21/04/2024

90,000 are expected at the MCG for a blockbuster Sunday. (Image: AFL)

With the final round of the home and away season now upon us, its hard to find a more highly anticipated weekend at any point this season. Retiring players, season-defining contests, it’s got it all.

The Inner Sanctum has broken down the five things to keep an eye on in the final round.

The retiring class

Round 23 is typically filled with emotion for clubs across the league, being the final game for many in their careers.

This weekend is no exception, with many champion players set to hang up the boots.

Bombers defender Michael Hurley is one of the players playing their final game this weekend. (Image: Essendon FC)

In previous weeks we have seen the final games of Josh Kennedy (West Coast), Devon Smith and Kane Lambert just to name a few, who won’t be featuring in Round 23.

There are still several players who will have their careers celebrated this weekend. Players like Shane Edwards, Robbie Gray, Michael Hurley, Dan Hannebery and Ben McEvoy all farewell their time as players this weekend.

Edwards and David Mundy will be hoping to send their careers off with a bang as they look towards September.

In addition, Matt De Boer, Jordan Roughead and Jarryn Geary also have called time on their careers this season, leaving with a number of accolades between them.

Friday night decides a spot in the four

The Demons and Lions face off at the Gabba in a contest that has huge ramifications on how the first week of finals shapes up.

With the Demons currently sitting third and Lions in fourth, whoever takes the four points on Friday will assert themselves with a double chance. Meanwhile, the loser could fall outside the top four and host an elimination final.

Melbourne dodged a bullet at the last gasp last week to even give itself this top four chance with Kozzy Pickett’s match winner against Carlton.

As for the Lions, they held off a resilient Saints outfit to elevate themselves in to fourth position, setting themselves up for their fourth top four finish in as many years.

Where this game will be won and lost is in the midfield. There are superstars everywhere in the middle with the likes of Clayton Oliver, Lachie Neale, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and Jarryd Lyons all expected to make impacts and set their sides up for a qualifying final in September.

Melbourne got the better of Brisbane last time. Image (Brisbane Lions FC)

Brisbane may fancy itself as the favourite in this contest, as Melbourne has only defeated the hosts just once at the Gabba since 2011.

Can the Lions bok themselves another top four spot with a win?

More Aussie Rules News

Maddy Collier learning to lead from the front through injury

‘I knew it was the right time’: Robbie Gray on his retirement from AFL

‘Frustrating’ end to a bright career: Former coach on Devon Smith’s retirement

Geelong champion notches 300

Patrick Dangerfield’s 300th game has seemingly flown under the radar this week with everything else going on in the footy world.

Ahead of a home qualifying final, he’ll run out for the 300th time this weekend in front of a no doubt sold out Kardinia Park crowd against the Eagles.

The 32-year-old has won a Brownlow Medal, been named All-Australian eight times, and won four club best and fairests on his way to 300 games.

Dangerfield spoke to the media earlier this week, talking about his love and passion for the Geelong Football Club.

“You know you’re in a good place when you love walking into the football club every single day,” he said.

Paddy Dangerfield plays his 300th this Saturday. (Image: afl.com.au)

Geelong has already claimed the minor premiership for 2022, and will host whoever finishes in fourth position for a spot in the preliminary finals.

Everything on the line for the Dogs in Tassie

The Western Bulldogs have everything to play for on what will be one of the best single days of footy in recent history.

It begins in Tasmania when the Hawks host the Bulldogs, who need to win to have any chance at playing in the finals. In addition to their win, they need Collingwood to defeat Carlton later that afternoon.

The Western Bulldogs have confirmed that skipper Marcus Bontempelli will take to the field, given the dire need for the Dogs to have a lineup as strong a possible.

The Bulldogs will have to use their midfield depth to their utmost ability to outbody the significantly younger Hawks.

The Bulldogs must win to have any chance at the finals. (Image: Hawthorn FC)

Hawthorn will be looking to spoil the Bulldogs party in Launceston on Sunday, a venue in which the visitors haven’t won at since 2008.

History making Sunday at the ‘G

Sunday at the MCG is set to have the eyes of the entire football world on it. The biggest rivalry in the sport takes centre stage: Carlton and Collingwood in front of what is expected to be a 90,000 strong crowd.

The equation is simple for both teams, a Carlton win secures its first finals appearance since 2013. Whereas, if Collingwood win, it secures a double chance.

Collingwood got the better of the Blues last time. (Image: AFL)

The Blues are expected to welcome back stars Adam Cerra and Zac Williams from injury. The possibility of also including George Hewett can only bolster their chances of booking their ticket to September.

Colllingwood was faced with a double injury scare during the week, but duo Jordan De Goey and Jack Ginnivan are both now expected to partake in Sunday’s massive contest.

Experts have labelled this contest one of the biggest home and away fixtures of all time, with so much on the line, traditional rivals, packed out MCG. It doesn’t get much bigger.

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