Heroes & Villains, R7: Cats back on track, but what's going on in Sydney?

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Round 7 is in the books, and that means we're just about one third of the way through the 2018 season.

And staying true to 2018 form, the Tigers were irrisistable, the Bombers had another shocking third-quarter fade-out, and the Sydney Swans lost at home... again.

But in a twist this week, James Sicily makes an appearance in the column -- not as a villain, but as a hero after his dominant display against the Dons.


Geelong's marking: If we were right to criticise Geelong after last week's capitulation against Sydney, then it's only fair we pump them up this week.

The Cats rebounded in style with a comprehensive 61-point thrashing of GWS on Friday night with their impressive marking game on full display.

Chris Scott's side took 127 marks to the Giants' 60 and dominated the marks inside 50 count 17-2. Geelong also achieved something no other side has managed in 2018; taking 22 contested marks in a game.

Tom Hawkins clunked three of those as did rookie Jack Henry who impressed yet again in defence. Patrick Dangerfield, Jed Bews, Corey Gregson, Esava Ratugolea, Mark Blicavs and Jake Kolodjashnij all took two contested marks, a stark contrast to the Giants who had just one player on the night, Nick Haynes, take multiple.

While they dominated in the air, the Cats also squeezed the life out of the Giants at ground level, forcing the highly credentialed outfit into countless mistakes. In fact, by game's end, the visitors' disposal efficiency was a shocking 59 percent, compared to Geelong's 73 percent.

If the Cats continue to bring that sort of dominance in the air and on the ground, then it will be them, not their rivals from Friday night, who will be right in the mix come the last Saturday in September.

James Sicily: Yes, you're reading this right, James Sicily is in the heroes column after this round. After serving a suspension for stepping on North's Shaun Atley in Round 5, Sicily was immediately recalled into the Hawthorn team and was tasked with going head-to-head with Essendon's Joe Daniher. Both men were in need of a personal win after a down couple of weeks, but it was Hawthorn's young gun who took the chocolates.

Sicily completely blanketed Daniher in what was clearly a best-on-ground performance; the forward-turned back had an equal game-high 29 touches as well as 14 marks (six intercepts), three spoils and a goal.

In fact, Sicily took more marks on Saturday than Daniher had touches, and his one goal matched Daniher's efforts in front of the big sticks.

The cherry on the cake, however? With the game quickly getting out of Essendon's reach, Daniher gave away a 50m penalty which resulted in a Sicily goal. The cantankerous Hawk then went up to Daniher seeking a cheeky high five but the Bombers big man was not impressed.

Matt Eagles: Matt Eagles certainly isn't your typical household name, but it might seem familiar to those who watched the second season of the reality show "The Recruit".

The premise was that 15 amateur footy players would test their skills against one another over the course of a few weeks, with one player 'delisted' after every episode. As the prize for winning the second season, Eagles was rookie-listed by the Brisbane Lions.

He spent the entire 2017 season playing for the Lions in the NEAFL, and his best-on-ground performance in the grand final prompted Brisbane to offer the defender another contract.

On Friday, he was officially told that at 28 years of age, he would make his AFL debut for Brisbane against Collingwood, giving him the chance to live out his childhood dream.

The 199cm, 99kg, dreadlocked defender was a cult hero in the stands, drawing loud cheers every time he got near the footy.

Eagles might not have set the world on fire -- he finished with 11 touches and four marks in the Lions' loss -- but it's hard not to admire and respect his persistence and willingness to work for his dream.


Essendon's third quarters: Not a lot has gone right for the Bombers in 2018 but one area of their game which has been utterly deplorable has been third quarters. Believe it or not, the Bombers haven't won a third quarter in 2018, averaging just 12 points for 32 points against per game.

In Round 7, the third quarter was once again their downfall as Hawthorn outscored them 39 points to one to run out eventual 23-point winners.

So what are they doing to rectify it?

"We looked at it during the week and we thought we put some things in place but that obviously didn't work," Tom Bellchambers told ABC Grandstand after the match. "It's on us as the midfield. We were pretty poor and got pushed off the ball a little bit too easy."

Sydney's home form: Coming into the year, Sydney had won eight of their previous nine matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but 2018 has been a different story, with the Swans slumping to a disappointing 1-3 home record through seven rounds.

For the better part of a decade, the SCG has been a fortress for the Swans but losses to Port Adelaide, Adelaide and now North Melbourne will give the entire competition confidence of knocking them off at home.

Sydney's only win at home this season came against an undermanned GWS outfit in Round 3, other than that it's been slim pickings for John Longmire's side.

Sydney's next home game is against the inconsistent Dockers. Surely they couldn't lose another...

Fremantle's forwards: It's been a tough week off the field for Freo, but it was also a tough one on the field. Facing the might of the Tigers on the MCG, the Dockers needed to fire on all cylinders to be in with any chance.

Instead, and despite fantastic midfield contributions from Nat Fyfe (33 touches, 26 contested and six contested marks) and Lachie Neale (34 touches, 11 clearances), the Dockers posted the fourth-lowest score in the club's history, and could manage just one goal in three quarters of footy (they kicked three of their four goals in the third term).

Cam McCarthy was virtually unsighted all afternoon, Hayden Ballantyne wasn't his usual self, while Brandon Matera had his goalless afternoon summed up by a spectacular shank after a pigeon flew errantly across the mark. Simply, Ross Lyon and his troops were unable to fill the hole left by injured small forward Michael Walters.

If Freo can't fix their forwardline woes before St Kilda visit Perth on Saturday, they could find themselves two games behind the pack and with a dismal percentage.