THE Smithy’s VFL season is taking shape with three rounds to go, as 12 teams remain technically still in the race, but the four sitting outside the top eight all needing to go undefeated to have a chance.

Defeats to Richmond, GWS and Werribee in Round 19 means the best they can hope for is 11 or 10½ wins from 18 games, which is the absolute minimum required to feature in the finals, especially with eighth-placed Box Hill Hawks having a game in hand on their nearest two competitors.

Casey Demons have locked down the minor premiership with a four-win lead over Southport, which has stuttered with back-to-back losses and now finds its top-two spot in jeopardy from the Brisbane Lions, who are the third team to guarantee their spot in the post-season.

Sydney, Carlton, Collingwood, Gold Coast and Box Hill can all still have designs on the double chance, but none are yet locked into the eight, needing at least one, if not two wins to make sure of their spot.

Here is an updated look at who is likely to fill the five available spots in the finals.

1st, 16-0, 174.62%

STREAK: Won 16

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Northern Bullants (91, Casey Fields); def Footscray (23pts, Whitten Oval); bye; def Geelong (11, GMHBA Stadium); def Port Melbourne (58, Casey Fields)

TO COME: bye; Carlton (Casey Fields); Brisbane Lions (Moreton Bay Sports Complex)

SUMMARY: Minor premiers and odds-on premiership favourites as it stands, but the Demons won’t be letting up with two tough games to come to fine-tune for the finals.

PREDICTION: 17-1 (1st)

2nd, 12-4, 137.76%

Zac Foot and the Southport Sharks now need to hope for Brisbane Lions to drop a game if they are to hang onto second spot. Picture: Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos

STREAK: Lost 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Collingwood (38, Victoria Park); lost to Essendon (2pts, Fankhauser Reserve); def Sydney (22, Fankhauser Reserve); def Box Hill (15, Box Hill City Oval); bye

TO COME: bye; Gold Coast Suns (Metricon Stadium); Coburg (Fankhauser Reserve)

SUMMARY: Wobbling a bit with back-to-back losses, the bye comes at the right time for the Sharks. Second spot is still theirs to lose, but with the Lions having a game in hand, there is no longer any room to move.

PREDICTION: 14-4 (3rd)

3rd, 11-4, 134.79%

STREAK: Won 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Richmond (25pts, Swinburne Centre); lost to Gold Coast Suns (2pts, Moreton Bay Sports Complex); def GWS (18, Blacktown International Sports Park); bye; def Footscray (25, Moreton Bay Sports Complex)

TO COME: Werribee (Moreton Bay Sports Complex); Sandringham (Trevor Barker Beach Oval); Casey (Moreton Bay Sports Complex)

SUMMARY: Find themselves with a golden opportunity to pinch second spot off Southport, which they will do with three victories (pending percentage). The fixture shows no easy games though, and they can still find themselves in the bottom reaches of the eight.

PREDICTION: 14-4 (2nd)

02:06 Mins
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4th, 10-5, 128.32%

STREAK: Won 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def GWS (38pts, SCG); def Frankston (44, Lakeside Oval Sydney); lost to Southport (22, Fankhauser Reserve); bye; def Essendon (59, Windy Hill)

TO COME: North Melbourne (Arden Street Oval); Collingwood (SCG); Box Hill (Box Hill City Oval)

SUMMARY: Should maintain their top four spot this week before a pair of big challenges in the last two games that will decide if the Swans make the four or face an elimination final. Every game is vital from here.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (4th)

5th, 10-6, 121.09%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Williamstown (18pts, Williamstown Football Ground); def GWS (37, Ikon Park); def Geelong (11, Ikon Park); lost to Port Melbourne (3, ETU Stadium); bye

TO COME: bye; Casey Demons (Casey Fields); Collingwood (Ikon Park)

SUMMARY: That loss to the Seagulls looks to have cruelled the Blues’ top four chances and they will need to win at least one of their last two games against quality opposition to guarantee a finals berth.

PREDICTION: 10-8 (10th)

6th, 10-5, 117.4%

STREAK: Won 4

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Southport (38pts, Victoria Park); bye; def Port Melbourne (33, ETU); def North Melbourne (18, AIA); def Richmond (4, Swinburne)

TO COME: Williamstown (AIA Centre); Sydney (SCG); Carlton (Ikon Park)

SUMMARY: Well-placed now to have a crack at the top four. Will start strong favourites this week, with the game against Sydney looking likely to decide who enters the finals with a double chance.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (6th)

01:28 Mins
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7th, 10-6, 103.15%

STREAK: Won 4

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Port Melbourne (69pts, Metricon Stadium); def Brisbane Lions (2pts, Moreton Bay Sports Complex); def Essendon (3, Windy Hill); def Frankston (4, Metricon); lost to Coburg (24, Piranha)

TO COME: bye; Southport (Metricon Stadium); North Melbourne (Arden Street Oval)

SUMMARY: Great QClash win puts them in the box seat for a maiden finals appearance, but their weak percentage means they could still need to win both games to guarantee it. Winning the Coast Clash should lock them in though.

PREDICTION: 11-7 (7th)

 

8th, 9-6, 118.10%

Ben Cavarra and his Box Hill Hawks could finish anywhere from fourth to 12th. Picture: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

STREAK: Won 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: bye; def Northern Bullants (56, Genis Steel Oval); def Werribee (7, Box Hill City Oval); lost to Southport (15, Box Hill City Oval); lost to GWS (31, Giants Stadium)

TO COME: Frankston (Skybus Stadium); Geelong (Box Hill City Oval); Sydney (Box Hill City Oval)

SUMMARY: Looking shaky before their remarkable escape against Werribee, a finals spot is now theirs to lose. Will start favourites in at least their next two, and the last game could even be for a double chance.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (5th)

9th, 9-7, 107.97%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Brisbane Lions 25pts, Swinburne Centre); def Williamstown (55, Swinburne Centre); def North Melbourne (2, Arden Street Oval); bye; lost to Collingwood (4, Swinburne Centre)

TO COME: Northern Bullants (Genis Steel Oval); bye; Frankston (Swinburne Centre)

SUMMARY: Win both games and they should play finals, but drop just one and it is all over, given their lower percentage. Looks likely to come down that last game against the Dolphins.

PREDICTION: 11-7 (8th)

10th, 8-7-1, 112.18%

STREAK: Lost 3

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Sydney (38pts, SCG); lost to Carlton (37, Ikon Park); lost to Brisbane Lions (18, Blacktown International Sports Park); def Williamstown (18, Williamstown Football Ground); def Box Hill Hawks (31, Giants Stadium)

TO COME: Essendon (Giants Stadium); bye; Footscray (Giants Stadium)

SUMMARY: Convincing losses to fellow finals contenders in the past three weeks stings, but they can still make it without the 11 wins previously thought to be benchmark. They still need other results to fall their way though.

PREDICTION: 10-7-1 (9th)

11th, 8-7, 115.82%

Werribee's inconsistency has left Matt Hanson and the Tigers on the brink of planning Mad Monday. Picture: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

STREAK: Lost 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Footscray (26, Avalon Airport Oval); bye; lost to Box Hill Hawks (7, Box Hill City Oval); def Coburg (62, Avalon Airport Oval); def North Melbourne (47, Avalon Airport Oval)

TO COME: Brisbane Lions (Moreton Bay Sports Complex); Essendon (Windy Hill); Northern Bullants (Avalon Airport Oval)

SUMMARY: Consecutive losses either side of the bye has their season on life support ahead of a massive challenge against the Lions. If they can find a way to win in Queensland, they should still be able to feature in the finals.

PREDICTION: 10-8 (11th)

12th, 7-7-1, 91.67%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: bye; lost to Port Melbourne (51pts, Trevor Barker Beach Oval); def Coburg (28, Piranha Park); lost to Footscray (54, Trevor Barker Beach Oval); bye

TO COME: Geelong (GMHBA Stadium); Brisbane Lions (Trevor Barker Beach Oval); Williamstown (Williamstown Football Ground)

SUMMARY: Need a miracle to feature in the finals after the disappointing loss to the Borough before the bye. Could still win all three, but could equally lose them all as well.

PREDICTION: 7-10-1 (14th)

13th, 7-9, 98.82%

STREAK: Won 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Werribee (26pts, Avalon Airport Oval); lost to Casey Demons (23, VU Whitten Oval); bye; def Sandringham (54, Trevor Barker Beach Oval); lost to Brisbane Lions (25, Moreton Bay Sports Complex)

TO COME: Coburg (VU Whitten Oval); bye; GWS Giants (Giants Stadium)

SUMMARY: Relishing the role of finals spoilers and look to have crippled Werribee last weekend. Could have the chance to finish off their fierce rivals the Giants in the last game as well.

PREDICTION: 8-10 (12th)

01:44 Mins
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14th, 6-9, 95.93%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: bye; lost to Sydney (44pts, Lakeside Oval Sydney); def Northern Bullants (52, Skybus Stadium); lost to Gold Coast (4, Metricon Stadium); def Geelong (56, Skybus Stadium)

TO COME: Box Hill Hawks (Skybus Stadium); Port Melbourne (ETU Stadium); Richmond (Swinburne Centre)

SUMMARY: Have been desperate to get back on Channel 7, and that chance comes on Saturday. How they would love to break a long losing streak against the Hawks and record their 100th VFL win under the eyes of the whole competition.

PREDICTION: 7-11 (15th)

15th, 6-9, 86.52%

STREAK: Lost 7

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Coburg (44, Mars Stadium); bye; lost to Carlton (11, Ikon Park); lost to Casey (11, GMHBA Stadium); lost to Frankston (56, Skybus Stadium)

TO COME: Sandringham (GMHBA Stadium); Box Hill (Box Hill City Oval); Port Melbourne (GMHBA Stadium)

SUMMARY: Would be bitterly disappointed with how their season has unravelled but can still fire themselves up with the prospect of ending the Zebras’ hopes and putting a dent in those of the Hawks as well.

PREDICTION: 8-10 (13th)

01:18 Mins
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16th, 6-10, 85.05%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Gold Coast Suns (69pts, Metricon Stadium); def Sandringham (51, Trevor Barker Beach Oval); lost to Collingwood (33, ETU Stadium); def Carlton (3, ETU Stadium); lost to Casey Demons (58, Casey Fields)

TO COME: bye; Frankston (ETU Stadium); Geelong (GMHBA Stadium)

SUMMARY: Still plenty to play for at the Borough as their rebuild gathers steam. Will see both their last two games as possible wins, and eight victories would be a great achievement in year one of the Skrobalak era.

PREDICTION: 6-12 (16th)

17th, 6-10, 83.51%

STREAK: Won 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def North Melbourne (29pts, Windy Hill); def Southport (2pts, Fankhauser Reserve); lost to Gold Coast (3, Windy Hill); bye; lost to Sydney (59, Windy Hill)

TO COME: GWS (Giants Stadium); Werribee (Windy Hill); bye

SUMMARY: The green shoots have flowers on them for Brent Stanton, with six wins from eight games including a stunning upset of Southport away. Will realistically think they can win their last two as well.

PREDICTION: 6-12 (17th)

18th, 4-11, 72.57%

STREAK: Won 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Geelong (44pts, Mars Stadium); bye; lost to Sandringham (28, Piranha Park); lost to Werribee (62, Avalon Airport Oval); def Gold Coast Suns (24, Piranha Park)

TO COME: Footscray (VU Whitten Oval); North Melbourne (Piranha Park); Southport (Fankhauser Reserve)

SUMMARY: What a win in their 1800th VFA/VFL match, and the Lions should now realistically be looking at the possibility of finishing with six wins for the year. This week’s trip to Footscray looms as a terrific contest.

PREDICTION: 5-13 (18th)

19th, 3-13, 68.38%

STREAK: Won 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Carlton (14pts, Williamstown Football Ground); lost to Richmond (55, Swinburne Centre); bye; lost to GWS (18, Williamstown Football Ground); def Northern Bullants (25, Genis Steel Oval)

TO COME: Collingwood (AIA Centre); bye; Sandringham (Williamstown Football Ground)

SUMMARY: Stunning the Blues in their 1150th home game showed what the Seagulls are capable of, and they will now look to repeat the dose against another contender in game 2550. Five wins (if they get there) would not seem so great for this proud club, but it would be a platform.

PREDICTION: 4-14 (19th)

20th, 3-12, 65.30%

STREAK: Lost 4

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Essendon (29pts, Windy Hill); bye; lost to Richmond (2, Arden Street Oval); lost to Collingwood (18, AIA Centre); lost to Werribee (47, Avalon Airport Oval)

TO COME: Sydney (Arden Street Oval); Coburg (Piranha Park); Gold Coast (Arden Street Oval)

SUMMARY: Can they throw a spanner into the works of the finals hopes of the Swans or Suns on their home deck? Can they derail Coburg’s late-season rally? The Roos would like to think the answer could be yes to all three.

PREDICTION: 3-15 (20th)

21st, 1-15, 60.04%

STREAK: Lost 12

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Casey Demons (91pts, Casey Fields); lost to Box Hill Hawks (56, Genis Steel Oval); lost to Frankston (52, Skybus Stadium); bye; lost to Williamstown (25, Genis Steel Oval)

TO COME: Richmond (Genis Steel Oval); bye; Werribee (Avalon Airport Oval)

SUMMARY: Two clashes with Tiger teams clinging to finals dreams. Things have fallen away in the second half of the season, with injuries to star players proving impossible to overcome. Chances for young players make an impact.

PREDICTION: 1-17 (21st)

Twitter: @BRhodesVFL

All matches in the 2022 Smithy’s VFL season will be live streamed via the AFL website (afl.com.au) and AFL Live Official App. Smithy’s VFL broadcast partner, the Seven Network, will show one weekly game live and free on Channel Seven in Victoria and on 7plus nationally. Radio stations 3WBC 94.1FM and Casey Radio 97.7FM are also broadcasting matches.
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