Patrick Lipinski is tackled by Reilly O'Brien and Wayne Milera during Collingwood's win over Adelaide in round 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WITH powerhouse clubs climbing up and sliding down the ladder, an influx of new coaches having varying success at their new clubs and an extra round of footy for us to watch, 2023 had just about everything.

From Ollie Florent kicking what he thought was a match-winner only to be spoiled by Aliir Aliir, to Dan Houston's after-the-siren bomb against Essendon and Melbourne's come-from-the-clouds win over Brisbane, the games just kept on delivering.

As the year draws to an end, has trawled through all 216 games and identified the best 13 from the season.

What do you think was the best game this year? Have your say in our poll below.


Port Adelaide 9.12 (66) d Sydney 9.10 (64), R4

After trailing by 25 points during the second quarter, Port completed a remarkable come-from-behind victory – but only with some late, late drama. Following Jeremy Finlayson’s third goal that put the visitors in front with 90 seconds remaining, Ollie Florent had a set shot after the final siren to snatch victory. However, just as the Swans winger stormed off to celebrate what he thought was the match-winner, Aliir Aliir had other ideas, spoiling the ball on the goal-line to lock away four premiership points. Paddy McCartin was concussed earlier in the evening in what would sadly become his final game.

POWER v SWANS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Greater Western Sydney 10.17 (77) d Hawthorn 11.9 (75), R5

This will best be remembered as the Harry Himmelberg Show. What looked one of the least inspiring contests on the Gather Round fixture turned into an absolute humdinger at Norwood Oval on the Sunday afternoon. The teams traded momentum shifts throughout the game, but with the Giants trailing late, Himmelberg took a sky-scraping mark over James Sicily and then slotted the go-ahead goal with 90 seconds remaining. Thrown into defence in the dying stages, Himmelberg stood up again, acrobatically leaping backwards to get a fingernail on a potential game-winner from Jarman Impey.

GIANTS v HAWKS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Greater Western Sydney 17.5 (107) d Sydney 16.10 (106), R7

Undoubtedly one of the best rivalries in the competition, the Sydney Derby delivered again on a drizzly afternoon at the SCG. Following a tight first half, the Swans surged to a four-goal lead early in the final term, but the Giants hit back hard. Unsurprisingly it was skipper Toby Greene that was the hero, kicking the match-winner from a forward 50 stoppage in the final minute. He finished with four goals (and two goal assists) from 22 disposals to win the Brett Kirk Medal.

GIANTS v SWANS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 



Collingwood 8.11 (59) d Adelaide 7.16 (58), R7

Just like they did so often throughout 2022, the Magpies summoned up something special to over-run the Crows with a stirring fourth-quarter comeback at Adelaide Oval in this pulsating contest. Ash Johnson levelled the scores with two minutes remaining when he cleverly rushed a behind, but the heroics were left to veteran Steele Sidebottom who took a diving mark 30m from goal on an acute angle before calmly guiding the set shot through for the match-winning point.

MAGPIES v CROWS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Essendon 10.11 (71) d Richmond 10.10 (70), R10

This Dreamtime at the 'G contest turned out to not only be a cracker, but the end of an era, with three-time premiership coach Damien Hardwick leaving Richmond just days later. In his last game in charge of the Tigers, Hardwick watched his team concede four of the game’s final five goals – including Sam Durham’s match-winner from the top of the goalsquare with 10 seconds remaining – to lose. With captain Zach Merrett (39 disposals) starring, Essendon broke a 13-game losing streak against the Richmond.

BOMBERS v TIGERS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Richmond 16.14 (110) d Greater Western Sydney 15.14 (104), R12

Just two games into Andrew McQualter’s stint as interim coach, the Tigers were on the right side of a cliffhanger this time. In a rollicking contest at Giants Stadium, the teams kicked six goals apiece in an enthralling final quarter, before a piece of Marlion Pickett brilliance got the visitors over the line. Veteran Jack Riewoldt had a day out with five goals, while former Giant Tim Taranto filled his boots against his old teammates with 36 disposals, including nine clearances, and a goal.

TIGERS v GIANTS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 



Collingwood 12.10 (82) d Adelaide 11.14 (80), R15

Somehow the sequel lived up to the original when these teams met for a second time within two months. Just like their game at Adelaide Oval in round seven, it was the Magpies that came out on top, and again there was plenty of drama. After the Crows kicked seven unanswered goals in the third term to snatch a 13-point lead at the last change, Collingwood rallied to snatch victory. But should Crows’ skipper Jordan Dawson have been awarded a free kick in the dying seconds for a high hit?

MAGPIES v CROWS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Port Adelaide 11.12 (78) d Essendon 10.14 (74), R16

It’s pretty hard to forget this Saturday night contest at the MCG – well, the finish at least. With his team trailing by two points and the final siren having sounded, Port half-back Dan Houston produced an unforgettable match-winner from outside 50m that also resulted in one of the great images of 2024 as the adjudicating goal umpire was swamped by Bombers trying to spoil the ball. Essendon had hit he lead just moments earlier through a Jye Caldwell goal, but Ken Hinkley’s men sprung the Great Escape for a 12th consecutive victory.

POWER v BOMBERS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Melbourne 16.9 (105) d Brisbane 16.8 (104), R18

Leading by 24 points with just seven minutes remaining, the Lions looked destined to quash the MCG Hoodoo chat with a statement Friday night victory. But alas, the Demons had other ideas. With Jake Melksham playing the unlikely role of hero, the home team rallied to produce an incredible comeback and snatch victory in this entertaining match-up. Max Gawn was a colossus, while Jack Viney also had a big influence, but it was fitting that Melksham would kick the winner inside the final minute.

DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 



Sydney 11.8 (74) d Adelaide 10.13 (73), R23

This was not only one of the best matches of the season, but also had one of the most controversial finishes. After trailing by 44 points during the second quarter, and still 32 at the final change, the Crows stormed back with a withering final term. Midfielder Ben Keays thought he’d given the home team the lead when his set shot with 60 seconds left appeared to curl through, only to judged to have hit the goalpost. The one-point margin was the nail in Adelaide’s finals coffin and also the result that secured Sydney a spot in the post-season.

SWANS v CROWS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Carlton 11.7 (73) d Melbourne 9.17 (71), SF

In front of more than 96,000 fans at a heaving MCG, the Blues advanced to their first preliminary final of the century with a heart-stopping victory. At times during the last quarter Michael Voss’ team looked gone, but the Demons couldn’t hammer the final nail in, kicking five consecutive behinds to finish the match. While Sam Walsh was colossal with 34 disposals, it was Blake Acres who played finals hero for a second straight week with a strong mark and goal in the final minute to get his team home.

BLUES v DEMONS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Collingwood 8.10 (58) d Greater Western Sydney 8.9 (57), PF

Unlike 12 months earlier when they lost a preliminary final by a solitary point to Sydney, this time around the Magpies were on the right side of the ledger. In front of a one-sided crowd of 97,665, they clung to the one-point lead for the final six minutes to book their ticket to the Grand Final. Led by Jordan De Goey’s 34 touches, along with 28 from the returning Nick Daicos, the Magpies overcome a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to muscle their way home.

MAGPIES v GIANTS Full match coverage, highlights and stats 


Collingwood 12.18 (90) d Brisbane 13.8 (86), GF

One of the best Grand Finals of the century, this match had everything. From Bobby Hill’s sky-scraping mark in the second quarter, to miraculous finishes from Zac Bailey and Lincoln McCarthy and goals after the quarter and half-time sirens to Jordan De Goey and Jack Crisp, both teams had stretches of momentum in an enthralling battle that mixed attacking flair with uncompromising defence. The lead changed hands twice late in the final quarter, but the masters of the close finishes held on to win their first flag in 13 years.

MAGPIES v LIONS Full match coverage, highlights and stats