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Nine things we learned: The top two recruits of 2019 are Lions

Jarryd Lyons has been one of the keys to Brisbane's resurgence this season. All pictures: AFL Photos - AFL,Things we Learned,Tag-Opinion
Jarryd Lyons has been one of the keys to Brisbane's resurgence this season. All pictures: AFL Photos
1. Brisbane has not just the Recruit of the Year – but the top two

Lachie Neale has rightfully got many of the plaudits for the Lions' rise up the ladder in 2019, averaging 32 disposals in his first season after transferring from Fremantle. He is a weekly model of perpetual motion and hunger for the football. But in Jarryd Lyons, Neale has a midfield mate that is rapidly climbing the Lions' best and fairest leaderboard and making opposition coaches scratch their heads with who to shut down. Just six days after 36 disposals and a best-afield display against Port Adelaide, Lyons – delisted by Gold Coast and snapped up by Brisbane on a three-year deal – racked up another 30 and two goals against North Melbourne. His nose for the ball is the perfect complement to Brisbane's exciting midfield. While Tom Lynch (Richmond), Jordan Roughead (Collingwood), Luke Dahlhaus (Geelong) and Jared Polec (North Melbourne) are all having fine seasons at their new club, this one-two punch has been a recruiting masterstroke. - Michael Whiting

 
2. St Kilda might have found the next Bont

A lot has been made of St Kilda's apparent lack of A-grade talent. But they have found an absolute gem in Hunter Clark. The similarities between he and his direct opponent for much of Sunday evening's clash, Marcus Bontempelli, were quite striking. Clark might be a little smaller in stature than Bontempelli, but his reach and guile helps him find space in congested situations in a manner his Western Bulldogs counterpart has become known for. Clark's class was on full display at Marvel Stadium, particularly forward of centre where he was able to later move and impact on the scoreboard. His two goals complemented 26 disposals, six marks and three clearances in a performance that will leave St Kilda fans with plenty to be excited about. All of a sudden, there's plenty of promise in a collection of first-round picks that includes Clark, Jade Gresham, Nick Coffield and Max King. - Riley Beveridge

 
3. Too many people delight in sucking the fun out of footy

We should have expected what was to come when Xavier Duursma whipped out his imaginary arrow – not for the first time, and hopefully not the last – and shot it into the sky on Saturday. Duursma moments earlier launched himself into the air to pluck a great grab, and followed it with a clutch goal to drag Port Adelaide within 16 points of Richmond in the third quarter. Tigers fans booed when the teenager's celebration was replayed on the MCG scoreboard. Power coach Ken Hinkley then told us post-match he would speak to Duursma about picking the right time and moment, and the optics of the celebration, while telling us no fewer than three times how "humble" his player was. Why, Ken? To your credit, you pointed out we shouldn't encourage footballers to be "boring" and Duursma was just trying to inspire his teammates, but don't pander to the eternally offended. Football is about entertainment as much as anything else, and Duursma was just doing his bit for that cause. - Marc McGowan

   
4. Jack Darling is indisputably the dominant figure in West Coast's forward line

Josh Kennedy will go down as an Eagles great. The dual Coleman medallist has been the spearhead for a long time and is six goals away from 600 in his career. With his 32nd birthday looming next month though, the mantle has been passed. Kennedy booted two goals in a win over Melbourne but was otherwise barely sighted. On the other hand, his partner-in-crime Jack Darling was superb, clunking four contested marks and booting the same number of goals. It topped off a week when the club announced it had signed him up until the end of 2025. There have been plenty of doubters in Darling's career, from before he was drafted, going from a highly touted prospect and sliding to pick No.26 in 2010, to his infamous 2015 Grand Final blunder when he dropped a sitter as the Eagles were coming against Hawthorn. The 27-year-old has shaken all that off to become the main man in West Coast's forward line, and he will be pivotal again come September. - Dinny Navaratnam

Josh Kennedy congratulates Jack Darling on a goal against Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos

5. Crows will be easy finals fodder if they scrape into the top eight

The Crows are a middle-of-the-rung team that can't compete when the heat is applied in a close contest. The most concerning trend is they gave up nine straight goals against Port Adelaide in the second half of the round 16 Showdown, followed by 12 of the last 15 goals in Friday night's 21-point loss to Essendon. The eighth-placed Crows (9-8) could scrape into the finals with three wins (Carlton, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs) from their last five games, but they'll be cannon fodder for whoever they face. The Crows can't break momentum shifts, lack speed on the outside and turn the ball over too often. - Lee Gaskin

6. Captain Toby was an inspiring choice

With his entire leadership group missing, Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron picked Toby Greene to skipper his side against Collingwood. The bloke with a club-imposed ban, countless on-field brain fades, and puzzling off-season injuries on his resume. It was a brilliant decision. He could have gone with the experience of Heath Shaw or Brett Deledio, but Cameron knew the standing Greene holds at GWS. No Giant makes his teammates walk taller when he's on the field. Cameron also threw his stand-in skipper in at the opening centre bounce to lead a decimated midfield and at the first change, Greene had racked up 13 possessions. His team had kicked 8.2. The 25-year-old also booted two crucial goals when the Pies threatened early in the last term. Greene has always been the Giants' barometer and the way he's turned his career around is often overlooked, but no player was more important in the Giants' win that could have turned their stuttering season around. - Adam Curley

 
7. Mick Malthouse might have been right

It seems like an eternity ago that Mick Malthouse described Liam Jones as an "explosive animal". But having been scoffed at initially, Malthouse might be feeling vindicated five years later. Had it not been for a seven-week stint on the sidelines due to concussion, Jones might have found himself in All Australian contention this season. His performance on Saturday demonstrated why. Jones leapt at almost every Gold Coast entry throughout the afternoon – and claimed just about everything in his vicinity. Of his 19 disposals, 14 were intercepts, complementing 11 marks in what was his best display of the year to date. Rewarded with a three-year contract extension earlier this month, Jones has remarkably become one of Carlton's best, most influential and dependable players. - Riley Beveridge

8. The Cats need to get Gary Rohan firing again

Geelong's scoring issues in the past five weeks are certainly not resting on the shoulders of Gary Rohan, particularly as he missed one of those games through injury. But there's no doubt the Cats would like to have him back at the form he showed in the first half of the season. The former Sydney speedster kicked 20 goals in his first nine games at Geelong, and became a key element to a new-look forward set up that powered the Cats to the top of the ladder. But in the past seven games he has played, Rohan has managed only three goals, including one from just six disposals against Hawthorn in Sunday's loss. His unpredictability, sheer pace and goal sense became a feature of the Cats' forward half in a breakout start to the season, and they need his spark back as they set up for September. - Callum Twomey

9. There's life in Sandi's ageing legs yet

After a confusing week when Fremantle coach Ross Lyon admitted veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands was a chance to face Sydney or could be sidelined by yet another calf strain, the 36-year-old took his place on Saturday night and showed there is still some gas left in the tank. Sandilands took the opening bounce but then spent plenty of time inside 50 to give the Dockers a target and performed admirably, giving a contest in the air and throwing his considerable weight around at ground level, finishing with 14 touches, 17 hitouts and five clearances in his second game for the year. It was a gamble taking Sandilands in alongside Rory Lobb and Sean Darcy but the Dockers just made it work in a one-point victory. Whether we see it again, or only for home games, is up in the air, but at least the four-time All Australian and dual Doig medallist looks poised to be given the farewell his decorated career deserves in front of Freo's fans. - Travis King

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