We are 15 weeks into the AFL season as all 18 clubs came back over the weekend.
With the farewell rounds finally behind us, we had a full run of football and were treated to one of the weekends of the season where ladder-building battles took place.
With that in mind, here’s what we learned from the nine games:
The AFL should consider a postponement rule
The AFL should definitely consider delaying a rule after Tom Stewart’s bump on Dion Prestia on Saturday.
With Prestia out of the game after being knocked out, Richmond was put at a significant disadvantage as one of their stars dropped out of the game when the Cats actually got away without a shot.
With a finishing margin of just three points, it’s an easy argument to suggest the Tigers would have won if Prestia had played.
While Stewart dominated back for Geelong with 29 disposals and 17 intercepts, Richmond would feel that the man who knocked out their best player was able to effectively prove the difference in the outcome of the game.
While the code hasn’t been around for very long, there’s no broadcast rule, but we can’t prevent teams from being so severely disadvantaged through no fault of their own.
As Kane Cornes mentioned, a turn-off rule would only be used in extreme circumstances and in that case should only be used once a year.
It’s something the competition just has to look at.
We cannot let such significant results lurch as a result of such actions.
Melbourne is still one level up
After three consecutive losses, many thought the Demons were falling away, but Thursday’s win over Brisbane proved they are still at the top of the pack.
Melbourne came back refreshed from the bye and expressed their authority in the top of the table clash, wiping out the Lions by an impressive 64 points.
While the second-best gap wasn’t what it was at the end of round 10, Thursday’s result means you’ll still need the Demons if you’re number one with eight games to go in 2022.
Sitting on the ladder, Simon Goodwin’s side seems best placed to lift the cup in 2022, with Geelong’s running home probably just behind them in second place.
If Thursday is any sign of things to come, Melbourne could ideally time their run as they hope to peak in September.
Expect this form to continue to evolve over the next two months.
Sam Walsh is the best young mid-game
Carlton’s Sam Walsh is the best young midfielder in the league.
With 30 Brownlow votes in 2021, that’s not an outlandish decision and after his 40-disposal game against Fremantle, there’s probably no other ball winner you’d rather have by your side.
The 21-year-old has no weaknesses, with his game having a perfect mix of indoor and outdoor, as his ball use piles up alongside the sheer amount of footy he can muster.
While Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw could win the Brownlow in 2022, he was a year older than his Carlton counterpart, Saturday’s head-to-head showed that Walsh likely has an edge at this stage.
So early in his career, it’s scary to imagine what the future Blues skipper might become.
It’s going to be a seriously fun watch for Carlton fans for the next decade.
McRae was right, Collingwood was unaffected by the De Goey saga
Collingwood was without star midfielder Jordan De Goey against GWS on Sunday, but that was not apparent from the way they played.
With the 26-year-old missing for personal reasons in the fallout from his behavior during the farewell week in Bali, coach Craig McRae said he didn’t feel the gun’s absence would affect his team on SEN is The Run Home†
Though De Goey was one of Collingwood’s best in 2022, McRae boldly claimed the side’s performance would not be affected by the entire saga.
“To all our Collingwood supporters and fans, there is no evidence at this time to suggest that this will affect our performance over the weekend,” McRae said during the week.
“Our players have seen a huge correlation with training form and how they play on the weekend, and last week was just as good as this year.”
Although the margin was close, Collingwood was dominant against GWS without the forthcoming free agent, scoring 33 to 17.
Even without his strength during the break, Collingwood was able to come out on top in the clearing, proving once again that they don’t just rely on individuals.
There’s no doubt they’re better with their superstar in the 22, but it wasn’t a bad sign for the Pies as De Goey tests this off-season free agency.
It’s a long way from here for the saints
Just as they looked set for a place in the final, three consecutive defeats cast serious doubts on St Kilda’s hopes in September.
With disappointing defeats in the last two weeks against the Bombers and now Swans, the 8-6 Saints seem off the beaten track to play finals, especially as their 107.3 percentage isn’t high.
While their fate is still in their own hands, they see their home run against the top eight sides of Carlton, Fremantle, Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Brisbane and Sydney.
They can’t lose more than three if they want to make it to the final, and that’s hard to see in the current form.
They’d want to turn it around quickly, or in 2022 we might have seen the attack of the Saints go out with a wail.
It’s a big week for the Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have done what they had to do against GWS and Hawthorn for the past two weeks and are now in the top eight with an 8-6 record.
While their roster and form line looks like one of the finals, they will now be really put to the test with a tough series of competitions ahead.
That all starts on Thursday against Brisbane in the Gabba, with matches against Sydney, St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle immediately after.
With their walk through the fire on the brink of kick-off, they would be desperate to win against the Lions and make it 9-6 before a few losses would follow.
Lose, and it could just be the blow that makes them fall back in the final race.
Win, and they’re up to their heads in it.