IN THIS week's Things we learned, we discover that even the game's superstars have room for improvement, a Blues gun gets a reality check and a couple of recruits keep proving their worth. 


1. Dangerfield's set shots are an elephant in the room at Geelong

If Gary Rohan hadn't converted his brilliant set shot on Friday night, conversation could well have turned to Patrick Dangerfield's set-shot kicking. In the last two seasons, the Cats superstar has kicked just 48 per cent of his 29 set shots and again missed two during the third term against the Dogs. While far from regulation, both were on 45-degree angles on, or just inside, the 50m arc when the game was crying out for a winner. In the same time, teammates Gryan Miers (93 per cent), Sam Menegola (86), Mitch Duncan, Gary Rohan (71), Jeremy Cameron (69), Rhys Stanley (67) and Tom Hawkins (56) have shown the way. And while much has been made of Nat Fyfe and Jack Higgins' kicking this year, that pair, along with Patrick Cripps and Kozzy Pickett, are the only four players with worse accuracy across 2020-2021 than Dangerfield of players with 20 set shots or more. – Mitch Cleary  

2. Walsh needs to learn from tagging tutorial

Sam Walsh has been the Blues' best midfielder this season and came into the clash with GWS averaging 30 disposals (eighth most in the League). In Carlton's first 12 games this season, the 20-year-old gathered 30 or more touches eight times and didn't finish a match with fewer than 24. But that changed when Walsh faced one of the competition's premier taggers in Matt de Boer. The Giants' shut-down specialist started outside the square at centre bounces but kept Walsh in check at the other stoppages, restricting him to 10 handballs, a mere two kicks and little influence in the opening three quarters. Walsh moved to a wing to break the tag and picked up a further eight touches in the final term but should now have a clear understanding of the attention he'll need to overcome to continue his rapid progression to becoming an elite midfielder. - Martin Pegan

3. The Bombers don't have to fear Andy McGrath's absence

There are concerns Andrew McGrath might miss the rest of the season, but it shouldn't stop Essendon's surge towards September. Just as the Bombers responded to the loss of Dylan Shiel by plugging an in-form Darcy Parish into their onball group, they managed the absence of McGrath on Sunday by handing Jake Stringer extended midfield minutes. Stringer provided a new dynamic to the engine room, impressing with his explosiveness from stoppages and his innate ability to go forward and continue hitting the scoreboard to finish with an equal career-high of 29 disposals and four goals. The former premiership Bulldog looks as fit and as in-form as ever. Should he remain predominantly in the midfield throughout the remainder of 2021, and continue this vein of form, he could be the key to the Bombers' ever-improving charge towards the finals. - Riley Beveridge

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'The Package' explodes in powerful display

Jake Stringer produces one of the best games of his career with his four-goal haul helping the Dons win over one of their oldest rivals

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4. Aliir Aliir is looking a better pick-up by the week

There's been plenty of chat about Port Adelaide's nous in trading with Sydney to get Aliir Aliir during the off-season and the rebounding defender added another chapter to his wonderful season on Saturday. On the surface the contest looked one-sided, but with the Suns matching Port around the stoppages and for inside 50s, it was Aliir's intercept marking that stood out and gave his team numerous chances to counter-attack. The former Swan gathered a match-high 12 intercepts and again proved that if you let him roam, he'll punish you defensively and offensively. - Michael Whiting

5. Don't underestimate Lincoln McCarthy

The previously injury-prone small forward is arguably in career-best form, and was outstanding against North Melbourne. The Lions were slow to click into gear coming off their bye and missing suspended skipper Dayne Zorko, but McCarthy was switched on from the first bounce. They looked most threatening when the 27-year-old was buzzing around the top of the forward 50, and he kicked two crucial goals among his seven score involvements – one breaking a streak of four straight Roos goals, and the other to give the Lions some breathing space at the start of the last quarter. - Sarah Black