In this week's Nine things we learned, we discover that West Coast's travel sickness is real, the Blues have found their missing midfield ingredients and you can't let a young Sun roam free.

1. The Eagles' road blues will torpedo their season

A second thumping in a row for West Coast means a top-four finish and the possibility of playing multiple finals at Optus Stadium now looks out of reach. And it's hard to see the Eagles doing much damage in any finals they might play away from home, as their record on the road this season has fallen to 2-5. The Eagles' away victories have come against lowly Hawthorn at the MCG and when they took on a struggling Carlton on neutral ground at the SCG. The five away losses paint a more accurate picture of the Eagles' efforts, which include a 97-point loss to Geelong and now a 92-point thrashing by Sydney – both at GMHBA Stadium. Their percentage has now dropped by 12.6 points in two weeks and unless the Eagles find a way to fix their road blues, this looks like being their third consecutive season to suffer from travel sickness. - Martin Pegan

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Highlights: Sydney v West Coast

The Swans and Eagles clash in round 16

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2. Matthew Scarlett has landed another success story

Tom Stewart's story from local footballer to dual (and soon to be three-time) All-Australian can't be told without acknowledging the involvement of Matthew Scarlett. And rightly so. But the Cats champion and current backline coach's next project has exploded in recent weeks, with Tom Atkins' move from attack to defence paying dividends. The 25-year-old's career looked on the rocks when he was left out of the Cats' last three finals in 2020 and watched on as they recruited Isaac Smith and Shaun Higgins to play similar forward roles. Now after a phone call from forwards coach Corey Enright and tutelage from Scarlett, Atkins has bedded down his spot in defence. He played his best match as a Cat against Essendon on Friday night in game No.50 with 29 disposals including eight intercepts. He also ranks third in the competition for defensive groundball gets. - Mitch Cleary

Geelong's Tom Atkins gets his boot caught in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti's jumper in round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

3. It's time for Big Ben

Melbourne has seven weeks to find its best forward mix and determining whether new recruit Ben Brown will be involved in that set-up is crucial. The Demons left both Brown and Sam Weideman out of their team again on Saturday, paying the price in a disappointing loss to Greater Western Sydney where the side kicked just seven goals from 56 inside-50 entries. Bayley Fritsch looked the most likely forward target and finished with three goals for the afternoon, but Tom McDonald, Max Gawn and Luke Jackson – who all spent extended periods forward of the ball – didn't have a single major between them. Brown kicked five goals in the VFL last week and should add to his three senior games for the season in next week's clash with Port Adelaide. Whether he can help Melbourne end a run of three straight matches without kicking 70 points is another question, though. - Riley Beveridge

4. Like a fine Wines, Ollie is in career-best form

After his latest 43-disposal effort against Hawthorn, the powerful Port Adelaide midfielder is averaging 32.5 disposals from 15 games, a career-best figure. The 26-year-old Wines was clearly the best player on the field on Saturday night, adding 13 clearances (a best-ever figure for the 173-gamer), 23 contested possessions and eight inside-50s. The AFL world knows how damaging Wines can be at his best, but consistency has been an issue in seasons past. But 2021 is heralding a different Wines, and he'll be a crucial cog as Port Adelaide looks to a deep finals run. - Sarah Black

5. The Dogs' attack just got even more powerful

Livewire forward Cody Weightman is a tricky matchup for opposition coaches and could yet prove a finals wildcard for Luke Beveridge. The 20-year-old had a breakout game against the lowly Kangaroos on Sunday, outshining Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce to finish with four goals and two contested marks in a superb individual performance. Weightman plays a lot like Collingwood's Jamie Elliott, in that he is an excellent mark for his size and can kick goals as a marking target or a crumbing goalsneak. Sit him next to Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce in an already dangerous forward line and he can prosper in the post-season if opposition coaches don't put plenty of thought into how to stop him. - Jonathan Healy

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Weightman works his magic with three already

Cody Weightman makes his mark in the first quarter with three goals in little time

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6. The Blues have found their missing midfield ingredients

With captain Patrick Cripps hobbled on one leg against Fremantle on Saturday night, Carlton's midfield had its challenges, losing the clearances 15-34 and centre clearances 6-12 after quarter-time. But look beyond the stats and there were indications the Blues' onball team is nearly ready. Paddy Dow was magnificent in the first half with 16 disposals and six clearances before fading. Matt Kennedy took over and had 17 the second half, including 11 in the final quarter, with his ferocious tackling a feature. Then there was Liam Stocker in defence. His toughness and assuredness with the ball should give the Blues belief that a midfield move is not far away. After being beaten by the Dockers through the second and third quarters, the midfield lifted in the final term and split the clearances 8-8. Led by the brilliant Sam Walsh, it was a significant performance that revealed where the Blues' engine room is heading, with the burden on Cripps and Walsh set to ease. - Nathan Schmook

7. Luke Dunstan has worked himself into a new deal

Dunstan's career looked at the crossroads at the midway point of this season, with the St Kilda midfielder on the outer for all but one of the first 10 rounds of the year. However since being recalled in round 11, Dunstan has pieced together some consistent form for the Saints, averaging 27 disposals over the past five rounds. He claimed the Ian Stewart Medal as the best afield in St Kilda's strong win over Richmond in round 15 and backed it up with 27 disposals and 10 clearances in Sunday's win over Collingwood. Dunstan is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and remains unsigned for 2022 but on this form has shown his value. - Callum Twomey

St Kilda's Luke Dunstan in action against Collingwood in round 16, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

8. You can't let Jack Lukosius roam free

Among many failings from Richmond on Thursday night was their inability to slow down destructive Gold Coast ball-user Jack Lukosius. It's no secret the Suns look for their young defender the second they take possession of the ball, and with little to no attention from the Tigers, the former No.2 draft pick cashed in. Lukosius gathered 24 disposals, using his 23 kicks to gain 782m. To his credit, the South Australian also won plenty of his own ball, with nine intercepts, showing a side of his development that would please Suns coaches and supporters. - Michael Whiting

9. Bailey is a star in the making

Brisbane is making another serious charge towards the premiership this season and Zac Bailey is becoming a key cog in the Lions' flag assault. The youngster has had a great season so far and underlined just how special a talent he is against the Crows on Saturday. Bailey starred with 26 touches, nine clearances and three goals – including a mesmerising effort in the third term when he took the ball from a stoppage, danced around a Crows opponent, glided inside 50 and coolly slotted it. Coach Chris Fagan said post-game that Bailey had the potential to become one of the best midfielders of the competition, and given his electric speed and goalkicking prowess, it seems the young gun has a bright future ahead of him. - Luke Michael

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Bailey seals it with booming finish

Zac Bailey kicks his third goal with this running goal from beyond the arc

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