All to play for as Bulldogs smash GWS to make 8
THE Western Bulldogs have barged through an open door into the AFL's top eight to join Brisbane and Richmond as the big winners from round 22.
A topsy-turvy minor round is set for a grandstand finish with every position in the top eight affected by next weekend's results.
While seven clubs are assured of reaching the playoffs, four more will scrap in the final round for eighth spot.
The Bulldogs pumped GWS by 61 points to take eighth. The Dogs, a win clear of a pack of three chasing clubs, will play finals if they defeat a flagging Adelaide next Sunday.
But should they lose, Hawthorn, the Crows and Port Adelaide remain a chance to pinch eighth position.
After a dramatic round 22, Brisbane climbed to top spot and Richmond rose to fourth after respective wins in cracking clashes to whet the appetite for the playoffs.
The Lions downed Geelong by one point on Saturday to take top billing on the ladder for the first time since round 2, 2007 and send the Cats to second spot. On Sunday, in a MCG thriller, the Tigers prevailed over reigning premiers West Coast by six points in one of the best games of the season.
Geelong (60 points, 132.4 per cent), the third-placed Eagles (60 points, 115.7 per cent) and Richmond (60 points, 112.5 percent) round out the top four.
Collingwood (56 points, 117.8 per cent) could yet steal a top-four berth and coveted double chance if they beat seventh-placed Essendon on Friday.
But the Magpies, who trounced Adelaide by 11 goals on Saturday, must rely on the Eagles or Richmond losing next weekend, with Geelong safe due to their healthy percentage.
The Cats host Carlton next week, West Coast are home to Hawthorn, while the Tigers - in their seventh-consecutive match on their home MCG - play ladder leaders Brisbane.
Richmond pipped the Eagles on Sunday despite trailing by 29 points early. "What I am happy with is it looks like a Richmond Brand of footy," Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.
"We're really happy to play those (top) sides at the back end of the year and give us every chance to see what our best footy looks like." The Eagles' loss was compounded by a hamstring injury to renowned tagger Mark Hutchings.
GWS, despite another lacklustre loss, retain sixth spot on percentage from Essendon.
But the Giants are limping to the line - they didn't score a goal in the second half for the second week in a row en route to a heavy loss to the Dogs.
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Western Bulldogs 7.1 9.3 14.9 19.12 (126) GWS 5.3 9.6 9.10 9.11 (65)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: J Schache 3 A Naughton 2 B Dale 2 J Dunkley 2 P Lipinski 2 S Lloyd 2 T Dickson 2 B Smith E Richards L Hunter T Duryea.
Greater Western Sydney: H Himmelberg 2 L Keeffe 2 T Greene 2 A Kennedy A Tomlinson L Whitfield.