AFL Round 23: Final Round Betting Preview & What’s Up For Grabs?

The final round of the AFL’s home and away season has arrived, but there is still plenty of water to go under the bridge before we know who will play who in the finals. It’s the biggest weekend of footy this year to date, so let’s dive right in and take a look at what’s on the line, each individual matchup, and a couple of the best tips of the week. 


Permutations & What’s Still to be Decided?

A more apt question might be what’s not still to be decided. Incredibly, with just nine games to go, just half a game separates second from sixth, and there are no less than 288 potential orderings of the top eight. The Cats have locked in top spot, but all five of the teams fighting for the last three spots in the top four could easily end up with a double chance. 

For Sydney, Collingwood, Brisbane and Melbourne, the equation is relatively simple – win and you’re in. The latter two, enticingly, play each other on Friday night, in a game which will literally act as a qualifier for the qualifying final. Fremantle needs a little more to go their way – they have to beat the Giants, but will also require one of Sydney or Collingwood to lose their game to leapfrog them into the top four.

Further down the ladder, the Blues and Bulldogs are embroiled in a two-team battle for eighth spot – St. Kilda are technically still in the hunt, but their mediocre percentage means they’d need a couple of unrealistic results to make it. The Blues have their fate in their own hands – if they beat old foes Collingwood, they’ll make it. If they lose and the Bulldogs win, the Dogs will make it, unless both those games are very close. 

This, of course, means that there are huge games scattered all across the weekend, so let’s take a look at all nine of them, before finishing with a couple of tips.


Brisbane Lions ($1.80) vs Melbourne Demons ($2.00)

August 19, 7.50pm @ Gabba

One of the biggest games of the weekend and indeed the season kicks off Round 23, with Brisbane hosting Melbourne in a battle for a spot in the top four. These two sides sit side by side in third and fourth, each of them tied on points with Sydney in second but just half a game ahead of Fremantle in sixth. For the winner, a spot in the top four and subsequent double chance is assured; the loser, however, will almost certainly fall to fifth or even sixth, and face an Elimination Final as a result. Both of these teams are in the Premiership hunt, but we know how tough it is to win the flag from outside the top four, so while this is a home-and-away game, expect it to be played at a finals-like intensity.



GWS Giants ($3.05) vs Fremantle Dockers ($1.39)

August 20, 1.45pm @ Manuka Oval

The Giants’ season has been over for a long time and, for the most part, they’ve been playing like it, though they did put in an improved performance last week against the Bulldogs. In contrast, it’s all on the line for the Dockers, who can potentially jump into the top four with a win – though they will also need either Sydney or Collingwood to lose for that to happen. They enter the game off the back of a couple of wins, the latter of which was a solid albeit unspectacular defeat of their cross-town rivals in the Eagles last weekend, and most will be expecting them to be too good for a Giants team desperate for the season to come to a long-awaited close.



North Melbourne Kangaroos ($3.35) vs Gold Coast Suns ($1.33)

August 20, 2.10pm @ Marvel Stadium

This is one of the few games this weekend which won’t have a whole lot of impact on anything. The Kangaroos, of course, have had one of the worst years in league history, and the season can’t end soon enough for them. The Suns, in contrast, have had the best year in their short history, but as has so often been the case it has ended relatively ignominiously. They’ll be keen to finish an improved season on a high note.



Geelong Cats ($1.01) vs West Coast Eagles ($16.00)

August 20, 4.35pm @ GMHBA Stadium

The respective seasons of these two clubs could hardly have been more different. The Cats enter this game on a 12-game winning streak, have established an unassailable lead in first place on the AFL ladder and are Premiership favourites as a result. In contrast, the Eagles have won two of their 21 games, and were it not for the hapless Kangaroos would be far and away the worst team in the league. Fortunately, there isn’t much for the Cats to play for, but even so this likely won’t be pleasant viewing for Eagles fans.



Essendon Bombers ($3.55) vs Richmond Tigers ($1.30)

August 20, 7.25pm @ MCG

The Bombers have had a tumultuous week following an 84-point shellacking at the hands of Port Adelaide, and are another team who will be desperate for this game to end and their season to come to a close. In contrast, the Tigers are beginning to roll at exactly the right time of the year. Their 61-point drubbing of the Hawks last week was their third win in succession and locked in their spot in the finals, and though they will finish either seventh or eighth, they will be an ominous matchup for any side come September. They will be looking to continue their run of hot form and enter the finals playing their best footy of the year.



Port Adelaide Power ($1.34) vs Adelaide Crows ($3.25)

August 20, 7.30pm @ Adelaide Oval

The Showdown between Port Adelaide and Adelaide has year after year produced some of the best games in recent memory, and though neither team will feature in September, this will not be played like an ordinary dead rubber. The Power, as evidenced by their 84-point win over the Bombers last weekend, seem keen to end the year on a high note, while the Crows’ three consecutive wins suggest that they are in the same boat. There might not be anything tangible to play for, but pride will be a significant motivating factor in this cross-town rivalry. 



Hawthorn Hawks ($2.80) vs Western Bulldogs ($1.43)

August 21, 1.10pm @ University of Tasmania Stadium

A tantalising Sunday line-up kicks off in Tasmania, with the Bulldogs needing to beat the Hawks to give themselves a chance at playing in September. They just barely scraped over the line against the Giants last week to keep their finals hopes alive, but they got there by five points and now need to win, for Carlton to lose, and to make up 0.9% to scrape into eighth place. The Hawks, in contrast, have little to play for. They’ve been plucky enough over the course of the year and have won more than they’ve lost over the past few weeks, but last week’s demolition at the hands of the Tigers was indicative of a team looking towards the end of the season.



Carlton Blues ($1.90) vs Collingwood Magpies ($1.90)

August 21, 3.20pm @ MCG

Without wanting to resort to hyperbole, this could be the biggest home and away game in recent memory. One of the oldest rivalries in the game between two of the biggest clubs, with the Blues playing for a spot in the top eight and the Pies playing for a spot in the top four. The MCG will be pulsating, with a crowd of 90,000+ expected to make its way through the turnstiles and both teams’ seasons on the line. Bookies can’t split them, with both sides paying $1.90 to win. This is almost certainly the most anticipated game of the season to date, and will be compelling viewing.



St. Kilda Saints ($3.25) vs Sydney Swans ($1.34)

August 21, 4.40pm @ Marvel Stadium

Barring a miracle, the Saints’ season is over after their 15-point loss to the Lions last weekend, but the Swans still have plenty to play for. They sit in second place entering Round 23, but by the time the ball is bounced in this one their spot in the top four will likely be a lot more shaky. A win, however, will be enough to see them remain inside it, and probably inside the top two as well – and having won six on the trot, they’ll be expecting to walk away with just that.



Best AFL Tips for Round 23


Tip #1 Richmond to win by 40+ @ $2.80

Though they’re back in seventh place, the Tigers are playing like a legitimate Premiership contender, and whoever ends up facing them in an Elimination Final won’t be thrilled at the prospect. The Bombers, in contrast, have been woeful the last couple of weeks. The Tigers only need to win to assure themselves of seventh place, but they have an imposing aura surrounding them at the moment, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them put their collective foot down and win in a canter.


Tip #2 Collingwood to win @ $1.90

With so much on the line this should be a hotly contested game, but though they were average last week against the Swans, Collingwood deserves to be favourites. They may have over-achieved a little this year courtesy of an incredible run of close wins, but they’ve still played a lot of good footy, and the Blues have been struggling for months. It won’t be easy, but they will be expecting to win this game.

Though the finals are still a couple of weeks ago, Round 23 will play host to a number of games which will be almost as significant as their September counterparts in the Premiership race. From Brisbane vs Melbourne on Friday night to Collingwood vs Carlton a couple of days later, there are compelling games spread all across what shapes as an enthralling weekend of footy.


**Odds quoted are accurate at the time or writing but are subject to change