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Six things we learned: Tigers won't win the flag

The 10: round 12's best moments The best highlights from the action across the weekend
1. Richmond won't win the flag

Consider these results: a 44-point loss to Collingwood in round two, a 49-point defeat at the hands of Greater Western Sydney the following week and a 67-point thumping by Geelong last Friday night. Those three teams are considered the main premiership threats, along with West Coast, which the Tigers haven't faced yet. Consider this as well: there were 10 teams with a percentage in the triple digits after Friday night. Richmond wasn't one of those, having sunk to a miserable 94.5 after the Cats clash. This Tigers side has turned it on in stages, but ultimately, looks a cut below the competition's elite. - Dinny Navaratnam

 
2. There's a fine line between success and failure

Caretaker coaches David Teague (Carlton) and Rhyce Shaw (North Melbourne) are now unbeaten across three combined games. The situations that led to their elevations were vastly different, but the on-field results since were somewhat parallel. What is patently obvious about Brendon Bolton's demise – regardless of your opinion of his coaching ability – is that he would still be there, if not for a series of games that narrowly went against him. Carlton could reasonably have won against Port Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast (remember that Jack Bowes goal?), Hawthorn and Collingwood. Go back and look closer at how those games went. Brisbane's Chris Fagan eloquently made that point after his Lions lost to the Blues on Saturday. Win even two of those, maybe three, and we'd more readily be discussing Carlton's progress. Of course, the Blues didn't, and there were reasons they didn't that mustn't be ignored in a body of work that became overwhelming damning. However, this is a none-too-subtle reminder of how cut-throat the AFL industry is. - Marc McGowan

ANALYSIS Can the revived Blues match the Lions' rapid rise?

 
3. This might be the year Ben Cunnington becomes an All Australian

Yes, Cunnington plays in the most difficult part of the ground to be selected, but the North Melbourne bulldozer is making a hell of a case to earn his first All Australian selection. Against the Suns he was sublime, clearing the ball a staggering 14 times – an equal career high – among his 31 disposals. The 27-year-old is ranked first in the AFL for contested possessions (the stat most coaches agree is the game's most important) and clearances. Patrick Cripps, Lachie Neale, Tim Kelly, Stephen Coniglio and Nat Fyfe (among others) have built strong cases through the first half of the season, but if Cunnington continues this form, the AA selectors will have no choice but to honour the Kangaroo for the first time. - Michael Whiting

4. O'Brien stakes claim to be the Crows' premier ruckman

Experienced big man Sam Jacobs could find it hard to unseat Reilly O'Brien after he was influential in Adelaide's last-quarter comeback against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday night. In just his 12th career game, and 10th in a row this season, 23-year-old O'Brien got the edge over Giants enforcer Shane Mumford, winning crucial clearances, dominating on the ground and holding his own in ruck contests. O'Brien has improved every week, leaving coach Don Pyke, who has shown this season with Bryce Gibbs and Josh Jenkins that reputations count for little, with another selection headache. It's hard to see Jacobs – who has had two games back in the SANFL after a long layoff with a knee injury – being considered off a five-day break for Thursday night's encounter with Richmond, but the decision will loom large after the bye. O'Brien and 198-game veteran Jacobs, 31, are both off-contract at the end of the season, while the Crows will also ask the question of Collingwood's All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy if he wants to return home to South Australia. - Lee Gaskin

5. Stephenson could be anything … If he kicks straight

The Pies weren't necessarily screaming out for dangerous X-factors in the forward line, but the addition of youngster Jaidyn Stephenson last season certainly gave them another. Monday afternoon's Queen's Birthday clash might have been his best display yet. It certainly would have been, had he put his kicking boots on. Stephenson's dash is remarkable, his ability to put space on opponents on the lead is just as good, while his aerial work adds another dimension to the threat he provides in the forward line. Against Melbourne, he demonstrated all of those abilities to finish with 18 disposals and three goals. He put a further three – all makeable opportunities from within 40m of goal – were sent wide of the target. He provides a perfect foil for Jordan De Goey – and might one day prove just as good as his A-grade teammate, so long as he improves his ability to finish in front of goal. - Riley Beveridge

 
6. Sydney might have undergone the quickest rebuild in history

This is, quite frankly, stunning. The Swans look a completely different side to the one that started the season 1-6. That team looked lethargic, and the battle-weary warriors that served it so well for so long, helping lead it to finals in 15 of the past 16 seasons, didn't seem like they could carry this outfit to September. That won't happen in 2019 but looking at the form on show in the past five weeks, with victories over Essendon and North Melbourne, followed by competitive outings against Collingwood and Geelong, then capped off with a thumping of reigning premier West Coast, who's to say a swift rebound isn't on the cards? The way John Longmire's men controlled the footy against the Eagles, held firm in defence and gave their potent forward set-up a chance to thrive was ultra-impressive. Oh, and Lance Franklin is still among the best players in the competition. They'll be all right, the Swans. - Dinny Navaratnam

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs