Dangerous interstate finals date looming for Victorian clubs
Three Melbourne-based teams face the daunting prospect of playing Australian Football League finals interstate as non-Victorian teams make convincing claims for top four spots.
Under the AFL's national competition policy, interstate teams finishing in the top four are entitled to host their first final. Reigning premiers Carlton could be the first Melbourne-based road finalists following an upset 19-point loss to 14th placed Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday which cost them fourth spot.
The Demons shrugged off merger uncertainty to produce a match-winning eight-goal second term and then fought off the Blues to win 20.9 (129) to 17.8 (110).
The Blues' game against West Coast at Subiaco on Sunday now takes on finals status, with the Eagles slipping to fourth at the weekend due to a 45-point thrashing at Kardinia Park by a pumped-up Geelong.
Carlton must beat the Eagles, then Footscray at home and Geelong away to be sure of making the final four.
Sydney took top position on the premiership ladder yesterday, due in no small part to a brilliant 12-goal haul by champion full-forward Tony Lockett.
Lockett's 100th goal of the season late in the second quarter prompted a crowd invasion that stopped play for nearly five minutes.
Sydney won 20.10 (130) to 12.10 (82) at home and play Essendon, Hawthorn and West Coast in the run-up to the finals.
Brisbane's running linkmen exposed North Melbourne's lack of stamina to win by 18 points and steal third spot. North slipped to second position.
Eight players shared goal-kicking honours as the Bears coasted to an 11.11 (77) to 8.11 (59) win at Optus Oval.
Brisbane have a strong chance of improving their final position with remaining matches against bottom-eight sides Fitzroy, Fremantle and Collingwood.
Sydney, North Melbourne, Brisbane, West Coast, Carlton and Geelong now cannot miss the final eight, but another five teams are still competing for the last two places - Essendon, Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda and Adelaide.
Hawthorn skipper Jason Dunstall kept their finals hopes alive, bagging 14 goals in a 67-point win over Footscray at Waverley Park.
Dunstall chalked up all of Hawthorn's six first-half goals and kicked four in both the third and fourth quarters as his side crunched Footscray 20.12 (132) to 10.5 (65).
It was the first time the Hawks' spearhead had kicked 14 goals in an AFL match and it was the 15th occasion he has kicked 10 goals or more in a game.
Geelong, inspired by Brownlow medallist Paul Couch, hit their best form for the season brushing aside West Coast by 45 points.
For the first time since round eight against Carlton, Geelong posted a win against a side higher than them on the ladder, scoring 18.19 (127) to 12.10 (82).
Cats' coach Gary Ayres described it as Geelong's best win for the season.