Hawks lead finalists-only AFL ladder

Hawthorn and Sydney are equal in their AFL win-loss but there’s a gulf between last year’s grand finalists against the teams that matter.

Heading into the finals, a ladder that strips out matches played against non-finalists has the Hawks first and sends the Swans south.

Hawthorn sit on top of the tree with six wins from eight games – and a percentage of 158.9 that’s actually better than their overall percentage.

But the Swans would give up their double-chance if the finals were determined by games played between the top eight.

Sydney have just three wins from eight matches, with the lowest scoring record of any finalist.

The Western Bulldogs would take their place in the top four, with five wins from eight games.

Fremantle and West Coast slip into second and third in the finalists-only ladder.

Both have met fellow finalists 10 times – twice more than the other top eight sides – with the Dockers taking six wins and the Eagles five.

Showing the closeness of season 2015, Adelaide, Richmond and North Melbourne join the Swans with three wins.

In the only meeting between finals-bound sides of round 23, Richmond and North Melbourne meet at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

The winners will receive a timely boost ahead of week one of the finals, especially given they could meet again then.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge spoke of the confidence boost that getting one over a September rival can bring after his team beat the Kangaroos last Saturday,.

“To win another arm-wrestle type game against a very good opponent, it’s a reminder that you can hold sway in the heat of the battle,” he said.

“When it’s an opponent that’s played in a preliminary final recently and is touted to press at the end of the year, that gives us a bit more belief.”

Only one side have back-to-back wins over members of the top eight; Adelaide.

The Crows have stormed into flag contention with four straight wins, including home wins over the Tigers and Eagles.

But they’re also the only side without an away triumph against a top eight side.

The finalists-only record doesn’t make good reading for for the Kangaroos.

Take out two wins in Hobart over Richmond and West Coast and only their triumph over Fremantle a fortnight ago remains.

But the beauty of the finals series is that is doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s about what you do when you’re in them.

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