Key takeaways from round eight of the AFL season: West Coast are back, Adelaide are not, no one can figure out holding the ball and Alastair Clarkson is cranky again.
As statement games go, they don’t come more emphatic than the Eagles’ 66-point demolition of Collingwood, with Josh Kennedy booting seven goals on Sunday at Optus Stadium.
A 1-3 start and discontent at hub life in Queensland seemed a long time ago for Adam Simpson’s men, who feasted on the understrength Pies, who lost skipper Scott Pendlebury to injury before the first bounce.
“We were really concerned after the three losses we had, not really with personnel, but our system wasn’t (right), and the identity of our side was a little bit off,” Simpson said.
“I thought our players really took ownership … they’re playing a pretty distinct brand (now).
“I don’t know where we’re at in terms of the competition, but I feel like we’ve caught up a little bit more than anything.
“Now we’re ready to compete with anyone.”
Adelaide pushed understrength Essendon but suffered a 9.8 (62) to 8.11 (59) defeat on Sunday at Adelaide Oval which stretched their record losing streak to 11 matches.
The Crows lost Brad Crouch and Tom Doedee to hamstring injuries in the loss which moved them a step closer to the club’s first wooden spoon.
“I know it’s hard because supporters want to win as much as we do,” Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said.
“But I hope they feel like they saw some things out there today that made them proud.”
Hawthorn aren’t faring much better, Sydney prevailing 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53) on Saturday at the SCG to inflict the Hawks’ fourth loss in a row.
Weeks after his tirade about holding-the-ball interpretations, Clarkson attempted to deflect attention from his side’s form by accusing Swans star Tom Papley of milking free kicks.
Umpiring continued to cause debate, with holding the ball a bugbear for coaches, players and fans.
“There is absolutely no doubt that it (umpiring) is more confusing today than it has ever been,” Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley said after his side’s 12.1 (73) to 6.8 (44) loss to St Kilda at Adelaide Oval.
Brisbane drew level on wins with the ladder-leading Power after they saw off a late charge by Melbourne to score a 7.11 (53) to 7.7 (49) win on Sunday evening at Metricon Stadium.
Carlton continued to fray the nerves of their fans with a tense 9.10 (64) to 9.3 (57) win against North Melbourne at a rain-lashed Gabba, the Blues’ fifth match of the season decided by seven points or less.
On Friday night, Toby Greene reignited GWS’s hunt for a maiden premiership, booting five goals to deliver his team a 9.8 (62) to 6.14 (50) win over Richmond in their first meeting since last year’s grand final.
The Western Bulldogs kicked off the round on Thursday night with a 7.9 (51) to 6.10 (46) victory over Gold Coast at Metricon.
Round eight concludes on Monday night when Fremantle host Geelong at Optus Stadium.