In this week's Nine things we learned, we discover that Carlton was right to pay up for Adam Saad, Jesse Hogan looks a new player in Sydney and a Derby thrashing show the Dockers aren't the finished article just yet. 

1. Adam Saad was worth the big price

There was plenty of argy-bargy in last year's Trade Period about the value of Adam Saad. But the Bomber-turned-Blues defender showed he was worth every bit of Carlton's investment, which saw it part with a first-round pick (No.8 overall) and a five-year deal worth about $650,000 a season. Saad showed on Sunday that he was the player Carlton needed to bring in after he walked out on Essendon, proving they don't have a type like him with his exhilarating run and carry. The Bombers have found a strong replacement at much lower price in Nick Hind, but Saad was damaging against his old side, whose supporters booed him at every opportunity of his 21-disposal and one-goal game. - Callum Twomey

2. We've seen this Richmond before

It's starting to look a lot like 2017. And 2019. And 2020. Individuals at Richmond and the team as a collective were questioned last week. Having started the season with an indifferent 3-3 record and due to face the unbeaten Western Bulldogs, there were doubts over the Tigers' ability to make it four flags from five seasons later this year. But a stunning third-quarter blitz shocked the Bulldogs and proved the reigning premiers aren't going anywhere in a hurry. Richmond went from 25 points down to 22-point victors, with their trademark intensity and work ethic on full display to completely overwhelm the Bulldogs. Maybe, just maybe, they're still the team to beat. After all, it's worth remembering the Tigers were 5-4 in 2017, then 1-2 in 2019, and 1-1-2 last year. - Riley Beveridge

3. Third time may be the charm for Hogan

Jesse Hogan's tumultuous AFL career may finally be entering a period of relative stability. While one game does not redemption make, Hogan could not have possibly asked for more from his first outing in orange. Booting four goals on Saturday, Hogan showed that he hasn't lost any flair, with his overhead capability and leading providing an easy target for the Giants' rampaging midfielders. Encouragingly, Hogan proved he’s still capable of living up to the hefty expectations he's been saddled with since debuting for the Demons in 2015. Hogan’s AFL journey took him to Melbourne and then back to his native Western Australia, but he may have finally found his home at Greater Western Sydney. - Sophie Welsh

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Hogan back with a bang

Jesse Hogan wows with four-goal display in debut game for the Giants

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4. The Suns may have found a sidekick for Ben King

Gold Coast has relied heavily on young key forward Ben King to carry its forward line this season following the off-season trade of Peter Wright and a long-term injury to Sam Day. With the side crying out for another key forward, unheralded tall Josh Corbett heeded the call. Corbett kicked a career-high four goals against Collingwood on Saturday, but was especially instrumental in the final term. With the Pies only 16 points down at the final break and desperate for a win, Corbett kicked the first three goals in the fourth quarter to snuff out any chance of a Collingwood comeback. Speaking post-game, coach Stuart Dew praised Corbett for being a “great target” with an “unbelievable” work rate. Corbett – who was recruited from the VFL in 2018 as a 22-year-old – may prove himself to be a handy forward partner for King in the season ahead. - Luke Michael             

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Corbett cooks the Pies with three daggers

Gold Coast's Josh Corbett piles on more misery for the Magpies with three early goals in the final term

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5. It's time for T-Mac to head back

With Adam Tomlinson facing an extended stint on the sidelines, swingman Tom McDonald must return to defence to help the Demons' team balance. McDonald showed his capabilities down back as he made five intercepts when switched to defence during the second half against the Kangaroos and he'll likely need to continue in this role to allow defensive linchpins Steven May and Jake Lever play their natural games. His shift to defence will also allow coach Simon Goodwin to bring Sam Weideman back in after another strong VFL performance. - Jonathan Healy

6. Fremantle remains a work in progress

The stage was set for the Dockers to make a statement against their wounded arch rivals and announce their arrival as a finals contender in 2021. In the end, they confirmed they have still a way to go before their time arrives under coach Justin Longmuir. So impressive in the past month, the Dockers' defensive structures fell apart in the third quarter and they found themselves unable to make the necessary correction, conceding five unanswered goals in a game-breaking run. Their young players appeared to lose confidence and they were overwhelmed and outworked by a more hardened West Coast. At three-quarter time, the usually composed Longmuir was animated when addressing his players. There is confidence the Dockers will emerge as a finalist once more, but they don't appear ready yet. - Nathan Schmook  

7. The Hill-top view is still pretty good

There’s nothing like the heat of public criticism to fire up an underperforming star, and this week it was Bradley Hill's turn to be in the spotlight. Actually, the former Hawk and Docker has been under the microscope since landing at Moorabbin, but his numbers this year have been at an all-time low, looking at times like a reflection of effort. However, with scrutiny at its highest the best players respond. Eleven first-quarter disposals against the Hawks made Hill's intentions clear, and he finished with 27 touches at 85 per cent efficiency, along with a game-high three goal assists. If Zak Jones and Brad Crouch can continue to provide the inside grunt alongside Jack Steele, Hill can return to his best and give the Saints forwards gilt-edged delivery. - Howard Kimber

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Saints fans show Hill love after this play

Brad Hill gets a rousing applause after demonstrating his defensive attributes

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8. Joey and Parks have some reliable help in the middle

Sydney's midfield strength has been built for years on the broad shoulders of Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker. But on Saturday night, it was the next generation of midfielders who took responsibility around the contest and helped the Swans get over the line in a thriller. James Rowbottom stepped up in the third term with 10 disposals, while it was Oliver Florent's turn in the crucial final quarter with nine touches and a goal. The 20-year-old Rowbottom also chipped in with a late goal to put the Swans within a straight kick, before Tom Papley's stunning snap to win the game. The 22-year-old Florent has continued his steady progression as a clever, reliable wingman, and is averaging a career-best 21 touches. The two on-ballers offer a nice blend of inside fight and outside flight, and now have the experience to help the Swans avoid the sort of season-long fatigue that some are predicting. - Martin Pegan

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Florent thinks quick and kicks true

Sydney's Oliver Florent's quick thinking is rewarded with full points, keeping the Swan in the game

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9. Linc McCarthy deserves a nice new contract

Although he's surrounded by bigger names, the Brisbane forward having the most consistent season in 2021 is Lincoln McCarthy. Against Port he again starred, having 10 score involvements from 18 disposals that included a goal of his own. Still just 27, McCarthy is in career-best form and has missed just two games since the Lions recruited him from Geelong following the 2018 season. Out of contract at season's end, the dynamic half-forward is adding dollars and years to a new deal by the week. - Michael Whiting