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In this week's Nine things we learned, brought to you by Haier, the world's No.1 appliance maker, Carlton still hasn't worked out how to hold a lead, an Eagle reminds us of his greatness and a young Roo shows a glimpse of his enormous talent. 

BARRETT Controversy won't shake Pies from flag race

1. The Blues got ahead of themselves ... again

For the 13th time in 20 matches under David Teague, Carlton conceded a 30-point swing within a game on Friday afternoon. However, this one was perhaps the most frustrating of the lot. Leading by 31 points against a flat, almost-beaten Hawks outfit, the Blues conceded nine of the next 10 goals to watch the momentum completely slip from their grasp. Their deflating 31-point defeat sapped the energy from a finals tilt that was gathering steam. But it's not the first time this has happened in 2020. A dismal start blew any chance of a late comeback against Richmond in round one. An even slower start let an otherwise promising three-quarter display against Melbourne slip. A lethargic opening was to blame for a tough defeat to St Kilda. Another fadeout resulted in a brutal after-the-siren loss to Port Adelaide. If not for those sudden collapses, Carlton could have notched as many as seven wins this season. Instead, it has succumbed to 4-5. A season of promise risks being thrown away. - Riley Beveridge

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2. Even a modern great can be overshadowed

We'd be excused for thinking Nic Naitanui produced the greatest ruck performance of all-time on Saturday night, such were the post-match superlatives. With such a focus on Naitanui, somewhat lost were Josh Kennedy's heroics. Kennedy, admittedly, did little between kicking the game's opening goal in the first 16 seconds and three-quarter time. Yet with the game up for grabs, West Coast's champion forward slotted three goals in the final term to be the match-winner. One came from a stock-standard mark and set shot but the other two were pure brilliance. Nic Nat's tap at the forward-50 stoppage to Kennedy was excellent – but how many forwards are capable of what Kennedy did? Without giving his intentions away, he brushed off Cat Harry Taylor, timed his dash to perfection, then finished superbly on a snap. The last of Kennedy's goals, with only three points between the sides and barely a minute left, came from a towering grab at the top of the goalsquare. Goals are at a premium this year, especially for tall forwards, but the 32-year-old has 15 in his past three matches and is the outright Coleman Medal leader. - Marc McGowan

3. Lapses might cost the Bulldogs a flag tilt

Inconsistency and ups and downs have characterised the 2020 season but the Western Bulldogs have been amongst the worst culprits. Their defeat to Richmond last Wednesday night was further example of that. Luke Beveridge's men started the season with back-to-back horrors, before being stung into action with a strong win over Greater Western Sydney. That was their first of five wins from six games, but it was punctured by a 52-point drubbing at the hands of Carlton in round six. They followed that defeat with two solid wins but were again way off the mark against the red-hot Tigers. The Bulldogs have been losing badly and, according to Beveridge himself, not playing that well when they win either. Their next two games – against Port Adelaide and Brisbane – will show the football world where the Dogs really sit in the pecking order this year. They can’t afford more blowouts like last week. - Callum Twomey

4. It's time the Demons find some backbone

The reaction to Melbourne's round five loss to Richmond was, perhaps, over the top, given the Demons almost beat Geelong a week earlier and outlasted an improving Carlton before that. However, Thursday night's 51-point defeat to Port Adelaide – after blowing repeated chances to upset Brisbane four days earlier – was reminiscent of what was dished up in last year's disastrous campaign. Fourth-year coach Simon Goodwin described it as "unacceptable" and "as poor a performance as we've put on this year". Defender Steven May, one of the few players who could hold his head high afterwards, said he was "pretty pissed off". Many of May's teammates' foot skills were abysmal – a problem that continues to plague them – and their continual failure to prevent the Power rebounding from defence was borderline embarrassing. Melbourne is one of the least successful clubs this century despite no shortage of help via draft picks and more. There's little room for error if the Demons are to avoid another wasted season. - Marc McGowan

5. The Roos might already have their midfield jet

North Melbourne has gone hard in recent years at the trade and free agency tables trying to lure A-grade midfielders, and will be active again at the end of this season. But they might already have one in the making if he can stay fit. Luke Davies-Uniacke, the No.4 pick at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, missed the first half of this season recovering from osteitis pubis. But in his second game of the year the speedy, strong and classy midfielder showed his skills, booting two goals from 17 disposals against Adelaide on Saturday. It is easy to see Davies-Uniacke’s talents when he arches his back and zooms past traffic, and the 21-year-old can do it better than most at the Roos. A fit, fast and healthy Davies-Uniacke is the midfielder North needs as it begins its era under Rhyce Shaw. - Callum Twomey

6. The Marshall-Ryder tandem is working well
After a few speedbumps early in the season, St Kilda's ruck combination of Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder is starting to hit its straps. Following a dominant showing in the upset win over Port Adelaide seven days earlier, the duo was at it again against the Swans. Marshall was a dangerous forward 50 target in the opening quarter, despite missing his two shots at goal, while Ryder had his way around the stoppages. Swan Callum Sinclair fought back through the middle of the match, but when the game needed to be won, Ryder was feeding the ball to his midfield on a plate in the final term. - Michael Whiting

7. Chris Fagan has some tough decisions ahead
Brisbane was missing Daniel Rich (hamstring) and Ryan Lester (hamstring) from its regular backline against the Bombers, and their two replacements were two of the best on Metricon Stadium. Alex Witherden is too good to be playing reserves, and while his 25 disposals at 84 per cent efficiency was eye-catching, his 10 contested possessions and eight intercepts would have pleased coach Chris Fagan more. Answerth racked up 17 efficient touches himself, but more impressively kept Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti without a disposal for the entire first half. When Rich and Lester return within the week, Fagan and his match committee have some difficult decisions to make. - Michael Whiting

8. The Giants must do whatever they can to keep Zac Williams 

Like most years with GWS, speculation has already begun about which out-of-contract players will be targeted by rival clubs. One of those men is running defender/midfielder Zac Williams, who is a free agent. Against the Suns, the 25-year-old showed just how valuable he is to the Giants, bringing the run-and-carry they have sorely missed for much of the year. Fresh back from a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined since round four, Williams showed no signs of being tentative, racking up 25 disposals and gaining a team-high 437m. His dash is the ideal foil to the inside grunt of Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto and captain Stephen Coniglio. - Michael Whiting

9. The Dockers have found the Robin for their Batman 

The only downside to Nat Fyfe for Fremantle is that there isn't two of him. The captain is the one of the competition's best midfielders but can just as easily change a game up forward. After years pondering who could be the next 'Robin' to Fyfe's 'Batman', the Dockers have finally found the perfect interchangeable piece for the dual Brownlow medallist in Caleb Serong. With 10 disposals and four clearances against Collingwood in the second quarter alone, Serong backed up his NAB AFL Rising Star nomination and proved how influential he can be. With his strong body, overhead marking and straight shooting, Serong is already one of Fremantle's most important players. - Jourdan Canil