Geelong made a big statement on the big stage to kick off a massive round of footy.
There were plenty of close encounters and we still have a side yet to lose, and a side yet to win.
Here’s what we learned from Round 8:
Geelong’s recruits prove their worth
Geelong sent a statement to the competition with their 63-point win against Richmond.
The Cats kicked 13 goals to the Tigers’ two after half-time and it was their off-season recruits who may have had the biggest impact.
Chris Scott’s side were able to flip the result of last season’s Grand Final with Jeremy Cameron (six goals), Isaac Smith (two goals, 22 disposals) and Shaun Higgins (one goal, 23 disposals) adding class to an already strong Geelong outfit.
Richmond were simply blown off the park as everything clicked for the Cats, and it marks the second time Geelong has thrashed a premiership contender in recent weeks after they belted the Eagles by 97 points in Round 6.
You don’t win premierships in May, but the Cats will be hard to beat if they can reproduce similar efforts come finals time.
There’s a pulse at St Kilda and GWS
St Kilda and GWS are right in the finals hunt after they both stumbled out of the starting blocks.
Neither side has been convincing thus far in 2021, but all that matters in this middle period of the year is banking wins and both sides were able to do so in Round 8 … just.
The Saints continued their stunning run of tight wins over the Suns while the Giants just outlasted the Dons at home.
Neither side are near their best form at the moment, but both would be pleased to hold a 4-4 record after poor starts to their campaigns.
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Buckley goes back to basics
After shifting magnets around the whiteboard in recent weeks Nathan Buckley went back to what he knows works best for Collingwood.
They two key moves for the Magpies’ in their win over North Melbourne was to isolate Jordan De Goey deep inside 50 and let Darcy Moore return to his natural position of centre half back.
Both decisions paid off, with De Goey kicking 6.3 and Darcy Moore earning a career-high 28 disposals and 19 marks down back.
No one could fault Buckley for trying both De Goey and Moore in new positions in 2021 but Collingwood fans would be glad to see them in roles which allowed them to flourish in the first place.
Carlton still not quite ready
The Blues looked set for a season defining win when Harry McKay stretched the lead to 27 late in the third term against the Bulldogs.
Ultimately, it wasn’t to be as the Dogs turned it on in the final quarter to run away 16-point victors.
While many expected the result pre-game, a win would have solidified Carlton’s finals prospects as well as proving they have what it takes to beat a top-four side at their best.
The result is probably a fair one that signifies the gap between where a premiership contender sits and where David Teague’s side sits at this stage.
The Blues now have to recharge before taking on ladder-leading Melbourne next Sunday.
Dees pass maturity test
While it wasn’t overly convincing, Melbourne proved they can earn the four points without firing on all cylinders.
In a sign of a true premiership contender, Melbourne weathered the storm of a hungry Swans outfit and found another way to win.
Despite their highly-vaunted on-ball brigade, the Dees lost the centre clearance tally 17-4 as Sydney controlled the game from the middle.
This discrepancy meant the Demons were forced to start their attacks without field position as they relied on their back six to move the ball up the ground to score.
The Demons may have crumbled under similar pressure in recent seasons, but Saturday’s result proves this Melbourne group has a different mentality in 2021.
It’s a big week for North Melbourne
After failing to beat then 17th placed Collingwood, the Kangaroos remain winless in 2021.
Their current record of 0-8 has them firmly as the league’s worst side, and wins look like they’ll be few and far between this season.
They likely won’t enter any game as favourites this year, but one of their best chances to claim a win comes on Saturday when they face the now second bottom Hawks.
While many will be tipping Hawthorn, the Roos will be desperate to get the monkey off the back and earn David Noble his first win as head coach.
Expect them to come out firing next weekend knowing it could be their best shot at victory.
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