How Do AFL Finals Work?

Wondering how the AFL finals are structured? We explain the Australian Football League’s finals format in detail.

AFL Finals Series and How it Works

Below is everything you need to know about how the AFL finals series is played out.

The AFL Grand Final is notorious for being one of the biggest annual sporting events in the world. It is often played in front of 100,000 die-hard fans.

How Many Rounds of Finals in AFL?

The AFL finals consists of the top eight teams on the ladder at the end of the home and away season.

The finals series runs for a duration of four weeks. Teams who finish in the top four are given a second chance if they lose in the first week of finals.

AFL Finals Structure – Who Plays Who?

Qualifying & Elimination Finals Week 1
Geelong vs Collingwood (Qualifying Final A)
Melbourne vs Sydney (Qualifying Final B)
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs (Elimination Final A)
Brisbane vs Richmond (Elimination Final B)
Semi Finals
Melbourne vs Brisbane Lions
Collingwood vs Fremantle
Preliminary Finals
Geelong Cats vs Brisbane Lions
Sydney Swans vs Collingwood Magpies
Grand Final
Geelong Cats vs Sydney Swans

AFL Finals Fixture Explained

Week 1: Qualifying finals are played between 1st & 4th, whilst the other is between 2nd & 3rd. Elimination finals are played between 5th hosting 8th, whilst the other match features 6th & 7th.

Week 2: There are two semi-finals, which are played between the loser of the qualifying final hosting the winner of the elimination final.

Week 3: The winners of the semi-final, clash against the winners of the qualifying final for a spot in the AFL Grand Final.

Week 4: The two most successful teams battle it out to be crowned the premiers of the AFL season.

Below is thisseason’s finals bracket, which also shows the length and procedure of the AFL finals system.

Example of AFL Premiership Fixture

How Many Wins Do You Need to Make the AFL Finals?

The standard amount of wins required to make the AFL finals series based on recent history is 12 wins. In fact, 13 wins basically guarantees a spot in finals football.

North Melbourne’s 14 wins in the 2012 home and away season is the only occasion a team has won more than required.

Although they still would’ve made the finals series if they finished with 13 wins. Whilst Essendon’s 10 wins and a draw in their 2009 campaign was the lowest number of wins needed to make the finals.

What if There’s a Draw in the AFL Finals?

The draw in an AFL finals series has provided both fans and spectators with the greatest of spectacles.

Most recently it occurred in the 2010 Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda, which resulted in a replay the following week.

However, the rules have been changed since the 2016 Grand Final. If there is a draw now, the result will be decided in a period of extra time.

After a short break, the teams will play two three-minute halves, and if the match is still drawn, the team to score first will be declared the winner.

What if There’s a Draw in the AFL Grand Final?

Similarly, if an AFL Grand Final ends in a draw on the final siren, the same rules will be applied for a regular finals match rather than a Grand Final replay.

During the extra time period, both clubs are able to make an extra 10 interchanges per three-minute half.

A draw has only occurred in the Grand Final on three occasions in the competition’s history.

  • 1948 – Melbourne vs Essendon
  • 1977 – Collingwood vs North Melbourne
  • 2010 – Collingwood vs St Kilda

Where to Get Expert Tips for the AFL Grand Final?

Head to for the most comprehensive AFL Grand Final Tips on the Internet. Our extensive Grand Final tips page provides you with H2H predictions, Best Bets, Next Best & Same Game Multis.

It doesn’t stop there, as we also offer suggestions for the First Goalkicker and Norm Smith medallist. You can also find a host of other information and videos regarding AFL Grand Finals as well.

Whenever a new betting site arrives in Australia, we review them quickly, and if they’re worth your time, you’ll see them listed on our website. Our goal is to provide you with all relevant information on the best bookies online in Australia, and you can then simply pick your favourite based on the information we present. 

Whatever your needs are, we’ve got a betting site that can meet them. We rate and review sites in terms of their offers for bettors as well as give an overview on what they offer from odds to payment methods – if it’s available at all!

Each betting site offers a different range of betting options, so it’s important to choose one that best suits your needs. For example, if you’re mainly interested in horse racing betting, then you’ll want to choose a betting site that offers a good selection of markets in this area.

Save time searching for the perfect bookmaker for betting on AFL with our guide to the best AFL betting sites in Australia – we’ve done all of the hard work for you so you can quickly find the perfect bookmaker and get started.

Dabble: Step into the future of betting with Dabble. Follow the crowd, copy the bets, and enjoy the camaraderie. Explore further in our detailed review of Dabble or get more information on their promos and offers with our Dabble referral code guide​.