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Nine things we learned from round 14

Staff writers  June 25, 2017 7:23 PM

The 10: round 14's best moments An incredible weekend of footy with some thrilling highlights

1. Jack Viney is already one of the AFL's most inspirational skippers
We already knew that Viney was tough, but his effort to overcome a painful shoulder injury and drag Melbourne over the line in hostile territory against West Coast on Saturday night was superhuman. Without co-captain Nathan Jones, stars Jack Watts and Jesse Hogan, the 23-year-old took it upon himself to set the tone in Perth, racking up 14 touches – 12 contested – and booting a goal in the first quarter alone. Viney was in everything, feeding off Max Gawn's return from hamstring surgery, and driving the Dees to a five-point lead by half-time. But when he was crunched by Shannon Hurn in the third term, it looked like it was night over. Instead Viney sucked it up, came back onto the field briefly to test his shoulder out, then went to the rooms for treatment and was clearly struggling afterwards. But he stepped up again in the thrilling final term, winning 13 touches – nine contested – and four clearances as the Dees ended a 15-year hoodoo at Domain Stadium against the Eagles. It was a groundbreaking win and another step on Melbourne's march back to September. - Travis King

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2. Next generation of Hawks defenders stand up to Crows challenge
If this year is indeed about rebuilding towards its next premiership for Hawthorn, then the Hawks have unearthed a few defenders who can be a part of that future success. James Sicily (22 years old, 35 games), Kaiden Brand (23 years old, 19 games), Ryan Burton (20 years old, 16 games) and Blake Hardwick (20 years old, 11 games) all played important roles for the Hawks in their 14-point upset of Adelaide on Thursday night. Burton was outstanding yet again, keeping a lid on Crows skipper Taylor Walker (two goals, 12 disposals) while pushing forward and booting two vital goals himself in the third term. Hardwick did a superb job on electric small forward Eddie Betts – a role normally reserved for the injured Ben Stratton. Hardwick also had 19 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency while keeping Betts to a solitary goal. It'll be interesting to see what approach coach Alastair Clarkson takes when experienced defenders Stratton, James Frawley and Josh Gibson are available for selection. - Lee Gaskin

3. Campbell and Redpath welcome additions to Dogs' tall mix
Tom Campbell had not played a senior game since round five but his performance against North Melbourne suggests he could help the Western Bulldogs get their premiership defence back on track in the second half of the season. Recalled along with fellow tall Jack Redpath after Tom Boyd was ruled out with a calf injury, Campbell had the better of 2015 All Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein. Winning 49 hit-outs to Goldstein's 25, Campbell also had 12 possessions, four marks (two contested), six tackles and kicked 1.2. Redpath, who had not played since round nine, also showed encouraging signs with two goals and seven marks (two contested). Luke Beveridge has said this year he now regards 2016 premiership star Boyd as a ruckman more than a forward, so the Bulldogs could have some selection dilemmas when he returns to fitness. But it's good to have different options and Saturday night's game should give Beveridge confidence Campbell and Redpath can play a role for him in the remainder of the season. Certainly, they'll be desperate to cement a spot ahead of the finals after missing last year's premiership run. - Nick Bowen

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4. It's time opposition clubs started clamping down on Swan Lloyd
Western Bulldogs star Jason Johannisen has copped it in recent weeks, most notably against Jake Lloyd's own side the Swans, and while Carlton's Sam Docherty and Greater Western Sydney's Heath Shaw are the league's highest-profile attacking defenders, Lloyd is just as prolific. The 23-year-old has averaged 27.8 possessions this season – a figure that would have been higher had he not been knocked out in the opening minute of round 10 – and has taken over the role of the injured Jarrad McVeigh as Sydney's general in defence. Against the Bombers, Lloyd ran riot as he racked up 14 touches in the first quarter alone before finishing with 31, took 10 marks, and led the Swans with seven rebound 50s. He's not overly quick but reads the play well, and makes smart, quick decisions under pressure, especially when playing as the team's spare man in the back half. The midfield tag seems to have come back in vogue around the competition in recent weeks, but when clubs are scouting the Swans, they need to put some time into limiting Lloyd's influence. - Adam Curley

5. Port Adelaide has enviable depth
Saturday's win over Collingwood was, perhaps, more of a reminder than a lesson on the Power's deep stock of talent. Matt White bobbed up as one of the match winners in just his second game of the year, while others such as Dan Houston and Darcy Byrne-Jones – neither a household name – also made contributions. Angus Monfries is injured at the moment, but hasn't played a match this season when fit for a side that is comfortably in the top four. Jake Neade took until last week to finally crack it for a senior game. Port boasts top-liners (Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard, Paddy Ryder, Ollie Wines, Charlie Dixon and Brad Ebert), the competition's No.1 defence and possibly this year's NAB AFL Rising Star winner in Sam Powell-Pepper, a hyper-aggressive midfield bull. The weekend victory was the Power's third in a row at the MCG, where it could yet play some important matches later in the year. - Marc McGowan

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6. Maybe there is life after Ablett after all
We're still none the wiser as to where Gary Ablett will play next year, if at all, but on Sunday night we gained a glimpse of what post-Gaz life might look like – and it wasn't half as scary as the doomsayers would have you believe. Of course, Ablett wasn't the only Suns star missing against St Kilda – remarkably they made seven changes, six of them forced – but the rest of the Gold Coast line-up lifted admirably to produce a bright performance, with Jack Martin, Brayden Fiorini and Touk Miller among the bright sparks in a recast running brigade.

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7. Lyon's youngsters are up and running
Minus its skipper, Nat Fyfe, and ruckman, Aaron Sandilands, the Dockers were expected to be easy prey for the Cats at Simonds Stadium. However with Sean Darcy brilliant in the ruck on debut, the Dockers ran at Geelong and overpowered them kicking seven unanswered goals in a devastating 22-minute patch in the second quarter. Connor Blakely and Lachie Weller were outstanding while Brennan Cox showed class and athleticism. One of Cox's kicks inside during a frenetic last quarter was a good sign of things to come while Luke Ryan and Josh Deluca played their roles with cameos. Darcy Tucker played the best game of his budding career with three goals, while Griffin Logue fumbled at times but will learn plenty from the experience in just his fifth game. - Peter Ryan

8. Charlie Curnow isn't far away from a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination
The Blues have already notched up four nominations for this year's award – Caleb Marchbank (in round six), Sam Petrevski-Seton (round seven), David Cuningham (round 12) and Jack Silvagni (round 13). And there should be another one coming soon, with Charlie Curnow's form impressive for a second-year player. The developing forward was again good in Sunday's loss to Richmond, gathering 16 disposals, nine marks and kicking a goal. His athletic ability and running capacity make him a little different to other young talls in the competition, and in time it's likely we'll see him move into the midfield. But wherever he is he makes things happen, and the Blues should be pleased with the young group that's coming along at the club, with Curnow a key member of that.  - Callum Twomey

9. This unlikely utility is giving Leon Cameron cause for pause
He's not as skilled as most of his teammates, and Sam Reid has taken a vastly different path to most, but the 27-year-old is making it more and more difficult for Leon Cameron to leave him out of the Giants' best 22. Against the Lions, the versatile Mr Fix-It showed another side to his game that could be crucial late in the season. Reid was given the role on white-hot Lions midfielder Dayne Zorko, and didn't just keep him quiet, but made him almost invisible. Zorko, who is surely in contention for the All Australian squad with his prolific ball-winning and goalkicking ability, was kept to just five disposals for the entire match. Reid also collected 17 of his own and worked forward to kick two goals. While he usually gets games as a replacement for injured players – of which the Giants have many – being able to stop explosive game-winners gives Reid a string to his bow that might work in his favour come September. - Michael Whiting

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