Cats, Tigers aim to avoid Eagles' slip-up

Geelong and Richmond are in the box seat to secure AFL top-four berths but can they avoid slipping on a final-round banana skin?

TOM LYNCH of the suns celebrates a goal during the AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Geelong Cats at MS in Gold Coast, Australia.
TOM LYNCH of the suns celebrates a goal during the AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Geelong Cats at MS in Gold Coast, Australia. Picture: Jason O'Brien/AFL Media/Getty Images

If Richmond and Geelong think a top-four berth in the AFL is already in the bag they only have to look to West Coast's costly stumble last year to realise they're not home just yet.

Third-placed Richmond face the lowly Adelaide on Saturday, while fourth-placed Geelong face battlers Sydney on Sunday.

A win for each of the two Victorian powerhouses will be enough for them to lock in the crucial double finals chance, but the Eagles are praying for a boilover.

West Coast sit in fifth spot and will face basket case North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Thursday.

A win in that game - and a shock loss from either Geelong or Richmond - would see West Coast jump into the top four.

The shoe was on the other foot for the Eagles in 2019.

They entered the final round only needing a win against Hawthorn in Perth to secure a place in the top four, but the shock 38-point loss saw them slide to fifth.

Richmond have won five straight games - including against Geelong last week - to cement their status as flag favourites.

But the Crows will be no pushover after hitting a purple patch in recent weeks.

Adelaide started the season with 13 straight losses but have beaten Hawthorn, Greater Western Sydney and Carlton in their past three matches.

The Tigers will enter the match missing ruckman Ivan Soldo (ACL) and star forward Tom Lynch (hamstring).

Sydney have shown flashes of brilliance this year but Geelong will be hot favourites to get the win, especially with Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett set to return.

If West Coast finish fifth as expected, they will be given permission by the WA government and the AFL to host their elimination final in Perth.

That game is set to be played on a Saturday.

Collingwood secured their finals berth with a win over Gold Coast on Monday, and can finish anywhere from sixth to eighth.

St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and GWS are locked in a bitter fight for the remaining two finals spots.

The Friday night clash between St Kilda and GWS at the Gabba will give the other teams a clearer picture of what they need to do to qualify.

The Saints are a win and 10.8 per cent above the 10th-placed Giants, meaning GWS would need a huge win - or a smaller win combined with both the Demons and the Bulldogs losing - to sneak into the top eight.

The Bulldogs only need to beat Fremantle to secure their finals spot but they could also get through with a loss depending on other results.

Melbourne need to beat Essendon on Saturday and rely on other results in order to qualify for finals.