There were three matches of AFL action on Saturday as a premiership contender crashed and burned, while an early season bolter suffered a reality check.
The Western Bulldogs were hot favourites to go 3-3 against Adelaide in Ballarat but ran into a committed Crows that scrapped out the win in windy conditions.
Port Adelaide got their first win of the season against a lacklustre West Coast outfit, and Fremantle outlined their credentials as a top four contender by disposing of Carlton.
What did we takeaway from the games?
1. Alarm bells going off at the Bulldogs as they go 2-4
It’s not time to write the Bulldogs off just yet, but a 2-4 start to the season is not usually the path premiership contenders take.
Luke Beveridge’s team went in at $1.30 favourites to beat Adelaide in tough, windy conditions in Ballarat.
It was a match that was expected to suit the deep midfield of the Bulldogs, but it was the Crows who showed the guts and determination to get over the line by a solitary point.
There is also several concerns for the Bulldogs, with the Crows accumulating 15 more inside 50’s and six more scoring shots than their highly-fancied opponents.
A crunch match looms for the Bulldogs against a struggling Essendon next week.
2. Ben Keays: From delisted to bona fide superstar
At the end of the 2019 season, Ben Keays’ AFL career looked over after being delisted from Brisbane after four years and 30 games in the system.
However, Adelaide saw something in the young midfielder and snaffled him in the rookie draft before exposing him to 16 games in 2020.
However, from 2021 onwards, Keays has become one of the Crows most important midfielders, finishing second in the best and fairest – with his game going to an even higher level in 2022.
Keays is averaging 32 disposals and seven clearances a match, as he played pivotal role in helping Adelaide get over the line against the Bulldogs.
The 25-year-old had 33 possessions and eight clearances in an enormous midfield display.
3. Port Adelaide get the job done but have they turned a corner?
Port Adelaide have finally got their first win of the season but we didn’t learn much about them against a poor West Coast team.
Ken Hinkley would have been heartened to see his forward line function effectively with both Todd Marshall and Jeremy Finlayson kicking five goals.
There was also a career-best performance from Connor Rozee, who gathered 31 disposals and eight clearances in a predominantly inside midfield role.
A date with a hot St Kilda side awaits Port Adelaide in Cairns next Saturday night, with the Power needing another win against a solid side to kickstart a possible 2022 resurgence.
4. Carlton disappoint in the third quarter once again
The Blues have played some great footy in 2022, but their inconsistency, particularly in second halves, cost them once more in a disappointing loss against fellow finals contender Fremantle.
With the match in the balance heading into the second half, Carlton lost the third quarter by two goals, meaning they have lost every third term this season, by a combined margin of 19 goals across six games.
It’s a worrying trend that looks set to separate Carlton’s ability to finish top four and competing for a spot in the lower reaches of the final eight.
After starting the match well and leading by a couple of kicks through much of the first quarter and early in the second, the Blues again struggled to maintain their momentum.
Carlton fans must be tearing their hair out at the huge gap between the team’s best and worst, and it’s an issue that must be addressed if the Blues are to be a contender in 2022.