Round Eight was a week for the movers and shakers to have an impact on the competition, as football weather settles in.
We take a look at how each team fared in this week’s edition of the Edge of the Crowd‘s Power Rankings.
(The club’s previous week’s position is in brackets.)
1. Melbourne (1)
Melbourne was fully in control of their match against St Kilda, jumping out to a 23-point lead at quarter time on the back of two goals for Kysaiah Pickett. From there, the second quarter was even stronger, before St Kilda found its fighting spirit after half time.
Clayton Oliver continued his outstanding form in the midfield with 38 disposals, while Ed Langdon (39) and Angus Brayshaw (31) also had a strong influence on the game.
Melbourne has now won 15 games in a row, and has outclassed all-comers in most of those matches, as another warning sign is issued to the competition. The two questions that now seem to be at play, is who will beat the Demons, and when will Jake Bowey's magical streak come to an end?
2. Brisbane (2)
The Lions came up against a depleted Eagles team, but went out and did their job, with a comprehensive win despite never getting out of second gear. A late barrage of seven goals in the final quarter blew out the margin, as Hugh McCluggage had four goals and 26 disposals.
Charlie Cameron added four goals of his own, as the Lions' forward line went small after Daniel McStay suffered an ankle injury early in the game.
Lachie Neale continued his Brownlow push with another dominant performance with 30 disposals, while Dayne Zorko had 26.
The Lions will be sweating on McStay's fitness, as Daniher remains out, though Eric Hipwood may be available to return from his ACL injury.
3. Fremantle (3)
Fremantle has now strung six wins together on the trot, after a rapid start blew away North Melbourne. Jye Amiss started with a goal with his first kick on debut, and Sam Switkowski and Sean Darcy joined him with goals in the first ten minutes.
With five goals at quarter time, the Dockers were ahead and set, and were never challenged. Andy Brayshaw led the way with 34 disposals, 10 clearances and seven tackles.
The Dockers controlled the inside of the contest, with Will Brodie managing 37 disposals, and Darcy dominating in the ruck.
The Dockers' defence is also in strong form, averaging just 58 points per game this season, with Heath Chapman and Hayden Young returning from health and safety protocols to join Luke Ryan in top form.
4. Geelong (5)
Jeremy Cameron got to stick it to his old side, as he piled on three first quarter goals, and five for the match, dominating at a ground he used to dominate weekly. Mitch Duncan joined in the fun early, as he had 16 disposals in the first quarter.
Tyson Stengle added two, including one just after half time to help kill off any hope of a Giants comeback. Duncan finished with 33 disposals, and Patrick Dangerfield had 28 in his return from injury.
Jed Bews will miss next week, after entering concussion protocols, so the Cats will have to work out how to replace his strong work in the backline.
Geelong has started to find form after a tough few weeks earlier in the season, and will hope to carry that form into the clash against St Kilda next week.
5. St Kilda (6)
St Kilda tried hard, particularly in the second half, but was blown off the ball early by Melbourne, and was never able to get all the way back.
Two late goals before halftime to Tim Membrey and Patrick Ryder, and two more to Max King after the break gave the Saints a fighting chance, but they were never able to bring the margin down to three goals.
The Saints won the third quarter, in a positive sign for the fight that they showed, and it will give them confidence that they can match it with the top teams in the competition for the rest of the season.
Jack Steele was best on ground for the Saints, with 29 disposals, while Brad Crouch had 27 and nine tackles in an impressive outing.
6. Sydney (4)
For the second week in a row, the Swans were slow starters, costing themselves a chance at a win. The Swans were in the contest until late in the game, but a mixture of poor kicking and an inability to find a target inside 50 slowed them down.
Nick Blakey and Justin McInerney had strong performances in the defensive half, while Jake Lloyd led the Swans with 26 disposals.
The Swans were dominated in clearances and hitouts, as the Suns had the ball consistently out of the middle.
To add insult to injury, they were kept goalless in front of home fans in the final quarter, on the day that the team celebrated the anniversary of the 2012 Premiership.
7. Carlton (7)
Carlton flexed its muscles with a strong win at home over Adelaide on the back of a dominant third quarter, outscoring its opponents by 40 points in the quarter.
Charlie Curnow starred for the Blues with six goals, while Harry McKay had three in support. Patrick Cripps was back to his masterful best with 35 disposals, nine clearances and two goals, while Sam Walsh was uncharacteristically quiet, with just 26 touches and four tackles.
Carlton's rebound from defence was effective, launching attacks with Sam Docherty (30 disposals), Zac Williams (16 disposals) and Adam Saad (14 disposals) almost at will.
The win puts Carlton's momentum back on the right track as they prepare to face GWS next.
8. Richmond (11)
Richmond was dominant on Saturday afternoon in a strong 27-point win over Collingwood at the MCG. A tight opening quarter saw the Tigers take a six-point lead into the first break but from there, they just dominated.
Richmond’s defence did a good job nullifying the impact of Collingwood’s forwards for most of the match. Noah Balta was strong in defence having nine marks for the game, while Nathan Broad had 10 intercept possessions for the game.
Up forward, Tom Lynch continued his fine form from last week kicking six goals for the match with five of those coming in the first half. Dustin Martin was strong in his return game with 23 disposals and two goals.
Maurice Rioli Jr was great for Richmond, while only having the 14 disposals he had a huge impact when getting the ball to the Richmond forwards with the six score involvements.
9. Collingwood (8)
Collingwood was flattered by the scoreline, with four late goals making the score look more respectable. Illness again hit the Magpies throughout the week, with Nick Daicos and Taylor Adams fighting through illness to be among the side's best.
Jack Ginnivan can again hold his head high, after fighting through some extra-curricular attention from the Tigers to lead the Magpies with three goals.
Jack Crisp was the best of the Magpies, with 30 disposals and six tackles, while Isaac Quaynor managed 17 disposals before he suffered a finger injury.
Darcy Cameron fought hard, standing in for Brodie Grundy, but only managed 14 hitouts against Toby Nankervis.
10. Western Bulldogs (9)
It was a disappointing performance from the Western Bulldogs on Friday night after going down to Port Adelaide by 17 points at Adelaide Oval. Despite the Bulldogs jumping quick out of the blocks, kicking two unanswered goals, they weren’t able to maintain that same intensity for the whole match.
It was carnage on the injury front with the Bulldogs losing Tim O’Brien (quad), Laitham Vandermeer (hamstring) and Cody Weightman (collarbone) all to injury in that final quarter, adding to the club's already-extensive injury list.
Aaron Naughton provided the Bulldogs with an option up forward kicking four goals for the match, while Bailey Smith had 24 disposals and two goals. Stand-in captain Jack Macrae was strong having 32 disposals.
11. Hawthorn (10)
The Hawks appeared to be caught off guard by the Bombers, who started a vastly different team to the named side. Despite the unpredictability, Hawthorn looked to be in control at the final change, after Finn Maginness managed to convert an Essendon turnover into a Hawthorn major.
Jacob Koschitzke continued his strong early-season form, as he added two goals, alongside Jack Gunston and Max Lynch.
Jai Newcombe continued to star for Hawthorn, as he gathered 28 disposals and five clearances, in a reprisal of his Round Five performance that earned a Rising Star nomination.
The Hawks will be looking forward to the return of Changkuoth Jiath and Mitch Lewis, both of whom were reportedly close to playing this weekend.
12. Gold Coast (14)
The Suns continued their hot streak against the Swans, winning their fourth encounter of the last six. Two fourth-quarter goals to Levi Casboult killed off any hopes of a late Swans charge, as Izak Rankine popped up for two important goals.
Brayden Fiorini led the way with 29 disposals, while Jarrod Witts dominated with 37 hitouts, giving the Suns midfielders first use of the ball continuously.
Conor Budarick and Charlie Ballard controlled proceedings from the defensive end, as they helped choke off the Swans' scoring opportunities.
In another positive for the Suns, Rory Thompson made it through his return to football unscathed, after 1379 days between games, and two ACL injuries in a row.
13. Greater Western Sydney (12)
In a game that would have stung for the Giants, they were unable to repeat the heroics of the previous week against the Crows. The Giants were dominated early, and the game started slip away early in the third quarter.
Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan fought hard, but they were not supported by the team, as the Giants were wayward in front of goal.
Isaac Cumming worked hard, managing 29 disposals and 12 rebound 50s, as he anchored the Giants' defence.
Jesse Hogan did not face any match review consequences from a hit on Jed Bews, which is key for the Giants' hopes, as he provides the key path to goal for the orange swarm.
14. Essendon (15)
Essendon had every reason to capitulate in its matchup against Hawthorn, with five late changes due to illness, and it appeared they would early, before a stirring comeback.
Peter Wright had six goals, including three in the final quarter, as Essendon piled on eights goals to take a 27-point victory.
Nic Martin celebrated his contract extension with 22 disposals and two goals, while Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett chipped in two more and 60 disposals between them.
The Bombers will hope to carry the positive momentum from the win as they look to turn around their season.
15. Port Adelaide (16)
Port Adelaide have continued its fine form with a win over the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. Despite a hotly contested opening half, Port Adelaide were able to run away with the game in that third quarter.
Although a strong win, Port Adelaide had the ability to really run away with the game but failure to convert in front of goal saw the margin become 17 points for the match, with the Power having 14 behinds from 27 scoring shots.
Jeremy Finlayson had one of his best games in the teal kicking three goals for the match as well as milestone man Sam Powell Pepper, Todd Marshall and Robbie Gray all kicking two goals for the game.
Riley Bonner was strong in defence having 22 disposals for the game, but his game ended on a sour note going down with an ankle injury.
16. Adelaide (13)
The Crows have started to feel Rory Sloane's absence more acutely, especially when coach Matthew Nicks was out this week under the health and safety protocols.
Adelaide never gave up, fighting back in the final quarter to restore some respectability to the scoreline, rather than letting it get out of hand.
Rory Laird (33 disposals, eight clearances) and Ben Keays (29 disposals) continued to hold their heads high, especially with Matt Crouch out of the side.
Josh Rachele continues to find ways to impact the scoreboard, as the Rising Star contender adds to his resume for the 2022 season.
17. North Melbourne (17)
North Melbourne continues to struggle, as they were blown out by 13 goals. The Kangaroos have now lost four games by more than 50 points in a row.
A late goal to Cameron Zurhaar saved the Kangaroos from recording their second-lowest score ever, as they managed just 32 inside 50s for the match.
Tarryn Thomas and Luke McDonald were among the few bright lights for the Kangaroos as they fought hard, with 18 and 26 disposals respectively.
Ben McKay limped off with a knee injury, in a concern for the Kangaroos, as the key defender stocks are thinned.
18. West Coast (18)
Despite the scoreline, the Eagles fought hard this week. As the team is again decimated by COVID-19 and injuries, the fact that it took until the fourth quarter for the Lions to really blow out the score is a matter of pride for the Eagles.
Liam Ryan can hold his head high, after kicking three goals, while Jeremy McGovern had 12 intercepts as he battled hard in defence. Jake Florenca, who was a top-up player from the WAFL, had nine disposals in the first quarter and 19 for the match in a positive showing.
As a whole, the Eagles appear at a crossroads for the season, but after repeat listless performances, any hope of salvaging this season is over.