AFL legend Leigh Matthews has urged Fremantle to doctor their last regular-season result to ensure smoother sailing into the finals.
Unlike every other finalist, the Dockers will know what looms for the play-offs ahead of their clash with lowly Melbourne on Saturday night.
By the time Fremantle take the field, all other finalists bar Collingwood will have played their last minor-round game.
The Dockers will therefore be able to determine what winning margin will provide them with what finishing position on the ladder – and an associated home or away elimination final.
While coach Ross Lyon says he’ll ignore the other scores, four-time premiership coach Matthews is in no doubt what he would do.
“I would be trying to make sure we win by less than 10 goals,” Matthews told afl.com.au on Friday.
“It’s not like trying to lose which is a different matter entirely.
“It’s actually trying not to win by too much.
“Surely you would prefer to play in Perth the following week against the Eagles than come to Melbourne and play Geelong or a team like that?”
Saturday’s games hold numerous scenarios for the eight finalists – Hawthorn, Sydney, Adelaide, West Coast, Collingwood, Geelong, Fremantle and North Melbourne.
Central to the coveted positions in the top four, which afford a club to lose their first final yet remain in the play-offs, is Geelong’s home fixture against Sydney.
The second-placed Swans can earn a home qualifying final by downing the reigning premiers in Geelong; but lose and Sydney could be pitched into an away final, possibly in Adelaide.
The Crows, perched in third spot, are expected to comfortably account for lowly Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon, a win which possibly could be rewarded with top spot – depending on other results.
“We just want a home final,” Crows assistant coach Scott Camporeale told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
While conceivably every finalist could change ladder positions in the last round, the also-rans end their seasons.
Some clubs, like Brisbane and Richmond, will finish confident they’re on an upward curve.
The Tigers might also get consolation from their forward Jack Riewoldt winning the Coleman Medal for the league’s leading goalkicker.
Riewoldt enters the final round with 59 goals, one behind Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich, while Geelong’s Tom Hawkins (58 goals) is also a chance for the gong.
But whoever wins will likely have kicked the fewest goals to claim the award since 1965, when Hawthorn’s John Peck won with 56.