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Seven things we learned from round 12

Staff writers  June 12, 2017 6:01 PM

The 10: round 12's best moments The best countdown in the game with all the best highlights from the weekend

1. Coaches know their players best
Cale Hooker was named in the back pocket of the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team in 2014, but went forward in the latter stages of 2015 before sitting out last year because of the supplements ban. The change has become permanent this year, with Hooker joining Joe Daniher and James Stewart in a tall Essendon forward line. Coach John Worsfold has had to defend playing him there, but the numbers are starting to stack up. His career-high five goals against Port Adelaide gave him 23 in 12 games – putting him on track for 40-plus – and he is only third behind Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia in the club's goalkicking. Only three clubs (Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn) had three players with 40 or more goals last year and they finished in the top five on the ladder in the home-and-away season. Michael Hurley, Michael Hartley and Patrick Ambrose (when not injured) are holding down the key defensive posts, so the Bombers are best served with Hooker in attack. - Marc McGowan

2. If this wasn't mark of the year, we're yet to see something unbelievable
Late in the second quarter against his former team, Melbourne, Jeremy Howe launched over his former teammate Tom McDonald. Even for a player that has more spectacular high marks in his career than anyone who has gone before him, this was something special. Howe got a lift off McDonald's back as he leaped above him and the Demons defender was thrown off balance. In a Queen's Birthday classic, it was a great moment in the 26-year-old's career, perhaps cementing him as the game's best exponent of the high mark in the television age. - Peter Ryan

• Have your say on the year's best mark to date

3. Jones could have a future going backwards
Liam Jones' career at Carlton – and in the AFL – looked all but certain to finish at the end of this season after he entered 2017 hopelessly out of favour following two lean seasons in attack. But the former Bulldog spearhead has embraced a new role as a key defender this season, mounting an irresistible case for a senior recall in the VFL over recent weeks and, more importantly, seizing his opportunity against Greater Western Sydney. Playing on Jonathon Patton for most of Sunday's game, Jones held the 198cm Giant to two first-quarter goals and three marks. The 26-year-old also looked to take the game on from the opening minute and grabbed four intercept marks in the opening half. He finished with 14 disposals, eight marks, five rebound 50s and one inside 50 in a display that earned warm praise from Blues coach Brendon Bolton. If Jones can continue this sort of form, he will help fill the hole left in Carlton's defence by Sam Rowe's season-ending knee injury. He will also more than likely extend his AFL career into a ninth season next year. - Nick Bowen

WATCH: New-look Jones sets the tone down back

4. Crows' midfielders capable of stepping up for quiet Sloane
It's not often a team's best player can have limited impact, but the side can still cruise to a 57-point victory. With Saints pair Koby Stevens and Jack Steele performing a masterful double act on Crows star Rory Sloane, it was up to Adelaide's other midfielders to lead the way. Matt Crouch (29 disposals), Richard Douglas (28) and Brad Crouch (24) all found plenty of the footy, while former basketballer Hugh Greenwood continued his impressive introduction to the AFL with 16 contested possessions. Sloane only had 14 touches, but created a two-on-one situation at stoppages when he started going to Jack Steven. Sloane needs to be able to fight through hard tags and out-run his opponent. He can expect plenty of attention to come his way for the rest of the season with Geelong, North Melbourne, Melbourne and now the Saints having had success with bringing back the tagger. - Lee Gaskin

Saint Koby Stevens paid pretty close attention to Rory Sloane. Picture: AFL Photos

5. The revolving door at selection is concerning, but it will continue at the Dogs
Premiership coach Luke Beveridge has made no secret of the fact he's still struggling to find his best 22 this year, and has shown he's willing to chop and change his line-up until he finds it. Flag-winning heroes Tom Liberatore, Caleb Daniel, Clay Smith, Shane Biggs, Zaine Cordy and Fletcher Roberts have all been axed so far in 2017, and the way the Bulldogs played against the Swans on Thursday night, more than one big name could be set for a trip to the VFL this week. Veteran forward Travis Cloke was once again ineffective after his surprising recall, while defenders Matthew Boyd, Matt Suckling and Biggs were shaky at best in the back 50 especially one on one, and turned the footy over plenty of times under minimal pressure. Beveridge is one of the game's elite minds and has the rare knack of being a players' coach, while also possessing the ruthless streak needed to succeed at the highest level. He'll show it again in round 13. - Adam Curley

6. The Lions have their own Awesome Foursome in the middle
Ross Lyon said his Fremantle midfield was obliterated on Saturday night – and he wasn't wrong. The Lions wrought havoc through the middle of the ground, thanks largely to four men - Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko, Tom Rockliff and ruckman Stefan Martin. Rockliff is a ball-hunter averaging more clearances than anyone in the competition, Beams has class inside and out, while Zorko again showed how dynamic he could be as a goalkicking midfielder. Throw in Martin, who competes well around the ground and gave his onballers first use against the Dockers, and the Lions boast a starting centre square combination that has the potential to be among the top handful in the competition if it can stay injury free. - Michael Whiting

7. Jarryd Lyons has been one of the pick-ups of the season
The Suns were very busy in last year's NAB AFL Trade Period, with most of the focus on the players they were losing – Jaeger O'Meara and Dion Prestia. Less was said about who was coming into the Gold Coast line-up, because that's how it works. However, the Suns deserve credit for moving quickly to grab ex-Adelaide midfielder Jarryd Lyons. The former Crow has been terrific in his debut season with the Suns, and he continued that form in Saturday's win over Hawthorn. Lyons gathered 28 disposals, seven tackles and kicked a goal in Gold Coast's MCG win, to push his average to 25 touches a game. Lyons has been a steady hand all year and, given he is yet to turn 25 and had five seasons under his belt at Adelaide, there should be plenty of improvement left in him as well. A tick for the Suns. - Callum Twomey

After the siren: Jack Watts serves up cold Queen's Birthday revenge

Around the state leagues: Who starred in your club's twos?