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AFL Report Card: Blues emerge as finals contenders, Hawks flop under pressure – Fox Sports

Carlton is back in the top eight after a remarkable win over the Western Bulldogs.

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But the Hawks have plenty of issues after a horror performance against the Magpies.
Every teams Round 6 performance analysed and graded in foxfooty.com.aus Report Card.
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Round 6
Blues go coast-to-coast
0:39
ADELAIDE CROWS
One of the biggest issues for Adelaide is their lack of scoring and without key target Taylor Walker playing, it was no surprise to see them boot just five goals for the contest. They were never in the contest against the Eagles, unable to get the ball past halfway as they were smashed in the inside 50s (49-24). The Crows also lost the clearances by 11, but managed to have 40 more disposals than the Eagles.
In the votes
Brodie Smith was clearly one of the best Crows players as he racked up 31 disposals throughout the contest. The Crouch brothers both did their thing with over 20 touches each, while ruckman Reilly OBrien had a strong battle with Nic Naitanui. Down back, Tom Doedees 20 disposals came at 90 per cent efficiency
Room for improvement
Forward of centre is clearly where the Crows need work, given their defence is somehow able to hold off massive onslaughts. Losing the clearances and having half the amount of inside 50s that the Eagles had, it was no surprise to see Matthew Nicks side put just 34 points on the board. They need to inject some speed into the midfield mix and get the ball forward more often than not, allowing for their youngsters to impact the play across half forward
Grade
D-
BRISBANE LIONS
The Lions looked most likely to run away with the four points when the two teams headed for the rooms at the main break. However, it was a burst that shocked coach Chris Fagan, as Geelong booted seven goals to none during the third quarter. The Lions were never coming back from that, as they suffered their first loss on the road since the season restarted.
In the votes
Lachie Neale was yet again impressive with 26 disposals and four tackles, while it was Dayne Zorjo and Jarrod Berry who found plenty of ball and laid a number of strong tackles. Cam Rayner booted two goals, while Callum Ah Chee fought hard.
Room for improvement
The Lions didnt have any answers for Geelongs burst as they couldnt stop the Cats having more than double the amount of inside 50s. They just couldnt get their hands on the ball as the Cats went nuts at the SCG.
Grade
D+
CARLTON
Dont write the Teague-train off for finals just yet, with a superb four-quarter effort giving the Blues a big win over the Western Bulldogs. In one of the best games of the round, Carlton led from start to finish to jump up the ladder and keep their top-eight hopes alive. It was even more impressive given Sam Docherty and Patrick Cripps were well down on their lofty standards.
In the votes
In his first game of the year, Matt Kennedy was one of the best players for the Blues, winning ample contested footy in the middle. Sam Walsh improved as the game went on, while Michael Gibbons, Jack Martin and Eddie Betts all combined for multiple goals.
Room for improvement
At their best, Carlton is fantastic to watch, booting one of the highest scores of the season. The Blues didnt have a lot of inside 50s, compared to the Bulldogs but made the most of their work to have over 20 scoring shots.
Grade
A+
COLLINGWOOD
That was a clinical performance from the Pies, who never really seemed trouble against the Hawks during their 32-point win. It was a promising return to form after disappointing losses to the Giants and Essendon in recent weeks. The win was built off another dominant first quarter, booting 5.1 to Hawthorns 1.0. The Pies still havent lost a first quarter this season.
In the votes
If you had concerns over how the Pies would cope without Jeremy Howe, fear not, because Darcy Moore should have it covered down back. Moore was excellent against the Hawks, finishing with 21 disposals, six marks, nine intercepts and 409m gained. The returning Isaac Quaynor was also crucial, finishing with 15 disposals at 93 per cent efficiency, six intercepts and five inside 50s. Adam Treloar (35 disposals) again won a stack of the footy, Brody Mihocek stood up with four goals and Rupert Wills (19) set the tone early. Jamie Elliott and Jaidyn Stephenson also adapted to new roles up the ground well.
Room for improvement
Theyd be disappointed they couldnt bury the Hawks deep into the ground, considering they kicked 8.11 and had seven more scoring shots and 15 more inside 50s.
Grade
A
ESSENDON
The Bombers are sitting pretty at the pointy end of the AFL ladder and have a game to make up against Melbourne. They did their best to kick themselves out of the match, but bounced back after half time to end any chance of a North Melbourne fightback. Their defensive 50 group is working extremely well together.
In the votes
Andrew McGrath could well be a smokey for All-Australian form after yet another strong performance in the middle of the ground. The former No. 1 pick had 25 disposals and eight tackles, while Devon Smith (23 disposals and six tackles) and Darcy Parish (21 disposals and seven clearances) were impressive. Veteran David Zaharakis also booted three goals.
Room for improvement
With 2.9 on the scoreboard at one point in the second term, it will definitely see the Bombers prepare for Round 7 with plenty of goalkicking practice. While a number of chances were far from straight forward, the Dons couldve killed the game by half time if they managed to convert a number of chances.
Grade
A
Dockers gamble pays off
0:39
FREMANTLE
Talk about a turnaround! The win over Adelaide would hardly convince anyone of their progress, but their recovery and composure at the death against St Kilda would have to have even their biggest doubters reconsidering their progress under Justin Longmuir. Most impressively, they did it in large part without any monumental impact from Nat Fyfe, who spent virtually the entire second half in the forward 50.
In the votes
Andrew Brayshaw has had moments over the journey where he has showed promise, but his last two games look a turning point. He is the biggest beneficiary of a midfield less dependant on Nat Fyfe, dominating against Adelaide and backing it up against the Saints with 20 touches at 85 per cent efficiency and five tackles, the most of anyone on the ground. Michael Walters was prolific but would have moments hed like to do over. Brett Bewley looked good with the footy after rotating through the midfield in the second half, while Lachie Schultz was ice cold with his set shot to effectively win the game. Stephen Hill showed elite composure late despite so much time on the sidelines and looks to be building.
Room for improvement
Their comeback proved there was nothing otherworldly about the Saints in the first quarter, the Dockers were just incredibly poor. The Saints will have plenty of work to do on everything after the first quarter, while the Dockers will need to focus on that quarter to improve. The Saints wouldve had no chance of a comeback if the Dockers kicked straight, missing several gettable opportunities in the third quarter.
Grade
A
GEELONG CATS
It was a remarkable burst from Geelong in the third term that ensured Chris Scotts side would push their case as premiership contenders. It was one of the best quarters from an individual team in 2020, with a seven-goal quarter ending any chance of a Brisbane fightback.
In the votes
Remarkably, it was Sam Simpson who was the leading disposal winner on the ground, ending with 27 touches and five tackles in the 27-point win. Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Menegola put the foot down when the match was there for the taking, while Tom Hawkins booted three goals up forward.
Room for improvement
The Cats were only going so-so during the opening half, shocking the AFL world when they went bananas in the third term. With two players down by the quarter time siren, Geelong has plenty of positives from the contest
Grade
A+
GOLD COAST SUNS
We need to recalibrate our expectations of the Suns. The absence of Matt Rowell, the declines of veterans like David Swallow and Jarrod Harbrow, and the overall youth of this side means theyre not going to build many more winning streaks this season especially now theyre not playing every game at home. But this was still a solid showing that proved this group has grown quickly from last years horror show. And how about Izak Rankine…
In the votes
…hes a star. A Rising Star, perhaps? In his first AFL game since being selected with Pick 3 in the 2018 draft, Rankine was simply electric, kicking 3.3 and making every one of his 12 disposals must-watch. Yes, he made a few simple mistakes, but the talent is so obvious it jumps off the screen according to the AFL Player Ratings, he was the Suns best player on the ground. If he stays fit and plays the rest of the year, he should take Rowells crown as this years Rising Star. (Rowell can win it in 2021.) Elsewhere Touk Miller (23 disposals, eight clearances) and Hugh Greenwood (18 disposals, 12 tackles) stood up while the composure of guys like Sam Collins, Charlie Ballard and Jack Lukosius continues to be very impressive.
Room for improvement
Its somewhat remarkable what the Suns are doing this year when their two most well-known players leading into the season, Jarrod Harbrow and David Swallow, have declined quite dramatically. Heading into Round 6, theyd had the two largest declines in the league, according to the AFL Player Ratings. Swallow was better against the Demons but nowhere near where he has been, while Harbrow was just OK. A shock Gold Coast finals berth would require both their young and mature-aged players to step up for now, its just the kids.
Grade
C+
GWS GIANTS
Its not often we say this, but the Giants just werent good enough on Sunday, with the Power running over Leon Camerons men in the last quarter. The Giants challenged in the third term and took the lead, but couldnt lock the ball in their forward half in the final term. It leaves the Giants at 3-3, with the momentum generated over the past two weeks quickly dissipating.
In the votes
Jeremy Cameron was the Giants most dangerous player on the ground, booting 2.1 from 15 disposals and seven marks. His goals came just when his team needed them, but unfortunately they couldnt get the ball down to him in the final term. Jacob Hopper (22 disposals) was crucial for the Giants, Toby Greene kicked one goal from 21 touches and Stephen Coniglio (22 disposals) improved as the game progressed.
Room for improvement
The gap between Harry Himmelbergs best and worst games is still far too wide. After booting four goals against the Hawks in Round 5, Himmelbeg was held goalless from seven touches against the Power. Young gun Tom Green (eight disposals) had a quiet day while Heath Shaw went at 55% disposal efficiency. Overall, the Giants inability to lock the ball in their forward half remains a massive concern. They lost the inside 50 count (-18) to Port the sixth straight time thats happened this season.
Grade
C-
HAWTHORN
Theres big concerns at the Hawks, who were the subject of ample criticism after losing to Collingwood by 32 points on Friday night. The Hawks had just four scoring shots to their name at three quarter-time (2.2) before finishing the match with 3.9 (27) the lowest score Hawthorn score ever under Alastair Clarkson. Its not panic stations at 3-3, but the biggest issue is the chasm between the Hawks best and worst footy, which is widening with every performance.
In the votes
If it wasnt for James Sicily, Collingwood could have won by a lot more. The gun defender played a lone hand down back for the Hawks, finishing with 28 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency and 14 marks. Isaac Smith worked hard for his 26 disposals and one goal, while Tom Mitchell had 33 touches.
Room for improvement
Everywhere, but particularly around the contest. The Hawks lost the contested ball count by -17 on Friday night the fifth consecutive game theyve lost that stat. Whats concerning is they had control of possession, taking 91 uncontested marks to Collingwoods 53 yet they couldnt make it count on the scoreboard. Individually, Tom Scully (10 disposals) is out of sorts, while Chad Wingard (10) had his second consecutive quiet week. And whether the Hawks choose to go smaller in coming weeks could spell trouble for Tim OBrien, Jon Ceglar, Sam Frost, James Frawley or even Ben Stratton.
Grade
F
Rankine’s subtle ability
1:01
MELBOURNE
This was the first time all year we came out of a Demons game not disappointed. After a week of criticism, Simon Goodwins side responded with a strong performance against Gold Coast, though they copped a late scare thanks to the freakish talents of first-gamer Izak Rankine. A few missed chances made it closer than it should have been, but this was as good as Melbourne has looked in 2020.
In the votes
The Demons biggest names came in for plenty of criticism last week, and they responded perfectly. Max Gawn (15 disposals, eight marks, six score involvements) was best on ground while Jack Viney (21 disposals, eight tackles) was excellent. Clayton Oliver (24 disposals, eight clearances) lifted against an understrength Suns midfield, though he still has room to grow, while Christian Petracca (25 disposals, two goals, six clearances) is the Dees best and fairest leader right now. Sam Weideman (two goals) was solid, especially after Tom McDonald went down with an eye injury early.
Room for improvement
To a degree, it was the same old problem for the Demons poor connection between the midfield and the forwards meaning wasted opportunities. They won the clearances by 10, the inside 50s by 13 and the contested possessions by 24, but were still level on the scoreboard with a Suns side missing Matt Rowell midway through the final quarter. Just getting a win was the most important thing, but they still need to fix this issue if theyre going to climb up the ladder.
Grade
B+
NORTH MELBOURNE
Despite leading at quarter time, the Roos never really took control of the clash against Essendon as they ran out losers by 14-points. A number of crucial turnovers and poor skill execution hurt the Roos when they needed to find a target further up the ground.
In the votes
Aaron Hall and Jy Simpkin both had 23 disposals to lead the stats sheet for the Kangaroos. Todd Goldstein easily won the ruck battle against Andrew Phillips, while Luke McDonald kept Dylan Shiel to just 12 disposals.
Room for improvement
Nick Larkeys absence inside 50 is definitely causing some issues for the Roos, who are struggling to convert their chances when entering the attacking half. Ben Brown is well out of form, while Cameron Zurhaar was their only multiple goalkicker. On multiple occasions, tall Tom Campbell failed to make a contest close to goal.
Grade
D
PORT ADELAIDE
Now that is how you bounce back and prove your premiership credentials. After flopping against the Brisbane Lions in Round 5, many questioned if the Power really deserved to be in the flag discussions. But on Sunday, the out-toughed one of the toughest teams in the competition, dominating territory and the scoreboard in the final quarter to run away with a 17-point win over the Giants. The fact coach Ken Hinkley was in the middle of the Power circle for the team song and sang it so vociferously proved just how much that win meant to the club.
In the votes
This was a day the unlikely types stood up. Kane Farrell had a career-best game booting 1.2 from 18 disposals, while Sam Powell-Pepper showed his worth with one goal from 22 touches. Dan Houston, who had an equal team-high 22 disposals, had an awesome first quarter to set the tone for his side, while Scott Lycett stood up after being rattled by opposing ruckman Shane Mumford at the start of the match.
Room for improvement
Brad Ebert had a bit of a dirty day, finishing with 11 disposals at 36 per cent efficiency and being put on report for a bump on Giant Harry Perryman. There also seemed to be some dysfunction in the Power forward line, with the likes of Justin Westhoff often getting in the way of Charlie Dixon. If that chemistry had been better, the Power couldve won by a lot more.
Grade
A
Hinkley sings loud and proud
0:43
RICHMOND
Despite booting just four goals, Richmond still managed to claim the four points against Sydney on Sunday. In a dour contest, the understrength Tigers went on a run in the opening term, which proved enough to ensure they would win. Slippery conditions didnt help the players as the match went on, with just two goals across the two teams for the entire second half.
In the votes
Jayden Short was the leading disposal winner for Richmond with 26 touches, rebounding well from the defensive half of the ground. On the wing, Kamdyn McIntosh had 24 disposals, while Kane Lambert (22 disposals, six tackles and six inside 50s) played one of his better games of the season.
Room for improvement
Richmond won the inside 50s 53-35, but in front of the scoreboard they struggled to boot 4.10. Going forward, the Tigers were forced to go sideways and backwards far too often, given Sydneys attempts to defend the ground as much as possible.
Grade
B
ST KILDA
Its a good thing we dont write these a quarter in. The Saints were absolutely flying on their way to a 36-point lead at the first break. Then the whole thing fell apart. They were held goalless for two quarters and conceded eight goals, before a late fightback papered over the cracks. From cruising to their fourth win in a row the Saints have come crashing back to ground. There wont be a team in the competition that thinks theyre out of the game against the Saints from now on.
In the votes
Max King continues to show good signs, just needs the extra bit of confidence required to hold on to the balls he gets his hands to. Tim Membrey had one shocking set shot but kicked three goals and looked a force throughout the game. Wilkie used the footy well in defence. Zak Jones looked good when the Saints were up and about, but faded out of the game when they did likewise.
Room for improvement
There is no excuse for blowing a six-goal lead despite your opposition widely tipped to finish in the bottom four and two men down on the bench. St Kilda fans mayve been hoping their Round 1 capitulation to North Melbourne was a one-off, but Round 6 has confirmed theyve got a problem with keeping their foot on the throat. They were 31 points up against North and 36 points up against Fremantle, but no lead is safe it seems. Dan Butler starred in the opening quarter before being completely blanketed by the Dockers and their scoring power seemed to dissipate entirely without him. Brad Hill was poor against his old side.
Grade
D
SYDNEY SWANS
The Swans managed just three goals in slippery conditions at the Gabba, despite doing their best to repel Richmond throughout Sundays clash. An injury to Josh Kennedy could keep the star out for two months, while Isaac Heeney limped off late in the contest.
In the votes
Callum Mills lifted after a slow start where he was pinged for a rushed behind, ending as their leading ball winner with 29 disposals. Jake Lloyd (24 disposals) had plenty of touches down back, while George Hewett and Jacob Dawson were among the other Swans who had some good moments. Tom Papley booted two goals.
Room for improvement
Sydney has major tall issues and it was even more bizarre when Aliir Aliir was dumped by the club due to poor form. It means Hayden McLean had to go alone in the ruck, with small sub 190cm players needing to go up against Ivan Soldo during the match. They will be praying to get a number of players back from injury shortly, with their goalkicking remaining an issue.
Grade
C-
WEST COAST EAGLES
The Eagles mightve collected a 33-point lead, but it was a far from convincing performance overall. At times they looked like breaking the game open, but their best quarter only managed to yield four goals. Its inconsistent patches that make it very hard to call them a real premiership contender, but all eyes will be on Adam Simpsons team in next weeks derby.
In the votes
Tim Kelly played one of his better games in West Coast colours as the former Cat racked up 24 disposals and had eight clearances. Grand Final hero Dom Sheed had five clearances and six inside 50s from his 24 disposals. Elliot Yeo was also among the best, with youngster Oscar Allen showing great signs despite 1.3 in front of goal.
Room for improvement
If the Eagles can improve on their inconsistent passages, it will certainly mean they can kick a winning score more often than not. With a number of midfielders lifting in Luke Shueys absence, it felt they were going at 70 per cent most of the contest without really breaking the game apart.
Grade
B+
WESTERN BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs remain as one of the hardest AFL teams to assess after a strange 2020 campaign. Heading into the Blues clash as favourites, Luke Beveridges team never fired a shot as they slipped down the ladder and failed to make the most of an opportunity to press their top four case. They need to spark up quickly if they are going to go deep into the season and finish as well as many expected.
In the votes
Young gun Bailey Smith was yet again a stand out with 26 disposals and six tackles, while Lachie Hunter (27 disposals) was their leading ball winner in his return game. Laitham Vandermeer booted two goals, while Tom Liberatore won eight clearances.
Room for improvement
There is a huge gap between the Western Bulldogs best and worse. At their best, Beveridges team is a top four contender. But at their worst, the Dogs are a bottom four side. In recent years they have started slowly, however they are slowly running out of time.
Grade
F

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