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Nine things we learned from round 16

The 10: round 16's best moments All the thrilling action from the weekend's footy

1. Sixty minutes of soft footy could cost the Giants massively
GWS coach Leon Cameron described his side's second and third quarters against Collingwood as their worst of the year, but a less composed coach might have used a few more colourful adjectives. The Giants had the game on their terms in the opening term and all looked rosy when they won the clearances 14-5 and the contested possessions 46-38, but when the Pies turned up the pressure after that point, the home side wilted. Collingwood dominated the midfield battle either side of half-time, winning the clearances 27-10 and the contested ball 87-66, and in that time piled on 15.5 to 4.5, which included a hot streak of eight straight goals. A big win could have put GWS in second spot but the defeat means they're now outside the top four, and with top-eight positions so dynamic in 2016, a home final could be the difference between premiership success, and a disappointing finish to the season. - Adam Curley

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2. Gold Coast has a forward partnership for the next decade
There are plenty of good key forward combinations around the league, but Suns pair Tom Lynch and Peter Wright are rapidly emerging as one of the best. Lynch continued his remarkable season against the Lions, kicking another five goals to take his tally to 48 – four behind Coleman Medal leader Lance Franklin – but it was Wright's second powerhouse performance that turned just as many heads. A week after his NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, the 203cm teenager kicked five goals to go with 12 marks and 20 disposals. The Suns backed Wright to take over from Charlie Dixon and he's done more than coach Rodney Eade could ask for. Stopping Lynch and Wright will be a headache for opponents for years to come. - Michael Whiting

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3. A Bulldogs spot is Boyd's for the taking
The Western Bulldogs' narrow escape against Richmond proves there's a place for Tom Boyd in their attack this September. The Bulldogs struggled to find a target inside their forward 50 for much of the first three quarters against the Tigers. And while Jake Stringer and Marcus Bontempelli stepped up when Luke Beveridge needed them to, the Dogs coach will need a fit and firing Boyd in the finals. The Bulldogs took just seven marks from 48 inside 50s on Saturday night – the Tigers took 13 from 45 – and lacked aerial presence. Boyd will need to earn a recall, especially after his recent club-imposed suspension, and Beveridge said he hadn't exactly banged down the selection door in the VFL this round. But his chance will come. Sooner, rather than later. And if the Dogs are to give the premiership a decent shake, they need him to take it. - Nick Bowen

4. Dons' cult hero has a big future at either end
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has made his name this season as a dashing half-back but John Worsfold wanted to see what else the club's most exciting player could produce at AFL level on Sunday evening. The fan favourite known as 'Walla' was sent forward and proved his skills are transferable, winning 12 first-half possessions and finishing with two goals, six inside 50s and five score assists. The former rookie, who showed a knack for getting free in dangerous spots, looks guaranteed to be on the senior list next season with a two-year contract looming. And he has shown enough this season to suggest a career beyond that is very likely. Whether that is as a dashing half-back or opportunistic forward, time will tell. - Nathan Schmook

5. Don't worry about the Swans' defence
It looked a concern pre-season but on Friday night against Geelong, the Sydney Swans' defence was a prime weapon. Despite the Cats having 53 inside 50s, they only kicked nine goals with their forwards getting sucked high up the ground and failing to work back quick enough. Dane Rampe was the main fly in the Cats' ointment, repelling many attacks either marking the ball or winning it on the ground. He had good support from youngsters Callum Mills and Zak Jones while veteran Jarrad McVeigh was his usual brilliant best. Heath Grundy has also answered his critics with an outstanding season while Aliir Aliir was a revelation, courageous and smart. Such was the talent inside the Swans' back 50, they could afford to use premiership full-back Ted Richards in a defensive role up forward. - Peter Ryan

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6. Jayden Hunt might be one of the great draft smokies
There was a sense of surprise when Melbourne recruiting manager Jason Taylor called the name of Jayden Hunt at pick No.57 at the 2013 NAB AFL Draft. He hadn't played for Vic Metro and had only been on the Sandringham Dragons' extended list without breaking through for a game. On draft night, Taylor said Hunt had caught the eye, adding the youngster is "genuinely quick, and could be a running half-back or winger". The past few weeks have shown that speculative choice to be on the mark. Hunt followed his excellent game against Adelaide last week with a breakout performance in Saturday night’s win over Fremantle. Hunt gathered a career-best 29 disposals and had eight inside-50 entries against the Dockers, and continues to add great zip to Melbourne’s line-up. With every game he is vindicating Taylor's faith of three years ago. - Callum Twomey

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7. Anyone who thinks the Hawks aren't flag favourites is delusional 
Alastair Clarkson probably enjoyed the fact Geelong was premiership favourites heading into this round. The master motivator loves having ammunition, and the fact the three-time reigning premier was on the second line of betting despite being a game clear on top was insulting. The absence of Jarryd Roughhead as he battles skin cancer has been the main concern for doubters. There's no doubt no Roughhead creates a serious void to fill, but the method and the ferocity the Hawks displayed in beating the Power at Adelaide Oval on Friday night was a reminder that they remain the side to beat in 2016. Generating goals wasn't an issue with the Hawks booting 15 on a damp night and they have multiple avenues in Jack Gunston, James Sicily, Luke Breust, and the electric Paul Puopolo and Cyril Rioli. Luke Hodge is back directing traffic across half-back and the Hawks look a four-goal better team with him in the side. - Kym Morgan

8. Adelaide's back six needs more accolades
The Crows are going from strength to strength every week. Seven wins on the trot and they now find themselves in the top four for the first time this season. Adelaide's forward line is ranked No.1 in the competition and gets all the accolades, but down the other end, the Crows have been slowly building a strong defence that is very much underrated. Playmaker Rory Laird, and key pillars Daniel Talia and Jake Lever, might be young, but together with Kyle Cheney, Kyle Hartigan and Brodie Smith, they form a formidable unit that is working seamlessly together. Minimal injuries and disruption to the back six has meant they've been able to grow their chemistry together week-to-week. They may not get the praise their flashy teammates up forward get, but this defence is developing into one of the best in the competition. - Nat Edwards

9. The Eagles are no longer bottom-10 bullies
Much has been made of the Eagles' 0-5 record against top-eight teams this year but they broke that duck against the Kangaroos on Sunday with a comprehensive win. But it was the manner of the win that proved a point as much as the win itself. The Eagles had failed to win the tackle count in all five of the previous meetings against top-eight teams. They laid 77 tackles to 60 against North Melbourne in a clear sign that they were up for the challenge and eager to prove their credentials. They will face further challenges against GWS, Hawthorn and Adelaide later in the year but similar intent in those games will give them a big chance heading towards September. - Alex Malcolm

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs