Nick Daicos celebrates with brother Josh after the R6 match between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG on April 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IN THIS week's Nine Things We Learned, we discover a pair of veteran Crows still have plenty to give, the Blues need more options up forward, Charlie should not be forgotten and much, much more.

Check out what we learned from round six of the 2023 season.

BARRETT Through sickness and health, Bont's legend continues to grow


1) This Magpies son of a gun is destined for higher honours

This is starting to get ridiculous now. After producing one of the best debut seasons in AFL/VFL history, Nick Daicos has handled the hype and the heat to produce a blistering start to his second season. The 20-year-old added the Anzac Day Medal to his growing CV on Tuesday, after amassing 40 touches for the second consecutive week, 604 metres gained and two crucial last-quarter goals. The son of a gun started the day two votes clear on top of the AFL Coaches Association's champion player award, despite his nearest rivals – Marcus Bontempelli and Jeremy Cameron – already having played and polling heavily in round six, but will attract plenty of votes from Craig McRae and Brad Scott when they are submitted on Wednesday. Daicos now has six 30+ disposal hauls from six games - 35, 32, 33, 38, 42 and 40. Hard to believe this is a player with just 31 games next to his name. - Josh Gabelich


2) The Demons have unearthed another livewire

Melbourne’s batch of small forwards has been busy over a number of years, with Kysaiah Pickett taking most of the attention. But it was Kade Chandler who helped turn Monday night's game the Dees' way, with the clever forward booting three goals. They all came in the second half as Melbourne overran the Tigers at the MCG, with Chandler continuing what has been a breakout start to the season. He has kicked 10 goals from the first six rounds and established himself inside the Demons' front half having knocked back rival offers a couple of years ago. The Demons lost small forward Toby Bedford last trade period to Greater Western Sydney but Chandler has stepped in and taken his chance. - Callum Twomey


3) Predictable Blues need more variety in attack

With Coleman medallists Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay getting service from Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra, it's hard to believe Carlton has the lowest points-for tally of the top-10 teams on the ladder and even sits behind the massively undermanned West Coast. McKay and Curnow are superstars and were again among their side's best against St Kilda - Harry's wayward goalkicking aside - but when the twin towers can’t finish the job themselves, there are too few others who can. Michael Voss needs his star midfielders to hit the scoreboard and his small forwards do more than just provide tackle pressure in the front half otherwise this year will finish like last - big on individual plaudits but short of team success. – Howard Kimber

Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay leave the field after Carlton's loss to Collingwood in round 23, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

4) Don't forget Charlie in the small forward debate

After Tom Papley starred for Sydney with six goals last week, Charlie Cameron reminded everyone that he is still one of the best - if not the best - small forward in the competition. The livewire kicked a personal-best seven goals at Manuka Oval on Saturday, with Greater Western Sydney simply having no answer for his agility and intelligence. While the focus is on the likes of Joe Daniher, Eric Hipwood and Jack Gunston in the air for the Lions, it is Cameron who can totally break a game open on the deck. Half-chances for other players are genuine opportunities for the Lions star, and that is what makes him so difficult to defend. While a lot of focus has been on the likes of Papley, Izak Rankine and Kozzy Pickett this season, it's worth noting Charlie has 20 goals for the season after six rounds, behind only Jeremy Cameron and Charlie Curnow in the race for the Coleman Medal. - Gemma Bastiani


5) The Bont is a star, but he's not the only Dog in form

In-form superstar Marcus Bontempelli will rightly get the plaudits, but his midfield sidekicks did not go unnoticed in a complete on-ball domination against Fremantle on Friday night. The team clearance numbers (43-42) did not tell the full story at Optus Stadium, but some individual performances highlighted the danger of underestimating the depth still available to Luke Beveridge. In the opening five rounds, for example, Jack Macrae had amassed a maximum of four clearances in a match. On Friday night, he had a competition season high of 14, including four from the centre bounce as a second-string option. His groundball gets (16) were an equal game-high, with Bulldogs midfielders – including the excellent Adam Treloar – filling four of the top five spots in this key indicator. Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said his team would need to "re-school" its contest method, and the Bulldogs gave them a lesson. – Nathan Schmook

Adam Treloar avoids a tackle during the Western Bulldogs' match against Fremantle in R6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

6) The old Crows aren't done with yet

Two goals down with just minutes left on the clock in Launceston, Adelaide found a way thanks to two of their its young talents, with Izak Rankine and Darcy Fogarty coming up clutch when it mattered. But it wasn't just the young guns that kept the Crows in the game, with Taylor Walker booting four goals and veteran Rory Sloane (a game-high 30 disposals) stepping up in the Crows' engine room. A win over Hawthorn may not be hard to come by this year, but a win over the Hawks at their Launceston fortress is worth crowing about. A thrilling Showdown victory, a stunning dismantling of top-four fancy Carlton and now a last-gasp win at a ground Hawthorn do not lose at, the Crows are showing they are not just a flash in the pan. – Sophie Welsh

Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker celebrate a goal during the 2021 season. Picture: AFL Photos

7) Jarrod Witts is still Gold Coast's most important player

Perhaps this is not something we've learned as much as it's something that's been reinforced. After missing the past two weeks with a back problem, Jarrod Witts came back to steady the Gold Coast ship against the Kangaroos. Last week it was Fremantle giant Sean Darcy who overpowered Witts' young – and very capable – replacement Ned Moyle in the dying stages to spark a Dockers win, but Witts allows no such option for his opposing ruckman. The 30-year-old set the tone early in Sunday's win with a rare goal from six disposals and three clearances in the first quarter. Any time North made a slight push, the Suns co-captain was there to win a hitout, a clearance, force another stoppage or help out in defence. He's still Gold Coast's most irreplaceable player. – Michael Whiting

Jarrod Witts celebrates a goal for Gold Coast against North Melbourne in R6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

8) Good Lord, the young Port talls are alright

An interesting subplot to Port Adelaide's win over West Coast was the new faces in its talls department, led by first gamer Ollie Lord. With Charlie Dixon (injured), Scott Lycett and Mitch Georgiades (both omitted) all absent, Lord showed some good signs in his first game at AFL level, snagging a goal to go with three marks and 10 disposals. Mid-season draftee Brynn Teakle returned 34 hitouts to go with 14 disposals in the ruck in just his second AFL game, with the pair providing strong support to Jeremy Finlayson, who kicked a game-high five goals. It's far too soon to call it a changing of the guard after just one game against a beaten-up West Coast, but it shows the Power have depth. The fact Dixon, Lycett and Georgiades are all out of contract at the end of this year adds to the intrigue. - Martin Smith


9) Blicavs & De Koning is a viable ruck pairing

With Geelong's three recognised ruckmen - Rhys Stanley, Jon Ceglar and Toby Conway - all unavailable, Chris Scott turned to the ever-reliable Mark Blicavs and key back Sam De Koning to share the ruck duties against the Swans. While they gave up some height to Peter Ladhams and Hayden McLean, the Cats pair was far more agile around the ground and competed well overhead, with the versatile Blicavs occasionally 'resting' as a midfielder. Given the Swans' shorter forward line, De Koning was able to leave his duties in the backline and relieve Blicavs when required. That won't always be the case depending on the opposition, but the eventual return of Jack Henry (foot) may allow De Koning more opportunities in the ruck later in the season, which would give the Cats with yet another dimension. - Sarah Black

Sam De Koning and Hayden McLean in a ruck contest in the R6 match between Geelong and Sydney in 2023. Picture: AFL Photos