In this week's Eight things we learned, brought to you by Haier, the world's No.1 appliance maker, we discover that a giant Magpie is turning the clock back, the Bombers haven't yet hit rock bottom and the flag favourite has emerged. 

BARRETT Rivals will come calling after Coniglio's humiliation

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The 10: Round 17's best moments

Watch the best highlights from one of the most action-packed rounds of football you'll see

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1. Big Mason is coming good at the right time

After a season that could be described as patchy at best, Mason Cox is starting to offer a glimmer he could again be a factor come finals time. Against Gold Coast on Monday night, he took another giant step. With Jordan De Goey back in the forward line and occupying the Suns' best defender Sam Collins, Cox was the most dangerous tall on the ground, hauling in seven marks, four of which were contested, in the slippery Gabba conditions. He also slotted two goals with the game in the balance – one from a tight angle late in the third and the other following an audacious mark and bounce in the last. Cox adds a different dynamic to Collingwood's forward set-up and has proven before what he can do on the big stage. Just ask the 2018 Tigers. - Michael Whiting

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Mason goes for a stroll and slots a stunner

Mason Cox takes a bounce in the wet and gets the crowd out of their seats

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2. The Bombers are nowhere near it 

What more can you say about Essendon's regression this season? With just one win in their past nine matches, the Bombers looked as though they might put up a fight on Saturday evening. Quite remarkably, their score of 2.1 (13) at quarter-time was their biggest opening-quarter score in eight matches and represented the first time they had won an opening quarter in 14 matches. But it was a good start, and only that. They kicked just two goals for the rest of the game, falling to a limp 50-point loss to Port Adelaide – a team who they finished a game clear of in eighth-place last season. The two sides couldn't have gone in more opposite trajectories since then, with the sizeable gap between them laid bare at the Adelaide Oval. - Riley Beveridge

2. Richmond deserves premiership favouritism

The Tigers proved on Friday night they are again the team to beat in the run to this year's premiership. After a hot start, they managed to easily separate themselves from a red-hot Geelong line up that had enjoyed a six-game winning streak and was in brilliant form. In a game that had big finals repercussions, Richmond again stepped up. In doing so they lost Ivan Soldo (knee) for the rest of the year and Tom Lynch (hamstring) will be touch-and-go for the first week of the finals. But they also kept the wood over the Cats, and have won their nine games in Queensland so far this year. Other clubs deserve to be in contention for the flag, but Richmond warrants the favouritism. - Callum Twomey

3. The Crows' rebuild is on the up

Adelaide's first win over Hawthorn wasn't a surprise – the Crows were due, had improved their form and were taking on the under-fire Hawks. But backing that victory up with wins over Greater Western Sydney and Carlton was, as both sides fought for a spot in the finals. These have been no dead rubbers and the Crows have been lifted by their kids. Lachie Sholl looks a player with his sharp foot skills and smart temperament, Harry Schoenberg finds the footy at will, Andrew McPherson is comfortable at the level and Elliott Himmelberg offers a strong target in attack. They'll get Ned McHenry in the action more next year, while Chayce Jones is also a first-round talent, plus they look set for a stack of draft picks this year to expediate the rise back up the ladder. The rebuild is well underway. - Callum Twomey

4. The Dockers' three-pronged attack is here to stay

Matt Taberner, Rory Lobb and Jesse Hogan played in the same forward 50 on Saturday for only the fourth time this season and delivered the club's highest score for 2020. Yes, it was against a hapless North Melbourne, but coach Justin Longmuir was glowing in his praise of the selflessness of the trio who combined for eight goals and allowed separation for Michael Walters (three goals) and crumbs for Lachie Schultz (three). Longmuir added that it provided great "confidence" it would work for the future. Taberner now has 29 goals to sit fourth in the Coleman Medal race, Lobb (seven marks) played with freedom roaming across half-forward and Hogan got his rewards off a solid fortnight. If the trio can provide enough firepower in 2021, it will reduce the reliance on Nat Fyfe and Walters in attack and allow them to win the ball up the ground. - Mitch Cleary

5. The Saints still lack elite talent

There's no doubt that in players like Max King, Hunter Clark and Jade Gresham, St Kilda has a few potential A-graders within its promising young ranks. But are there any fully fledged superstars at the club right now? Having been matched at the contest by West Coast on Thursday night, St Kilda simply lost on talent. Whereas the stars of the Eagles in Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui became the difference-makers at the Gabba, the Saints didn't have anyone able to replicate their offensive production. The result was a frustrating defeat, which leaves their finals chances hanging in the balance. Fear not, St Kilda fans, those players have shown signs that they will one day become elite level talent. But right now, the Saints don't have the star power to match it with the competition's very best. - Riley Beveridge

6. Melbourne's master recruiter has done it again

The Demons remain wildly unpredictable from game to game, but easier to trust is the club's national recruiting manager, Jason Taylor. Taylor's team has drafted a number of gems since he was appointed in late 2012. Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Christian Salem and Sam Weideman are his high draft picks, but he's also nabbed James Harmes, Aaron vandenBerg and Joel Smith as rookies. Then there are the likes of Bayley Fritsch, Tom Sparrow and Mitch Hannan as selections beyond pick 25 in the national draft, while Oskar Baker – the No.48 choice in 2017 – bobbed up to kick a pair of goals at the weekend. Taylor has outdone himself with the 2019 draft class, with Luke Jackson (No.3), Kozzy Pickett (No.12) and Trent Rivers (No.32) already looking hits. Rivers, in particular, was excellent in Saturday night's vital victory over Greater Western Sydney, managing 16 disposals and two goals, including the matchwinner. All three should have a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination by season's end. - Marc McGowan 

7. McLean's loss may cost the Dogs a finals win

The Bulldogs still have to qualify for the finals but allow us to look ahead for just a second. Toby McLean has proven one of the club's most important players when it comes to winning big matches, and his knee injury could be the difference between winning and losing a final. McLean tagged Lachie Whitfield to great effect in round three, and was one coaches' vote off a consensus best-on-ground effort for his shutdown role on Andrew Gaff in round 16. McLean would have been the logical option to stop the likes of Steele Sidebottom, Bradley Hill or Gaff (again) in a potential elimination final, but the replacement options in Will Hayes and Patrick Lipinski simply cannot do what McLean could defensively. - Jourdan Canil

8. If Neale doesn't get you, Lyons will

After watching Lachie Neale run riot on Wednesday night against Gold Coast, Sydney made sure the same wouldn't happen against it, assigning Ryan Clarke to tag the Brownlow Medal favourite. Clarke did a terrific job, restricting Neale to three disposals in the first quarter and eight in the first half. However, while Neale was quiet, Jarryd Lyons flourished, easily the most dominant midfielder on the ground. Lyons is putting together another superb season and showing Brisbane has more strings to its midfield bow than Neale alone. - Michael Whiting