In this week's Eight things we learned, brought to you by Haier, the world's No.1 appliance maker, we learn that Charlie needs to straighten up, the Bulldogs are off the pace and Fisher proves it was a mistake not to pick him.

1. Collingwood needs a lift from Grundy

Brodie Grundy was an All-Australian in each of the past two seasons, but he's come back to the pack this year. That's not to say Grundy's struggling – far from it – but Max Gawn, Todd Goldstein, Nic Naitanui and ex-Pie Jarrod Witts are all outperforming him. After signing a multi-million dollar contract last year, Grundy had a blistering start to the 2020 season, but rivals are finding ways to blunt his influence, even when he wins more hitouts. His individual clearances are way down, with Shane Mumford, Jon Ceglar/Ben McEvoy and Sean Darcy/Rory Lobb all nullifying him, while Naitanui and Reilly O'Brien (on Tuesday night) beat him. Even Andrew Phillips did OK on Grundy in round five, when Essendon upset Collingwood. Gawn (shoulder) is due to return for Melbourne against the Magpies on Saturday, in what's an early finals-shaping clash. With Adam Treloar, Jordan De Goey and Jeremy Howe to miss and Scott Pendlebury in doubt, they need Grundy to replicate his 2018-19 heroics at a critical juncture in their fixture. Goldstein awaits him after Gawn. - Marc McGowan

2. Charlie needs to straighten up

The rebirth of Charlie Dixon as Port Adelaide’s power forward has been crucial to the club’s rise to the top of the ladder this season. But there’s still a part of his game that needs to be tightened as the club chases its second AFL flag: his goalkicking. Dixon booted 2.4 against Richmond last week in the game of the year, but the contest would have likely been wrapped up by half-time if Dixon had have kicked straight. He has booted 21.16 this season and is susceptible with close-range shots as was the case against the Tigers. Dixon’s presence, aggression, contested marking and forward craft are central to Port’s chances this year, but the Coleman Medal chance needs to finish off his work more often. If he can, they’ll be even harder to stop. - Callum Twomey

00:49 Mins
Published on

Absurd GOTY contender by Power monster

Charlie Dixon had absolutely no right to put it through from this angle

Published on

3. The Bulldogs are off the pace

Prior to the season the Western Bulldogs were expected to challenge for a premiership, and with six rounds left they're outside the top eight. In the past three matches they've lost to flag fancies Richmond, Port Adelaide and Brisbane, exposing some weaknesses. Against the Lions they were trampled at the clearances, with Oscar McInerney too good for Tim English and Lachie Neale walking out of the centre at will. The backline battled to deal with Eric Hipwood's height and while the forwards were reasonably efficient, they'd love to see Aaron Naughton get back to his best with more games under his belt. There's still time to correct things for Luke Beveridge's men, but the clock is ticking on 2020. - Michael Whiting

4. Fisher proves it was a mistake not to pick him

Zac Fisher cannot sit on the sidelines again. The 22-year-old slammed home four goals in two-and-a-bit quarters and was probably the best player on the ground for Carlton before it bottled a 19-point lead against West Coast. After suffering an ankle syndesmosis injury in round one, Fisher was declared fit to play on June 23 but missed another seven games before returning to the senior side. Fisher was named for the St Kilda game in round five but withdrew with illness. A gap in scratch match games made it tough for Fisher to win a spot back, but his absence stands as one of the more perplexing selection stories of the season. - Jourdan Canil

00:26 Mins
Published on

Returning Fisher nets a snap

Zac Fisher sinks a clever shot on goal in his return to the Blues' lineup

Published on

5. Gary Rohan could be the Cats' wildcard

For many of his 135 career games, Gary Rohan has teased, tantalised and often frustrated. Blessed with blistering speed, a huge leap and a strong set of hands, he has the tools to make a big impact but has drifted in and out of games. Against the Saints he was exceptional, kicking three goals in a second quarter burst to give the Cats a match-winning cushion. He finished with four goals from 16 disposals and five marks. With Tom Hawkins firing, Esava Ratugolea improving and the threat of Patrick Dangerfield going forward, Rohan will likely get the third or fourth best defender and is good enough to make the opposition pay. It's a big if, but if he fires, Geelong are a totally different prospect. - Michael Whiting

02:35 Mins
Published on

Energetic Rohan stars in Cats' big win

Geelong forward Gary Rohan kicks four goals and sets the tone against St Kilda

Published on

6. The Dockers have youth … the Hawks don't

There was something telling about the players making an impact for Fremantle in its comfortable victory over Hawthorn on Monday night. Andrew Brayshaw, the No.2 draft pick in 2017, won a career-best 33 disposals and was the game's most influential player. The No.5 draft pick from that same season, Adam Cerra, was the most composed outside runner on the night and finished with 26 disposals and eight marks. Caleb Serong, taken with pick No.8 in last year's draft, won six clearances among his 20 disposals and was a constant presence at stoppages. Fellow top-10 selections Griffin Logue, Hayden Young and Liam Henry will only add to that talented mix. It's the type of youth that can breed enthusiasm. It's also the type of youth that Hawthorn lacks, having taken only one top-15 pick to the draft since 2007. How the Hawks could do with some quality kids rising up the ranks. - Riley Beveridge

7. The Demons are teetering on the edge of relevance

Blistering finishes against two of this year's worst-performing clubs, Adelaide and North Melbourne, have given Melbourne the chance to make something of the 2020 season. Neither of those games was perfect from a Dees perspective, but the pieces are slowly coming together. You can't ignore the horror show that was the Port Adelaide match, but Melbourne could draw positives from five of their past six outings (four of them wins). Simon Goodwin's men sit two points out of the eight and their next two clashes are against two teams, Collingwood and Western Bulldogs, they are competing with for a finals spot. They also still have a catch-up match to come with Essendon, another post-season aspirant. It's been a seriously rocky journey since the 2018 preliminary final started, but the Demons' fate is in their own hands. - Marc McGowan

8. Essendon might have found a forward target

With injuries to Joe Daniher and Jake Stringer, the Bombers have struggled most of the season to find a reliable key forward, but James Stewart's outing against the Suns might have helped solve that problem. Stewart was prominent all night, giving in-form Gold Coast full-back Sam Collins headaches. Playing just his third game of the season, the 26-year-old beat Collins on the lead twice in the first half and converted for goals and then added another in the third quarter with a strong overhead mark. It was a nice combination of skills that would fit into most forward lines. - Michael Whiting