Isaac Heeney of the Sydney Swans celebrates in his 150th match. Image: Getty Images/Jason McCawley/AFL Photos

AFL Power Rankings: Round 22 - Top eight jostle for spots

Richmond locked in a top eight spot, Melbourne and Carlton went down to the wire, and Sydney ended Collingwood’s streak, all in the race to the finals.

It's an exciting race to the finish line, with the home and away season set to conclude with blockbuster games that will decide the top eight. 

After 22 rounds, Geelong has secured the minor premiership, five teams are in the hunt for the remaining top four spots, and eighth position could be taken by either the Western Bulldogs or Carlton. 

1. Geelong (1)

With a 60-point win over the Suns, the Cats wrapped up the minor premiership and asserted their place at the top of the table for a guaranteed home qualifying final.

Tyson Stengle kicked three goals in the opening quarter, while Jeremy Cameron also finished with three for the day and dominated against the Suns' defence.

Rhys Stanley is likely to miss next week's final home and away game against the Eagles when the Cats will go for a 13th win in a row, but they'll be keen for the ruck to return from the adductor injury in the finals.

2. Sydney (3)

From the first bounce, the Swans were on! In front of a packed SCG crowd - the second-biggest home and away in history -they ended the Magpie's winning streak with a 27-point victory.

Isaac Heeney kicked the opener in his 150th match and added a second further down the track. Lance Franklin finished with three, and Tom Papley jumped in with two as well.

Just as the Magpies were pulling themselves back in it, James Rowbottom kicked a crucial goal to start the final term and regain momentum in favour of the Swans.

It's a massive win for the Swans, who are well in the hunt for a top-four finish and, pending other results, could nab a home qualifying final.

3. Brisbane (2)

A second-half fade-out was saved by Cameron Rayner on Friday night, as the Lions flew home with a 15-point over the Saints.

A four-goal haul from the forward, including two to open the fourth quarter, kept the Lions on the right path to secure the crucial victory.
Lachie Neale had a quieter night by his standards, tagged by the Saints' Marcus Windhager, but still had an impact with eight clearances.

Will the Lions get the double chance in September? It's the Demons who stand in their way. The winner takes a top four spot; the loser will likely host an elimination final.

4. Melbourne (5)

Kysiah Pickett's heroics have saved the Demons from the brinks of a loss that would have all but taken away a top four spot for last year's premiers.

Before Pickett's clutch goal, Jake Melksham had a night out, kicking four goals. Angus Brayshaw had 38 touches and 12 clearances, and Clayton Oliver had 29 disposals and six clearances in strong performances on the ball.

A Friday night meeting with the Lions awaits - the double-chance on offer in the blockbuster.

5. Fremantle (6)

After an even start to the 55th West Australian derby, the Dockers put on the heat in the second half and, despite scoring two goals and eight behinds, they pressed ahead for a 24-point win.

Sean Darcy was awarded the Glendinning-Allan medal. The Dockers' big man had a staggering 56 hit-outs and finished with a goal and four clearances from his 16 disposals.

Blake Acres and Will Brodie topped the Dockers' disposal count with 29 and 28, respectively. David Mundy continues to push on and, in a celebration game at Optus Stadium, picked up 25 touches and eight clearances.

The Dockers will be sweating on the fitness of Rory Lobb, who was held to seven disposals by Tom Barrass and then subbed out with shoulder pain as they prepare for a Round 23 clash with the Giants - a top four spot still on the line.

6. Collingwood (4)

Streak over! The Magpies' magical winning streak has ended with a 27-point loss to the Swans.

In front of a monster crowd, the Magpies were up against it from the beginning - on the field and against the fans - and although they had a surge with Ash Johnson and Mason Cox scoring goals going into three-quarter time, the Swans came out well on top.

The Magpies, who are sweating over Jack Ginnivan's hamstring, drop out of the top four on percentage - all those close wins leaving them 20 per cent behind the fourth-placed Lions.

Round 23 will be a blockbuster with the Blues, a double-chance in the finals at risk should it go down to the wire.

7. Richmond (7)

In a dominant display, the Tigers have sewn up a top-eight spot with a 61-point win over the Hawks. The Tigers outclassed their opposition in as ruthless and efficient third quarter as you'll see, scoring nine goals to the Hawks' one to take a 73-point lead into the last quarter.

Tom Lynch dominated his match-up with various opponents, equalling a career-high eight-goal haul, including four in that third-quarter deluge, but was quieter in the last as the Hawks pulled it back in and won the term. The only dampener is an ankle concern for Jack Graham, who was subbed out at three-quarter time.

After looking out of finals contention a month ago, the Tigers have pulled it together for three impressive wins in a row. Just what can they do with the finals berth?

8. Bulldogs (9)

In another thriller between these two teams, the Bulldogs have come out on top to keep their finals hopes alive.

Only one goal was scored in the final quarter, a calm Jamarra Ugle-Hagan slotting it when it mattered, as the Bulldogs finished up five-point winners.

Usual suspects Caleb Daniel (29 disposals), Josh Dunkley (26) and Bailey Dale (26) found the ball and gave their side chances in the tight encounter. Second-gamer Sam Darcy was important in defence again, taking seven marks in his 15 possessions.

Now they need to secure a win against Round 23 opponent Hawthorn and 8th spot - and September action - will be theirs.

9. Carlton (8)

It's now or never for the Blues going into Round 23 after they failed to close out the game against the Demons on Saturday night, going down by five points. On the cusp of their first finals berth since 2013, the Blues will have to wait another week to secure a top-eight spot.

Jack Martins's boot put the Blues in front twice in the last quarter, but a late one from Kysiah Pickett put the Demons ahead with seconds left on the clock.

In a low-scoring, high-quality match, Martin scored three goals, as did Harry McKay. Sam Docherty played almost exclusively in the midfield for 28 disposals, and Sam Walsh (27) and Patrick Cripps (26) also saw plenty of it.

While the Blues can mathematically make the finals without a win if the Bulldogs lose, their last home and away match against the Magpies has become an elimination final. Will the Blues play finals or be left bitterly disappointed on the outer once again?

10. St Kilda (10)

A Saints' surge in the third quarter was not enough to take the win over the Lions, falling by 15 points to the finals-bound side.

From a 22-point deficit, a couple of goals each to Mason Wood and Tim Membrey saw the Saints take the lead by five at the final change. Rayner and the Lions stood up, but it was another solid effort from the Saints against a top side.

If they want to move up the ladder - and stay there - in 2023, they need to take these scalps when they're on offer.

11. Port Adelaide (12)

It was a power surge in the final term at Marvel Stadium to close out Round 22, as the Power piled on the goals, and the pain, against the Bombers.

The Power finally found a way to finish off a team, running out 84-point winners, with Sam Powell-Pepper kicking four goals and hauls of three by Zak Butters and Mitch Georgiades. Dan Houston and Ollie Wines cracked 30 disposals, while Houston also launched a rocket from outside 50 to add to the final quarter downpour.

It's just the Showdown remaining for the Power in the 2022 season. Can they finish it off well, or will Jordan Dawson be back to inflict pain and the Crows raise the trophy for a second time this year?

12. GWS (15)

The Giants put the heat on the Bulldogs and made it a challenging task for the home side to stay in the finals hunt, but ultimately they fell five points short in another nail-biter.

A 35-disposal effort and 600 metres gained by Josh Kelly, and 31 disposals from Stephen Coniglio, led the way for the Giants. Harry Himmelberg had a 30-disposal, 12-mark outing in defence as well.

The Giants were impressive in the contest and could not be faulted for their efforts, especially as they made a comeback just when the Bulldogs looked to be running away with it. Can they continue this fight and challenge the Dockers next weekend?

13. Essendon (11)

In one of their more disappointing displays in 2022, the Bombers have fallen to the Power by 84 points in a lacklustre effort.

The ease at which the Power scored highlighted how poor the Bombers' intensity was at times. They allowed a seven-goal to nil second term, and although they managed to in the third by two points, the Power put the foot on the gas and went 11 goals to the Bombers' three in the final term.

There have been question marks over this team all season, and we saw some of their worst in Round 22. Can they make a game of it against the Tigers next weekend?

14. Hawthorn (13)

The Hawks slumped to a 61-point loss against the finals-bound Tigers, which arguably could have been worse if not for the side winning the fourth quarter and bringing the margin into ten goals from 12.

In the second, the Hawks were able to get back in the game with contested possession but struggled with their accuracy for three goals and four behinds. The third was all one-way traffic to the Tigers, who kicked nine to the Hawks' one.

Tom Mitchell (32 disposals), James Sicily (30 and one goal) and Jai Newcombe (29) were amongst it as they often are, but collectively the Hawks were well off the mark today.

Can they help the Blues in their press for finals? Or will the Bulldogs give the Hawks one final whack for 2022?

15. Adelaide (16)

Three on the trot! The Crows continued a nice run of wins to close out the season, running out 29-point victors over the Kangaroos.

Darcy Fogarty had a huge image on the scoreboard, kicking four, one more than his mentor, Taylor Walker (3). Jordan Dawson had 33 touches, and Rory Laird eased his way into it (25 disposals), while Jake Soligo had his best game of the year, with 22 touches and a couple of clearances.

With the Showdown to come, can the Crows go two from two and make it a run of four wins to end their year on a high?

16. Gold Coast (14)

The Suns struggled coming up against the ladder leaders, the Cats, who pounced at the start to take a 31-point advantage into the first break. That margin increased by another 20 in the second, the game over at half-time.

Izak Rankine and his new hair made an impression with two goals, though he left the field in the last with what appeared to be a shoulder injury that will need to be assessed.

In the penultimate round, it's obvious this is another year of 'what could have been's' for the Suns, who continue to slide down in our Power Rankings.

17. North Melbourne (17)

Depleted on the bench, the Kangaroos were overrun by a hungrier and healthier Crows side in the last term. Sticking with the Crows for three terms before the fade-out keeps them in the 17th spot.

In the third quarter, Jack Ziebell (shoulder) was subbed out and replaced by Hugh Greenwood. Later, Jed Anderson (concussion), Jaidyn Stephenson (back) and Paul Curtis (shoulder) were all ruled out and assumed positions on the pine, leaving the Kangaroos with one rotation as the Crows put on a five-goal lead.

After setbacks, including a calf tweak and bout of COVID-19, Ben Cunnington's emotional return to the AFL following a testicular cancer diagnosis highlighted the challenging afternoon.

18. West Coast (18)

A derby always levels the playing field, even if the teams are at polar ends of the ladder as they are this season. For half of the night, it felt like the Eagles were matching it with the Dockers; however, in the end, the Dockers separated themselves and outmuscled the Eagles, who couldn't keep it up in a 24-point loss.

The Eagles scored from a dismal 27 per cent of forward entries, and while the Dockers weren't exactly accurate, they managed scores from 46 per cent of their entries.

With a trip to Geelong booked in next week, it's hard to see the Eagles finding their way off the bottom from here.