Corey Warner, Angus Sheldrick and Harry Morrison celebrate a goal in Sydney's win over North Melbourne at Arden St that retained fourth spot on the Smithy's VFL ladder with two rounds to play. Picture: AFL Photos

THE Smithy’s VFL finals make up took serious shape in Round 20, with two more teams dropping out of the race and a third needs divine intervention not to join them on Mad Monday in a fortnight.

GWS and Sandringham saw their mathematical top eight chances snuffed out in totally different ways – the Giants in a disappointing home defeat to resurgent Essendon and the Zebras losing a heartbreaker to Geelong at the Cattery.

Werribee’s inconsistent season also looks cooked after a third straight loss, although the Tigers were brave in defeat against a powerful Brisbane Lions team in Queensland.

Further up the ladder, Southport held onto second spot with the Lions not making up the percentage gap, Sydney and Collingwood set up a showdown for fourth spot and the double chance, and Box Hill Hawks and Richmond gained much-needed percentage boosts while Gold Coast cooled its heels.

So with four teams still fighting for the last three spots in the eight, let’s have a look at who is likely to get to the last weekend in August.

1st, 16-0, 174.62%

STREAK: Won 16

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

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

SUMMARY: Minor premiers and odds-on premiership favourites, the Demons have extra reason to make it 17 with captain Mitch White’s 100th VFL game this week.

PREDICTION: 17-1 (1st)

2nd, 12-4, 137.76%

STREAK: Lost 2

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

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

SUMMARY: Refreshed after the bye and didn’t lose second spot as expected last week. Still likely to need two wins to lock it in, and will start strong favourites in both games.

PREDICTION: 14-4 (2nd)

3rd, 12-4, 133.72%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Werribee (12pts, Moreton Bay Sports Complex); def Richmond (25, Swinburne Centre); lost to Gold Coast Suns (2pts, Moreton Bay Sports Complex); def GWS Giants (18, Blacktown International Sports Park); bye

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

SUMMARY: Couldn’t gain the percentage needed to run down the Sharks with their game in hand, but can still earn a likely home qualifying final with two more wins. Neither are gimmes though.

PREDICTION: 14-4 (3rd)


4th, 11-5, 128.20%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def North Melbourne (20pts, Arden Street Oval); def GWS Giants (38, SCG); def Frankston (44, Lakeside Oval Sydney); lost to Southport Sharks (22, Fankhauser Reserve); bye

TO COME: Collingwood (SCG); Box Hill Hawks (Box Hill City Oval)

SUMMARY: Got the job done against the Kangaroos ahead of a massive game with fourth spot on the line against the Magpies. Win that and the double chance is theirs to lose. But get beaten and the pressure will be immense to avoid dropping as far as seventh.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (4th)


5th, 11-5, 123.0%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Williamstown (78pts, AIA Centre); def Southport Sharks (38, Victoria Park); bye; def Port Melbourne (33, ETU Stadium); def North Melbourne (18, AIA Centre)

TO COME: Sydney (SCG); Carlton (MCG)

SUMMARY: Gained a 9% boost and secured their finals spot against the undermanned Seagulls and will be in the box seat to seal a double chance if they can sink the Swans on the road. A loss, however, could see them with a much tougher road.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (6th)


6th, 10-6, 121.5%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Frankston (51pts, Skybus Stadium); bye; def Northern Bullants (56, Genis Steel Oval); def Werribee (7, Box Hill City Oval); lost to Southport Sharks (15, Box Hill City Oval)

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

SUMMARY: Top four remains a chance, but missing the finals is also looking possible if they can’t win one of their last two games. But those games are both at home and they should lock it away this week before a possible top-four showdown against the Swans.

PREDICTION: 12-6 (5th)


7th, 10-6, 121.09%

STREAK: Lost 1

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

TO COME: Casey Demons (Casey Fields); Collingwood (MCG)

SUMMARY: It’s simple. Stun the undefeated Demons and finals are locked away. Get done and they will likely to need to beat arch-rival Collingwood just to earn a finals berth that has looked likely to be theirs all season.

PREDICTION: 10-8 (10th)

8th, 10-7, 114.27%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Northern Bullants (82pts, Genis Steel Oval); lost to Brisbane Lions (25, Swinburne Centre); def Williamstown (55, Swinburne Centre); def North Melbourne (2, Aegis Park); bye

TO COME: bye; Frankston (Swinburne Centre)

SUMMARY: A nice percentage booster against the Bullants, but they will be waiting nervously on the sidelines this week to see what they will need to do to earn a chance to finally defend their 2019 premiership.

PREDICTION: 11-7 (7th)


9th, 10-6, 103.2%


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

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

SUMMARY: Can lock away their maiden VFL finals berth with a Coast Clash upset over the flagging Sharks, but it is likely to go down to needing to win a banana peel away game against North Melbourne.

PREDICTION: 11-7 (8th)

10th, 8-8-1, 101.86%

STREAK: Lost 4

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Essendon (30pts, Giants Stadium); lost to Sydney (38, SCG); lost to Carlton (37, Ikon Park); lost to Brisbane Lions (18, Blacktown International Sports Park); def Williamstown (18, Williamstown Football Ground)

TO COME: bye; Footscray (Giants Stadium)

SUMMARY: A fourth straight loss, to Essendon at home, has blown their finals chances, and all that is left is to try to finish on a winning note against the resurgent Bulldogs. That looks to be a huge task on present form though.

PREDICTION: 8-9-1 (12th)

11th, 8-8, 113.7%

STREAK: Lost 3

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Brisbane Lions (12pts, Moreton Bay Sports Complex); lost to Footscray (26, Avalon Airport Oval); bye; lost to Box Hill Hawks (7, Box Hill City Oval); def Coburg (62, Avalon Airport Oval)

TO COME: Essendon (Windy Hill); Northern Bullants (Avalon Airport Oval)

SUMMARY: Will start favourites to win their last two games, but now need two of Carlton, Box Hill, Richmond and Gold Coast to go winless if they are to secure an unlikely finals berth.

PREDICTION: 10-8 (9th)

12th, 8-9, 108.92%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Coburg (123pts, VU Whitten Oval); def Werribee (26, Avalon Airport Oval); lost to Casey (23, VU Whitten Oval); bye; def Sandringham (54, Trevor Barker Beach Oval)

TO COME: bye; GWS Giants (Giants Stadium)

SUMMARY: Looking like the 10-0 team of 2022 again, although far too late to play a role in the finals. One more win would continue to build some nice momentum into next year.

PREDICTION: 9-9 (11th)


13th, 7-8-1, 92.08%

STREAK: Lost 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Geelong (2pts, GMBHA Stadium); bye; lost to Port Melbourne (51, Trevor Barker Beach Oval); def Coburg (28, Piranha Park); lost to Footscray (54, Trevor Barker Beach Oval)

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

SUMMARY: Any faint hope of finals disappeared in heartbreaking fashion at the Cattery. Play that level of footy in the last two games and both are winnable. Could just as easily lose both though.

PREDICTION: 7-10-1 (14th)

14th, 7-9, 87.59%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def Sandringham (2pts, GMHBA Stadium); lost to Coburg (44, Mars Stadium); bye; lost to Carlton (11, Ikon Park); lost to Casey (11, GMHBA Stadium)

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

SUMMARY: Broke their long losing streak in thrilling fashion and can look to their last two games with renewed hope. How they would love to ruin Box Hill’s finals hopes with an upset win on the road.

PREDICTION: 8-10 (13th)


15th, 7-10, 86.1%


LAST FIVE WEEKS: def GWS Giants (30pts, Giants Stadium); def North Melbourne (29, Windy Hill); def Southport (2, Fankhauser Reserve); lost to Gold Coast Suns (3, Windy Hill); bye

TO COME: Werribee (Windy Hill); bye

SUMMARY: The second half of the season couldn’t have been more different to the first, and if they can make it eight wins in 10 games in their last game of the year, they could almost say it has been a success.

PREDICTION: 7-11 (15th)


16th, 6-10, 92.1%

STREAK: Lost 2

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Box Hill Hawks (51, Skybus Stadium); bye; lost to Sydney Swans (44, Lakeside Oval Sydney); def Northern Bullants (52, Skybus Stadium); lost to Gold Coast Suns (4, Metricon Stadium)

TO COME: Port Melbourne (ETU Stadium); Richmond (Swinburne Centre)

SUMMARY: Failed to fire a shot against the finals-bound Hawks, but still have plenty to play for. Playing for the rank as second-best Victorian standalone team on Saturday, but they will need a form reversal against a team hungry to avenge last year’s 16-goal hammering down at the Pod.

PREDICTION: 6-12 (17th)

17th, 6-10, 85.05%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: bye; 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)

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

SUMMARY: Realistically this week is their Grand Final, and one the Borough has been eyeing ever since the fixture came out after their last meeting. Amazingly (given that last game), they will probably start favourite.

PREDICTION: 7-11 (16th)

18th, 4-12, 67.06%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Footscray (123, VU Whitten Oval); def Geelong (44, Mars Stadium); bye; lost to Sandringham (28, Piranha Park); lost to Werribee (62, Avalon Airport Oval)

TO COME: North Melbourne (Piranha Park); Southport Sharks (Fankhauser Reserve)

SUMMARY: Turned their best win of the season into their worst loss, which would have left Andrew Sturgess bitterly disappointed. You can only say a team is better than their win-loss record so many times. This week is simply a must-win.

PREDICTION: 5-13 (18th)

19th, 3-14, 66.16%

STREAK: Lost 1

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Collingwood (78pts, AIA Centre); def Carlton (14, Williamstown Football Ground); lost to Richmond (55, Swinburne Centre); bye; lost to GWS Giants (18, Williamstown Football Ground)

TO COME: bye; Sandringham (Williamstown Football Ground)

SUMMARY: Lost a few key players from their win over the Blues, but their 2550th VFA/VFL game was still a disappointment. The Seagulls have two weeks to stew on that before their Grand Final against the Zebras.

PREDICTION: 4-14 (19th)

20th, 3-13, 66.15%

STREAK: Lost 5

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Sydney Swans (20pts, Arden Street Oval); lost to Essendon (29, Windy Hill); bye; lost to Richmond (2, Arden Street Oval); lost to Collingwood (18, AIA Centre)

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

SUMMARY: Showed a lot of character to fight back against the Swans last week and will feel they can win both their remaining games if they can put that together for four quarters.

PREDICTION: 3-15 (20th)


21st, 1-16, 58.46%

STREAK: Lost 13

LAST FIVE WEEKS: lost to Richmond (82pts, Genis Steel Oval); lost to Casey Demons (91, Casey Fields); lost to Box Hill Hawks (56, Genis Steel Oval); lost to Frankston (52, Skybus Stadium); bye

TO COME: bye; Werribee (Avalon Airport Oval)

SUMMARY: A long season is drawing to a close, but there is still much the Bullants can achieve when they meet the Tigers in Round 22. Will be desperate for a strong display to springboard into 2023.

PREDICTION: 1-17 (21st)

Twitter: @BRhodesVFL

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