We’re ten weeks through the AFL season as fans were treated to the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round this weekend.
Round 10 told us a lot about some clubs, while a few began to falter under pressure.
Here’s what we learned from the weekend’s games:
One-on-one defending is back in vogue
Intercept defending has been all the rage in recent seasons, with players earning big pay packets and notoriety for their ability to peel off their man and launch attacks for their side from defence.
While there’s no doubt those players are still incredibly valuable, we’ve seen in recent weeks that they can be exposed with the quicker ball movement we’ve had in 2022.
As a result, the spotlight is back on backmen who can beat their man one-on-one, and that was highlighted this weekend through the performances of Carlton’s Jacob Weitering and St Kilda’s Callum Wilkie.
The pair were both critical in their side’s wins, as they comfortably took their match-ups against the dangerous Lance Franklin and Taylor Walker respectively.
All-Australian back sixes have been littered with interceptors and attacking types in recent years, but it looks as though Weitering and Wilkie could earn blazers in 2022 for their ability to simply win contests.
That’s not to say that these two don’t have elite attacking and intercepting traits, but they’re genuinely proving the most critical players in their side’s performances by locking down.
It’s great viewing for the footy purists out there.
The AFL needs to sort out their jumper clashes
Seriously, how are jumper clashes still a thing in 2022?
With all of the money that gets poured into the game and the array of guernseys teams use each year, the viewer shouldn’t be getting short-changed by finding it hard to differentiate teams from a distance.
It rarely happens in any other professional sports league in the world, but it seems to be a continual struggle point for the AFL.
Whether it’s the clubs themselves or the competition’s fault, someone has to step in so we don’t get a repeat of what we saw at Dreamtime at the ‘G on Saturday as both Richmond and Essendon played in predominantly black guernseys with a dash of yellow or red the only difference.
The unique jumpers are something that makes Indigenous Round so special, but we can’t be having that match-up again.
It’s genuinely something that could turn a novice viewer away.
How easily Melbourne reached 10 wins is frightening
Melbourne’s now 10-0, and they’ve barely broken a sweat getting there, a scary thought for opposition clubs.
Their latest victim was North Melbourne, and while both sides are at opposing ends of the ladder, the Dees genuinely didn’t click out of first gear.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen that in 2022 either, with the Dees holding a percentage north of 160 without ever putting four quarters together or ever really being challenged.
It’s a credit to their remarkable depth and confidence in their game style that they can keep churning out results, and it’s genuinely hard to see when the loss will come as they’re yet to barely lift a finger.
Their next two come against finals hopefuls in Fremantle and Sydney, big wins there would further prove that they’re streets ahead of the next best in the competition.
It’s hard to imagine any other scenario where they don’t go back-to-back in 2022 at this point.
Fremantle look lost in wet weather
Fremantle has been outplayed and out hunted for two straight weeks in wet conditions, dropping games to Gold Coast and now Collingwood.
On form, the Dockers entered both of those clashes as hot favourites but didn’t really get close in either match-up.
Slipping from 7-1 to 7-3 has placed their top-four hopes under serious doubt, and the last fortnight may be what costs them the double chance when we look back on it at season’s end.
While they’ll often play in dry weather in Perth, as winter comes there’s no doubt they’ll find themselves in these conditions sooner rather than later and they simply must be better – particularly against top-level opposition.
10 goals in two weeks just isn’t good enough.
It’s back to the drawing board for Justin Longmuir ahead of a massive next two weeks against Melbourne and Brisbane.
They’d hate to find themselves 7-5 after their fast start.
GWS appeared a more daring side under McVeigh
While it was against a struggling West Coast side, GWS looked pretty impressive under interim coach Mark McVeigh with ball in hand.
Having only broken the triple-figure barrier once this year, the Giants blasted through that on Sunday to pile on 21 goals and end with a final score of 138.
While they allowed a struggling Eagles side to score 86 points of their own, it was never truly a contest as the damage was well and truly done at half-time.
Although they’re not going to get equally favourable matchups in the coming weeks, Giants fans will be glad to see the side go fast with the footy and implement an attack-first mentality.
In Leon Cameron’s last few games, the Giants often looked stagnant and slow with the footy, and even if it takes a while for this new game style to click, it’s nice to see a side with so much talent try and properly utilise it.
It’s a big week for Sydney
Top four fancy Sydney are now back with the pack after falling to Carlton on Friday night.
With a record of 6-4 and three losses from their last four games, the Swans’ credentials as genuine contenders has come under question.
They can just about flip that next week though, as they come up against a resurgent Richmond outfit who have peeled off an impressive four-straight wins.
Beat the Tigers, and the Swans will prove that they well and truly have a chance to go deep in 2022.
Lose, and their September hopes could even come under serious doubt.
They wouldn’t want to be 6-5 after being 5-1 just a month earlier.
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