We’re nearly 13 weeks into the AFL season, with an additional six teams having the weekend off.
Now five games through the round with a huge sixth awaiting us on Queen’s Day, here’s what we’ve learned from the weekend so far.
Port Adelaide will not appear in September
Although they have played the home qualifier finals for two consecutive years, Port Adelaide will not appear in September this time.
To make the eight, the Power would need to win at least seven and probably eight of their last 10 games with their current record of 5-7, and that doesn’t seem likely with players like Sydney, Fremantle (away), Melbourne (away) , Geelong, Collingwood (out) and Richmond on the run home.
It’s a disappointing drop for Ken Hinkley’s men, who would have supported themselves to get close again in 2022, leaving much of their roster intact from their efforts in 2020 and 2021.
Will this result in the club looking for a fresh start, with a bottom 10 finish, all but locked in, or will it give them the extra drive to reload?
Time will tell, but you get the feeling that this group’s time as real contenders is up.
Dylan Shiel still has good football in him
Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel was much reviled in 2022, with his performances leading to the well-paid former Giant being sometimes left out of the Bombers’ top 22.
While he hasn’t reached his high standards so far this year, we got a glimpse of what the 29-year-old can still offer at the highest level against Carlton on Friday.
With Darcy Parish succumbing to a corked calf, Shiel stepped up to fill the void with a goal, 27 disposals, 10 tackles and eight clearances in the loss, bringing together one of his best games in red and black.
While his big game couldn’t get his side the much-needed win, Essendon fans will hope this is the spark that leads to consistent form for Shiel.
With several years left on his big-money contract, these are the performances he must show to justify the price tag imposed on him by the club.
Hawthorn is a better side than their record suggests
The Hawks have a record of 4-9 after their loss to Fremantle on Sunday, but you get the feeling that the club would be much happier with their season so far compared to what their record suggests.
Although they have only won one of their last eight games, Sam Mitchell is said to be pleased with the way they have played in almost all of those games.
In that flight they narrowly got to the Demons, Magpies and now Dockers, staying with the Tigers and Bombers for most of their battles.
With a little more experience in some of the squad’s younger legs, the Hawks hope they’ll soon be on the winning side of these close encounters.
There’s no doubt they would like to win, but by the end of the year a top six pick could be what it takes to add one more piece to the rebuild.
It’s not a bad place to be if you’re a Hawks fan.
Harry Himmelberg’s move to defense has worked wonders
GWS tall Harry Himmelberg seems to be a star on the defensive since he went back on round 10.
While he has been more than useful as a striker in previous years and nine rounds into 2022 (with 17 goals from those matches), he is making more of an impact in his new role.
After impressing the Eagles and Lions in the new role, Sunday’s performance against the Kangaroos was a breakthrough for the 26-year-old in his new role, as he scored 37 disposals, 16 points and 10 50-second rebounds at halfback. collected while even drifting forward for a goal in the last term
In addition to the improving Sam Taylor and the soon-to-be-returning Phil Davis, Himmelberg could help build one of the AFL’s most imposing high defenses.
Even with Davis queuing for a return, you’d imagine Mark McVeigh wouldn’t even think of putting Himmelberg up front again.
It’s a big week for the Western Bulldogs
Although they had parted ways, it was not the relaxing weekend Bulldogs fans, players and officials had hoped for.
It’s clear that young Bulldog Bailey Smith stole the headlines on Saturday when images of him surfaced online with a bag of white powder, leading to a confession from the 21-year-old admitting his mistakes.
With that issue hanging over the club, all they want to do is react on the pitch, and they’ll have the chance to do that next Saturday against the Giants in Sydney.
On paper, that’s a match they would expect to win, but it won’t be an easy task against a GWS side that still has plenty of talent.
They’ll have to be pretty flawless from here on out to make one last appearance, let’s see if this weekend’s drama has lasting effects on Luke Beveridge’s side.