Main content

Nine things we learned: Never-say-die Lions bring the Gabbatoir back

The 10: round 22's best moments Remarkable endings to top-four epics, emotional farewells and the high-flyers are back
1. Brisbane is never dead at the Gabba

Trailing by 17 points and having kicked just seven goals through three-and-a-half quarters, the Lions looked cooked on Saturday. But we should know better by now. Brisbane has made a habit of overturning deficits at the Gabba in 2019, and against Geelong they orchestrated another unlikely victory. This time it was goals to Jarryd Lyons, the irrepressible Charlie Cameron and the unforgettable Lincoln McCarthy that got the job done. But it's not the first time they've looked dead but found life. Brisbane has won 10 of its 11 Gabba games this season, but not many have come easily. They've overturned five-goal deficits against West Coast, Hawthorn and North Melbourne and have added the Cats to Port Adelaide as victims that have handy final-quarter leads. The Gabbatoir is back. - Michael Whiting

BARRETT Two games of the season, one magical round

2. There's nothing quite like a big bag of goals

In the golden, early-1990s era of Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall and Gary Ablett, 10-goal-plus hauls were a regular occurrence. They were exciting then, but they're even more exhilarating now. Why? Because they're so rare. No player had kicked more than seven goals in a game this year until Kangaroo Ben Brown dined out on Port Adelaide with 10 of the best on Saturday night. Whether games like that become commonplace again is up for debate, but, gee, it was fun to see it. Brown kicked most of them from set shots, but he also proved several times just how nimble and skilled he is for a man of 200cm. There was a gather and quick dribble attempt in the second quarter. His fourth major was a remarkable snap from the pocket that bounced through from the goalsquare and barely evaded Power defenders. Then, most impressive of all, was his decision to boldly play on after a third-quarter mark, followed by a checkside attempt that snuck in for his eighth goal. Sure, North's midfielders and Todd Goldstein gave him lots of opportunity, but Brown was magnificent. We salute you. - Marc McGowan

3. Eagles are sweating on their No.1 Dusty stopper

West Coast does not yet know the extent of Mark Hutchings' hamstring injury but the club will hope the issue is not still present should the Eagles meet the Tigers again this September. When the Eagles tagger came from the field late in the first quarter on Sunday, Martin took his chance to grab the contest by the scruff of its neck. The 2017 Brownlow Medal winner racked up 20 disposals, four clearances and seven inside 50s by half-time, helping to drag Richmond back from five goals down late in the first term to a manageable position by the main interval. Although the Eagles hadn't tagged Martin from the outset, coach Adam Simpson said the loss of Hutchings robbed them of that option once the Richmond superstar got off the chain. Returning to his best form over the last two months, Martin looms as a September difference-maker. Opposition sides will subsequently be concocting ways of trying to stop him throughout an eagerly anticipated finals series. Not having Hutchings available could leave the Eagles with one less option. - Riley Beveridge

AROUND THE STATE LEAGUES Port ruck shines, new Tiger pushes his case

4. Daisy is unlucky to miss out on a contract in 2020

He may have just announced his decision to hang up the boots, but Dale 'Daisy' Thomas showed no signs of his impending retirement against St Kilda. The veteran defender's composure shone in a manic, error-strewn match, finishing with 19 disposals at 84 per cent and seven rebound 50s. Thomas was informed by the Blues that he would not be offered a contract next season, but said he was open to offers from other clubs. On the form he showed on Saturday, he could be a handy pick-up for a club looking for experience and polish. - Sarah Black

5. Sydney hasn't wasted its down year 

The Swans can exit 2019 knowing gains have been made with their younger players and that they haven't simply limped to the line. For the first time since 2009, the club won't be featuring in the finals, and they are destined for a bottom-five finish on the ladder. But, as their strong win over Melbourne on Friday night showed, the Swans haven't let the chance slip to blood serious time and games into their youngsters. Ollie Florent was best afield against the Demons and is an emerging gun of the competition, Jordan Dawson kicked two goals and continued his fine form, Tom McCartin kicked two goals and will be better for having Lance Franklin by his side, James Rowbottom kicked two majors and has speed and Nick Blakey spent more time in the midfield to gather 17 disposals and a goal. There's plenty there to work with for the Swans heading into 2020. - Callum Twomey 

6. Essendon has work to do to make an impact in September

After two horror defeats, the Bombers loaded up with players coming back from injury against Fremantle knowing they couldn't leave qualifying for finals to a nervy round 23 encounter against Collingwood. On that side of things, it was a tick for John Worsfold's men when they accounted for the Dockers by 32 points on Saturday night, sewing up a September berth. But some of the numbers coming out of the clash should still worry Worsfold. If the Dockers' woeful skill execution and decision-making had been even marginally better, they could have seriously threatened after dominating disposals (+72), contested possessions (+55), clearances (+14) and inside 50s (+11). Just getting to finals shouldn't be enough for the Dons, who have the talent to at least win in September for the first time in 15 years. But if they allow better opposition to command the key stats like Fremantle it will be a short and unfulfilling post-season. - Travis King

7. The Giants are stumbling into the finals

They welcomed some stars back against the Bulldogs and expect to do the same again for the last match of the year against Gold Coast, but the Giants' personnel isn't their biggest worry. After a poor performance in which they kicked just four goals against Hawthorn in round 21, GWS was expected to respond fiercely at Giants Stadium, but gave up the first three majors to the Dogs. They managed to stem the flow and gain control of the clash to lead by as much as 15 points in the second term, but then watched on as the visitors piled on the final 12 goals of the game. The Giants were dominated by a team that played with more intensity, discipline and effort. They shouldn't have any issues with the Suns to seal a home elimination final, but to go any further, there needs to be a major shift in attitude. - Adam Curley

FANTASY FORM WATCH 'Pure piggery' could result in another snouting

8. Adelaide needs a major overhaul during the off-season

Irrespective of whether the Crows fall into the finals, there has to be a comprehensive, and most importantly, independent review of the club's entire operations at the end of the season. With their season on the line, the Crows turned in an insipid display in their 66-point loss to Collingwood at Adelaide Oval on Sunday – their largest defeat of the year. Don Pyke's side has now lost six of their past eight games and appears short of confidence and ideas. It will be the second straight year the Crows have missed the finals since reaching the 2017 Grand Final. The Crows will have a busy September and October dealing with the futures of several older players and re-invigorating the playing list with young talent. - Lee Gaskin

Sam Jacobs is chaired off after his 200th game on Saturday evening. Picture: AFL Photos

9. Hawthorn's preparation should serve it well as it attempts a massive upset

In ordinary circumstances, the Hawks would be considered to have basically zero chance of beating reigning premier West Coast on its home turf, in a crucial contest for the side's finals hopes. Events on Sunday have evened things up though. The Eagles were involved in a classic contest with fellow flag fancy Richmond at the MCG, and there are sure to be a few sore bodies out of that match. Meanwhile, Hawthorn had the luxury of a bruise-free contest against a Gold Coast team that offered precious little resistance, in perfect conditions under the roof at Marvel Stadium. The players should pull up feeling relatively fresh, and that bodes well ahead of a game they must win to have any chance of competing in September. - Dinny Navaratnam

THE RUN HOME Is another Clarko miracle on the cards?

Find In the Game on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify

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