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Nine things we learned: Is there method to Port's madness?

The 10: round 21's best moments Goals galore and a freaky weather event headlines this weekend's standout plays
1. Maybe there is a method to Power's selection madness

Port Adelaide hasn't been afraid to axe big names, this year with Charlie Dixon, Paddy Ryder and Justin Westhoff all having spent time in the reserves. But the trio, along with others who have gone up and down, are hitting their straps when it counts. Dixon bagged three goals in Saturday’s 47-point thumping of Sydney, Ryder kicked one along with sharing the ruck duties with Peter Ladhams, and Westhoff has shown he's the ultimate Mr Fix-It, plugging holes in defence. Tom Rockliff and Todd Marshall have also returned in better form after getting a chance to improve their games in the SANFL. - Lee Gaskin

 
2. We still don't know how good the Pies are

Little in the past fortnight's victories over Gold Coast and Melbourne convinced us of Collingwood's bona fides. They trailed early in both games against the AFL's cellar-dwellers before comfortably winning, albeit after conceding the final four goals to the Demons. The Magpies will almost certainly miss out on a top-four spot, meaning they'll have to play every week of the finals to go all the way, which will be no mean feat but not impossible. Some of the cavalry should be back on deck soon – Jordan De Goey, Darcy Moore, Jaidyn Stephenson and James Aish – but they need a lift all over the ground to cause any finals fireworks. Is Jordan Roughead the answer in Mason Cox's absence, or could Moore return to his forward roots to be the September storyline? Match-ups with the Crows (in Adelaide) and Bombers will help us figure out whether Collingwood is capable of rising to the occasion. - Marc McGowan

THE RUN HOME How high can these Dogs go?

 
3. Quinton Narkle gives the Cats something they need

The Cats made Narkle earn his return to the senior team, with the 21-year-old not playing an AFL game this season until Saturday night's demolition of North Melbourne. But Narkle showed why he should be well and truly in Geelong's finals plans, with a standout performance against the Roos. Narkle had 21 disposals and booted 2.2 in a strong performance, but most importantly he added some genuine spark and creativity to a Geelong line-up that has lacked verve at stages in the past eight weeks. It's a good time to come into the Cats' side for Narkle with two games to go before a qualifying final, and Geelong's coaching panel will be pleased with the options he provides in attack and the midfield. – Callum Twomey

 
4. Never doubt the Brisbane medical team

When Dayne Zorko was named to lead Brisbane against Gold Coast, there were plenty of eyebrows raised around the country. Just six days before playing the Suns, Zorko had left the field early in the Lions' victory over the Western Bulldogs, icing his left hamstring. Although scans came back clear, it was widely thought the dynamic Brisbane captain would rest against the Suns, leaving himself fresh for more important matches in the future. But Zorko was named, played, and starred, racking up 25 disposals and kicking two goals in a performance bettered only by six goals from Charlie Cameron. With a near-immaculate record over three seasons, Brisbane's medical – and high performance – team again proved why it is arguably the best in the competition. - Michael Whiting

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Dumped Sun shines, Power ruck's day out

 
5. The most improved is a Dog, by some distance

The AFL doesn't have an NBA-style 'Most Improved' player award at season's end, but if it did, Josh Dunkley would have the title sewn up. A permanent move into the midfield this year has enabled the big-bodied Dunkley to enjoy career-highs in virtually every key statistical indictor. It's also made him one of the League's most damaging and consistent onballers. Complementing important duo Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae with his ability to win his own footy, gain separation at stoppages and impact on the scoreboard, Dunkley set the tempo for the Dogs' dominance against the Bombers on Saturday night. He had 16 disposals, 11 contested possessions, five clearances and a goal by quarter-time, finishing as a clear best on ground for the evening. His class around the ball is crucial and, at just 22 years of age, it's hard to see him slowing down any time soon. – Riley Beveridge

 
6. Darcy Fogarty's lengthy stint in the SANFL is a headscratcher

From the moment the Crows handed Fogarty club legend Mark Ricciuto's number 32 it was obvious how highly they rated the young key forward, and his first season lived up to the billing. Fogarty, taken with pick No.12 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, played 10 games and booted nine goals last year, impressing with his power, booming kick and overhead strength. So with the Crows faltering this season and Josh Jenkins battling to hold his spot, it's baffling how the 19-year-old couldn't force his way into the line-up until last week, amid stints down back at state league level. Fogarty showed against West Coast on Sunday just how talented he is with a brilliant five-goal bag which almost inspired the Crows to a stunning upset. We're tipping he won't spend much more time in the SANFL during his career. - Travis King

BARRETT The two biggest embarrassments from round 21

 
7. Is Dion Prestia Richmond's most underrated player?

In game 150, the midfielder affectionately known as "the human meatball" by his teammates was first class. In an onball brigade missing leaders Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and Dustin Martin (soreness), Prestia relished the wet conditions against Carlton on Sunday. With 17 disposals to half-time, Prestia didn't slow up, finishing with 35, a whopping 11 clearances and nine inside 50s. Previously plagued with soft-tissue injuries, an uninterrupted pre-season has done wonders for the 26-year-old, averaging 27 touches this year. Shane Edwards is often mentioned as an underrated player, but Prestia may just have slipped under the radar. - Sarah Black

8. Harry Himmelberg is the man the Giants missed the most

He's not the biggest name on the Greater Western Sydney's injury list, but Himmelberg's absence against Hawthorn with a calf issue caused Leon Cameron his biggest headache. Not only does the athletic key forward lead the competition for goal assists, his work in tandem with Jeremy Cameron allows both players to isolate opponents wherever they feel they have an advantage. Without Himmelberg – and Jeremy Finlayson – against the Hawks, Cameron used Shane Mumford and Dawson Simpson as tall targets inside 50, but with both big men lacking mobility, their presence in attack was more hindrance than help. Himmelberg's creativity makes him one of the game's most dangerous forwards, and the Giants need him back quickly if they're any chance of being a finals threat. – Adam Curley

The Giants were all at sea against the Hawks without Harry Himmelberg in the line-up. Picture: AFL Photos

9. A happy Jack and a fit Dan make a massive difference

Following influential performances by their two most experienced midfielders Jack Steven and Dan Hannebery in their last-gasp win over Fremantle, the Saints were left to rue what might have been as they contemplate another season without finals action. A seemingly underdone Steven, returning from a mental health break, finished strongly to have 22 touches and kick a game-high three goals, including late snap that gave his team a chance at victory. Ex-Swan Hannebery, in just his third game for his new club, ended up with 23 possessions, six tackles and two goals. Forty-five possessions and five goals between them wasn't a bad return given their recent history and the fact it was the first time the pair had played together. - Ben Collins

 

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