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AFL round 7 review: The match of the season

AFL Round 7 saw four of the premiership favourites at the start of the season all have their best performances to send a message the rest of the competition.

The Magpies, Lions, Tigers and Eagles all recorded big wins and have now placed themselves in a good position for the back half of the season.

The Bulldogs are another possible contender after recording an impressive win over the Bombers, while the Power and Blues played in the match of the season.

Geelong Cats 5.5 (35) lost to Collingwood Magpies 8.9 (57)

Jordan De Goey of the Magpies celebrates a goal at Optus Stadium in Perth on Thursday 16 July. Getty Images

This was billed as a huge clash between two of the best teams in the competition, but it was the Magpies that were far too good for the Cats.

The Cats came into the game as the highest scoring team in the league but could only manage 5 goals against the ferocious Magpies pressure.

They got smashed around the ball, losing the contested possessions by 20, and never looked like winning.

To make matters worse for the Cats, they lost their captain Joel Selwood to a hamstring injury early in the match and Gary Ablett has returned to Victoria for personal reasons, so they will be without those two champions for at least the next few weeks.

Jordan De Goey was the star of the show for the Magpies on his return, booting 5 goals but is now facing an extended period on the sidelines after breaking a finger.

Their midfield got on top of the Cats with Brodie Grundy dominant in the ruck while Adam Treloar and Scott Pendlebury continue to find the footy at will.

It was a great win for the Magpies and now sit in 3rd spot on the ladder with a big game against the Eagles next round.

Essendon Bombers 7.9 (51) lost to Western Bulldogs 14.9 (93)

With the Bombers dishing up their worst performance of the year, each of the 18 teams has now had one bad loss, showing just how even this season is.

The Bombers’ only other loss for the year was by one point against the Blues but they were completely outclassed by the Bulldogs this time.

They really missed their midfield star Dylan Shiel, with the Bulldogs able to get on top in that area of the ground and capitalise against an uncharacteristically poor Bombers defence.

The Bulldogs responded after their 52-point drubbing by Carlton last week and showed their best footy is good enough to match it with anybody.

The story of their season has been the form of ruckman Tim English who just keeps on getting better. His ability to impact the game outside of the ruck contest is elite and he had 22 disposals and kicked a goal.

The debut of Cody Weightman would excite Bulldogs fans as he kicked one of the best first goals in AFL history with a beautiful banana from the boundary.

GWS Giants 10.8 (68) lost to Brisbane Lions 13.10 (88)

Lachie Whitfield of the Giants and team mates look dejected after their loss to the Brisbane Lions at GIANTS Stadium on 18 July in Sydney. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The Giants look a shell of the side that made last year’s Grand Final as they continue to struggle moving the ball.

They have lost every inside 50 count this season and were belted 56-34 by a more determined Lions side.

Former Giant Brett Deledio suggested this week that it looked like 22 individuals playing out there rather than a cohesive team and it’s hard to argue with that as their struggles continue.

Captain Stephen Coniglio responded to serious pressure during the week with his best performance of the season, but the Giants need their other stars around him to lift as well.

The Lions returned to the winners list with an impressive performance and showed they’re capable of winning games away from the Gabba.

It was an even contribution for the Lions team and, after last week’s collapse to the Cats, they showed great resolve to fight off a Giants comeback.

They now sit second on the ladder and could play the bulk of their remaining matches in Queensland due to the weird nature of this season.

Sydney Swans 9.6 (60) lost to Gold Coast Suns 13.14 (92)

The Swans continue to struggle this season and were never a match for the vastly improved Suns.

Missing several key players, the Swans tried to shake things up with Aliir Aliir playing forward and kicking two goals.

After only managing three goals last week, the Swans tried to be more aggressive with the footy but ended up turning it over way too often and the Suns punished them for it.

The Suns are a much better side than the one that came 18th last season and their early draft picks are quickly becoming stars.

Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Noah Anderson have all blossomed this season and look like being 200-game players for the club.

Their off-season recruits Hugh Greenwood and Brandon Ellis have added a touch of experience and were instrumental in this victory.

Richmond Tigers 11.11 (71) defeated North Melbourne Kangaroos 2.11 (23)

Dustin Martin of the Tigers kicks a goal in their decisive victory over the Kangaroos at the Gold Coast on 18 July. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Just like that, the Tigers are back.

People were writing them off a month ago but three consecutive wins have them in 4th place on the ladder despite still missing several key players.

They dominated this match from the start, led 27-0 at quarter time and cruised home from there.

It was the Tigers of old as their frenetic pressure around the ball kept the Kangaroos to just 28 inside 50s and 2 goals for the match.

The Kangaroos’ season continues to slip away and they have now lost 5 matches in a row and sit in 17th position.

They struggled to get the ball forward all night and even when they managed to get a look at goal, they sprayed their shots, kicking 11 behinds to 2 goals.

The Kangaroos need to find form quickly or it could be a very long season indeed.

Carlton Blues 9.7 (61) lost to Port Adelaide Power 9.10 (64)

Game of the season by a long way so far!

This match had everything with free-flowing football, some huge individual performances, and an unbelievable finish.

The Blues looked to have all the momentum late in the 4th quarter but could not put the Power away and were made to pay.

The Power had several chances to win the game with Charlie Dixon, Robbie Gray and Todd Marshall all missing easy opportunities to regain the lead.

It looked like they’d blown their chance but one last kick inside 50 found the hands of Gray and he had one last shot to win the match.

Gray lined up about 40 metres out from goal tucked away next to the boundary and after the siren sounded, he ran in and calmly slotted the goal to give the Power a miraculous victory.

It was heartbreaking for Blues fans whose team had led for much of the final quarter, but it was a great victory for the top of the ladder Power. More of those kinds of matches please!

Hawthorn Hawks 7.6 (48) lost to Melbourne Demons 14.7 (91)

Christian Petracca of the Demons handballs during the round 7 AFL match against the Hawthorn Hawks at GIANTS Stadium in Sydney on 19 July. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Hawks have now been well beaten in their past three matches and there are even questions starting to be asked of their great coach Alistair Clarkson.

Clarkson has won four premierships at the club but their recent attempts at topping up the list without rebuilding look to have failed with many of their players around 30 years of age struggling and not many good young kids coming through.

They were well off the pace all game against the Demons and ended up losing every quarter as they never looked like mounting a comeback.

The Demons, on the other hand, have now won their past two matches and sit one game outside the top 8 with a game in hand.

Christian Petracca has turned into an elite midfielder and was once again best on ground as he accumulated 29 touches and kicked a goal.

They have the chance to prove they are finals contenders next week when they take on the Lions.

Fremantle Dockers 5.2 (32) lost to West Coast Eagles 9.8 (62)

There were 30,000 Dockers fans in attendance for round 7, but it made little difference as the Eagles recorded their 10th straight Western Derby victory.

The Eagles look back to their best form after struggling earlier in the season and dominated this contest.

Josh Kennedy returned to form, kicking four goals and winning the Glendinning-Allan medal for best on ground in his 250th AFL match.

The true test for the Eagles will be next week when they take on the in-form Magpies at Optus Stadium.

After a huge win last round, it was a disappointing result for the Dockers in front of their home crowd, but they were simply outgunned by a superior Eagles side.

They desperately missed Nat Fyfe in the middle of the ground, and it will be a mighty challenge without him against the Cats next week.

Adelaide Crows 8.7 (55) lost to St Kilda Saints 12.6 (78)

Jack Steele of the Saints competes for the ball against the Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval on Monday 20 July. Getty Images.

The Crows returned to Adelaide Oval for the first time since round 2 but it made little difference as they were outclassed by the Saints.

The Crows were missing captain Rory Sloane so 23-year-old Tom Doedee skippered the side in just his 27th game.

They showed improved effort based off their recent form, but their lack of firepower up forward was evident with only Taylor Walker looking dangerous.

In stark contrast, the Saints managed to get a bigger contribution from their forward line with Dan Butler kicking three goals, while Dean Kent and Max King kicked two goals each.

Jack Steele continued his strong form with 26 possessions, a massive 13 clearances and a goal and must be in the discussion for All-Australian honours.

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