The 2019 AFL finals are approaching quickly, with just three rounds remaining in the Home and Away season. Here’s four important things to look out for as we enter Round 21 this weekend.
Western Bulldogs season’s on the line
If there’s one match this weekend that will define the completed 2019 AFL ladder and decide who makes the finals, then it’s Saturday night’s game between Essendon and the Western Bulldogs. Although in recent weeks the Bulldogs have appeared to look like a genuine finals contender, they sit one game outside the top eight. A loss to the injury-stricken bombers would almost officially end the team’s chances of returning to the finals. Western Bulldogs’ coach Luke Beveridge will also be very anxious this weekend as he stares down the realisation of coaching the first team in 38 years to fail to make the finals series in three consecutive years after a premiership.
Essendon is also facing just as much pressure with the club forced to make six changes due to injury. This may be a season-defining game for the Bombers, but a loss could find themselves out of the top eight as early as this weekend.
A response needed from Geelong
It’s unusual to have a team sitting on top of the AFL ladder who’s facing so much negative media attention. Unfortunately for Geelong, over the last seven weeks, Chris Scott’s men have lost four games, to teams who currently sit outside the eight. Geelong has been criticised for their slow ball movement and predictability. If the Cats can’t make some serious changes, they’ll find themselves being exposed against other flag contenders come September. A response this week at home against North Melbourne is not only expected but very much needed.
Collingwood’s new look forward-line
Collingwood’s injury crisis has continued this week with Mason Cox being ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a torn left retina. Cox is a vital player to the side who’s flexible enough to play in the ruck and up forward. The Magpies are already missing key forwards Jordan De Goey and Jaidyn Stephenson which is a serious worry in the lead up to the finals. In a must-win game against Melbourne, players such as Brody Mihocek and Callum Brown will have their opportunity to take control up forward.
Brayden Crossley’s facing four-year ban
If you thought that 2019 couldn’t get any worse for the Gold Coast Suns, it just did. Suns’ youngster Brayden Crossley is facing a potential four-year ban for after testing positive for cocaine before a NEAFL match. This all comes after a 70-point Suns loss to the Magpies, they now face arch-rivals, the red-hot Brisbane Lions in the bi-annual Q-Clash. This is the perfect stage for the Suns to stand up and make a statement on the field with a potential upset over the Lions.
Photo: MCG by Ryan Long
Ryan Long is a third year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanlong1297