Melbourne's Christian Petracca is tackled by Caleb Serong of Fremantle in R11, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

AFTER another incredible weekend of football, the race for the top eight is showing no signs of cooling down. 

Sydney's stealthy run into serious top-four contention continues to gain momentum and, with Melbourne and Fremantle both stumbling in round 19, John Longmire's men are genuine chances of landing in the top four - and perhaps even higher. 

Meanwhile, Richmond's nailbiting draw against the Dockers leaves the Tigers in an uncomfortably familiar spot just outside the eight. Can the impending return of Tom Lynch give them the boost they need? 

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

Who's in the box seat, and who's facing an uphill battle to finish inside the eight? Check out your club's finish to the season below. 

Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, Essendon, North Melbourne and West Coast have not been considered.


1. Geelong

56 points (14 wins, four losses) 135.1 per cent
The Cats have won nine in a row after beating Port Adelaide, putting a top-two finish on their agenda, especially given their run home. Three of Geelong's remaining four games are at GMHBA Stadium, including their next two. However, Geelong's next three games are against sides desperately trying to stay alive in the finals race, so there will be no let-up in intensity. Gun defender Tom Stewart will be available after suspension for next weekend's clash with the Western Bulldogs, while round 21 opponent St Kilda is actually the last side to beat the Cats, back in round nine. - Ben Somerford

The run home
R20: Western Bulldogs @ GMHBA Stadium
R21: St Kilda @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Gold Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R23: West Coast @ GMHBA Stadium


2. Melbourne

52 points (13 wins, five losses) 128.8 per cent
Melbourne now slips four points adrift of top spot after its loss to the Western Bulldogs, with Brisbane's win and Fremantle's draw meaning its hold on top four is tenuous. The clash against the Dockers has suddenly become even more vital to the Dees' second-chance aspirations. Melbourne should have the firepower to see off Collingwood, Carlton and Brisbane, but stranger things have happened, particularly in clashes against the Pies - Sarah Black

The run home
R20: Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
R21: Collingwood @ MCG
R22: Carlton @ MCG
R23: Brisbane @ Gabba


3. Brisbane

52 points (13 wins, five losses), 125.5 per cent
Following back-to-back wins, including Saturday night's victory over Gold Coast, the Lions have locked themselves into another finals campaign and can now set the sights on a top-four berth as they enter a tough final month. Overcoming Richmond at the MCG – a venue they haven't won at since 2014 – would be a huge boost for a team that is slowly finding its best form after a rocky month with injury and health issues. Home matches against Carlton and premier Melbourne could shape the top four and be pre-cursors to finals contests. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R20: Richmond @ MCG
R21: Carlton @ Gabba
R22: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Melbourne @ Gabba


4. Collingwood

52 points (13 wins, 5 losses) 106.2 per cent
The Pies’ great escape moves them back into the top four and does wonders for their chances of earning the double chance. Collingwood has a tough month of footy ahead, so Sunday’s win against Essendon can’t be understated. Still to come for the hot Pies are Port Adelaide, which is travelling better than its ladder position suggests, reigning premier Melbourne, a red-hot Sydney side (at the SCG) and old rival Carlton. Collingwood is two points ahead of fifth-placed Fremantle, following the Dockers’ draw against the Tigers on Friday night, and a game clear of sixth-placed Sydney. The Magpies’ round 23 clash against Carlton has the potential to have huge ramifications on how September shapes up. - Trent Masenhelder

The run home
R20: Port Adelaide @ MCG
R21: Melbourne @ MCG
R22: Sydney @ SCG
R23: Carlton @ MCG


5. Fremantle

50 points (12 wins, five losses, one draw) 119.7 per cent
Fremantle's draw with Richmond on Friday has thrown a spanner into the works for its hopes of a top-two or top-four finish. Two points may be better than none, but the Dockers remain six points behind Geelong and two behind Melbourne and Brisbane after dropping six of a possible eight points in their last two. Fremantle remains in a dogfight for an opportunity at a coveted double chance in September with Collingwood's last-gasp win over Essendon on Sunday not doing it any favours. However, Justin Longmuir's side is aided by a relatively friendly draw as it faces two bottom-six sides in the final four games. The biggest of those matches comes under the bright lights of Friday night football against the Dees in round 20, before a tricky road trip to face the Bulldogs. However, they may need to do it without Nat Fyfe who succumbed to a hamstring injury against the Tigers. - Nick D'Urbano

The run home
R20: Melbourne @ Optus Stadium
R21: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium
R22: West Coast @ Optus Stadium
R23: Greater Western Sydney @ Manuka Oval


6. Sydney

48 points (12 wins, six losses) 121.9 per cent
The Swans might not be in the top four just yet, but they have put themselves in a commanding position to finish there, potentially even as high as top two and a home qualifying final, after seeing off Adelaide on Saturday. The Swans have won three on the trot and face two sides in the bottom six over the next fortnight - Greater Western Sydney and North Melbourne - before hosting Collingwood at the SCG in a mouth-watering clash in round 22. A final round game against St Kilda could determine Sydney's top-four finish and the Saints' finals hopes. - Josh Gabelich

The run home
R20: Greater Western Sydney @ SCG
R21: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Collingwood @ SCG
R23: St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium


7. Carlton

48 points (12 wins, six losses) 115.5 per cent
Carlton’s ladder position didn’t move despite its emphatic win over GWS, but the victory was critical in keeping the Blues’ top-four dream alive. So cramped is the top eight, the Blues are just one game adrift from earning the double chance. Carlton will fancy itself when it travels to play 16th placed Adelaide next week, but its final three matches will be the real test. The Blues take on three sides all higher up the ladder than themselves – Brisbane at the Gabba, and Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG – and will need to bank at least one, more likely two, wins in those final three games to earn a spot in the top four. - Alison O'Connor

The run home
R20: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R21: Brisbane @ Gabba
R22: Melbourne @ MCG
R23: Collingwood @ MCG


8. Western Bulldogs

40 points (10 wins, eight losses) 111.9 per cent
The never-say-die Bulldogs are back in the eight and will have a few teams looking nervously over their shoulder after knocking off Melbourne in an entertaining shootout at Marvel. The home ground advantage will come in handy against Fremantle and Greater Western Sydney, and the Dogs will set themselves up nicely if they knock off Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, one of the toughest tasks in footy - Sarah Black

NINE THINGS WE LEARNED Jamarra's living up to the hype

The run home
R20: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R21: Fremantle @ Marvel Stadium
R22: Greater Western Sydney @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium


9. St Kilda

40 points (10 wins, eight losses) 102.8 per cent
Facing elimination from the finals race, the Saints stood up to win against West Coast and keep their slim chances alive. It gets more difficult from here for Brett Ratten's men, who must navigate a tricky match-up against the in-form Hawthorn before back-to-back clashes against top-four opponents in Geelong and Brisbane. They can drop one game and still get to 13 wins, but a low percentage and difficult run means they will have done incredibly well to still alive by the round 23 clash against Sydney. - Nathan Schmook

The run home
R20: Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium
R21: Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium
R22: Brisbane @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Sydney @ Marvel Stadium


10. Richmond

38 points (nine wins, eight losses, one draw) 114.5 per cent
Two points are better than none, but four would've been worth their weight in gold as Richmond remains in the dogfight for the final spot in the top eight. The Tigers now sit just outside the top eight, two points adrift of the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda, heading into the final four games of the season. Richmond only plays more side in the top eight during the run home - with that coming next weekend at home against Brisbane - but its remaining three come against difficult opposition. Port Adelaide is still gunning for a finals berth while Hawthorn and Essendon have been no easybeats of late. In positive news, the Tigers should regain Tom Lynch for the huge contest against the Lions. - Nick D'Urbano

The run home
R20: Brisbane @ MCG
R21: Port Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Hawthorn @ MCG
R23: Essendon @ MCG


11. Port Adelaide

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses) 105.4 per cent
Port's finals chances are getting slimmer each week, having lost three of its past four games, to sit eight points outside the top eight with four games to go. The Power will likely need to win all four of those games to be a chance of making the finals and that run won't be easy, starting with the in-form Magpies at the MCG. Port also hosts finals contenders Richmond in round 21, while a resurgent Essendon will be tricky at Marvel Stadium in round 22 before a Showdown to round out the home and away season. The return of ruckman Scott Lycett could be a welcome boost after being cleared of a shoulder infection but his timeframe remains unclear. - Ben Somerford

The run home
R20: Collingwood @ MCG
R21: Richmond @ Adelaide Oval
R22: Essendon @ Marvel Stadium
R23: Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval


12. Gold Coast

32 points (eight wins, 10 losses) 103.2 per cent
Saturday's loss to Brisbane – Gold Coast's fourth defeat in its past five matches – leaves it two wins plus percentage outside the top eight. Not only does Stuart Dew's team need to win its final four matches, which isn't totally out of the realms of possibility, but it also needs a host of results to go its way. The Suns should start favourite in three of those matches, and are on their final chance against the Eagles at Metricon Stadium next Sunday. - Michael Whiting

The run home
R20: West Coast @ Metricon Stadium
R21: Hawthorn @ UTAS Stadium
R22: Geelong @ Metricon Stadium
R23: North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium