Musical chairs after the AFL top two - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Musical chairs after the AFL top two

By Adam Cooper 06/08/2006 08:15:49 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide and West Coast have all but secured themselves the top two spots in the 2006 AFL finals race, but it's musical chairs for the six teams below them.

The Crows and Eagles, first and second since round nine, appeared to have locked themselves into hosting possibly two finals after both posted significant round 18 victories over rival challengers.

West Coast proved superior to St Kilda at Telstra Dome on Friday night and with a gun midfield capable of applying class and pressure in equal measure, won 14.14 (98) to 8.11 (59).

The Crows maintained their one-game buffer atop the ladder with a four-point victory over Collingwood at AAMI Stadium in a 7.16 (58) to 7.12 (54) game notable for extraordinary defensive pressure applied by both sides.

Having proven they can win the intense, uncompromising stoushes that finals often throw up, the Crows and Eagles look assured of not only hosting a qualifying final in the first week, but if all goes to plan, a home preliminary final after a week off.

On form line, Adelaide and West Coast might only play one more game each in Melbourne before the grand final.

Adelaide plays the Western Bulldogs in round 21 and West Coast plays Richmond in round 22.

Although the top two spots look sealed along with the make-up of the final eight, notwithstanding Geelong's win over the Brisbane Lions, the final order of teams 3-8 is far from settled.

Third-placed Melbourne is on 12 wins, with Sydney, St Kilda, Collingwood, the Bulldogs and Fremantle all on 11.

But the Demons blew a golden chance to skip clear of the pack when they lost to lowly Carlton at Telstra Dome.

The Demons metaphorically failed to show up against the Blues, and the 12.8 (80) to 10.13 (73) defeat was its second loss to Carlton this season.

Melbourne's ill-timed slip-up has given Sydney, the round 18 bolter, the chance to climb even higher next weekend, as the two sides clash at the MCG.

Sydney began the weekend sixth but its 17.14 (116) to 11.7 (73) win over Essendon, with Barry Hall's six goals the highlight, was its fourth-straight victory and meant it overtook St Kilda (now fifth) and Collingwood (sixth).

Underlining how close the race is for third and fourth spots and the double chance, Sydney is the fourth team in as many weeks to occupy fourth spot.

The Bulldogs retained seventh by beating Richmond 15.10 (100) to 10.18 (78), which honoured new club games record-holder Chris Grant in his 330th match.

Fremantle has won its 11th game, with an impressive 14.20 (104) to 7.9 (51) victory over Hawthorn at Subiaco Oval.

The Dockers have the form (five straight wins) to make a late charge towards the top four and play another three games at home.

But their low percentage (98.6) and a tough finish against Adelaide (AAMI Stadium), St Kilda, West Coast and Port Adelaide, makes it tough.

Geelong's entertaining 14.20 (104) to 13.9 (87) defeat of the Lions was its first Gabba win in 13 years and kept the Cats the only side outside the eight capable of reaching the finals.

But to do that, Geelong must close an eight-point deficit, meaning it might need to win all four of its remaining games, starting with Sunday's test against the Saints.

The Kangaroos beat Port Adelaide 12.12 (84) to 9.11 (65) in a dead rubber at Telstra Dome, although it did condemn the Power to a club record sixth-straight defeat.

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