"The Race for Finals: Examining the 2023 AFL Season's Contenders and Pretenders."
As the 2023 AFL season enters its final stages, the battle for the remaining spots in the top eight intensifies. Several teams are vying for a chance to compete in the finals, with nine clubs, in particular, vying for the three coveted positions. In this article, we'll analyze these clubs' recent form, injury lists, and remaining fixtures, while also providing an expert verdict on their potential as contenders or contenders in the 2023 AFL season.
St Kilda (9-8, 104.3%)
St Kilda started the year strongly under coach Ross Lyon but struggled to maintain their form. Despite sitting sixth in Round 19, his recent performances have raised doubts about his ability to make it to the finals. While their run home includes winnable matches against North Melbourne and Hawthorn, their last four contests have been against tough opposition. The team's inconsistency and underperformance have raised doubts about their finals credentials. The changes are likely to come at the season's end, and they will likely miss the finals.
Expert Verdict: Pretentious. There is no possibility of reaching the final.
Western Bulldogs (9-8, 103.5%)
The Western Bulldogs remain a disappointing side, showing their ability to dominate in midfield but struggling to capitalize on scoring opportunities and defend against opposition ball movement. Despite competitive performances against Port Adelaide and Collingwood, they failed in close matches. However, their remaining fixtures offer a favorable draw, putting them in a good position to secure another finals berth. The availability of key players like Liam Jones in defense will be crucial, and making the finals is a likely outcome for the Bulldogs.
Expert Verdict: Claimant. Expected to reach the finals.
Essendon (9-8, 101.2%)
Under the guidance of coach Brad Scott, Essendon has shown promising signs in the 2023 season. Despite the heavy loss to Geelong, they have the second-easiest draw for the rest of the season. The team's improved performance and clear direction indicate a successful season, with the finals within reach. Barring significant injuries, Essendon's destiny is in their own hands, making them strong finals contenders.
Expert Verdict: Claimant. There is a chance of making it to the final.
GWS Giants (9-8, 99.4%)
The GWS Giants have emerged as one of the form teams in the competition, having won their last five games under coach Adam Kingsley. With good availability and strong performances, their final hopes hinge on their ability to overcome tough competition in the last six rounds. An away match against the Western Bulldogs in Takara and Port Adelaide will be crucial in determining their fate. While it will be difficult for them to make the finals, the Giants have had a successful season under Kingsley.
Expert Verdict: Claimant. The prospects of making the finals are uncertain but there are positive signs.
With the race to the finals, several clubs are fighting for the remaining spots in the top eight. St Kilda's inconsistent form raises doubts about their chances, while the Western Bulldogs have a favorable draw and are expected to clinch a place in the finals. Essendon's improved performance and promising outlook make them strong contenders, and the GWS Giants' recent form makes them a team to watch. As the season draws to a close, these clubs will need to be at their best to secure a place in the finals and premiership honors.