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AFL round 17 : Five things we learned

1. Moore is the short and long-term fix for PiesIf Nathan Buckley was pinning his forward line hopes on Jesse White this week, he'll be looking to Darcy Moore against Melbourne next week when the Magpies' season goes on the line. Moore took the responsibility to keep Collingwood in the game against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, kicking five goals in just his third game. His contested marking and attack on the contest was the best of any Magpie and he converted his chances, even from long-range. Buckley was happy to get nine goals from his tall forwards, with White and Brodie Grundy kicking two each. Moore, however, will be the crucial target until Travis Cloke returns, regardless of his age and experience. – Nathan Schmook

2. Barker's shot at Blues gig is gone
Interim coach John Barker was only ever an outside chance to get the Carlton coaching job on a full-time basis. The Blues' determination to eschew the one-man headhunts of the past in favour of a rigorous search and interview process suggested they were set to make a fresh start with someone outside the club. But before Friday night's clash with Hawthorn, Barker had done enough since taking over from Mick Malthouse to position himself as a genuine contender. In seven games, Barker had produced two wins and, more importantly, largely competitive performances. But any chance Barker had of replacing Malthouse permanently is surely gone after Friday night's record defeat against the Hawks. The chasm between the Blues and the competition's elite teams was brutally exposed by the reigning premiers and we expect the club hierarchy will now appoint an outsider to oversee what promises to be a lengthy rebuild. - Nick Bowen


3. Richmond can match it with the best, if they stop shooting themselves in the footThe pain etched on the faces of Richmond fans and the frustration in coach Damien Hardwick's voice told the story on Saturday. These Tigers are oh so close to being one of the competition's elite sides. But sometimes they still just lack that bit of polish or maturity when it matters. Richmond will be kicking themselves after they kicked themselves out of what should have been a potentially season-defining win over Fremantle. Hardwick's side sprayed 10.18 – with six shots hitting the post – and Bachar Houli's kick-in down the centre corridor was an astounding brain-snap he will never repeat. The Tiger Army should keep the faith, though. A top-four spot isn't out of the question and the season has more twists and turns to come. Friday night's blockbuster against Hawthorn looms as one of the games of the year. - Travis King

4. Lever's on his way to stardom
Jake Lever appears destined to become one of the best defenders in the AFL – a big call for a player in his first season but backed up by the 19-year-old's performances. His confidence and self-belief is incredible for a teenager handling as much responsibility as he is deep in defence. Perhaps it's not that surprising, though, given his natural grasp on when to leave an opponent to generate attack. That footy brain was working overtime in the win against Gold Coast on Saturday when he was able to lose his opponent to win 17 uncontested possessions (24 overall). In the best of his seven-game career Lever took 10 marks and rebounded the ball back outside defensive 50 seven times – he's elite. - Harry Thring


• The run home: How is your team shaping up for September?

5. Geelong could be a danger if they can make the eight
They're too old and too slow - yep, we've heard it all before. But there's plenty more to the Cats than their batch of premiership champions, and coach Chris Scott is getting the balance between experience and the new breed just about right. Jimmy Bartel, James Kelly, and Steve Johnson. Josh Caddy, Cam Guthrie and Steven Motlop. All six players were significant contributors to Geelong's win over Greater Western Sydney. Jake Kolodjashnij is learning his craft under Corey Enright and Harry Taylor, two pretty fair teachers. Tom Hawkins needs some help inside 50, but across the rest of the field, Geelong has a decent mix of quality, excitement and class. Finals are a different game altogether so if they make it, all those years of success could work in the Cats' favour. - Adam Curley



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