What did we learn in Round 22 of the AFL season?
Collingwood have the fight for finals football, but are running out of players
The Magpies showed great fight to come from behind to defeat Greater Western Sydney, but its injury toll is through the roof.
Their Round 21 loss to Brisbane cost them six players, while the win over the Giants on Saturday lost them several more.
There’s no doubt injuries have been a major reason why the Magpies have dropped out of the eight, and even despite the heart and fight shown against the Giants on the weekend, the list of players available do not have the quality to knock off the high-flying Hawks next week.
West Coast cannot play three ruckman again
The Eagles are 1-4 when they’ve played Nic Naitanui, Dean Cox and Scott Lycett in the same team this season.
Coach Adam Simpson named all three again this week against Melbourne, but only played two when Naitanui pulled out of the squad with Achilles soreness.
In turn, the Eagles looked a much more balanced team in their 66-point win over the Demons and seemed to function much better all over the ground.
The Eagles face the Suns next week in what his a sudden-death match, and Simpson simply cannot afford to name all three ruckman again.
Robbie Gray is a legitimate Brownlow Medal chance
Gray produced yet another best on ground performance in Port’s 103-point demolition of the Blues on Friday, and has since had his odds shortened massively for Brownlow honours.
His 31 disposal, four-goal game will surely hand him the three votes of Brownlow night and only Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood and Josh Kennedy have shorter odds to win it.
Gray is also red-hot favourite to win the AFL Coaches Association Award, and it would be greatly deserved.
Carlton need a big cleanout
Malthouse has promised a cleanout, and it needs to happen.
The Blues were embarrassed by the Power on Friday and many of its players simply are not good enough to help propel the club back into finals contention.
There’s no doubt injuries have hurt the Blues this season, but some of those donning the famous navy blue are letting the club down.
If Ballantyne and Walters fire, Fremantle will do damage in September
Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters showed just how damaging a small-forward combination can be against the Lions on Sunday, and if the two keep up their form, the Dockers will become a strong chance to lift that elusive premiership cup.
Even without Matthew Pavlich, the Dockers showed no signs of struggling up forward as the two small forwards ran a muck at the GABBA.
While they will face much stiffer challenges in the finals, the Ballantyne/Walters combination will be a key feature in Ross Lyon’s game plan.