AFL finals cards fall right way for Dogs

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says he's heartened to know his AFL club can secure a finals spot with one more win.

Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE.
Bulldogs coach LUKE BEVERIDGE. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

In an AFL season of much shuffling, the cards are falling the way of Luke Beveridge's Western Bulldogs.

His Dogs are in seventh spot, jumping three ladder spots after hammering Hawthorn by 36 points on Sunday.

The Bulldogs cashed in during a round featuring a loss to a rival for their finals berth, GWS.

Brisbane locked in second spot with Sunday night's 32-point win over Sydney and Melbourne hold ninth on the ladder after their last-gasp defeat of the Giants, who are now 10th.

Round 17 also killed off the playoff prospects of Carlton and Essendon, while the Bulldogs can secure their finals berth by beating Fremantle in Cairns next Sunday.

"You're always on your toes so in a sense, you don't feel in control," Beveridge said after his club's 11.10 (76) to 6.4 (40) triumph against Hawthorn.

"But it's great to get ourselves in this position where we know if we win, we're in.

"We have won quite a few games in the last 14 and we have been a better team without shooting the lights out, so there's some encouraging signs."

But the Dogs will be without Toby McLean after the utility was stretchered from Adelaide Oval on Sunday with a right knee injury.

Beveridge suspects the injury is season-ending and McLean will likely to be sent home to Melbourne for scans rather return with his teammates to their Queensland hub.

Eighth-placed Collingwood can reclaim seventh spot from the Dogs if they beat Gold Coast on Monday night.

But the Magpies face a testing last assignment against ladder leaders Port Adelaide the following Monday night.

The Power, with another win, will become just the seventh team in VFL/AFL history to hold top spot for an entire home-and-away season.

The Collingwood-Port fixture will settle the top eight, after other round 18 games decide the make-up of the finalists.

Last year's beaten grand finalists GWS (10th, 32 points) must defeat finals-bound St Kilda (sixth, 36 points) on Friday night.

And Melbourne (ninth, 32 points) must beat Essendon on Saturday.

Fifth-placed West Coast (44 points) remain a sneaky top-four chance - they need to defeat slumping North Melbourne and hope either Richmond (third, 46 points) or Geelong (fourth, 44 points) lose.

But the Tigers and Cats will enter their respective games against last-placed Adelaide and lowly Sydney as the hottest of favourites.

Flag fancies Brisbane will also carry heavy favouritism into their match against Carlton, whose finals hopes disappeared on Sunday when 16-point losers to Adelaide.

The Blues will miss the finals for a seventh consecutive season - they were 44 points down at halftime against the Crows, who have won three games in a row but remain likely wooden-spooners.

"We let our fans down today," Carlton coach David Teague said.