It is a tough run home facing the Adelaide Crows in the last seven rounds of the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
They have four top eight opponents, with the average percentage for those four being better than 110. For observers, the Crows’ fixture should give a fairly clear indication of their ability to secure the flag. They fell short last season, victims of the fairy tale finish provided by the Western Bulldogs. The Crows were a scoring force last season and they have continued that torrid pace for most of the current season. They seemingly have made some gains on the defensive side of the ground as well. They will have to finish extremely strong, but of the four games against top eight teams remaining, they have home ground advantage in four. Home ground has not been the panacea it has been in past seasons, however, and the Crows know that first hand from the Adelaide Oval loss to the Hawthorn Hawks in Round 14.
The GWS Giants, other than the rare experience of two consecutive drawn games, seem to have the easier route to the finals. Like the Crows, the Giants have four home games and the concluder in round 23 against Geelong Cats will provide a solid indicator of their form for the finals.
The Richmond Tigers could be this year’s dark horse/underdog story, similar to the Bulldogs last year. Just three of their last seven games are against top eight teams. Their run home is possibly the easiest of any team currently in contention. The Tigers need to clearly demonstrate that they can manage more consistency. Losing by 67 points to St. Kilda Saints was a blow to their confidence, and they could surely use a boost in the run home, perhaps by reversing the narrow loss to GWS in Round 9, or a win over the Cats in Round 21.