AFL H&V Round 7: Century-chasing Cameron; the Blues cooked up a stinker

The Pies flexed their muscles, the Demons finally tasted victory, a young Dog announced himself, the Blues are suddenly in the doldrums again and the Crows won a scrap to boost their finals chances.

Here are this week's Heroes & Villains.


Jeremy Cameron: It's official, the AFL has a new No. 1 key forward.

What Cameron has done in the early part of 2019 is nothing short of spectacular, and the Giants' spearhead was on top of his game against the Saints on Saturday afternoon. The 26-year-old kicked another six goals to take his season tally to 30 and move 13 clear of Jordan De Goey and Tom Lynch (of the Richmond variety) in the race for the Coleman Medal.

On top of his haul of six majors, Cameron clunked 11 marks and racked up 15 disposals at 80 percent efficiency as GWS cruised past St Kilda in Canberra.

Cameron is arguably the most difficult key forward to match up on now. He is an elite contested mark, dynamic at ground level and to top it off, one of the best set shots going around.

One last thought - can Cameron actually kick 100 goals this season? It's not as crazy as it sounds. Think about it, he already has 30 in the first third of the season. With the Giants destined for finals again, he could notch the magical ton in September.

Contested Lions: When the Lions were beaten by the Bombers and Magpies in Rounds 4 and 5, they were -27 and -17 in contested ball respectively.

During Saturday's impressive 22-point win over the Swans -- a team traditionally renowned for its attack on the football and its hard-edged midfield -- Brisbane finished +41 in contested possessions, winning the count 183-142.

Star recruit Lachie Neale had 18 of those, while skipper Dayne Zorko had 17. In fact, nine Lions finished with a double figure contested possession count. The Swans had just three.

As a result of winning the vast majority of 50-50 ball, the Lions enjoyed a territory dominance at the Gabba. Chris Fagan's side ended the game with 77 inside 50s to Sydney's 40, and despite spirited fightbacks from the Swans in the second and third quarters, the Lions were never really troubled on their way to a fifth win for season 2019.

Aaron Naughton: Not since Wayne Carey at the turn of the century has a forward had a more dominant aerial game than Bulldog Naughton did against the Tigers on Saturday night.

Still just 19 years of age and having played only 25 games of footy, the No. 9 pick from 2017 monstered any Richmond opponent who came near him in his side's 47-point win.

In addition to bagging a career-high haul of five goals (he had previously kicked just eight in his career), Naughton clunked an astounding nine contested marks - equal second all-time to Wayne Carey's 10 in 2000.

In fact, the last time a player took nine contested marks in a game was Drew Petrie back in 2011.

Don't say we didn't tell you about Naughton, however; earlier this year ESPN's draft expert Chris Doerre redrafted the 2017 cohort and had Naughton as his clear No.1.


O'Meara-reliant Hawks: It's little wonder Hawthorn opened up their game-high lead of 16 points against the Dees when Jaeger O'Meara had racked up 13 possessions through just a quarter and a bit of footy.

But after quarter time, Melbourne stopper James Harmes put the clamps on the 25-year-old former Sun to shut him -- and eventually the Hawks -- out of the contest.

Harmes was brilliant, racking up 31 touches (five contested), six clearances and eight inside 50s while allowing O'Meara just eight touches after quarter.

It's no wonder, then, that Melbourne began to dominate the hard ball; the Dees won the contested possession count 157-126 (+31) on their way to a come-from-behind five-point win.

If Hawthorn are to become contenders at the pointy end of the season, they're going to need a more even spread from their other mids ... and a bloke called Tom Mitchell wouldn't harm their chances if he can miraculously return before the season's out.

What on earth was that, Carlton? Despite a 1-5 start to the season, excitement and expectation was building at Carlton, with some of Brendon Bolton's oft-mentioned "green shoots" starting to sprout.

Some of the sprouts were individual -- Patrick Cripps stepping up another level, No. 1 draft pick Sam Walsh making an immediate impact, veteran Dale Thomas firing again and Jacob Weitering, Zac Fisher and Liam Jones all playing with confidence -- while collectively, the Blues were playing with more cohesion, intensity and system.

That was why Sunday's meek capitulation against North Melbourne (which entered the round at the bottom of the ladder) was so surprising to many, and so painful for impatient Carlton fans.

Yes, the Blues were without Matthew Kreuzer (adductor), Mitch McGovern (hamstring), Kade Simpson (hamstring) and Nic Newman (knee) but that doesn't excuse what the Blues cooked up at Marvel Stadium.

It was obvious early the Kangaroos were more willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard, with stats at half-time highlighting just how bad the Blues were: Down by 53 points, losing disposals (150-212), contested possessions (64-88), uncontested possessions (75-122), inside 50s (16-30), marks (33-42) and tackles (29-33).

With the game all-but over, Carlton did lift in the second half -- or did the Ross take their feet off the pedal? -- but the loss was an all-too-familiar story for those who are #boundbyblue

It doesn't bode well for next Saturday's grudge match against the high-flying Magpies, with Carlton then up against GWS, St Kilda and Essendon in the coming month.

AFL's scheduling: The AFL had a chance to get things back to normal after two weeks of games being all over the place with the Easter weekend and Anzac Day, but once again they declined.

On Saturday afternoon, for some mind-boggling reason, the AFL decided to schedule two games at the 1:45pm timeslot. Both Melbourne-Hawthorn and GWS-St Kilda were forced to share the same start time, meaning football fans couldn't switch between the two games during the breaks.

It's not the first scheduling error the AFL has made in season 2019. Back in Round 2 the early game wasn't until 4:35pm (AEDT), something which both puzzled and infuriated football fans.

Surely it's not that hard for the AFL to look after their all-important TV fanbase?