How the remaining contenders make the 2018 AFLW Grand Final

If we thought that round five might help us get a clearer picture of who will be making the Grand Final, we were wrong.

Sure, one team is now officially out of the race and two others may as well have no chance, but there are still five teams who all have very realistic chances of being there at the end of the season.

The Demons fell just short of overtaking Brisbane on the ladder. Image: Michael Dodge/AFL Media

Remarkably, only one game would’ve separated first and eighth, but as Collingwood lost to the Bulldogs, the Pies are out and the Doggies are just about locked into the Grand Final.

But nothing is certain yet, and we are no closer to finding out who will claim that other spot.

With two rounds remaining, we’ve mapped out all the possibilities for the teams still in the hunt to help you get a clearer idea of what each team needs to make it, just as we did last week.

We’ve made sure to be as thorough as possible. As much as it it might seem like overkill in some cases, it’s good to know where each team will sit no matter what happens this weekend.

For reference, only the scenarios that can still result in the aforementioned team making the Grand Final are being discussed. Some teams can still make the Grand Final if they drop one game, whereas other teams will be mathematically out of the running.


1. Western Bulldogs (4 wins, 1 loss | 251 F, 142 A, 176.8%) – 16pts
Results so far: 49-23 W vs Fre (R1), 33-24 W vs Bris (R2), 34-41 L vs Ade (R3), 86-13 W vs Carl (R4), 49-41 W vs Coll (R5)
Run home: GWS (R6 Away), Melbourne (R7 Home)
It’s all looking pretty good for the Western Bulldogs. They sit atop the AFLW ladder by a game and have a whopping percentage that should see them into a Grand Final. It’s not guaranteed just yet, however, but the Dogs have done more than enough to prove that they won’t pass up their opportunity.

If the Bulldogs win twice: They have a home Grand Final locked in. It’s nice when these what-ifs have simple answers.

If the Bulldogs win once: The Bulldogs’ superior percentage will still guaranteed them a Grand Final spot, but they will need to retain a higher percentage than the team that finishes in second to secure a home Grand Final. That is still quite likely given the Dogs would have to concede a massive score in their loss to be overtaken. There is a chance they could miss the Grand Final with one loss, but that would require Brisbane winning big twice and the Dees winning in round six and putting a hurting on the Dogs in round seven. In short, one win is still enough unless the Dogs royally mess it up against Melbourne.


2. Brisbane Lions (3 wins, 2 losses | 145 F, 119 A, 121.9%) – 12pts
Results so far: 31-19 W vs Ade (R1), 24-33 L vs WB (R2), 40-18 W vs Carl (R3), 22-15 W vs Fre (R4), 28-34 L vs Melb (R5)
Run home: Collingwood (R6 Home), GWS (R7 Away)
We mentioned in last week’s article that the Lions simply can’t lose against Melbourne. As they went down away from home, suddenly the Lions have a real scrap on their hands to retain their position on the ladder. The one positive is that Brisbane kept the score close and retained second spot, but with teams snapping at their heels and coming up against two determined teams to finish the year, the Lions will have to bring their best if they want to make the Grand Final.

If the Lions win twice: Two wins will secure the Lions second place on the ladder if they can finish with a higher percentage than Melbourne, and potentially even a home Grand Final if the Western Bulldogs lose twice. A Gabba Grand Final can also be secured if Melbourne loses in round six but beats the Dogs in round seven. It could get a bit hairy for the Lions if the Bulldogs win in round six and the Demons beat them by a decent margin, however, as it’s possible that both the Dogs and Demons could finish about the Lions on percentage if the stars align. There’s no point bothering with that threat in the short-term, however – just focus on winning both games and see what happens from there.

If the Lions win once: With the Demons, Giants and Crows all hot on their heels, the Lions will not be wanting to make any mistakes. If the Lions lose once, they will require Melbourne, GWS and Adelaide all also losing once, and Brisbane’s superior percentage should see them retain second spot. Though the percentage gap is just below 20, only a couple of goals separate the Lions and Dees so Brisbane wouldn’t want to lose by much, or at least hope the Dees don’t win by much. It just goes to show how important it was for the Lions to keep fighting late on against Melbourne in round five.


3. Melbourne Demons (3 wins, 2 losses | 190 F, 185 A, 102.7%) – 12pts
Results so far: 45-39 W vs GWS (R1), 56-24 W vs Ade (R2), 31-36 L vs Fre (R3), 24-58 L vs Coll (R4), 34-28 W vs Bris (R5)
Run home: Carlton (R6 Away), Western Bulldogs (R7 Away)
Tick. A crucial win against Brisbane was the first step for Melbourne to remain a realistic Grand Final chance, and with Carlton and the Western Bulldogs coming up, the Dees hold their fate in their own hands. Depending on results in round six, the round seven match with the Bulldogs could be the most important home and away season match we’ve seen to date, as it could determine who finishes in top spot, who makes the Grand Final, and could even be a potential Grand Final preview for the next week.

If the Demons win twice: So long as the Demons beat Carlton by a decent margin, there should be no doubts about Melbourne making the Grand Final. One loss by Brisbane would mean the Dees would be there, or the Demons could jump above the Lions on percentage if they beat Carlton by enough. There’s also the possibility that Melbourne could finish top if the Dees beat both Carlton and the Bulldogs by enough.

If the Demons win once: The Dees can still leapfrog Brisbane if the Lions lose twice, or if they lose once and Melbourne demolishes Carlton, which doesn’t look unlikely at this point. Also need GWS and Adelaide to lose once.


4. GWS Giants (2 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw | 154 F, 150 A, 102.7%) – 10pts
Results so far: 39-45 L vs Melb (R1), 9-30 L vs Carl (R2), 48-35 W vs Coll (R3), 19-19 D vs Ade (R4), 39-21 W vs Fre (R5)
Run home: Western Bulldogs (R6 Home), Brisbane (R7 Home)
A big win over Fremantle is a good first step. Now the Giants have to turn their game up a notch if they are to remain in the premiership hunt. Considering who they play in the run home, one loss is enough to knock the Giants out of mathematical contention, so there is no room for any error. The problem there is that GWS play the current teams occupying first and second on the ladder. It’s a massive ask, but the Giants have proved they are up for the challenge.

If the Giants win twice: Two wins doesn’t quite guarantee GWS a Grand Final spot, but it goes a long way considering who they play. If the Lions lose their other game and Melbourne also drops one on the run home, GWS can claim second spot so long as Adelaide also loses once, or at least has a lower percentage than the Giants. There’s also a chance that GWS could finish on top if the Bulldogs lose their other game and the Dees lose once, given GWS will have to beat Brisbane anyway. Stranger things have happened.


5. Adelaide Crows (2 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw | 158 F, 160 A, 98.8%) – 10pts
Results so far: 19-31 L vs Bris (R1), 24-56 L vs Melb (R2), 41-34 W vs WB (R3), 19-19 D vs GWS (R4), 55-20 vs Carl (R5)
Run home: Fremantle (R6 Home), Collingwood (R7 Away)
Round five couldn’t have gone any better for the Crows. Suddenly, they have gone from being an outside chance to a real hopeful after they closed the percentage gap between them and GWS, which is crucial to their Grand Final hopes. With two teams coming up that the Crows will feel they should be beating, a premiership defence is still not out of the question.

If the Crows win twice: As Adelaide’s Grand Final chances are intertwined with GWS, they need everything that the Giants need, only the Crows just have to finish above GWS on percentage. Additionally, if Brisbane, Melbourne and GWS each lose once, the Crows will take second spot. Two losses by the Western Bulldogs would even see Adelaide take top spot, but that’s a real outside chance when you factor in the fixture.

If the Crows win once: Things would be really hairy. Both the Dees and Lions must lose twice, and the Giants must also lose a game and have a lower percentage than the Crows. Fremantle and Carlton must also lose once to ensure a spot.


6. Fremantle Dockers (2 wins, 3 losses | 135 F, 168 A, 80.4%) – 8pts
Results so far: 23-49 L vs WB (R1), 40-27 W vs Coll (R2), 36-31 W vs Melb (R3), 15-22 L vs Bris (R4), 21-39 L vs GWS (R5)
Run home: Adelaide (R6 Away), Carlton (R7 Home)
What to make of the Fremantle Dockers? The same team that made Melbourne look silly in round three was completely outplayed by a travelling GWS last weekend, and it takes them out of any real premiership contention. Even if they win their remaining two games they are an outside shot, and the way the fixture works means that even one loss completely eliminates the Dockers.

If the Dockers win twice: Realistically, both Brisbane and Melbourne will have to lose twice for Fremantle to have a chance given the Dockers have a much lower percentage. Even if that eventuates, which is highly unlikely in itself, Freo must also hope that GWS loses a game.


7. Carlton Blues (2 wins, 3 losses | 103 F, 204 A, 50.5%) – 8pts
Results so far: 22-13 W vs Coll (R1), 30-9 W vs GWS (R2), 18-40 L vs Bris (R3), 13-86 L vs WB (R4), 20-55 L vs Ade (R5)
Run home: Melbourne (R6 Home), Fremantle (R7 Away)
It seems a bit silly to discuss Carlton’s chances of making the Grand Final considering they are so far out of serious contention. Without Brianna Davey, Carlton is a sinking ship. Saying that it would take a miracle for the Blues to make a Grand Final is a massive understatement, but alright, we’ll humour ourselves.

If the Blues win twice: Even with two wins, it’s highly unlikely that Carlton makes the Grand Final. Considering their woeful percentage, the Blues are essentially two games out from second spot, so unless they win their games by huge margins (particularly against Melbourne) and Brisbane gets absolutely belted, there is no shot. On top of needing the Demons and Lions to lose twice, the Blues also need GWS and Adelaide to lose once each (the Giants have to beat Brisbane), and to have a better percentage than Fremantle. Good luck.

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