a fantastic battle between the Giants and Demons last Saturday night, with Melbourne rallying from a deficit at the last break to pinch it by five points.

The Saints and Giants will go head-to-head in round 18 to determine who qualifies for the finals, while the Bulldogs must overcome a red-hot Fremantle and the Demons have to beat the Bombers.

Richmond reclaims outright premiership favouritism

Although the Geelong and Richmond game appeared perfect on paper, the end result was a scrappy match that the Tigers ran away with in the last quarter.

Dylan Grimes was unstoppable in his comeback match for the Tigers, locking up the Geelong forwards and hurting them with his creative rebounding, but he may not have the same freedom if they meet the Cats in the finals.

There was a crucial late out for Geelong before the first bounce, as Gary Rohan had a tight glute in the warm-up and made way for first-gamer Ben Jarvis.

Chris Scott needs to formulate a new approach if his Cats are to face the Tigers in the finals, and the inclusion of Rohan could be crucial in flipping the script.

Sportsbet.com.au has Richmond leading the AFL Premiership market at $3.75, with Geelong holding the second line of betting at $5.

Will Port Adelaide take home the minor premiership?

Most pundits have put all their chips behind Richmond or Geelong over the past few weeks, but the Port Adelaide Power have made a compelling case from the get-go.

Ken Hinkley’s men have sat atop the AFL ladder since round one and haven’t slipped, meaning a win over Collingwood this Saturday would clinch the club’s fourth minor premiership since joining the competition in 1997.

Charlie Dixon is running amok up forward, while the midfield triumvirate of Travis Boak, Ollie Wines and Tom Rockliff is firing on all cylinders.

At $7 on the fourth line of AFL Premiership betting, the Power are one of the most intriguing teams entering this year’s finals.

Collingwood superstars make big splash upon return

The Collingwood Magpies beat the Gold Coast Suns on Monday night and locked up a spot in the finals, but it was the performance of two returning stars that has the footy world talking.

Adam Treloar and Jordan De Goey made a massive impact in their first match back from injury, as the former dominated the midfield and the latter kicked four goals.

De Goey’s finger injury didn’t exclude him from running and gym training, which was evident as he beat Gold Coast fullback Sam Collins in multiple one-on-ones.

Nathan Buckley will be pleased that his two superstars haven’t skipped a beat, while the birth of Steele Sidebottom’s daughter means the experienced midfielder could return sometime during the finals series.

Adelaide Crows win three on the trot

Having gone 13 games without a win, Matthew Nicks and the Adelaide Crows now have three under the belt after beating Hawthorn, GWS and Carlton in quick succession.

That means there will be a genuine tussle over the wooden spoon in round 18, as only percentage separates North Melbourne (71.3) from Adelaide (65.8) at the foot of the ladder.

There’s genuine belief in South Australia that the Crows can knock off Richmond in round 18 to avoid the club’s first-ever spoon, but an honourable defeat may be enough given the Kangaroos’ horrendous form heading into their clash with West Coast.

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