In this week's Nine things we learned, brought to you by Haier, the world's No.1 appliance maker, we learn that big money doesn't always equal big performance, two clubs need to fix their ruck situation and class is permanent when it comes to Robbie Gray.
1. The Saints need more from Bradley Hill
The former Docker star and three-time Hawthorn premiership wingman looked ready to put his quieter form behind him against the Crows on Monday night, having started the game promisingly with nine disposals in the first half. But Hill gathered only three more for the game and had little influence as Adelaide made its charge and challenged the Saints. That the Saints steadied, took the hit and then landed a few of their own to run out 23-point winners without Hill having a major influence is a plus. But given the lucrative nature of his mammoth six-year deal at St Kilda, they'll be keen for more from the 27-year-old and he, too, will know he can be more damaging than he has been so far this season. Hill has averaged 15 disposals in seven appearances and 10 in the past three weeks. If he can get going, so too might the Saints' push up the ladder.
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2. Geelong still relies heavily on Joel Selwood
Thursday night's loss to Collingwood was a flat performance from the Cats, who tallied their lowest score since 2001, but it also highlighted how crucial their skipper Selwood still is to their flag hopes. Selwood went off early in the game with a hamstring niggle, adding to an already-depleted midfield group with Mitch Duncan missing with his own hamstring strain. But Selwood's absence exposed a hole in Geelong's midfield that even the might of Patrick Dangerfield can’t fill. The Magpies took advantage of that, with Adam Treloar, Scott Pendlebury and Taylor Adams running rampant and setting up the win alongside the five-goal performance of Jordan De Goey. After the departure of gun midfielder Tim Kelly last year the Cats have been searching for some new faces in the midfield, but last week underlined the importance of Selwood, who remains as vital to his side’s chances in his 14th AFL season as his first. - Callum Twomey
3. Form is temporary, class is permanent
Robbie Gray has had a slow start to 2020, and against Carlton he was having another so-so game. That was until the dying seconds. His spectacular after-the-siren goal from the boundary not only gave Port Adelaide the four premiership points and kept it on top of the ladder, but reminded us all he is a star of the competition. We shouldn't be surprised he came through when his team needed him the most. "I've been lucky to be around a lot of great players, and Rob fits in that category," his coach Ken Hinkley said. "You just never under-estimate what the champs of the game can do. Normally the bigger the moment, the bigger they get." Sums up Robbie Gray well. - Michael Whiting
4. The Giants have a tough ruck call to make…
Bringing in Sam Jacobs on a two-year deal to chase a flag looked an inspired decision after his round one performance against Geelong. But after a round three drubbing at the hands of Tim English, Jacobs hasn't played for a month. Instead, the Giants continue to back in 34-year-old Shane Mumford, who considered retiring for a second time at the end of last year. While he split the hitouts (21 apiece) with Lion Stefan Martin on Saturday, Mumford gave away three free kicks including one from a stoppage that cost a crucial goal in the third term. And it was only a week after he lowered his colours to Port Adelaide's Scott Lycett. It leaves Leon Cameron with a big call at 3-4 ahead of facing Richmond pair Ivan Soldo and Mabior Chol on Friday night. - Mitch Cleary
5. … and so do the Bombers
While Tim English continued his breakout season with a best-on-ground performance on Friday night, his dominance again highlighted Essendon's need to resolve its issues in that part of the ground. Andrew Phillips won the hitouts but that was about it, as English led the Bulldogs to a comfortable win with his terrific follow-up work and aerial presence around the ground. Tom Bellchambers has been 'managed' the two weeks and coach John Worsfold says he's now moving well and ready to put his hand up. The Bombers need him, and need him to play well. Sam Draper is the other option, having now played a couple of matches after recovering from ACL surgery. Whether there's a change or Phillips holds his spot, Essendon needs more from the ruck. - Michael Whiting
6. Demon is no longer just on 'track' – he's arrived
Four Melbourne midfielders had more centre attendances last year than Christian Petracca, who didn't have even half as many as the fourth-ranked of those. It was still Petracca's best season at AFL level but he went under the radar because of the Demons' woeful campaign. Multiple rival clubs asked about him post-season but he stayed put, then re-signed for two more seasons in February. That followed Petracca's outstanding Marsh Community Series outing against Adelaide. Melbourne promised him more midfield time and he's delivered on that faith. Petracca's averaging career highs in disposals (24.5), contested possessions (11.7), clearances (3) and score assists (1.5) despite the shorter quarters. Watching him bulldoze through a flock of Hawks in the first quarter on Sunday, a week after kicking the sealing goal against Gold Coast, was a reminder of how powerful and talented he is. He's now a legitimate star who should figure prominently in Brownlow Medal voting in 2020. – Marc McGowan
7. This Tigers season is starting to look like 2019
Last year Richmond were smashed by injuries to key players and entered the bye wobbling with a 7-6 record. We know what happened after that. This season the Tigers won just one of their first four games, and after a round five win over Melbourne had to confront the reality of missing Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli, Shane Edwards and Toby Nankervis for the short-to-medium term future. But following Saturday night's drubbing of North Melbourne things are looking rosy again, particularly with some new faces leading the way. Derek Eggmolesse-Smith was polished off half-back, Shai Bolton was explosive in the midfield and Jack Higgins was busy all night. Watch out when the full complement returns. - Michael Whiting
8. Taberner can be Fremantle's No.1 forward
He's prone to brain fades, but Matthew Taberner is ready to be Fremantle's No.1 man. The forward was on fire against the Eagles in the first quarter kicking two goals, grabbing three contested marks and claiming two free kicks in aerial contests. Jesse Hogan's run with injuries is still an issue and Rory Lobb looks better as a second option. He's tantalised with games like these in the past, but he's kicked a goal in every game this year and finally looks consistent. – Jourdan Canil
9. 'The Cannon' has returned to Gold Coast
The attention has been on Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Izak Rankine – and with good reason. But don't sleep on how well Jack Lukosius is travelling. The former No.2 draft pick is enjoying a really promising season across half-back for the Suns, demonstrating the value of his incredible kicking skills on Saturday. If former Gold Coast defender Trent McKenzie was the AFL's first 'Cannon', Lukosius is ensuring that nickname remains at Metricon Stadium. His remarkable 55m set-shot sailed through post-height in Saturday's win over Sydney, just one of a number of pinpoint right-footed efforts he delivered with precision at the SCG. His intercept and defensive work is still improving, but what Lukosius can add offensively with his beautiful kicking ability is another important facet of the Suns' exciting potential. - Riley Beveridge