It was a big round of footy and there were important storylines out of all nine games.
We have selected one positive and one negative from every club’s Round 7 performance.
See our thoughts below:
Positive: Enough entries
There isn’t much to get excited about after a 67-point loss but at least the Crows got enough ball forward.
They finished with 52 inside 50 entries which in comparison to GWS’ 58 was not a complete write-off.
A scoring efficiency of 46.2% is not ideal and a total score of 4.15.(39) is not what you wish for but Matthew Nicks can be somewhat pleased that they had some looks in attack.
But that’s being nice on what was a dirty day.
Negative: Smashed around the ball
The Crows were utterly outplayed around the contest.
They were crushed 41-17 in clearances and were completely brushed aside early in proceedings. In comparison, they won this area 40-30 over Hawthorn last week before losing that game late.
Yes, they had a youthful side out there but the effort and intent around the ball was not up to scratch.
Ben Keays, ruckman Reilly O’Brien and youngster Harry Schoenberg were the only Crows who had more than two clearances which indicates there was a number of senior players way below their usual selves in that area.
They also conceded nine scoring shots in the opening term and if not for the Giants’ wastefulness early, it could have been a loss of epic proportions.
Positive: Stars return to form
Charlie Cameron and Harris Andrews appear back to their best.
Cameron endured a tough start to the season but has since kicked seven goals in the past two weeks and again looks dangerous around goal.
Down back, Andrews responded from a tough night against Harry McKay last week to do a stellar job against the Power with none of their talls hitting the scoreboard.
Cameron and Andrews’ output at either end of the ground will go a long way to deciding Brisbane’s hopes in 2021.
Chris Fagan will be hoping they stay in this sort of touch.
Negative: There's not much to see here
It would be nit-picking to try and pick out an obvious negative after they knocked off a fellow contender by such a wide margin.
The key from here is consistency, and the Lions will look to build from this dominant performance and back it up against Fremantle this coming weekend.
Positive: The kids are bringing some mongrel
Carlton has not been a team with much mongrel in recent years, but a trio of youngsters have helped change that.
The players the Blues have drafted in recent years have mostly been pretty tame and tepid on the field, but Matt Owies, Matt Cottrell and Luke Parks show some fight and the energy they provided was critical in the win over Essendon.
All three are currently on Carlton’s rookie list and have fought hard to not only make the 22, but to be on an AFL list in general.
The Blues should continue to back in all three going forward.
Negative: Teams are still scoring too easily
Only five teams – Adelaide, St Kilda, Essendon, Hawthorn and North Melbourne – have given up more points than Carlton this year, who are still too easy to score against.
The Bombers cut the Blues to ribbons in the first quarter, with their forwards having a ton of space to work into.
Coming up against the Bulldogs this week, Carlton must get their defensive structures right if they are to have any chance.
This means clogging leading lanes and not relying on Jacob Weitering, Liam Jones and Lachie Plowman to win one-on-one contests without help.
Positive: Josh Daicos’ midfield move
Daicos been one of the only shining lights over the past fortnight as Collingwood continues to struggle in 2021.
The crafty 22-year-old was forced forward early in the year to add class in front of the ball with Jamie Elliott out injured, but has now found his spot in the engine room.
In the past two weeks Daicos has delivered, averaging 26.5 disposals since making the move on-ball.
He’s an elite decision maker and smart with ball in hand so it only makes sense for Collingwood to get the footy to him more often than not.
In the midfield is where he’ll best be able to do that.
Negative: Non-existent tackle pressure
Despite trailing for most of the match, Collingwood had only two of the top nine rated pressure players on the ground against the Suns.
Yes, they’ve lost a significant amount of talent and experience, but pressure is one aspect of the game that is directly tied to effort and not ability.
With their backs against the wall and looking for a response, Nathan Buckley would have been disappointed with the efforts of his players on Saturday.
Positive: Harry Jones’ breakout game
One of the key questions the Bombers were facing heading into this year was how the forward line would go without the likes of Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia and after seven rounds.
Ben Rutten might just have the long-term answer in Harry Jones.
The 20-year-old has toiled away from several weeks and shown promising glimpses without significant reward, but on Sunday against Carlton he kicked three goals and took five contested marks in just his seventh game of senior football.
While he may still be incredibly raw and a long way off the finished product, the beauty of this season for Essendon is being able to keep players like Jones in the senior side to turbocharge their development.
Negative: Conceding a lead… again
The Bombers looked to have control of the game against Carlton, holding a 21-point lead in the second term but as was the case against Hawthorn and Sydney, they conceded a run of five or more goals to eventually lose their fifth game of the year.
An inexperienced side will naturally have wild form fluctuations, but the next step for Essendon is to be able to convert purple patches in games into wins.
It’s the third time this year where they’ve let a substantial lead slip and something they’ll have to work on moving forward.
Positive: David Mundy’s form
There wasn’t a whole heap to be happy about from a Fremantle point of view.
But David Mundy is still in All-Australian form through the midfield, so there’s that?
Mundy picked up 29 disposals and kicked a goal in the Derby, proving that he will show up every single week.
Negative: Derby bunnies
Fremantle has lost 11 games in a row to West Coast.
What more can you say?
Positive: Winning the territory battle
Geelong were genuinely unlucky not to beat Sydney on Saturday night, with their inaccuracy in front of goal largely costing them in the end.
But despite the loss, there were plenty of positives for Chris Scott to take out of the game ahead of the Grand Final rematch against Richmond on Friday night.
The Cats soundly beat Sydney in contested possessions, inside 50s and tackles inside 50 and were in the lead by as much as 29 points early in the second quarter.
There’s been plenty of questions about the Cats and their game style this year, but even in defeat they showed against a solid outfit in Sydney that they’re slowly building into the season.
Negative: Ruck issues come to the fore again
The biggest disappointment out of Saturday night would’ve been Rhys Stanley’s performance and Geelong’s inability to wrestle back momentum from the middle of the ground when the scoreboard turned.
In the chaotic final stages of the game, Mark Blicavs was thrown into the ruck to try and combat Tom Hickey’s dominance.
What the Cats do with their ruck combination next week against the Tigers will be fascinating, especially considering just how well Toby Nankervis is playing right now.
Positive: Midfield duo inspire Suns to MCG triumph
Gold Coast ran out deserved winners over Collingwood to notch just their fourth ever win at the MCG and their first victory over the Magpies at the home of football.
It’s a result that will give the young Suns further belief that they are starting to turn the corner.
Underrated midfield pair Hugh Greenwood (26 disposals, 12 clearances and 10 tackles) and Touk Miller (34 disposals) were inspirational for the Suns while forward Josh Corbett kicked a career-high four goals and Brandon Ellis racked up 35 touches.
Can they use this breakthrough win as a springboard towards a possible finals charge?
Negative: Could fringe Suns seek exits?
Gold Coast have some handy players running around in their VFL side at the moment.
Brayden Fiorini (33 disposals), Will Brodie (41) and Darcy Macpherson (34) all performed strongly in the twos on the weekend while Alex Sexton is also on the periphery.
Coach Stuart Dew would be loving the healthy competition for spots at the Suns – but could there be exits looming at season’s end?
Fiorini (2023), Brodie (2022), Macpherson (2022) and Sexton (2023) are all contracted for next season.
One to watch as the year unfolds.
Positive: Jesse Hogan’s debut
Massive win aside, there was plenty to like about Jesse Hogan’s first game in orange and charcoal.
The talented forward slotted into the Giants forward setup with relative ease and enjoyed a fine debut in the 67-point win over the Crows, finishing with four goals, five marks, four inside 50s and eight score involvements.
The Giants have been crying out for a replacement for Jeremy Cameron and although it’s unfair to compare the pair, his opening performance looks as though he may be able to partially fill the void.
Additionally, Harry Himmelberg (three goals, three goal assists) played arguably his best game of the season as the Giants kicked their biggest score of the season to date.
Negative: Double injury
Not so much for any of their form during the game, but the Giants copped a couple of injuries which can be seen as a negative.
Brent Daniels hurt his hamstring early, forcing the Giants to activate their sub in the form of Matt Buntine. Unfortunately, the sub suffered a concussion meaning the visitors were a man down.
It mattered not to the result but with Daniels it’s a second hamstring in two weeks after Nick Haynes hurt his in Round 6.
Positive: Tom Mitchell in All-Australian form
It will be a hard All-Australian team to break into this year, but Tom Mitchell has a fair claim.
Mitchell picked up 38 disposals in the loss to St Kilda as well as seven score involvements, seven marks, five clearances and five tackles.
He’s averaging 33 for the year, which is great to see as he continues to find his best form following a year on the sidelines in 2019.
Negative: More or less everything else
St Kilda came into this game under huge pressure and were gettable for a team like Hawthorn if they turned up with the right attitude.
They did not.
The Hawks played a number of Saints into form, including the likes of Brad Hill and Zak Jones. They had acres of space to do as they pleased.
Hawthorn’s season before Round 7 was defined by their competitiveness and they will hope this was a blip on the radar.
Positive: Winning the hard way
Melbourne won their seventh game of the season on Sunday, but they had to do it the hard way after coming back from a surprising 19-point deficit to bottom-placed North Melbourne.
What happened after half-time was a combination of North skill errors and Melbourne’s overall game correcting somewhat and by the end of the match, they notched up a solid victory against a willing opponent.
Tougher tests are ahead and while they were far from their best, Melbourne would’ve been rapt to win a different way, especially a week after taming the Tigers at the MCG.
Negative: Adam Tomlinson’s serious knee injury
Tomlinson has been a crucial part of Melbourne’s defence so far this year, allowing Steven May to take the best opposition forward and Jake Lever to zone off and intercept as the third tall.
The scenes of him in tears after going down with what looks to be a serious knee injury were shattering, even more so considering his battle to find a consistent position at the Dees.
It’s a bitter blow for the Demons overall and they’ll now have to shuffle their back six to suit.
Positive: Winning the midfield battle
The Kangaroos won the clearances against Melbourne and ultimately beat Max Gawn down in Tassie.
For a young team to perform so well in that area against a dominant, undefeated team is a great sign and it put them in a position to win the game.
Ben Cunnington won eight clearances to go with 35 disposals and two goals, continuing his excellent season.
Negative: Aiden Bonar’s injury
Aiden Bonar has found a home for himself in defence for the Kangaroos this year.
The former top-10 draft pick has settled nicely in the backline, but went down with a badly corked thigh in the second quarter.
The substitution likely rules him out of next week’s clash with Collingwood, though it depends on how the cork settles down.
Positive: Ollie Wines
Port Adelaide vice-captain Ollie Wines has skyrocketed into Brownlow Medal contention.
Wines was super with 37 disposals and 11 clearances against the Lions, but wasn’t given enough midfield support in the Power’s disappointing loss.
The 26-year-old is averaging a career-best 32.3 touches per match this season and has taken his game to a new level.
Wines has collected over 30 disposals in five of Port Adelaide’s seven games in 2021.
Negative: Failed second big test away from home
Port Adelaide’s two losses this year have come away from home against formidable opposition.
Their Round 3 loss to West Coast at Optus Stadium was followed by Saturday night’s 49-point to Brisbane at the Gabba – their fourth consecutive loss to Chris Fagan’s side.
The Power had more inside 50s but lacked polish and connection with the ball and were comprehensively beaten at the source by a hungry Lions outfit.
It serves as a reality check for Port (5-2) who are still wellplaced in third spot ahead of this weekend’s Showdown against local rivals Adelaide.
Positive: Resounding recoil, Lynch’s response
The Tigers were questioned after going down to the Demons in Round 6.
Some foolishly put a line through their premiership hopes while others wondered if there was a changing of the guard, particularly at half-time when they trailed the Bulldogs by 19 points.
But quickly everything was put right as Damien Hardwick’s side came out breathing fire with a finals-like performance after the break.
Part of the reason for the statement win over the previously undefeated Dogs was the form of Tom Lynch, who had also been under the cosh in the lead up.
It could have been a mammoth night for the two-time flag winner if his radar was on. He finished with 3.5, took 12 marks (four contested), had 11 score involvements and provided two goal assists with what was a vehement response.
Small mention also to debutant Riley Collier-Dawkins who did not look out of place at AFL level with 14 disposals, five clearances and three centre clearances.
Negative: Cotchin injured again
It was almost the perfect night for Richmond but perfection is hard to find in footy and something had to give.
The sour point came very late when captain Trent Cotchin succumbed to yet another hamstring injury.
He had been one of his side’s very best on the night, setting the scene in the third quarter, but finished on the bench and is now facing time on the sidelines.
The Tigers will have to cope without his leadership and fierce attack on the ball for at least the next couple of weeks.
Positive: Key players find form in selfless win
St Kilda dined out in their win over Hawthorn, kicking their highest score of the season (128).
Brad Hill (27 disposals and 571 metres gained) and Zak Jones (37 disposals and seven clearances) were the architects behind the 69-point victory.
Hill’s move to half-back worked a treat with the maligned Saint finding some much-needed form after a quiet start to the season.
Veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder made an immediate impact in his return game, giving St Kilda's midfield first use and allowing Rowan Marshall (two goals) to spend more time forward.
Coach Brett Ratten was pleased with his side’s selflessness as they returned to the winners' list after two heavy losses.
“The care for each other and the desperation and the little things – it actually made other players better in the game," Ratten said post-game.
Negative: King’s wayward goalkicking
Max King’s kicking for goal continues to be a concern.
The young Saint has been far from reliable in front of goal with his career conversation rate just a tick over 50 per cent (33 goals and 31 behinds) across 24 games.
King finished with 2.4 against Hawthorn - the fourth time he’s kicked more behinds than goals in a match this season.
It’s an area the 20-year-old must tidy up as it could cost his side down the track.
Positive: Ollie Florent, Hayden McLean and winning a tight one
Ollie Florent has been solid since being selected with pick No.11 in the 2016 draft but his game against Geelong was brilliant.
The fleet-footed midfielder was a standout against the Cats and truly stood up in the last quarter where he had nine crucial touches and kicked a late goal from an inside 50 stoppage.
Florent certainly has the talent to impact games and the key now for him is consistency.
It’ll be interesting to see if we look back at this performance as a turning point.
The Swans won another tight encounter and did so without a trio of key forwards incuding Lance Franklin.
Enter Hayden McLean who in just his 14th AFL game booted four goals and took three contested marks in a match-winning display.
Negative: Heeney’s quiet outing
Isaac Heeney was barely sighted in the Swans two-point win over Geelong.
The half-forward started the season on fire but has struggled in the past fortnight since returning from a broken hand.
He has too much ability to only be having seven disposals and no scoreboard impact in a tight game.
He'll need to end this form slump quickly for the Swans to be any chance when they face ladder-leading Demons at the MCG on Saturday night.
Positive: Four quarters, as requested
After an implosion away to Geelong last Saturday, Adam Simpson challenged West Coast to ignore the injury list and string together a four quarter performance.
Another costly lapse loomed on Sunday afternoon, as Fremantle built on a five-goal second quarter (the Eagles kicked seven of their own, mind) to narrow the gap to eight points early in the third term through Tobe Watson and Rory Lobb.
On this occasion the bedrock of the Eagles’ game was in place, and they peeled off five goals in a row with fringe players Jamaine Jones, Nathan Vardy, Jake Waterman and Jarrod Brander among them, taking a 39-point lead into the last change.
A career-high 42 disposals for Tim Kelly to go with 13 clearances, 13 score involvements, nine tackles and 599 metres gained was the foundational performance, while Andrew Gaff, Dom Sheed and Jack Redden contributed to an overwhelming spread.
Negative: Can they continue to protect the backs?
The Eagles had a challenging run to start the season, with three trips to Victoria to face 2020 finalists the Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and Geelong, along with the minor premiers Port Adelaide in Perth.
It softens a touch from here, with Hawthorn at the MCG, Adelaide in Perth, the Giants away and Essendon at home on the horizon, but the two away fixtures could frustrate, and the two teams making the trip to Western Australia can get on scoring runs.
When the Dockers controlled the contest in the second term on Sunday they got on top of the Eagles’ undermanned defence, with key pillar Matt Taberner booting two of five goals for the quarter.
Simpson told reporters: “I don’t know if there are too many soldiers coming back this week”, in relation to Tom Barrass’ timeline, while Jeremy McGovern’s return is estimated at 2-3 weeks.
If as on Sunday, they can replicate their control of the contest (+15 contested ball, +9 clearances) the territory (+11 inside 50s) and the tempo (+35 marks), they may just get away without their twin talls.
If their away form continues, we could see Jacob Koschitzke, Taylor Walker, Jesse Hogan and others get off the chain.
Positive: The Astronaught
It speaks volumes for Aaron Naughton’s promise as a key forward that, on a night when the Dogs’ key backs were monstered by Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt, the notion of sending him back, where he placed fourth in the best and fairest at 18, was barely entertained.
In 2019, Dogs fans witnessed his raw athleticism and sticky hands as Naughton led the league for contested marks and booted 32 goals; in an injury-impacted 2020, there were glimpses of a growing one-out game.
This season, Naughton is nearing the complete offering. He senses and explodes into space on the lead, and operates as a small at ground level. He has kicked multiple goals in every match, one of only three in the competition to do so.
On Friday night, his three goals, four marks inside 50 and eight score involvements helped the Dogs capitalise on the early running, and kept them in the game as the Tigers flexed their muscle.
Negative: The ball was taken away from them
The Tigers loomed as the sternest test for the Bulldogs’ ball movement. Even as Luke Beveridge’s men opened up an early lead, they were directed and corralled along the width of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
After half-time, the Dogs were cut off at the source. Expanding in concentric circles with numbers up the ground, Richmond whipped the ball out of the centre in a fury before launching it high into a forward line with swathes of untrodden turf for Tom Lynch to lead into.
Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore disappeared, while Marcus Bontempelli and Adam Treloar struggled as the space and supply dried up.
Damien Hardwick’s side piled on 12 consecutive entries to start the term; the narrative out of the game was that the Dogs’ key defensive weaknesses had been exposed, but few could have withstood the volume of delivery to the Tigers’ forwards.
Stef Martin was well beaten by Toby Nankervis and needed the relief Tim English usually provides, but the hope for the Dogs will be that their taste of Tiger terror can inoculate their midfield against a similar capitulation when there’s more on the line.