Cyril Rioli leaves Heath Shaw in his wake during Hawthorn's big win over Collingwood
Photo: Getty Images
It's Hawthorn's to lose now
It's not the easiest draw going but the Hawks should still win five of their last six games, leaving only a round 22 trip to Sydney. That fixture could decide whether Hawthorn or the Swans finish second on the ladder behind Adelaide. The Crows are surely on course for top spot now after their drubbing of West Coast, but the Hawks still figure as the premiership favourites due to their 'home' advantage. Hawthorn played their best footy of the year on Saturday and did it all without Buddy Franklin, emphasising their credentials in a game that looked, sounded and felt like a final. Only one thing will stop the Alastair Clarkson's men from beating a path to the last day in September now, and that's themselves.
West Coast won't make top four
It's all falling apart for the Eagles, who are finally breaking down after withstanding an avalanche of injuries for so long. Their 49-point loss to the Crows was the first time they had lost back-to-back games since round four last year, and the second week in a row that a side unlocked their ruck advantage to devastating effect. West Coast was the form side of the comp six weeks ago; now they look vulnerable ahead of games against Fremantle, Geelong, Collingwood and Hawthorn. The Swans, Crows, Hawks and Pies look more like top-four sides. The Eagles are on the wane and will be the unlucky side to miss out on the double chance.
Losers can be winners - and vice-versa
Rarely has a winning margin looked as unjust as Sydney's 29-point lead over St Kilda at the final siren. Few could have complained if the result had gone the other way at the SCG, such was the Saints' ability to keep coming at the hosts. Only their inefficiency up forward in the final term - due largely to a crocked Nick Riewoldt - cost them a surprise win. In the victor's rooms, the celebrations were muted by concern over Shane Mumford's sore knee. It was later confirmed as just a jarred joint but the big Mummy's durability is a worry. The Swans will find it hard to win the flag without him in the centre and he has been absent more often than not in 2012.
Seven is the luckiest number
For Drew Petrie and North Melbourne, anyway, who scraped past a gallant Richmond by virtue of the Dish's last-quarter heroics. The Roos, who looked shot six weeks ago, are now back in the top eight and every chance of holding that place come the end of the season. Petrie's rise to A-grade form has helped no end. In contrast, the Tigers can consider themselves desperately unlucky to miss the four points - figuratively and literally. Their spirit to get back into the contest after Petrie blew the game open early in the last was remarkable - and showed just how much they missed Dustin Martin during his club-enforced suspension. Meanwhile in the west, Matthew Pavlich also kicked seven goals but it was against GWS so it didn't really count.
Cloke's re-signing could get ugly
With every week that passes Cloke weakens his own bargaining position with Collingwood. His return against the Hawks – two marks, one goal – brought his stats for the past month to a miserly six majors and 14 marks. By way of comparison, Petrie has 18 goals and 26 marks. Do people still think Cloke is worth $1 million a season? Even Fremantle must be having second thoughts by now, especially given Matthew Pavlich's dominance over the same time period. Cloke should have put pen to paper weeks ago and gotten on with the business of winning a premiership. If he's serious about staying with the Pies – and all indications suggest he is – then he should sign up now before the market turns on him. Things could get very interesting if Collingwood decides they're being too generous and tries to play hardball with David Cloke.
- The umpires got it right regarding the deliberate rushed behind decision against Bret Thornton, but why was Luke Dahlhaus pushed out to the boundary post to take the kick?
- Alastair Clarkson's Hulk smash is exactly the kind of television that makes cameras trained on the coaches' box a necessity.
- Harry Taylor embraced his inner diva on Friday night, tossing his boot to the sidelines for Geelong trainer to untie his shoelaces for him.
- Melbourne supporters should give thanks for Jeremy Howe and his weekly attempts at mark of the year (below). They currently have precious little else.
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