COLLINGWOOD has been unlucky on the injury front this year, but has benefited from a favourable fixture to finish in the top four.

The Magpies played only eight matches against the rest of the top eight, with their only double-up coming against minor premiers Richmond.

But the Pies didn't have the easiest draw. That honour belongs to Melbourne, who also played only eight of its 22 matches against fellow top-eight sides.

Aside from eighth-placed Geelong, who they will face in the first week of finals, the Demons played every other finals-bound side just once.

They finished with a 2-6 record against the top eight, but in hopeful signs for Demons fans, those two wins have come over the last two weeks against West Coast and GWS.

The Tigers also benefited from a surprisingly easy fixture, playing just nine matches against fellow top-eight sides.

Conversely, St Kilda was the only club who faced a top-eight side 12 times, which included six match-ups with top four sides.

Of the top-eight sides, Sydney and Geelong had the most difficult draw with 11 games against the other finalists. The Swans managed eight wins, while the Cats had five.

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Essendon had the competition-most seven matches against top-four sides, which ultimately hurt its finals chances.

From those seven, the Bombers lost to the Tigers, Magpies and Hawks twice, but managed a win over the Eagles in round 14.

RankTeamGames v top eightGames v top fourGames v bottom fourLadder position of opponent
1St Kilda12638.2
8West Coast9349.2
9Gold Coast10459.5
11Port Adelaide9549.7
17North Melbourne84610.4

The figure indicating the opponent's average ladder position has been calculated by tallying the finishing position of each of the club's opponents (one for Richmond and 18 for Carlton, for example), and then dividing that figure by matches played (22).