Richmond and Collingwood are eyeing clear skies rather than stormclouds for the first time this AFL season after starkly different successes in round eight.
At the MCG, Richmond snatched a one-point win over Sydney thanks to Sam Lloyd’s heroics after the siren.
By contrast, the Magpies had 8.13 on the board at the Gabba before Brisbane troubled the scorers, and Collingwood eased to a 78-point win.
For two clubs expected to play finals in 2016, they were drastically needed wins.
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury said his teammates returned home with a top-up of confidence.
“We played our brand of footy and the brand I knew the guys had in them,” he said.
Nathan Buckley’s side improved to be 3-5 with the result, astonishingly just a win short of a place in the top eight.
Pendlebury said there was no looking back, only forward to a Saturday afternoon showdown with Geelong.
“I’m not going to look back at the first seven rounds and think ‘that’s so disappointing’,” he said.
“We’ve always had good games with Geelong … we played good footy last night and let’s try and do it again next week.”
Tigers midfielder Shaun Grigg joined coach Damien Hardwick in sending plaudits the way of stand-in captain Brett Deledio after just their second triumph of the season.
“He’s stepping into the captain’s shoes with Trent (Cotchin) being out, and he led the team brilliantly,” Grigg told Channel Nine.
Another AFL giant, Carlton, showed their resilience to find three late goals to claim a two-point win over Port Adelaide.
The Blues have strung together four wins in a row to sit 4-4 after eight rounds, but face unbeaten league leaders North Melbourne next Saturday night.
The Kangaroos kept up their winning streak but lost the plot in the second half against Essendon, turning a 52-point lead into a 14-point victory.
It’s the second-placed Cats who are now flag favourites after Chris Scott’s side claimed a 26-point win over Adelaide.
Patrick Dangerfield’s first match against his old side was a ripping contest until the final quarter when Geelong kicked away.
But the premiership race is still wide open, with reigning champs Hawthorn and upstarts GWS Giants also claiming victories.
Hawthorn blew Fremantle away on a windy Launceston day, kicking eight third-term goals in a 41-point success.
The Giants were more ruthless, dispatching fellow expansion outfit Gold Coast by 91 points for their biggest home win.
Three straight defeats of a combined 284 points has everyone fearful for the Suns, including coach Rodney Eade as injury concerns mount.
“I thought this was the low ebb, but with more (injuries) today, next week might be the low ebb,” he warned ahead of Adelaide’s visit.
Thanks partially to Tom Liberatore’s all-time record matching effort of 19 tackles, the Western Bulldogs improved to 6-2 with a 32-point defeat of Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.
Their first interstate trip of the year next week is a mouth-watering one; it’ll be 3rd against 4th when the Giants host Luke Beveridge’s side at Spotless Stadium.