Tigers and Pies set up monster AFL clash

Justin Chadwick

Richmond and Collingwood will face off next Saturday in their biggest clash in almost 40 years after both sides flexed their premiership muscle in round 18.

The Tigers (13-4) maintained top spot on the AFL ladder with a 54-point thumping of St Kilda on Friday night.

Third-placed Collingwood (12-5) bolstered their hopes of a top-four finish with a 66-point thrashing of North Melbourne.

The two powerhouses haven't faced off in a final since Richmond beat Collingwood by 81 points in the 1980 grand final.

Saturday's match at the MCG isn't a final, but a crowd of more than 90,000 is expected to witness a clash that will have a big say in the final make-up of this year's top-four.

West Coast and GWS also showed they will be right in the thick of the action come September.

The Giants moved into sixth spot with a 22-point win over Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, 11.14 (80) to 8.10 (58).

The Power slipped to fifth following their second-straight loss.

West Coast showed life without Nic Naitanui won't be all doom and gloom with a 54-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.

The Eagles' third win on the trot means they are now two wins clear inside the top four.

But the 14.16 (100) to 6.10 (46) win could come at a cost, with skipper Shannon Hurn set to come under scrutiny for a bump that sent Mitch Honeychurch to hospital with neck concerns.

"We all care deeply about our players, and it's quite disconcerting when there is a possibility of a serious injury," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"The early indications are that he should be OK ... but he'll have a scan."

Hawthorn moved into the top eight with a 72-point demolition of lowly Carlton.

Brownlow medal favourite Tom Mitchell tallied 46 disposals and two goals in the 18.16 (124) to 7.10 (52) rout.

The Blues (1-16) are almost certain to collect the wooden spoon, but Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said Carlton should stick by coach Brendon Bolton.

"They're on the right track as a footy club," Clarkson said.

"It's just really, really hard yards.

"It's easy to dig the boots in - I can recall 2005 as a very, very similar position.

"What you need to be is really strong internally, in the terms of the direction they're going."

Melbourne's top-four hopes received a huge blow in an after-the-siren loss to Geelong.

Forward Tom Hawkins booted seven goals, but Irishman Zach Tuohy was the hero with the match-winning goal.

And Sydney blew the chance to cement themselves in the top four with a shock 24-point home loss to Gold Coast.

Adelaide withstood a fast-finishing Brisbane to post a five-point win, while Essendon kept their finals hopes alive with a 29-point victory over Fremantle.