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Big four a dream scenario

Gough Whitlam was prime minister. The Sydney Opera House was yet to be opened. Television in this country was still a black-and-white affair. It was 40 years ago, 1973, and in the context of football's development, an eternity.

That's how long it's been since the then VFL clubs who came to be known as the big four - Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon and Richmond - all competed in the same finals series. But a long wait seems more and more likely to be ended.

And you can almost hear the rubbing of the hands of the AFL in glee, not to mention the ringing of the cash registers. For the league, we're heading for a finals series straight from heaven.

For these days, it's not just a big four but, throwing giants of recent times Hawthorn and Geelong into the mix, a heavyweight half-dozen who are all going to be playing a part. And if that seems a little parochial, the strong presence of two other states, via the legitimate flag claims of Sydney and Fremantle, should placate the champions of game development.

Yes, it's an early call. But after having claimed a couple of weeks ago that we might already have our top four of 2013, I'm inclined to think we've now just about got our final eight locked away.

The current ladder doesn't necessarily reflect it - Port Adelaide is back in the top half after a superb, gutsy win over the Swans on Saturday, and a game ahead of Carlton and West Coast, who are locked on six wins and six losses - but scan the run home of all those clubs for their remaining 10 games, and there's a fair argument the dye is cast.

Ken Hinkley's Power has clearly recovered the ''oomph'' it lost between rounds six and 10, beating up on Greater Western Sydney the weekend before last, and against Sydney, completely dominated the second half in general play and, eventually, on the scoreboard.

Emerging star Chad Wingard was instrumental, as was Brad Ebert and veteran Kane Cornes in shutting down Sydney star Daniel Hannebery. But given what lies ahead for the Power, it's going to have to maintain this standard weekly.

Port's great win was only the first leg of a quadrella of big games which, over the next three weeks, takes in Collingwood, Essendon and Hawthorn. And four of its last five assignments are challenging to say the least - another Showdown with cross-town rival Adelaide, and away games against Geelong and Fremantle at, arguably, the two most unfriendly venues in the AFL. Port's final game is against Carlton.

West Coast might just have turned a corner, despite its loss to Hawthorn on Friday night. The Eagles pushed the Hawks hard, though their comparative lack of pace is increasingly apparent, and perhaps an explanation for an unusually poor record of 2-4 in their own backyard.

But, again, if the Eagles are still to play a part in September, they're going to have to get much better. Six of West Coast's final 10 games are against sides in the eight, and there's two more against the still-capable Adelaide, immediately beneath it on the ladder. Essendon twice, Sydney, Geelong, Fremantle and Collingwood - one thing's for sure, if the Eagles do still get there, they will have earned it.

Carlton, meanwhile, has its challenges, too. But it does have eminently winnable games against St Kilda, North Melbourne, Gold Coast and Western Bulldogs, and more encouragement in its consistent competitiveness this season - none of those half-dozen losses by any more than 17 points.

At the moment, I have Richmond and Carlton filling the final two places in the eight with 13 and 12 wins respectively, both less than the 14 required last year, but enough in a season in which the top couple of teams have grabbed more of the spoils than in 2012.

If what has to be the AFL's preferred final eight does eventuate, it brings its share of logistical difficulties with it, none the least the distinct possibility of four finals in Melbourne in week one.

If Hawthorn, Geelong and the other four local participants were all to make it, we'd have one final at Etihad Stadium. And if that was to feature the Hawks against an interstate side, given the presence of the Magpies, Bombers, Tigers and Blues, you would rightly hear plenty of squawking from Waverley, given the Hawks copped the short end of the stick in terms of grand final preparation last year.

But that's flak the AFL would be prepared to cop if the trade-off was the league's most popular local clubs all taking part in the most important time of the year.

Much of the world, let alone football, has changed significantly since the days of the early '70s.

But the pulling power of the game's biggest clubs hasn't. And if all the big guns are there, the league will have a memorable finals series on its hands before it has even started.

70 comments so far

  • I'm a Pies supporter & I think we'll JUST make the finals. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so.

    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:16PM
    • @christos -pies arent that bad, there draw in the upcoming weeks is very winnable and with Clinton young and dayne beams to return soon, along with goldsack, krakour, daisy and fasolo out there doing ok.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 12:01PM
  • Rohan, are you saying Port make it or not? Using the ladder predictor on the AFL website - as you said the other week, agree that the top 4 is set. Then there is a huge gap (10 pts) between 4th and 5th. I have Ess (5th) playing Rich (8th) and Coll (6th) playing Blues (7th). Sure there is still 10 weeks out and there will probably be a surprise somewhere, but if form holds, can you imagine the hype around the opening week with Ess v Rich and Carl v Coll as two of the finals at the G??? 90,000+ at each of the surely.

    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:21PM
    • Essendon (the cheats) should be sitting on the sidelines by then so include port.

      Date and time
      June 25, 2013, 4:58AM
  • When Hawthorn make the finals again, this year, I'm confident should they finish top 2 they will not be giving up a final at the G to make way for a Richmond, Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon or anyone else for that matter, especially if those sides finish lower. Hawthorn will be playing at its HOME ground, the people's ground, the mighty MCG.

    St Kilda
    Date and time
    June 23, 2013, 11:21PM
    • Contractual obligations will see at least one final at Etihad, (stupid but true!) Hawthorn have the lowest support of the Melbourne sides likely to finish in the 8 so off to Etihad they should go. Hawthorn already play with the umpires on their side week after week they don't need anymore breaks...

      Collingwood Fan
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 2:41AM
    • It won't be up to Hawthorn regardless of what they think. The AFL runs the fixture and Carlton v Collingwood, Essendon v Richmond, Carlton v Richmond, Collingwood v Essendon, Essendon v Carlton, Richmond v Collingwood won't be played at Docklands.

      Psi Cop
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 9:46AM
    • "Hawthorn have the lowest support of the Melbourne sides likely to finish in the 8"
      Collingwood fan, what stats are you basing that on? Hawthorn has more members than blues, dons & tigers. They have more supporters than those 3 as well & get bigger crowds too at the G, their home ground (unlike dons & blues who play at Etihad).
      Dissappointing article Rohan. This whole "big 4" myth was created in the 90s so the AFL could justify blockbuster games further compromising the fixture. The facts are both Carlton & Essendon have been a rabble the last 10 years, both near the middle or bottom of the ladder for most of that time & the tigers have done nothing for 30 years. The real Big 4 Vic clubs are actually the Big 3 - Collingwood, Geelong & Hawthorn. Richmond or Essendon might be able to join that group again, but need to be top 4 contenders the next 3 years. Carlton are pretenders stuck in the 90s still.
      It wasn't long ago that the saints & dogs were top 4 & getting 70,000+ to the MCG in finals.
      The moral is any Vic team playing finals will draw a big crowd to the G if they're playing another Vic team - not just your fraudulent "big 4"

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 10:11AM
    • @Moe.....attendances will determine who plays where and when. Geelong will probably sustain their success by choosing Simonds stadium for it's smaller games as they get a better slice of the gate and more likely to win but it kills their attendance figures. Hawthorn played in the GF last year due to a great season but were still beaten in the attendance figures by Carlton and were narrowly ahead of Richmond, neither of whom played in the finals.

      In 2008, Hawthorn won the flag and were beaten in H&A attendances by the four clubs you seem to think are irrelevant despite 3 of those teams not playing in finals.

      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 12:43PM
    • Interesting point about rights to Home (State) finals per ladder position. (Remember how West coast was shafted in the early 90s by having to play all finals in Melbourne?)

      How's this for a possibility: Geelong finish, say, second, fifth or sixth, and Fremantle finish, respectively, third, eighth or seventh, and Geelong asks for a Home final at (the beautifully renovated & upgraded) Kardinia Park!

      Leonard Colquhoun
      Date and time
      June 24, 2013, 1:22PM

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2014 Home and Away

Round 1
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GWS 99 vs SYD 67 Report Report Stats
GCF 87 vs RIC 69 Report Stats
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CAR 87 vs PTA 120 Report Stats
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GEE 119 vs ADE 81 Report Stats
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NTH 60 vs ESS 99 Report Stats
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HAW 139 vs BRI 91 Stats
STK 68 vs MEL 51 Report Stats
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WCE 134 vs WBU 69 Report Stats
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Round 2
Thu, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
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ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
SYD 69 vs COL 89 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
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WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
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GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
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CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
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SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
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Round 5
Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
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ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
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GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
ESS 73 vs WBU 65 Report Stats
Sun, 04 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 77 vs GCF 120 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
WCE 54 vs FRE 73 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
MEL 83 vs WBU 99 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 69 vs CAR 101 Report Stats
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Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 74 vs MEL 91 Report Stats
NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
FRE 96 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 87 vs GCF 125 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
GCF 119 vs WBU 74 Report Stats
CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
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Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 75 vs PTA 95 Report Stats
BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 109 vs GCF 77 Report Stats
WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
WCE 44 vs NTH 82 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 74 vs SYD 109 Report Stats
FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs COL 61 Report Stats
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Round 13
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CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
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RIC 85 vs FRE 105 Report Stats
SYD 98 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
BRI 80 vs GWS 125 Report Stats
ADE 109 vs NTH 73 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 133 vs STK 37 Report Stats
COL 98 vs WBU 106 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 128 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
WBU 91 vs MEL 85 Report Stats
ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
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Round 17
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
SYD 122 vs CAR 51 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
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Round 18
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 109 vs NTH 86 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 72 vs MEL 69 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WCE 42 vs RIC 59 Report Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI 110 vs GCF 56 Report Stats
HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
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Round 19
Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
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Round 20
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
WCE 126 vs COL 66 Report Stats
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Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
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Round 22
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
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Round 23
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 1
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 93 vs FRE 69 Stats
NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 2
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 92 vs NTH 98 Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
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AFL Finals Round 3
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 136 vs NTH 65 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
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AFL Finals Round 4
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 74 vs HAW 137 Report Stats
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AFL Home and Away
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Sydney Swans 22 17 5 0 142.88 68
Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
Essendon 22 12 9 1 106.34 50
Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
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