Round 12 saw the first week of the byes, with Carlton, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, GWS, Essendon and Richmond all having the week off.
Jeremy Cameron led the Cats to victory against the Bulldogs on Friday night, with the ex-Giant kicking six goals in a best-on-ground performance.
Adelaide took care of West Coast, while Gold Coast goes 6-6, toppling North Melbourne in Darwin.
Collingwood scrapped through against a valiant Hawthorn side in the wet, the Demons copped back-to-back losses playing the Swans, while Fremantle defeated the Lions in a classic at Optus Stadium.
Melbourne finding more and more holes
Melbourne suffered another defeat, their second of 2022 in a matter of weeks.
The Demons broke out of the blocks, rushing to a 26-point lead late in the first quarter.
And without Steven May and Tom McDonald, Simon Goodwin’s men looked likely to put their performance against the Dockers behind them and get back on the winner’s list.
However, after the first term, the Demons were kept to four goals, compared to the Swans’ nine, with Jake Lever and Harrison Petty unable to prevent a last quarter onslaught by the Bloods.
This is the second week in which Melbourne were unable to kick a winning score, but also conceded plenty of shots on goal, causing headaches on both ends of the ground for the coaching staff.
Fremantle is Melbourne’s no.1 contender
Following deflating losses to Gold Coast and Collingwood, Fremantle have bounced back into premiership contention, defeating Melbourne and Brisbane in consecutive weeks.
Despite the drop in form, the Dockers have put themselves in a perfect position to finish top four and contend with the best in the competition.
Fremantle knocked off the Lions by 14 points at Optus Stadium in what solidified their position in the league.
Led by Andrew Brayshaw, it was a complete performance by the purple haze, with all lines contributing to the end result.
The Dockers face Hawthorn before entering the bye, and could go to 10-3, setting up a thrilling race to the finals.
Suns, Pies looking likely to play in September
Predicted to be bottom-four sides prior to the season, Gold Coast and Collingwood have exceeded expectations, sitting with six and seven wins respectively after round 12.
The Suns, who have beaten the Swans and Dockers in recent times, took care of North Melbourne at TIO Stadium on their way to the bye.
Gold Coast now sit with an even win/loss record and have a strong launching pad to make finals for the first time in their history, playing only three top eight sides in their remaining games.
The Pies also find themselves in the finals contention, beating Hawthorn by only four points but setting up their back half of the year, as they sit 7-5.
Already silencing most of the pre-season critics, Collingwood come into the Queen’s Birthday Clash against the Demons with plenty of confidence, that they can hand the reigning premiers their third loss in a row.
Aside from this weekend, the Pies face Carlton, Sydney and Melbourne again on their run home, giving themselves a perfect opportunity to return to September.
Jeremy Cameron is the game’s best match winner
Currently leading the Coleman medal with 38 goals, Jeremy Cameron’s six-goal effort against the Dogs was yet another edition of the big Cat’s match winning performance in 2022.
Of his 12 games this season, Cameron has kicked four or more goals in five matches, with the ex-Giant taking matters into his own hands.
However, what’s changed in the key tall’s game is his ability to roam up the ground, turn his opponent inside out and score heavily on the way back.
Coach Chris Scott has allowed Cameron to go into some contests, using his speed, agility and good ball use around the ball and allow him to play freely as opposed to being limited to the forward line.
Attempting to recapture his form of 2019, the gun forward is looking likely to gain another All-Australian jacket and could also find himself with another Coleman medal.
Bailey Smith unleashes ‘dog’ act
Bailey Smith has been offered a two-match suspension for his head-butt against Geelong defender Zach Tuohy on Friday night.
Smith and Tuohy were in the midst of a tussle at three-quarter time, before the rising star leaned in and bumped his forehead with the former Carlton player.
Immediately after the misconduct from the Bulldog, Tuohy was left with a red graze on his head while Smith was sought out and reported by the officiating umpire.
Since, the MRO deemed the actions of the young Dog to be intentional, high and medium impact, resulting in two games.
The Dogs eventually fell short to the tough task that is Geelong, losing by 13 points despite kicking four goals in the final term.