Nick Daicos gestures during Collingwood's clash against Melbourne in round 13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IN THIS week's Things We Learned, we discover the Crows have lost their sizzle, the 'Rascal pack' can lift the Hawks to finals and much, much more.

Check out what we learned from round 13 of the 2024 season.


1) The one thing Daicos still has to learn

Nick Daicos can be stopped. It didn't change the outcome, but Alex Neal-Bullen's performance on the Brownlow Medal contender was one of the most telling on King's Birthday. After a brilliant patch of form where the Collingwood superstar amassed 47 of a possible 50 coaches votes in the previous five rounds, Neal-Bullen trailed Daicos around the MCG like a caravan and didn't give him any space until he was subbed out of the game with a corked shin. By that stage, Daicos had only collected a season-low 15 disposals – well down on his season average before the start of the day of 31.8 – by halfway through the third quarter. Daicos still finished with seven clearances but didn't have a real impact, showing he needs to find ways to break a tag in future after Finn Maginness clamped him last year and Marcus Windhager restricted his brilliance in round two. Clubs might look at this as the blueprint to stopping the 21-year-old, although there aren't many better two-way runners and disciplined players in the AFL than Neal-Bullen. – Josh Gabelich

Nick Daicos in action during Collingwood's clash against Melbourne in round 13, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

2) The 'rascal pack' could lift the Hawks to finals

The upstarts from Waverley Park are driving a stunning resurgence that has put Hawthorn firmly in contention for the unlikeliest of finals berths. After starting the season 0-5, the Hawks now sit just one game outside the eight, with Saturday's win over the Giants again coming on the back of their up and firing young brigade. Will Day was a clear best on ground, Connor Macdonald was electric in attack and Mabior Chol gave his side a serious spark with two goals and a spectacular hanger in the opening term. Jack Ginnivan, Massimo D'Ambrosio, Changkuoth Jiath, Blake Hardwick and Dylan Moore are others who have been instrumental in the Hawks' rapid rise in recent weeks. Coach Sam Mitchell affectionately referred to the group as the 'rascal pack' after last week's win and these rascals will be key to bringing the Hawks the ultimate success in the not-too-distant future. – Alison O'Connor

Jack Ginnivan, Connor Macdonald, Dylan Moore and Massimo D'Ambrosio after Hawthorn's win over GWS in R13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

3) The struggling Crows have lost their sizzle

From the highest scoring team in 2023 to bottom half of the pack in 2024 - and almost completely out of finals contention - Adelaide's drop off this season has been stark. Yes, there was no Taylor Walker, Izak Rankine and Riley Thilthorpe against the Tigers on Thursday night, but aside from the odd swift transition following a turnover, they looked bereft of ideas to genuinely challenge their young opponents. The Crows mustered just 46 inside 50s and were a shell of the team that dazzled with ball in hand last year. Josh Rachele showed some promising signs and Rankine is not far from returning after his hamstring problem, but if Adelaide is to have any hope of regaining its confidence and salvaging its season, it has to release any mental shackles and play a restrained version of carefree footy – starting with Sydney on Saturday night. – Michael Whiting

Adelaide players after their loss to Richmond in R13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

4) An Archer in defence suits the Roos 

Saturday's performance against West Coast could prove the breakout game that helps Jackson Archer become a regular fixture in the North Melbourne backline after two-and-a-half seasons. The son of champion backman Glenn Archer, the 21-year-old was terrific in a shutdown job on Liam Ryan, holding the dangerous Eagles forward to one disposal in the second quarter before the Eagles moved him for a burst onball. Archer played with desperation and commitment to his defensive role, with the in-form Ryan ending the game with just one mark, but he was also composed with 12 disposals. In a deserving road win full of spirit and determination, Archer played with those traits and looked as excited as any player when his first win as a Kangaroo was sealed. – Nathan Schmook   

Jackson Archer celebrates after the R13 match between North Melbourne and West Coast at Optus Stadium on June 8, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

5) Dogs will be made, or broken, by their midfield success

In round 12, the Dogs claimed an important win over Collingwood by taking charge in the midfield, and on Friday night it was that same area of the ground that ultimately lost them the game against Brisbane. The midfield is the Bulldogs' barometer, dictating the peaks and valleys of its season, and even with Tom Liberatore returning from a month out with concussion, they simply could not compete with the Lions' onball contingent. Reigning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale was allowed to roam free, while the likes of Josh Dunkley and Jarrod Berry played crucial roles. This spells danger ahead of the side's battle with Fremantle next week as the Dogs must contend with the likes of Caleb Serong, Andy Brayshaw and Hayden Young if they are any hope of heading into the bye with a win. – Gemma Bastiani

Lachie Neale is tackled by Ryley Sanders and Adam Treloar during the R13 match between Brisbane and Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on June 7, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

6) Jezza needs to play closer to goal

Geelong looked to have bounced straight back into premiership contention as it started the year with seven straight victories while Jeremy Cameron amassed 19 goals. But the Cats' season has unravelled since then with five losses from their next six matches, while their star spearhead has only added five more majors. Cameron has been useful playing further up the ground, including in the 30-point defeat to the Swans on Sunday, but he arguably had his greatest impact when moved to the goal square in the dying stages of the game. Cameron booted two goals to give the Cats a glimmer of hope and while it was ultimately too little, too late this time, it was perhaps a pointer to how Chris Scott's side can return to form in the second half of the season. – Martin Pegan

Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan celebrate a goal for Geelong against Sydney in R13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

7) The Suns won't play finals unless they shed road blues

There's no denying this Suns side is becoming a force to be reckoned with, but they won't be playing finals anytime soon if that reckoning is only on their home strip. The loss to St Kilda on Saturday night makes 13 consecutive road trip fails, stretching back to round 10 last year. In fact, Gold Coast has only saluted out of town 10 times in the past five-and-a-half seasons. Winning away is tough, but so is making finals. If Damien Hardwick doesn't find a way to achieve the first part of the equation, he can forget about the second, and September is going to be a long time coming if the Suns only shine in their own backyard. – Howard Kimber

Touk Miller looks dejected after the R13 match between Gold Coast and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on June 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

8) Carlton doesn't need Cripps and Walsh to star in order to win

The midfield duo of Paddy Cripps and Sam Walsh has been in tremendous form this year, at times imperious in their control of games, guiding Carlton over the line. But against Essendon, while the pair were certainly solid in their output, it was ruck Tom De Koning who controlled the clearances, George Hewett doing a lot of heavy lifting in the stoppages and Elijah Hollands providing a key link into attack. Coach Michael Voss rightly said the pair performed well, but was pleased in the well-rounded team performance. In a worrying sign for the rest of the competition, the game showed the duo no longer shoulder all the load. – Sarah Black

Patrick Cripps celebrates after Carlton's win over Essendon at the MCG in round 13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos