Sport AFL Peter Schwab: These are the sides who will – and won’t – make the AFL finals
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Peter Schwab: These are the sides who will – and won’t – make the AFL finals

Can the Kangaroos defy the odds to make the top eight? Photo: Getty
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With four rounds to go in the 2018 season, footy fans are in for a rollercoaster ride.

The only certainties in my opinion are that Richmond will finish on top and that Sydney and Adelaide will not feature in the finals.

The race for the last spot in the top eight will see North Melbourne win its last game of the season against St Kilda and secure a finals spot at the expense of Hawthorn, which will keep its eighth spot for less than 24 hours after beating Sydney in Round 23.

Collingwood and West Coast will go to the wire in the battle for second spot and the home-final advantage it brings.

It will be percentage that determines who finishes second and I think Collingwood, despite its injuries, has a slightly better draw than the Eagles.

Essendon may have been in great form but I think the Bombers will falter in the last two rounds and miss out, meaning that the Round 8 loss to Carlton will really come home to haunt them.

So, without any further ado, here are my predictions in the thrilling race for a finals berth.

Richmond
Now: 1st
After Round 23: 1st
To come: Geelong (MCG), Gold Coast (MS), Essendon (MCG), Western Bulldogs (MCG)
Schwabby Says: Can’t see the Tigers losing top spot. Worst-case scenario is a slip up against Geelong or Essendon, but I can’t see it. Will go into finals in a great position to go back to back.

West Coast
Now: 2nd
After Round 23: 3rd
To come: Fremantle (PS), Port Adelaide (AO), Melbourne (PS), Brisbane (G)
Schwabby Says: Don’t like the Eagles on the road so can’t see them beating Port. Will drop the game to Melbourne, but will look to build percentage in matches against Fremantle and Brisbane.

Collingwood
Now: 3rd
After Round 23: 2nd
To come: Sydney (SCG), Brisbane (ES), Port Adelaide (MCG), Fremantle (PS)
Schwabby Says: Despite injuries, which will hurt the Magpies’ premiership chances, they have an easier draw than the Eagles. Should finish in second as a result.

Port Adelaide
Now: 4th
After Round 23: 4th
To come: Adelaide (AO), West Coast (AO), Collingwood (MCG), Essendon (AO)
Schwabby Says: Extremely tough draw ahead but I am still backing Power to win three of its last four. Essendon in Round 23 could be vital for a number of reasons.

Greater Western Sydney
Now: 5th
After Round 23: 5th
To come: Carlton (ES), Adelaide (Canberra), Sydney (SS), Melbourne (MCG)
Schwabby Says: One of the form teams in the AFL will keep winning and by Round 23, I’m tipping the Giants will be in the top four. But I think they will lose to the Demons at the MCG, costing them a top-four spot and maybe a chance to play in a Grand Final.

Melbourne
Now: 6th
After Round 23: 6th
To come: Gold Coast (MCG), Sydney (MCG), West Coast (PS), Greater Western Sydney (MCG)
Schwabby Says: The Demons will get a percentage booster against the Suns and should take care of Sydney. But the last two rounds will be a big test. The trip to Perth looks tough and will only increase the stakes for the clash with the Giants.

Hawthorn
Now: 7th
After Round 23: 9th
To come: Essendon (MCG), Geelong (MCG), St Kilda (ES), Sydney (SCG)
Schwabby Says: The Hawks will know their fate after Round 21. Losses are very possible against Essendon and Geelong. The last two games should be wins, but it might not be enough.

Geelong
Now: 8th
After Round 23: 7th
To come: Richmond (MCG), Hawthorn (MCG), Fremantle (GMHBA), Gold Coast (GMHBA)
Schwabby Says: Geelong must beat Richmond or Hawthorn to make the eight. Two losses will make it very tough. But I think the Cats will beat the Hawks and the last two games should be big home wins.

Patrick Dangerfield Geelong
Geelong’s stars should help the Cats reach the finals. Photo: Getty

Sydney
Now: 9th
After Round 23: 11th
To come: Collingwood (SCG), Melbourne (MCG), Greater Western Sydney (SS), Hawthorn (SCG)
Schwabby Says: The Swans are in freefall and they won’t arrest it. If you can’t beat Gold Coast at home, you probably don’t beat anyone … particularly not four sides vying for the eight.

North Melbourne
Now: 10th
After Round 23: 8th
To come: Brisbane (G), Western Bulldogs (ES), Adelaide (AO), St Kilda (ES)
Schwabby Says: North has the easiest fixture of any of the teams around them. Brad Scott’s side should beat Brisbane, even though it is on the road, and the Bulldogs task looks easy. Adelaide might be the game that the Kangaroos come unstuck in. But a win there should pave the way for a finals return.

Essendon
Now: 11th
After Round 23: 10th
To come: Hawthorn (MCG), St Kilda (ES), Richmond (MCG), Port Adelaide (AO)
Schwabby Says: The Bombers have to win all four matches to make it. But despite being one of the best-performing teams leading into this last month, they won’t go undefeated. Richmond will beat them and Port should too.

Adelaide
Now: 12th
After Round 23: 12th
To come: Port Adelaide (AO), Greater Western Sydney (Canberra), North Melbourne (AO), Carlton (ES)
Schwabby Says: No chance to play finals but the Crows would love nothing more than upsetting Port in Round 20. Can only see them winning one more game.

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