With just two rounds to go for the home and away season there is still no certainty as to who will fill the remaining spots for finals. The top four seem locked-in bar a disaster from Melbourne, whilst Carlton look to have locked up fifth spot on the ladder. That leaves the race for sixth, seventh and eighth wide open, with all teams from fifth to twelfth able to move in or fall out of the eight.

St Kilda have a one-game advantage in sixth spot whilst Sydney sit only half a game clear in the seventh with major repercussions set for their finals hopes if they lose this weekend. The Bulldogs look set to record a win over West Coast to launch themselves towards September, whilst the winner of GWS vs Essendon will find themselves inside the eight if other results go their way.

Friday night will see a top-of-the-table clash between Collingwood and Brisbane at Marvel Stadium, with a chance to secure the minor premiership on the line for Collingwood. A win for Brisbane would see them secure a top two finish and a home final at the Gabba, whilst a loss could see them drop to fourth by the end of the round and face the daunting prospect of travelling to play Collingwood at the MCG in a qualifying final.

Brisbane has proved to be a bogey team for Collingwood over the last few years, with the Lions winning the last five games. However, four of those five have been played at the Gabba, so it will be interesting to see how the two teams line up at Marvel Stadium.

St Kilda vs Geelong, Adelaide vs Sydney and GWS vs Essendon are all looming as elimination finals for these teams this weekend, with Round 23 shaping up to have massive repercussions for the shape of the eight.

These are the five players we've chosen to watch across the weekend.

Jeremy Cameron

Despite sitting 11th on the ladder with only two rounds to go, Geelong are only half a game out of the top eight and still in the running to play finals. To do so, they'll have to win games against fellow finals hopefuls St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs and hope that a few other results go their way.

Jeremy Cameron looms as a key figure in leading Geelong to victory, particularly with uncertainty surrounding whether or not Tom Hawkins will return this weekend. After kicking only seven goals across the last five weeks, Jeremy Cameron returned to form last Friday night against Collingwood, kicking 7.4 for the game, including a three-goal first quarter.

Geelong hasn't played St Kilda since Round 21 last year where they recorded a 45-point victory. However, it was a quieter game for Cameron with four marks and two goals for the night. In his time at Geelong, Cameron has typically been a quiet performer against St Kilda with an average of two goals across four games. His most impressive game against St Kilda was a four-goal haul in Round 22, 2021 and he'll need to replicate those efforts if Geelong want to keep their finals hopes alive on Saturday night.

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Andrew McGrath

Essendon find themselves in ninth position and out of the eight due to their low percentage of 99.1. Over the last two weeks, they've had the opportunity to record percentage-boosting wins against West Coast and North Melbourne but have instead posted unconvincing wins by margins of one point and nine points respectively to find themselves at risk of missing what once seemed a guaranteed finals spot.

Vice-captain Andrew McGrath is one player who has had an underwhelming last three weeks, with AFL Fantasy scores of 59, 62 and 69 - a far cry from his 2023 average of 80.4. Across the last three weeks, he has averaged 17.3 disposals, four marks and 1.6 tackles, also well below his season average for all three statistics.

Last week against North Melbourne was McGrath's stronger game with 17 disposals, five marks and three tackles. This weekend when they take on GWS, it will serve as an elimination final with the loser all but out of the finals race. McGrath is typically quiet against GWS, recording 20 disposals, one mark and three tackles earlier in the year in Round 4. Essendon will be hoping that their former No.1 Draft Pick is ready for a big game on the weekend.

Sam Taylor

After an impressive six-game win streak, GWS have lost their last two games and find themselves equal with the Western Bulldogs and Essendon, with all three teams still vying for a place in finals. GWS will essentially play an elimination final against Essendon this weekend, with their low percentage (98.6%) threatening to keep them out of a finals campaign in 2023.

A tough loss to Port Adelaide last week and a narrow loss in the Sydney Derby saw uncharacteristic performances from usually consistent players, including 2022 Kevin Sheedy medallist Sam Taylor. Taylor has averaged 10 disposals, 3.5 marks, and 0.5 tackles across the last two weeks, which is unusually low for the All-Australian defender.

Taylor was ranked amongst the bottom five GWS players on the ground last weekend with 11 disposals, six marks and no tackles. Taylor's performance against Essendon in Round 4 was average, with 15 disposals, seven marks and one tackle, however, he is usually a strong performer against them. Across his career, Taylor's performances against Essendon have been consistent and hopefully he delivers another one on Saturday afternoon.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 25: Sam Taylor of the GWS Giants handballs during the round 19 AFL match between Essendon Bombers and Greater Western Sydney Giants at Metricon Stadium on July 25, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Nick Blakey

The Sydney Swans have found form at the right time of the year, recording five wins in a row to find themselves at the top of the pack in the search for a finals spot. The Swans have a chance to lock in a finals appearance this weekend with a win over the Crows at Adelaide Oval. A loss this weekend would see them drop out of the eight and with a tough game over Melbourne to come in Round 24, this weekend is the prime chance to secure a September appearance.

2023 has arguably been a career-best season for Nick Blakey, who will notch up the 100-game milestone against Adelaide this weekend, as the Swans seek to retain their spot in seventh position. Blakey famously signed a seven-year contract extension with Sydney in June and has repaid the faith, averaging 20.6 disposals, 383.2 metres gained, and 13 kicks this season.

An unusually quiet Round 19-21 saw Blakey bounce back to form against the Gold Coast Suns last weekend with 24 disposals, 17 kicks, eight marks, and 414 metres gained to be named as one of the Swans' best. Adelaide and Sydney last met in Round 19, 2022 where Blakey had an impressive performance, finishing with 26 disposals, 19 kicks, seven marks and two tackles. Expect a big game from 'The Lizard' in game 100.

Jakob Ryan

Collingwood can't catch a break with injuries at the moment, with Darcy Moore, Nick Daicos, Bobby Hill and Jordan De Goey all sidelined for the top-of-the-table clash against Brisbane on Friday night. However, injuries have paved the way for debutant Jakob Ryan, who was taken at Pick No.28 in the 2022 Draft.

Ryan is only the second debutant for Collingwood this season and will be one to watch, particularly against a tough opponent in the Brisbane Lions under the Friday night lights. Ryan cemented himself as a defender last year for Glenelg, with his run off half-back and overheard marking abilities set to prove particularly valuable for Collingwood in the absence of Moore.

Across his 14 games in the VFL this year, Ryan has averaged 19.6 disposals and five marks a game, earning best-on-ground accolades in four of those games.