Heavyweights Hawthorn and Geelong will clash in a blockbuster opening to an AFL finals series featuring fairytale finishers Richmond.
The Tigers booked the last available finals spot – eighth position – with a dramatic three-point away triumph against minor premiers Sydney on Saturday.
The Hawks and Cats clash in a qualifying final on Friday night at the MCG in a bumper opening to the finals series.
The Swans host Fremantle in a qualifying final on Saturday afternoon, with North Melbourne meeting Essendon in an elimination final at the MCG on Saturday night.
The Dockers pipped Port Adelaide for fourth spot and the precious double chance – no team has won a flag without it in the current finals format.
Port host the Tigers in an elimination final at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Richmond provide the feel-good subplot: nine consecutive victories clinched a play-off position after their season was on life support after slumping to three wins from their opening 13 games.
“It is unbelievable,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.
“The credit has to go to our playing group. They have been incredibly brave … and never wavered in their belief they could get where we wanted to go.”
Fremantle sealed fourth spot by downing Port Adelaide by eight points in Perth on Saturday.
“It’s pleasing for the playing group that they get to have a genuine assault again,” Dockers coach Ross Lyon said.
“We go into (the finals) in good form … we respect everyone but nothing really holds any fears for us.”
The result meant Port finished fifth and missed the double chance, but Power coach Ken Hinkley preferred a positive spin.
“Today is perfect preparation … right now we are playing as good a footy as we have played all year,” Hinkley said.
North Melbourne finished sixth and will confront seventh-placed Essendon after the Bombers were involved in a dramatic draw against non-finalists Carlton on Saturday.
“It’s exciting to be in the finals and we’re there so we have got to try and keep it all positive and get them fresh,” Essendon coach Mark Thompson said.
“Everybody in the world knows that we can play good football. I just don’t know if we can play for a whole game.”
Friday – qualifying final: Hawthorn v Geelong, MCG, 1950 AEST
Saturday – qualifying final: Sydney v Fremantle, ANZ Stadium, 1420 AEST
Saturday – elimination final: North Melbourne v Essendon, MCG, 1915 AEST
Sunday – elimination final: Port Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval, 1520 AEST