IN THIS week's Nine Things We Learned, we discover that time has caught up with West Coast and the Pies' workmanlike big forwards are more than good enough, plus more round seven lessons. 

05:41 Mins
Published on

The 10: Round seven's best moments

Watch the best highlights from a thrilling weekend of football

Published on

1. The Eagles need to hit the draft in their rebuild

It's plain to see, West Coast's premiership window is well and truly shut. Since the Eagles' 2018 flag, they've gradually slid out of contention, missing the finals last year and it feels like they're completely bottoming out in 2022. Through circumstance, they have exposed 37 players on their list in 2022, but not one player in their line-up for the horror loss to Richmond on Friday night was younger than 21. The Eagles are the only club that hasn't had one top-10 draft pick in the past decade either. West Coast urgently needs an injection of quality young talent and it must use their likely strong draft hand to regenerate its list. - Ben Somerford

Josh Kennedy and Shannon Hurn walk off at half-time in West Coast's clash with Richmond in round seven, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

2. It's time for another meeting, Saints

St Kilda's impressive form so far in 2022 has widely been attributed to a brutally honest player-led meeting held last year after the Saints endured a string of particularly disappointing losses. While 5-2 hardly compares to the doldrums of last season, the Saints looked devoid of both confidence and skill against Port Adelaide on Saturday night. The conditions in Cairns may have been slippery and humid, but the Saints failed to adapt to the environment and were unable to capitalise on chances when they had them, missing shots on goal and making poor decisions with ball in hand. With a Mother's Day date with the undefeated reigning premier looming, the Saints need to figure out what went wrong against Port and rectify it or the season could start slipping away. Better book that conference room for Monday morning, Ratten and co. – Sophie Welsh

St Kilda players walk off the ground after losing to Port Adelaide in round seven, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

3. Collingwood has the spearheads to get to the finals

They might not be household names and the Magpies will doubtless be searching for more forward ammunition in the free agency and trade period this year, but Brody Mihocek and Darcy Cameron continue to spearhead the Magpies' forward efforts. On Sunday against Gold Coast, Mihocek booted another four goals, backing up his effort last week against Essendon, while Cameron also kicked two while shouldering more of the ruck load with Brodie Grundy missing. With small forward Jack Ginnivan buzzing at their feet and Jordan De Goey amongst them all in between, the Pies have scoring ability to get to the finals. – Callum Twomey

00:50 Mins
Published on

Mihocek soccers through Beau's brilliantly clever assist

Brody Mihocek finishes off Beau McCreery's smart jumping tap on the goal line

Published on

4. Lachie Neale might be better than his Brownlow year

When Brisbane needed an answer to Buddy Franklin's third-quarter rampage, one man put the Lions on his shoulders – Lachie Neale. Whether it was winning centre clearances, gathering ground balls in his defensive 50, or using soft hands in congestion to set up a goal for Dan McStay, Neale did it all to arrest his team's slide. Although his 2020 Brownlow Medal-winning year was incredible, there's an argument to say the 28-year-old is going even better this season with his power running, clean hands and damage in the front half. - Michael Whiting

00:52 Mins
Published on

Neale gives Lions much needed goal to stem the flow

Lachie Neale ended Sydney's run of consecutive goals as he snapped through this beauty to keep his Lions ahead

Published on

5. The Dogs have found another one out of the VFL

Robbie McComb may not have found his way to the Kennel the traditional way, but he and the club couldn't care less. McComb, who is a Footscray VFL best and fairest winner, VFL Team of the Year member and dual-premiership player with Eastern Football League powerhouse Vermont, looks like he can play at the highest level. After finishing with 11 touches on debut against the Crows in round six, the 26-year-old was among the Dogs' best in their 32-point win against Essendon. McComb tallied 21 disposals and kicked two goals, to go with 18 pressure acts, four score involvements and three stoppage clearances. Taken with the club's second selection in the 2021 NAB AFL Rookie Draft, McComb is hard at it and looks desperate to make every game count, now that he’s made it to the top. - Trent Masenhelder

00:40 Mins
Published on

Robbie relishes the moment again

Robbie McComb is having some game for the Dogs and conjures another impressive goal

Published on

6. Hawks' young running machine might have found his niche

Sam Mitchell dropped Finn Maginness on Thursday night, then recalled him late when Harry Morrison was forced out due to injury, before handing him a crucial role tagging Melbourne star Ed Langdon on Saturday night. The young Hawk produced a stellar performance, holding one of the best wingmen in the AFL to just nine disposals – three uncontested possessions, as pointed out by Mitchell post-game – down from his season average of 25.7 disposals and 18 uncontested possessions. Langdon hadn’t had single digits since round 18, 2018, back when he was still playing for Fremantle. Hawthorn fell just short of Melbourne at the MCG, but plenty of Hawks produced impressive performances, none more so than Maginness. – Josh Gabelich

08:33 Mins
Published on

Full post-match, R7: Hawks

Watch Hawthorn's press conference after round seven's match against Melbourne

Published on

7. This man holds the key to Freo's flag hopes

If Fremantle is to pull off the seemingly impossible this year and hoist the premiership cup, it'll be in no small part down to one man. And his name is not Nat Fyfe (though he will be important). Alex Pearce, the stand-in skipper in Fyfe's injury-enforced absence, is the glue that holds the Dockers' defence together. On Saturday, Geelong won the inside-50 count 54-47 but it was Pearce's duel with Tom Hawkins that was pivotal in the massive confidence-boosting win at the Cattery – only the club's fourth victory at the venue in 19 attempts – and which puts it deep in the premiership conversation. Pearce conceded two early goals before keeping the Cats spearhead quiet for the rest of the game. The defender has battled constant injuries over his career but if his body holds up, is as crucial as anyone to the Docker's chances. At 6-1 and with games to come against North Melbourne, Gold Coast (away) and Collingwood, the men in purple could be on the verge of something truly special. – Brandon Cohen

Alex Pearce and Tom Hawkins battle for the ball during the R7 clash between Fremantle and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on April 30, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

8. There's light at the end of Leon's tunnel

Winning doesn't solve everything, but Greater Western Sydney's 59-point triumph over Adelaide on Saturday sure does make Leon Cameron's life slightly easier. Pressure was building on the Giants coach over the first six rounds of the season as his side failed to fire, slumping to 1-5 with their only win coming against Gold Coast in round three. But GWS looked like a different side in round seven, with its impressive performance against the Crows a reminder of just how good this team can be when all the parts come together. Cameron, who comes out of contract at the end of the season after coaching the Giants since 2013, looked to be on shaky ground going into round seven, but waking up on Sunday morning, his future is a little brighter. However, the real test now comes against top-eight sides Geelong and Carlton in the next two weeks. – Sophie Welsh

BARRETT Proud duo defy private nightmares, Saints' bad habit

9. Carlton now has another gear, and it's dangerous

Carlton came into its match against North Melbourne with a woeful recent record, having won just one of its past seven games against the Kangaroos. The Blues got off to a fast start on Saturday night, but the Roos closed the gap to just eight points at the main break. The Carlton of old would have been vulnerable to falling in a heap, but Michael Voss' Blues attacked the second half with determination, speed and a ruthlessness we haven't really seen pre-2022, galloping away to a 50-point win – Sarah Black

06:43 Mins
Published on

Highlights: Carlton v North Melbourne

The Blues and Kangaroos clash in round seven

Published on