Port Adelaide’s AFL top-four hopes are still alive and Richmond have surged back into the eight, setting up a tantalising final round of action next weekend.
Richmond beat bottom side St Kilda 15.8 (98) to 10.12 (72) at the MCG on Sunday.
The Tigers take on ladder leaders Sydney next Saturday at ANZ Stadium, where an upset victory would probably allow the Tigers to sneak into the finals.
Ninth-placed Collingwood are equal on 44 points with Richmond but trail by 8.4 per cent.
Richmond’s emotion-charged, eight-game winning streak began the week after their clash with Sydney in round 14.
In Sunday’s other two games, the Swans belted the Western Bulldogs 20.10 (130) to 9.13 (67) at Etihad Stadium and Fremantle were untroubled at the Gabba, recording a 15.16 (106) to 6.12 (48) win over Brisbane.
Fourth-placed Fremantle are likely to face stronger opposition at home next Saturday against Port Adelaide, who can claim fourth spot with victory in Perth. Dockers coach Ross Lyon says he welcomes a shootout for fourth place.
“The reality is it’s sudden death for top four next week. We’re really thrilled by that,” Lyon said.
Top-three rivals Geelong and Hawthorn put on another entertaining show on Saturday night at the MCG as the Hawks recovered from a 31-point halftime deficit to win 14.10 (94) to 11.5 (71).
Geelong will consider shifting All-Australian defender Harry Taylor forward against Brisbane next Saturday night after Shane Kersten suffered a hamstring injury against Hawthorn.
Essendon are on track for a possible elimination final against North Melbourne after finishing strongly to beat Gold Coast 16.12 (108) to 13.11 (89) at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Michael Hurley was a match-winner at both ends of the ground for the Bombers, who drew praise from their coach Mark Thompson for a courageous effort in a season dominated by ASADA’s controversial investigations into the club’s use of supplements in 2012.
North Melbourne guaranteed themselves a home elimination final with a solid 14.17 (101) to 13.16 (94) win over Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday. Midfielder Jack Ziebell went forward and booted four goals for the Kangaroos.
The loss was devastating for the Crows who slip from eighth to 11th.
Hamstring injuries to Clinton Young and Dane Swan and Brent Macaffer’s heartbreaking second ACL knee drama couldn’t stop Collingwood scoring an 11.9 (75) to 9.13 (67) win over Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on Saturday.
West Coast stayed in the hunt for a top-eight finish by handing Melbourne a 66-point thumping in Perth on Saturday. Mark Le Cras and Josh Kennedy scored four goals each for the Eagles who won 18.11 (119) to Melbourne’s 8.5 (53).
Tenth-placed West Coast, on 40 points but with a superior percentage, could leapfrog Richmond and Collingwood if West Coast can beat Gold Coast next weekend and Richmond and Collingwood lose to the league’s two top sides Sydney and Hawthorn.
Collingwood will host Hawthorn next Friday night at the MCG.
Port Adelaide showed some encouraging pre-finals form by crushing a tired-looking Carlton side 20.20 (140) to 5.7 (37) on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.