Darcy Jones celebrates a goal for GWS against Brisbane in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IN THIS week's Things We Learned, we discover Freo's new No.29 has something special, a young Giant is about to become a household name plus much, much more.

Check out what we learned from round seven of the 2024 season.


1) Collingwood can't afford another sluggish start

The Pies have shaken off most of their early season slumber and are now more regularly hitting patches of their top form. But for the second week running, their opponents jumped out to an early lead, Essendon this time taking a six-goal-to-two advantage into the first break on Anzac Day. Collingwood was able to overrun Port Adelaide in round six but were a drifting Kyle Langford shot away from falling short against the Bombers, escaping with a draw. Facing Carlton under Friday night lights this week, a team with a stronger forward line and a devastating one-two midfield combination in Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh, Collingwood can't afford to give up another significant lead. – Sarah Black


2) Freo's new No.29 has something special 

The speed and sidestep of draftee Cooper Simpson was on show during the pre-season, but to see the midfielder/forward bring his attacking flair on debut proved he will be a class act at AFL level. Wearing club great Matthew Pavlich's No.29, Simpson was involved in the key play of Saturday night's 24-point win against the Western Bulldogs, collecting the ball on the wing, darting inside his opponent and bouncing before lowering his eyes and finding Bailey Banfield for the match-sealing goal. His kick to the advantage of fellow debutant Pat Voss was equally skilful, bringing a required element to Freo's midfield-forward connection with four score involvements from his six disposals as substitute. In a win with a depth of strong performers, the 19-year-old was an eye catcher. – Nathan Schmook  

Cooper Simpson is congratulated by teammates after Fremantle's win over the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium in round seven, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

3) Richmond just needs a little polish

The Tigers are doing it tough when it comes to player availability, lacking both Tom Lynch and Noah Balta in attack, as well as experienced trio Tim Taranto, Dion Prestia and Jayden Short higher up the ground. Despite this, they were able to shut down the Demons for a half of football on Wednesday night off the back of pure effort and intensity. Where the game was ultimately lost, however, was an inability to make the most of their forays forward, with the Tigers kicking just five goals from 17 scoring shots and finishing square for inside 50s. Finding some polish ahead of the footy, whether that be through the return of star players or the growth of youngsters thrown into the deep end covering others' absences, will turn Richmond from a battling team into a genuine threat each week. - Gemma Bastiani


4) Darcy Jones is about to become a household name

Electric. Composed. Classy. They are three of the words Giants coach Adam Kingsley used to describe exciting youngster Darcy Jones after he lit up Manuka Oval in a debut to remember. With pace, skill and a befitting charcoal and orange helmet to boot, Jones kicked two slick goals and provided plenty of run and carry as the famed Orange Tsunami tore Brisbane apart in the 54-point win. Missing bonafide stars Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio and Sam Taylor, Jones was among a host of young guns, including Tom Green, Finn Callaghan, Callum Brown and Harvey Thomas, who stood up in the statement win. It's been a rough start to AFL life for the 20-year-old after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his first appearance in the VFL last year, before swelling in his knee and a severe bout of tonsillitis set back the start of his 2024 season, but there looks to be a big, big future ahead for the Giants' newest cult hero. – Alison O'Connor


5) Underrated Swan is repaying Sydney's faith

Sydney key defender Lewis Melican has had a rotten run of recent luck, playing just 23 games between 2020 and 2023 due to repeated soft tissue injuries. Now back to full fitness, however, he is a player reborn. Boasting a rare combination of strength and speed, he has allowed the Swans' defence to remain difficult to penetrate even without former co-captain Dane Rampe in the side. Working beautifully with Tom McCartin in the defensive 50, he is reliable when caught one-out and can regularly be seen coming off his direct opponent to impact contests as an interceptor. Melican is an underrated but vital member of a star-studded Sydney outfit that has the potential to go deep into finals this year. - Gemma Bastiani

Lewis Melican during the match between Sydney and Hawthorn in R17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

6) The young Suns are ready to impact now

Much has been spoken and written about Gold Coast's four Academy graduates and what it will mean for the future, but Sunday's win over West Coast showed just how much impact the quartet can have on the Suns' fortunes in 2024. Although towering key position player Ethan Read was rested, Jake Rogers, Jed Walter and Will Graham all had big moments in the win. Rogers was brilliant forward of centre with his four assists and one goal from 22 disposals, Walter continued fighting after a slow start to kick two goals, while Graham laid 11 strong tackles as part of his team's dominant midfield outing. Tougher opponents will come, and while any Gold Coast success will largely fall at the feet of its more experienced players, this quartet can have a big say for the rest of the season. – Michael Whiting


7) The Crows have a found a few down back

While the one-two punch of Izak Rankine and Taylor Walker was eye-catching against North Melbourne on Sunday, Adelaide's inexperienced defenders also stood up, consistently winning the ball back from the Roos and setting up forward forays from the back half. Mark Keane did a good job shutting down North Melbourne's biggest weapon in Nick Larkey, restricting him to just two goals, while Josh Worrell and Max Michalanney were also impressive with six and seven intercept possessions and five and four spoils respectively. With Tom Doedee departing in the off-season and Jordon Butts, Nick Murray and Wayne Milera all sidelined due to injury, the Crows have needed their lesser lights to stand up in 2024 and they have done an admirable job so far this season, with top draftee Dan Curtin also pushing hard for a spot down back. But one win against North Melbourne does not a season make, and Thursday night's Showdown against Port Adelaide's talented and multi-dimensional forward line presents a much greater challenge. – Sophie Welsh

Josh Worrell during Adelaide's match against North Melbourne in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

8) Even a blunt Tomahawk is dangerous

Tom Hawkins went goalless again on Saturday night against Carlton, marking the first time since 2019 he has failed to kick a major for three consecutive matches. Yet the Cats keep winning. Jeremy Cameron also failed to hit the scoreboard in round six against Brisbane, but with no guns firing Geelong still found a way. The fact is Chris Scott's side has become anything but predictable, and an attack built primarily around Hawkins for more than a decade now has the luxury of using him as a role player. But good luck to the opposition that thinks they can forget about the 35-year-old forward and move their resources elsewhere. With two bags of four goals in the first three rounds, he demands attention weekly and is sure to play a big part in the Cats' final fortunes this year. - Howard Kimber

Tom Hawkins waves to the crowd after the R7 match between Geelong and Carlton at the MCG on April 27, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

9) Power's son of a gun has found his feet

Drafted in 2021, it has taken Jase Burgoyne time to break through at AFL level. But the 20-year-old, the son of Power great and premiership player Peter, has found his spot in Port's team early in 2024. After solid performances against Fremantle and Collingwood, Burgoyne played the best game of his 19-game career in Friday night's win over St Kilda. He finished with 27 disposals (including seven as he played the entire final quarter as Port held on despite being hit by injuries), eight marks, five clearances and four tackles, further cementing his place in the Power's best line-up. – Dejan Kalinic

Jase Burgoyne handballs during Port Adelaide's clash against St Kilda in round seven, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos