Travis Cloke fired in Chris Dawes' absence against Essendon on Saturday night
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WHAT WE LEARNED: Less is more for Collingwood's misfiring forwards and Fremantle send a message...
The Pies might be better with one big forward
Mick Malthouse's successful Collingwood outfits were built around two strong key forwards - Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes. However, Nathan Buckley's 2012 version has struggled to get anywhere near the heights of Malthouse's sides, particularly in the second half of the season. The form woes of Cloke and Dawes have been startling but the former took a big step forward against Essendon, booting five goals and taking 16 marks. Is it a coincidence his fellow 'twin tower' Dawes was out of the side? Perhaps. But Buckley will be thinking twice about doubling up on his big men in the forward 50 after Cloke's dominant display against the Dons. With the return of Andrew Krakouer, the Collingwood forward line suddenly has an unpredictability it has been sorely lacking in recent weeks.
Contenders don't draw with Port Adelaide
By all accounts, Richmond have been one of the season's big improvers. Challenging good teams, looming as finals contenders and developing key players in the midfield and defence - their two key weaknesses. Trent Cotchin is comfortably among the game's top 20 players and looks set to captain the side from 2013. So how do supporters balance all of that against the fact the Tigers lost to Gold Coast and drew with a battling Port Adelaide? Clearly, the positives outweigh the negatives at Punt Road. But those poor results - and Sunday's failure to get the four points was poor, no two ways about it - show that for all the good work Damien Hardwick has done, Richmond is still some distance from being a genuine contender.
Sydney need to rediscover their mojo
Not even the return of talismanic clearance specialist Jude Bolton could lift the Swans to a second successive victory at the Cattery. Admittedly, knocking off Geelong at their regional home ground is a near impossible task these days but the Swans are one of the few teams who can go to Geelong with real hope at the moment. However, they comfortably beaten on Saturday. The Cats dominated the inside-50 count - 71 to 41 was the final ledger - and a burst of eight unanswered goals either side of the last change finished the game. Those are positively un-Swans-like stats. John Longmire's men haven't disgraced themselves in the past fortnight against Hawthorn and Geelong, but they haven't won, either. Not ideal for a side that was a genuine flag fancy two weeks ago.
The new-look Dockers are dangerous
From being labelled unwatchable two months ago, Ross Lyon's Fremantle is now verging on unbeatable after racking up a seventh straight win on Saturday. Yes, it was only against Melbourne but winning form is good for, and there are few sides that would relish a clash against the hard-nosed Dockers in an elimination final. Stephen Hill has added some grunt to his silky outside game, Aaron Sandilands and Jon Griffin are the second-best ruck combo in the game and Ryan Crowley can shut anyone down. With Matthew Pavlich fit enough to pose a threat, the only question mark over Fremantle hangs over their defence in the possible absence of Luke McPharlin. If he misses against Geelong, expect Tom Hawkins, James Podsiadly and Nathan Vardy to exploit Zac Dawson and his mates.
- Jack Riewoldt's second Coleman Medal is a fine achievement but we all know it would have been Buddy's, but for a dodgy hamstring,
- The Lions have flown under the radar to a degree this year but Michael Voss is on the right track in Brisbane. The 'RRR' midfield - Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden and Daniel Rich - is serious stuff.
- With Mark Williams headed to Richmond, we are about to find out if Kevin Sheedy has still got it. Popular opinion held that Choco was the brains behind the young Giants. GWS bosses think they know better.
- West Coast did admirably to stay within four goals of Hawthorn after copping a hiding in the first quarter. That's still about as close as they'll get should the two sides meet again in September.
- Brent Guerra must be hoping the thieves who nicked his 2008 premiership medal have a change of heart after watching him ping a nasty hammy on Friday night. It doesn't look likely he'll get another shot at one this year.
- Michael Walters' non-mark of the year against Melbourne should rival Nic Naitanui's spectacular behind for almost-highlight of the year.
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