IN THIS week's Nine Things We Learned, we discover that Collingwood is a long way off the AFL's best, Brisbane's small forwards are without compare and Ken Hinkley might have been right about Port's 0-5 start. 

Check our what our team discovered in round nine below. 

05:01 Mins
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The 10: Round nine's best moments

Watch the standout highlights from the round

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1. Reality is starting to bite for undermanned Magpies

Collingwood's start to the season brought on hopes the club could jump back into finals contention but the Magpies still look some way off the best sides in the AFL. Their loss to the Western Bulldogs on Friday night was their fifth defeat in their past seven rounds and showed the gap between the Pies and other finals aspirants. Coach Craig 'Fly' McRae said they were poor and didn't offer any excuses, but the injury absences of key-position players, including ruckman Brodie Grundy, is serving as a big challenge for the Pies to overcome. - Callum Twomey

Craig McRae during Collingwood's loss to the Western Bulldogs in round nine, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

2. Brisbane has the best small forwards in the AFL

When Dan McStay joined Joe Daniher on the sidelines, and with Eric Hipwood one quiet outing into his comeback from injury, it was reasonable to wonder if Brisbane had the firepower to stay in contention. But who needs talls when you’ve got a pack of small forwards like the Lions have? Charlie Cameron took his season goal tally to 23 with another bag of four on Saturday night and now has 15 from his past four outings. Zac Bailey kicked three to move to 21 for the year, and with Lincoln McCarthy and Cam Rayner also hitting the scoreboard regularly and adding bucketloads of forward-50 pressure, Chris Fagan might be wondering how he fits the big guys in when they are fit. - Howard Kimber

00:43 Mins
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Bailey does it again to end Lions' drought

Zac Bailey ended Adelaide's run of goals with this snapping finish to give his side their first score of the quarter

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3. Maybe Ken was right about his 0-5 side

Plenty had written Port off after round five, with pressure piling on Ken Hinkley after his side failed to record a win up until that point. But Hinkley, at least publicly, wasn’t despairing. "Does it matter when you lose your five in a row if you can win enough (later)? I don't know," Hinkley said after the round five loss against Carlton. "But my history tells me that you can lose five in a row and still make finals. We'll keep to task and we'll keep going and you never know, we might get on a (winning) run just as big." Those words seem fairly prescient now, with Port winning the subsequent four games. But while it’s currently enough to keep the Power in touch with the top eight, there’s still a big climb ahead to make finals. – Sophie Welsh

Port Adelaide players leave the field after the win over North Melbourne in round nine on May 14, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

4. Tom Lynch is in career-best form

The numbers are stacking up for Tom Lynch right now. Seventeen goals in three weeks. Thirty-one goals from nine rounds. The Richmond spearhead managed 32 goals from 19 games in 2020 and 35 from 18 last year - two seasons dogged by injury and form frustrations - but is back to the form that saw him earn an All-Australian blazer on the Gold Coast. Lynch delivered in his first season at Punt Road in 2019 and has two premiership medallions, but his start to 2022 is as good as any forward in the game. If he continues this way, Lynch will have a second blazer and a maiden Coleman Medal by September. - Josh Gabelich

Tom Lynch takes a strong mark in Richmond's win over Hawthorn in round nine, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

5. Essendon's defence might be its biggest issue

If Essendon is to be a genuine finals threat again, they need to stop conceding such heavy scores. The Bombers' 28-point win over Hawthorn in round eight offered hope they'd turned a corner, having conceded 90 points or more in every game until keeping the Hawks to 11.15 (81). The reality is against Sydney it could've been much worse, with the inaccurate Swans kicking 14.21 (105). The Bombers conceded 81.5 points per game as they made the finals last year, but in 2022 that's up at 102.4, ahead of only bottom two North Melbourne (107.7) and West Coast (108.5). - Ben Somerford

BARRETT The three biggest disasters of the 2022 season

19:42 Mins
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'They threw the towel in': Heat coming for insipid performance

Riley Beveridge and Kane Cornes bring you The Round So Far for round nine

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6. Mabior Chol is a nightmare to match up on

After heading to Gold Coast from Richmond via free agency last October, Mabior Chol has put himself in the conversation as one of the best off-season pick-ups in the competition. Having to fit into a restructured Suns forward line following the season-ending knee injury to Ben King, the 25-year-old has blossomed, kicking 19 goals in nine matches and proving a terrific back-up ruck option to Jarrod Witts. Chol's four goals in wet conditions against frugal Fremantle were pivotal, as he crumbed packs, galloped in open space and read the play better than his multiple opponents. Chol is a tricky match-up in the air and on the ground and is proving a great foil for bullocking Levi Casboult. – Michael Whiting

01:49 Mins
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Chol's big day out lifts Suns to massive win

Mabior Chol was at his dominant best as he slammed home four goals to lead his side to a huge win over the Dockers

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7. Jack Silvagni is better than you think

It’s time the footy industry recognises Jack Silvagni for what he is – a genuine star – rather than just a very good player. Into his seventh year at Carlton, the 24-year-old is having a stellar season. Ahead of Sunday’s win against GWS, Silvagni was averaging 13.9 disposals per game, 1.3 goals, 5.6 marks and 1.3 clearances, which all are career-best marks. The son of a gun was among the best afield against the Giants after tallying 20 disposals (seven contested) at 80 per cent efficiency, two goals, seven score involvements, eight marks, eight pressure acts and four inside 50s. Silvagni has long been admired for being a tireless worker, which he continues to be, but he is now more than that. And, he’s the ultimate team man, prepared to play whatever role is asked of him, which is another reason the Blues’ faithful love him. – Trent Masenhelder

Jack Silvagni celebrates a goal during Carlton's win over GWS in round nine, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

8. Geelong's dearth of talls is coming back to bite

Once again, the Cats' ruck issues have been put under the microscope following a match-winning turn from Saint Paddy Ryder. Rhys Stanley's best is excellent, but his inconsistency has caught Geelong out on occasion. Recruit Jon Ceglar (foot) remains around six weeks off, as does Esava Ratugolea (ankle). Mark Blicavs was handy when employed, but spent most of his time on the wing, and with Jack Henry (foot) out of action and Tom Stewart playing higher up the ground, Sam De Koning and Jake Kolodjashnij were the tallest in a defence looking after Ryder/Rowan Marshall, Max King, Cooper Sharman and Tim Membrey. – Sarah Black

Paddy Ryder gets a tap against Rhys Stanley during the R9 clash between St Kilda and Geelong on May 14, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

9. The Eagles can't be savage as the rebuild starts

No doubt tough decisions loom at the end of the season for West Coast and extensive change is needed, but Sunday's loss to Melbourne was an example of why at least some experienced heads have a role to play in this rebuild. With 11 of their best 22 players missing, including late withdrawal Josh Kennedy, the Eagles got a look at what savage cuts to the list could look like in a brutal first quarter, going inside 50 just four times to 20 and conceding six straight goals. The team battled admirably thereafter and limited the damage, but it required them to play in damage control for long periods. Adam Simpson conceded his game plan had needed to be abandoned to an extent this season, and he'll need senior players there to help teach it next year. - Nathan Schmook