Ed Richards during the Western Bulldogs' match against Richmond in R9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IN THIS week's Things We Learned, we discover John Noble continues to overcome adversity, the Cats may need a re-think and much, much more.

Check out what we learned from round 10 of the 2024 season.


1) Carlton's star mids need more support

Carlton made a blistering start against Sydney on Friday night as Patrick Cripps and Marc Pittonet fed Sam Walsh and their other runners to set up four early goals. But the Blues had few answers when the Swans' onballers responded and in ominous signs, trailed 22-5 for tackles at the first change. In the end, the Swans midfield ran too deep for the Blues, especially with James Jordon restricting Walsh to 20 disposals, his fewest in a full game since 2021. Cripps gathered 24 touches but wasn't able to have a huge impact and with Adam Cerra sidelined, the Blues' top-liners need more support from their next tier of midfielders if they are to match it with the premiership contenders. - Martin Pegan

Patrick Cripps in action during the R10 match between Carlton and Sydney at the SCG on May 17, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

2) This Pie continues to overcome adversity

John Noble has always been a fighter. First it was the growth challenges he experienced as a child. Then it was a lack of AFL interest until Collingwood plucked him from West Adelaide in the middle of 2019 at the age of 22. More recently it was the pain of watching on last September as his teammates became premiership players. But on Saturday against Adelaide, Noble produced one of the best performances of his career in game No.100, finishing with 29 disposals, 535m gained and a goal, becoming the first mid-season draftee since it was reintroduced in 2019 to reach the milestone. If the Magpies are to go back-to-back this September, Noble will be a key reason why and he is playing with a point to prove. - Josh Gabelich


3) The Ed Richards move has been a masterstroke

Ed Richards has been an invaluable addition to the Bulldogs' midfield over the past two matches after making 111 appearances mostly as a dashing defender. The 24-year-old has brought the pace and flair that he's been known for down back, while ensuring the grunt that might otherwise have been lost in the absence of Tom Liberatore has remained. Richards had never had more than three clearances in a match until he gathered seven last week, and he bettered that against the Giants on Saturday with 10 more along with 27 disposals for 673m gained. It was a complete performance that points to the sort of midfield refresh that coach Luke Beveridge has been searching for. Beveridge has copped plenty of criticism for playing some of his players out of position, but he's got this one right so far. - Martin Pegan

Ed Richards during the Western Bulldogs' match against Richmond in R9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

4) The Eagles have their home back 

Waalitj Marawar's advantage at Optus Stadium crumbled through a horror two-year run, but the formidable atmosphere that can be generated by a massive fan base is returning. The Eagles have won three of their past four home games after Sunday's stunning upset over the Demons and the crowds have returned as a result. Last year, the two Derbies were the Eagles' only two games with crowds above 50,000. This year they have topped that mark in consecutive home games against Essendon and now Melbourne. It is clear the team – and its young star Harley Reid – is generating momentum from the crowd, which roared to life when the No.1 Draft pick kicked his two goals on Sunday. St Kilda, North Melbourne and Hawthorn are the Eagles' next three opponents at home in games they should enter as favourites. – Nathan Schmook 


5) The Cats may need to re-think their selection strategy

Chris Scott and his Geelong football department have made an art of managing their experienced personnel through a long season, doing it to perfection in 2022 as they stormed through September to a premiership. However, following three consecutive losses, they might need to re-visit the strategy this season. Already missing stars Patrick Dangerfield (hamstring) and Jeremy Cameron (concussion) against Gold Coast, the Cats rested Tom Hawkins, Mitch Duncan and Rhys Stanley, then lost Sam De Koning (hamstring) before the first bounce and were run ragged by the Suns. They are still sitting in a nice spot with a 7-3 win-loss record, but Scott himself conceded the weekly juggling act might need some investigation after the recent hiccups. "We shouldn't just shake it off … maybe there is an element of not quite having that cohesion we'd like at the moment," he said. The want of short-term wins versus long-term health is a difficult juggling act. – Michael Whiting

Crhis Scott looks dejected after a loss during round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

6) These two are helping to re-shape the ruck role

Luke Jackson and Rowan Marshall are in the top handful of rucks in the competition (even if Jackson is set to spend more time forward when Sean Darcy returns next week) and the pair went head-to-head in an entertaining battle on Saturday night. The numbers they put up were astounding; Marshall topped the entire field for disposals with 31 while also recording 39 hitouts, eight clearances and 366m gained. Jackson also finished with 39 hitouts, 25 touches and 10 clearances (the most of any player on the ground), although he only had 56m gained. Both rucks are among a group who are increasingly willing to grab the ball from the contest themselves rather than simply tapping it to the smaller men at their feet, with Marshall preferring to boot it as quickly as possible and Jackson (22 handballs) leaning towards using quick hands to a teammate – Sarah Black.

Luke Jackson and Rowan Marshall in a ruck contest during the R10, 2024 match between St Kilda and Walyalup. Picture: AFL Photos

7) Dayne Zorko needs to play on in 2025

Not only is Dayne Zorko Brisbane's oldest player this season, the 35-year-old could possibly be its best through 10 rounds. After some prolonged negotiations between player and club at the end of last season to extend his career by another 12 months, the five-time best and fairest winner has been on a tear in 2024. His 35 disposals and a goal against Richmond on Saturday continued a stellar season and came two weeks after a career-high 40 possessions against Gold Coast. Keidean Coleman's season-ending knee injury in Opening Round put a huge dent in Brisbane's premiership hopes, but Zorko's adaptability to revert to half-back has been a saviour and will surely see him go on to a 14th season next year. – Michael Whiting

Dayne Zorko celebrates a goal during round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

8) There's been an upside to Mitch Lewis' injury

There's no doubt Hawthorn would love injured spearhead Mitch Lewis back in the senior side, but his absence has allowed a host of other Hawks to show what they can do. Blake Hardwick's return to the forward line has been a revelation and he sparked Sam Mitchell's side early against Yartapuulti on Sunday, while youngster Calsher Dear continues to impress and looks to be a player for the future. And Mabior Chol, who copped a handful of Bronx cheers against Sydney in round seven, looked dangerous throughout the day in his return as he offered yet another forward option. Lewis has been out of action since round three and while he'll be welcomed back when he's ready to go, the Hawks are doing well without him. - Martin Smith


9) It's a slow build, but Sunday showed why North has hope

Except for a disappointing third quarter, North Melbourne went toe-to-toe with Essendon in Sunday's 40-point loss at Marvel Stadium. The Roos, who are yet to win a match this year, conceded eight goals in the third term but broke even for the remainder of the game, including winning both the second and fourth quarters. The Roos debuted a key defender in Wil Dawson to play on Peter Wright, was without co-captain Jy Simpkin and lost fellow defender Miller Bergman in the second half due to a hamstring injury, but still fought hard. It was off the back of talented young trio Luke Davies-Uniacke, Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw that the Roos steadied and seriously challenged the Bombers for much of the game. It has been a long, hard road for North Melbourne fans and while it may only be one game, and it was another loss at the end of the day, Sunday's performance showed there is some light at the end of the tunnel. - Gemma Bastiani