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The case for each top-eight team’s premiership chances

There are eight teams in the finals and they can all win it, but the Lions seem the most unlikely.

It’s been a strange season, with the Magpies winning many a close game. There’s no disputing the Cats deserve to be favourites, but even they’re beatable on an off day.

Five of the eight teams have coaches who have won at least one premiership as a senior coach: Chris Scott, Simon Goodwin, John Longmire, Damien Hardwick and Luke Beveridge.

It’s set to be an intriguing September as the premiership race is wide open

Geelong Cats: A team to be feared

The Cats had five players in the AFL All-Australian team for 2022, with Tom Hawkins named captain. They don’t have weaknesses and their culture appears to be the best in the AFL.

Geelong took Tyson Stengle, whose career was effectively over, into an AFL All-Australian player, in one year! Their confidence should be sky-high after winning the minor premiership and they have a coach in Chris Scott who knows what it takes to win a premiership as he did so in his first season as a senior coach.

They also have the experience of Isaac Smith, who won the premiership three years in a row with the Hawks.

Melbourne Demons: Reigning premiers

The Demons showed that they still have an aura about them following their obliteration of the Lions in Round 23. They had four players in the AFL All-Australian team this season. It appears as if they’re desperate to chase back-to-back premierships, based on their last game.

The Demons know they can do it and they have a match-winner, in Kysaiah Pickett, who kicked six goals in the final two games of the home-and-away season. They have arguably the best ruck duo in the competition, in Max Gawn and Luke Jackson.

Max Gawn and Mason Cox battle.

Max Gawn and Mason Cox battle. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images).

They also have two great defenders in Steven May and Jake Lever, while Michael Hibberd has added another string to his bow as he has curtailed the influence of his opponent’s most potent small forward, as he displayed in Round 23 when he negated the impact of Charlie Cameron of the Lions.

Sydney Swans: A good mix between youth and experience

The Swans have some quality players in all areas of the ground, in particular in the midfield as well as their small forwards. The midfield comprises of Chad Warner, Luke Parker and Callum Mills who seem to have good synergy. Their team has some quality small forwards with Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley, Will Hayward and Errol Gulden, who are all match-winners.

Heeney can play in the midfield, so can Papley, while Gulden can play on the wing. The icing on the cake is Lance Franklin, who has won two premierships with the Hawks and he was All-Australian captain in 2018. Horse also knows what it takes to win a premiership as a coach, as he won one in his second season as the Swans coach.

Collingwood Magpies: Their mental toughness is scary

The Magpies have won many a close game in season 2022. They’ve been the story of the season; they’ve come from second-last on the ladder in season 2021 to a top-four finish. All of this has been done thanks to a changing of the guard in the coaching staff.

They have surprised many a team by winning games by close margins; it can’t just be luck. What’s great about this team is that they stick to the processes and play team-first football. Last but not least they have a coach who helps keep their feet on the ground in Fly, who has been arguably the best coach in season 2022.

Fremantle Dockers: Don’t know what to expect from them

The Dockers have had a successful season, but they have lost games they should’ve won. There’s no disputing that at their best they can beat anyone.

The big question for them is what position Nat Fyfe plays as he has been out of the team through injury for a long time. They were the first side to beat the Demons in 2022 in their Round 11 clash at the MCG; if they make it deep into the finals their team won’t fear the MCG.

Brisbane Lions: Must raise their game

The Lions go into their elimination final against the Tigers as the underdogs, despite the game being at the Gabba. They need Jarryd Lyons and Hugh McCluggage to take the pressure off Lachie Neale in the midfield and for their three key forwards to create a contest and bring the ball to ground so the likes of Charlie Cameron can go to work.

Richmond Tigers: Boast a great coach

The Tigers have arguably the best coach of the modern era, as he has won the premiership on three occasions. Dimma has a knack of being able to move the magnets around; Daniel Rioli has been a revelation on the half back flank, while Jayden Short has played in the midfield, while Liam Baker can play anywhere.

Last but not least they have a weapon in Tom J. Lynch, who can kick a bag and they also have Noah Cumberland who can hit the scoreboard. Then there’s Dustin Martin, who should return to the team and be the icing on the cake.

Western Bulldogs: They’ve not played at their best so opponents won’t know what to expect

The Bulldogs have plenty of players who can play in the midfield, with Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Liberatore just to name a couple. They snuck into the finals, some might feel undeservedly, as they haven’t played their best footy.

Sam Darcy has been a revelation as he has the capability to play back or forward. It’s also great to see Tim English back, along with Caleb Daniel, Lachie Hunter and Taylor Duryea. Bevo won a premiership in his second season as a senior coach and they have Bont who’s an outstanding leader – he seems primed for a good finals series.

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