With fewer games, but a lot more talking points than usual, Round 14 of the AFL season gave us a glimpse into the future of a few teams, and harsh reality checks of a few others.

It’s time to touch on the five best talking points out of the six games in a piece we like to call AFL 5 Lessons Learned.

1. The Saints can score, so why isn’t this the normal?

It was probably the way the game was meant to pan out for most, as the Lions got a hold of the Saints early and were on track to cruise out a result.

But the Saints kept coming and sticking with them, and it was as close as seven points halfway through the last quarter, until a dubious 50-metre penalty spoiled the fun of the comeback, breaking the momentum.

The biggest question is where is this scoring from St Kilda on a regular basis?

106 is their biggest score of season 2024, with 103 against North Melbourne the second highest.

Easy to say that it was at a smaller ground, but the Saints were a lot more demanding in transition, opening up the angles and utilising the pace that they have.

It’s something they haven’t exploited enough, and whilst they know they’re unlikely to dominate the midfield battle most weeks, they can take a punt that their transition game will get them going.

They nearly matched the Lions for inside 50s and inside 50 efficiency and were simply beaten on those extra entries, so it’s a matter of winning the margins for the Saints.

When the likes of Jack Higgins get going inside 50 as the looming small forward target, you can relax when Max King and Mitch Owens don’t clunk it as much.

It’s a matter of developing some more versatility in their game style, and with nothing to lose in the second half of the year, why not take risks?

2. Who can be more inconsistent?

All eyes were on the Dockers to make a big statement and prove that their win against the Demons wasn’t a one-off, but it was.

The Dogs showed up the Dockers, starting slowly, but working themselves into it with manic entries inside 50, challenging the Dockers defensive structure.

Marcus Bontempelli had his flu game, pulling out the ultimate Michael Jordan performance with 30 disposals and three goals.

Most of his teammates had a field day. Cody Weightman returned to the side with three goals, and tall timber units Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Rory Lobb also had three each to their name.

The Dockers were super inefficient with their disposal and were punished around the contest where the connection dropped off significantly.

Neither side seems to be imposing themselves as a dangerous threat, and this loss for Freo certainly takes away the possibility of top-four credentials, until proven otherwise.

How often can you say that a team beating 6th by 67 points isn’t a certain AFL finals contender?

Not often, but the Bulldogs are still yet to prove they can string together some consistency.

Back to the drawing board for the Dockers who head back to Perth to take on the winless interstate Gold Coast Suns.

3. 300 for one of the best

It’s a career that will be looked back at as one of the greatest in the modern era, and 92,000 came together at the MCG to celebrate such a milestone.

Although the Tigers couldn’t get it done against the Hawks, the script was written perfectly as Dusty strolled in from 50 to kick the first goal of the game.

It was befitting of most of his impactful moments, standing up when needed most and having that element of spark that just gets the crowd up at a moment’s notice.

An iconic Dusty moment that I think goes unappreciated was his goal against Carlton in the 2013 Elimination Final, a celebration that took centre stage, and a big-time goal in the context of the game, that probably got overlooked by the loss.

Those AFL Grand Final moments will remain a yearly rerun, moments that were pivotal in defining Richmond’s sustained success for their five-year dominance.

Luckily for all footy fans, we got to hear from Dusty post-game, who definitely lived up to his quiet nature, a man of few words, and a lot of appreciation.

We’re not sure how much longer we’ll see Dusty running around in yellow and black, but we’ll be sure to savour it while it’s here.

4. On Cloud Nine

Efficiency was just a word until Joel Amartey stepped foot on Adelaide Oval, nine goals from ten touches.

He’s not often the focal point of the Swans forward line, helped by the depth of their forward half presence, but Amartey capitalised on his aerial strength and took control.

The midfield delivery fell in his lap and his strong hands in one-on-one contests along with good separation in marking contests gave him a plethora of opportunities in front of goal.

At ground level he was impactful, and he turned everything he touched into gold, kicking eight up to three quarter time.

As he slotted through his ninth goal with ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, it was almost inevitable he would reach 10, until of course, he was taken off!

Nonetheless, just another contributor to the Swans dominance in 2024, breaking open the Crows in the third quarter to go on a 0-37 run and completely change the course of the game.

The Sydney derby has massive implications riding on it next week, and the Swans without a doubt would like to send the Giants down the ladder.

5. Collingwood is certainly gettable

An unassuming Sunday 1pm game was not on our bingo card for the match of the year, but seemingly that’s what we’ve gotten in one of the most captivating games of 2024.

The Roos exploited the Pies backline, and it was their lack of accountability that gave a plethora of scoring opportunities to the likes of Larkey and Zurhaar were able to take full advantage of.

The Pies got away with their defensive woes last week, having the same issues against the Dees, who were their own worst enemy in front of the big sticks, but much more dominant with inside 50 entries.

When they’re unable to set up to pounce on turnover, they’re extremely exposed when the opposition kicks wide inside 50, and the gaps naturally open.

On the flip side, when their transition game works, they nail back 54-point deficits, which took them time, but they battled out a historic win.

It felt like time was always on Collingwood’s side as the game went on, and as the Pies kicked two or three and the Roos answered with one, there was always that bit of doubt.

Bobby Hill looks to have won himself a new car with his incredible flying mark in the second quarter, and not just that, he put his body on the line in the fourth quarter to put the Pies back in front.

Questions were asked whether substituting Will Phillips was the right call, and it certainly seemed that way as Nick Daicos had his way in the fourth quarter.

As per usual, umpiring left a sour taste in our mouths, but it didn’t stop the celebration as the Pies pulled off an impossible comeback to take them back into the top four heading into the bye.