Round 22 could be one of the most fascinating weekends of footy we've ever seen, with a host of September-shaping games. Here's What To Watch For.
Fast and furious or slow and steady?
Sunday's clash between Richmond and West Coast might not only be a Grand Final preview but it also showcases two teams with completely different game styles.
West Coast's kick-mark style allows them to set up their defensive structures and defend with ball in hand, something which helped them grind their way to the 2018 flag.
Richmond, on the other hand, have unleashed a Tiger Tidal Wave upon the competition, leading the league by a mammoth amount in terms of handball metres gained, with their fleet-footed pressure forwards causing chaos for rival defenders.
So, which team will prevail at the MCG? The Tigers are of course kings of the 'G, but the Eagles actually boast a super impressive record in Melbourne in recent years after the construction of their new home base in Perth.
While most games are won and lost in the midfield -- and make no mistake, the battle around the ball will be fierce -- the match could be decided by the Tom Lynch/Jack Riewoldt vs. Jeremy McGovern/Tom Barrass battle. If one pairing gets on top, it could not only decide the contest, but land a huge psychological boost for the victors.
Another Collingwood and Adelaide epic is on the cards
It might not be first-versus-second or even third-versus-fourth, but Saturday afternoon's match-up between the Magpies and Crows is so crucial in terms of the finals race, it cannot be missed.
Not only are the Crows in danger of missing out on September action, the Pies can still make the top four if a couple of other (and not outrageously left-field) results go their way.
Adelaide were much improved last week but weren't able to pull off an unlikely victory over the Eagles, meaning they sit outside the eight by percentage. To rub salt into the wound, it's cross-town rivals Port Adelaide who are currently featuring in September calculations.
And the Pies are no easy-beats despite an injury list the length of the Glenelg Jetty. They found a bit of form despite trying conditions against the Demons last week, and spanked the Suns the week prior to get their season back on track.
In fact, these teams share a few similarities which would suggest this match could come down to the wire. Collingwood and Adelaide both average 148 contested possessions per game, both average 52 inside 50s per game and 37 and 38 clearances per game, respectively.
It'll be tightly contested, and these sides have played some incredible close matches over the journey... just ask Chris Tarrant and Jack Anthony.
🎙️ Should Tom Hawkins have been given a BIGGER suspension? 🤔— footytips (@footytips) September 17, 2019
🎙️ The Lions squandered an opportunity to jag a flag 🧐
🎙️ Should Matt de Boer go to Brodie Grundy? 🤷
Ep. 27 of the @ESPNAusNZ #AFL podcast.
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Brisbane's finals series starts now
In terms of must watch games, Brisbane hosting Geelong at the Gabba on Saturday afternoon -- in what is a mouth-watering top two clash -- might just be the biggest and best of the year.
There will be no shortage of stars on the field and the midfield battle is set to be fascinating. Will it be Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly, Mitch Duncan and Joel Selwood getting the edge for the Cats, or can Lachie Neale, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson and Jarryd Lyons help extend the Lions' winning streak to nine games?
Oh, and then there's the tantalizing match-up between Geelong's star forward Tom Hawkins and arguably the competition's best backman in Harris Andrews. This alone will be worth the price of admission.
Without taking anything away from Brisbane, who have proven they have what it takes to go all the way in 2019, they haven't come up against another premiership contender in quite some time.
Give Chris Fagan's side credit for beating everyone they've come up against, but the true test starts this weekend and carries on into Round 23 when they face the rampaging Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
If the Lions can win both, or even split these games, they will sew up a top four spot and head into September full of confidence.