The Final Stretch: AFL 2023

Ben H / 24 July 2023

Last Updated on 24 July 2023

The Final 5 Games of 2023

We’re down to the final five rounds, with only eight golden tickets left for the Grand Final, and 14 eager teams chomping at the bit. Not everyone will be grinning at the end of this wild ride. So, buckle up and welcome aboard The Sprint to the Finish!

Essendon’s tumble against the Western Bulldogs last Friday was a bitter pill to swallow. The Bombers have now slipped to the 11th spot, and they’re up against Sydney next weekend, who are hot on their heels, just two points adrift.

Meanwhile, Port Adelaide’s consecutive losses have turned up the heat in the race for the top two, with Brisbane now breathing down their necks, just four points behind. Both clubs are in a fierce battle for a coveted home qualifying final.

Fremantle, though technically still in the game, are now a daunting 10 points away from the finals positions. Sadly, they’ve been benched from The Sprint to the Finish for 2023.
So, who’s sitting pretty and who’s got a mountain to climb to secure a spot in the top eight? Take a peek at your club’s endgame for the season below.

Fremantle, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, and West Coast have been sidelined from consideration.

Collingwood

64 points (W16, L2), 136.5%

The Magpies are soaring high, two victories ahead of their closest rival and three games clear of the third spot. A home qualifying final seems to be in the bag, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet. They’ve got some challenging matches on the horizon, starting with the revitalized Blues this Friday night.

Then, they’ll face off against Geelong, Brisbane, and finally Essendon, who might be fighting tooth and nail for a finals spot in the last weekend of the regular season. It would take a dramatic nosedive in performance for the Pies to lose their top spot from here.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Collingwood vs Carlton @ MCG
Round 21: Hawthorn vs Collingwood @ MCG
Round 22: Collingwood vs Geelong @ MCG
Round 23: Collingwood vs Brisbane @ Marvel Stadium
Round 24: Essendon vs Collingwood @ MCG

Port Adelaide

56 points (W14, L4), 113.7%

Port Adelaide’s heart-wrenching loss to Collingwood, their second consecutive defeat, could have massive implications. The stakes are high with Brisbane nipping at their heels just one game behind in third place. Both clubs enjoy a significant home advantage, so a home qualifying final could be the deciding factor in making it to the Grand Final or not.

The Power needs to steady their ship and avoid any more stumbles if they want to keep the Lions at bay. Their journey doesn’t get any easier, with the showdown next week and a trip to Geelong a week later. But there’s a silver lining for the Power – they still control their destiny, and the Lions still have to face Collingwood in the home stretch.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Adelaide vs Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
Round 21: Geelong vs Port Adelaide @ GMHBA Stadium
Round 22: Port Adelaide vs Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
Round 23: Fremantle vs Port Adelaide @ Optus Stadium
Round 24: Port Adelaide vs Richmond @ Adelaide Oval

Brisbane

52 points (W13, L5), 130%

The Lions are still roaring in their pursuit of a top-two spot, thanks to their victory over Geelong on Saturday. They’re still trailing Port Adelaide by a game, but their superior percentage gives them an edge. Brisbane has little room for mistakes, even though their draw seems favourable.

They have to navigate two tricky away games in the next fortnight against the Suns and Dockers. But the real game-changer could be the round 23 showdown against Collingwood at Marvel Stadium.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Gold Coast vs Brisbane@ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 21: Fremantle vs Brisbane @ Optus Stadium
Round 22: Brisbane vs Adelaide @ Gabba
Round 23: Collingwood vs Brisbane @ Marvel Stadium
Round 24: Brisbane vs St Kilda @ Gabba

Melbourne

48 points (W12, L6), 123.7%

The Demons are on a hot streak, with three consecutive victories fueling their top-four dreams. The best part? They don’t have to face any top-eight teams in their remaining five matches. So, a leap into the top two isn’t just a pipe dream for Simon Goodwin’s squad, who boast an impressive 8-1 record at the MCG this season.

They’ve got three more home-and-away games there, starting with a face-off against 10th-placed Richmond next week. Richmond and ninth-placed Carlton in round 22 seem to be their toughest remaining opponents, along with a final-round journey to 12th-placed Sydney.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Richmond vs Melbourne @ MCG
Round 21: North Melbourne vs Melbourne @ Blundstone Arena
Round 22: Carlton vs Melbourne @ MCG
Round 23: Melbourne vs Hawthorn @ MCG
Round 24: Sydney vs Melbourne @ SCG

Western Bulldogs

40 points (W10, L8), 106.4%

The Bulldogs have firmly planted their paws in the top eight after a resounding victory over Essendon on Friday night. But they’re still in the thick of a scramble for spots between fifth and eighth. They’re up against two teams – GWS and Richmond – who are also jostling for a similar ladder position.

Two victories would secure their spot in the finals. Both games are on home turf for the Dogs, one in Ballarat, and they’ll only have to leave the state once more to face the Hawks in Tasmania. The ball is in their court.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Western Bulldogs vs Greater Western Sydney @ Mars Stadium
Round 21: Western Bulldogs vs Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
Round 22: Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs @ University of Tasmania Stadium
Round 23: Western Bulldogs vs West Coast @ Marvel Stadium
Round 24: Geelong vs Western Bulldogs @ GMHBA Stadium

St Kilda

40 points (W10, L8), 104.7%

St Kilda managed to halt their recent skid with a narrow victory over North Melbourne. However, the Saints have only tasted victory twice since early June, and those wins were against the underperforming Roos and Eagles.

Next week, they’re up against 16th-placed Hawthorn, and Ross Lyon will be eager to notch up another win because the road ahead gets trickier. St Kilda needs to secure three wins out of their last four games to guarantee a finals spot, but it’s doubtful they’ll be the favourites in any of those matches.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Hawthorn vs St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
Round 21: St Kilda vs Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
Round 22: St Kilda vs Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
Round 23: St Kilda vs Geelong @ Marvel Stadium
Round 24: Brisbane vs St Kilda @ Gabba

GWS

40 points (W10, L8), 102.2%

The Giants have finally clawed their way back into the top eight for the first time since round one, but they’re about to face a gauntlet of fellow finals contenders in the coming weeks. Games against Essendon, Carlton, and Sydney are essentially high-stakes, eight-point affairs that could make or break the Giants’ September dreams.

A showdown with top-four contender Port Adelaide is also looming, and next week’s face-off against the fifth-placed Western Bulldogs is a golden chance for the Giants to cement their position.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Western Bulldogs vs Greater Western Sydney @ Mars Stadium
Round 21: Greater Western Sydney vs Sydney @ Giants Stadium
Round 22: Port Adelaide vs Greater Western Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
Round 23: Greater Western Sydney vs Essendon @ Giants Stadium
Round 24: Carlton vs Greater Western Sydney @ Marvel Stadium

Geelong

38 points (W9, L8, D1), 121%

Saturday’s defeat to Brisbane isn’t a death knell, but it puts the Cats in a pickle. Their top-four aspirations are hanging by a thread, so Chris Scott’s crew needs to hit the ground running come September.

The Cats and the rest of the competition are about to find out just how serious the reigning champions are in 2023, with back-to-back clashes against Port Adelaide and Collingwood after a visit from Fremantle. The silver lining? No more out-of-state trips for the final five rounds.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Geelong vs Fremantle @ GMHBA Stadium
Round 21: Geelong vs Port Adelaide @ GMHBA Stadium
Round 22: Collingwood vs Geelong @ MCG
Round 23: St Kilda vs Geelong @ Marvel Stadium
Round 24: Geelong vs Western Bulldogs @ GMHBA Stadium

Carlton

38 points (W9, L8, D1), 116.1%

The Blues are back in town! Their decisive victory over West Coast has given them a crucial percentage boost, which could be a game-changer at the end of the season, especially since three other clubs near them – Geelong, Richmond, and Sydney – have also had a draw this season. Riding a five-game winning wave, Carlton’s sizzling form will be put to the test next weekend against the top-of-the-ladder Collingwood.

The Blues’ final month looks promising, with winnable games against St Kilda, Gold Coast, and Greater Western Sydney and a face-off with top-four contender Melbourne on the horizon. The cherry on top? All but one of their remaining games are in Melbourne.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Collingwood vs Carlton @ MCG
Round 21: St Kilda vs Carlton @ Marvel Stadium
Round 22: Carlton vs Melbourne @ MCG
Round 23: Gold Coast vs Carlton @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 24: Carlton vs Greater Western Sydney @ Marvel Stadium

Richmond

38 points (W9, L8, D1), 99.9%

The Tigers are still in the hunt for a top-eight spot, thanks to another nail-biting victory, this time over Hawthorn, hot on the heels of their last-minute triumph over Sydney two weeks ago. They’re just shy of the top eight on percentage, but a formidable challenge awaits next week against Melbourne.

To claw their way through the traffic jam from fifth to 12th, the Tigers will need to conquer at least one of the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Richmond vs Melbourne @ MCG
Round 21: Western Bulldogs vs Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
Round 22: St Kilda vs Richmond @ Marvel Stadium
Round 23: Richmond vs North Melbourne @ MCG
Round 24: Port Adelaide vs Richmond @ Adelaide Oval

Essendon

36 points (W9, L9), 98.4%

Friday night’s 41-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs has thrown a spanner in the works for Essendon’s finals aspirations. The Bombers, who have only managed one victory in their last five games, still have potential wins against West Coast and North Melbourne up ahead. But it’s not all smooth sailing.

They’ll need to secure at least two victories from their other three games against a resurgent Sydney, the in-form GWS, and the table-topping Collingwood. And with influential defender Jordan Ridley likely out of the picture, the task just got a whole lot tougher.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Essendon vs Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
Round 21: Essendon vs West Coast @ Marvel Stadium
Round 22: North Melbourne vs Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
Round 23: Greater Western Sydney vs Essendon @ Giants Stadium
Round 24: Essendon vs Collingwood @ MCG

Sydney

34 points (W8, L9, D1), 111.8%

The Swans are back in the finals fray, thanks to their performances over the past fortnight, which included victories against the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle. Every game from here on out is a do-or-die affair, but upcoming clashes against Essendon, Greater Western Sydney, and Gold Coast are all within their grasp.

The form of star forward Lance Franklin and veteran midfielder Luke Parker are crucial, and there’s potential for a boost from an under-the-weather Callum Mills, who found his groove on the wing against the Dockers. The Swans have proven they can go on winning streaks, so don’t count them out just yet.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Essendon vs Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
Round 21: Greater Western Sydney vs Sydney @ Giants Stadium
Round 22: Sydney vs Gold Coast @ SCG
Round 23: Adelaide vs Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
Round 24: Sydney vs Melbourne @ SCG

Adelaide

32 points (W8, L10), 113.5%

Adelaide’s finals dreams are hanging by a thread, as they’re a win-and-a-half shy of the top eight. This means they’ll likely need to pull off near-perfect performances in all five of their remaining games to make the cut. Their journey starts with a Showdown against second-placed rivals Port Adelaide, who might be on shaky ground after two consecutive losses.

The Crows did manage to topple them earlier this year, so if they can repeat that feat, there’s hope. There’s a glimmer of hope with home games against Gold Coast and Sydney and a trip to bottom club West Coast on the horizon. But they’ll also have to venture to the Gabba to face an undefeated-at-home Brisbane, which is no small task.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Adelaide vs Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
Round 21: Adelaide vs Gold Coast @ Adelaide Oval
Round 22: Brisbane vs Adelaide @ Gabba
Round 23: Adelaide vs Sydney @ Adelaide Oval
Round 24: West Coast vs Adelaide @ Optus Stadium

Gold Coast

32 points (W8, L10), 92.3%

The road to the finals just got a lot steeper for the Suns, with Sunday’s defeat to the Giants throwing a wrench in their plans. Three away games are far from ideal, and next week’s showdown with top-four contender Brisbane is a formidable hurdle.

The Suns are likely to be the favourites against North Melbourne in round 24, but they can’t afford any missteps in the weeks in between against fellow finals hopefuls Adelaide, Sydney, and Carlton.

Remaining Games

Round 20: Gold Coast vs Brisbane @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 21: Adelaide vs Gold Coast @ Adelaide Oval
Round 22: Sydney vs Gold Coast @ SCG
Round 23: Gold Coast vs Carlton @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 24: North Melbourne vs Gold Coast @ Blundstone Arena

Final Thoughts

As we approach the climax of the season, the stakes are higher than ever. Teams are battling it out, not just for glory, but for survival. From the soaring Magpies to the resurgent Blues, the top of the table is a hotbed of competition. Meanwhile, the likes of Adelaide and Gold Coast are clinging to their finals dreams, ready to defy the odds.

The coming weeks promise a rollercoaster of emotions, with every game a potential game-changer. Teams will rise, others may fall, but one thing’s for sure – we’re in for a wild ride!

AFL Fixture

Check the AFL fixture for upcoming AFL matches this season.

AFL Injury List

Keep up-to-date with your team’s injuries this week with our AFL injury list.

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We don’t just do AFL Tips; our team of experts Also specialise in NRL betting and horse racing tips.

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Ben H
Ben Harris is the Communications Manager for KRUZEY, an AFL and NRL expert, and writer. He has one daughter that he loves dearly and five... [Read full bio]

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