'''1. Don't rattle the cage or the bear will strike'''
That's the message Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin made clear with his astounding 13-goal haul against a woeful North Melbourne on Saturday. Kangaroos' coach Brad Scott labelled it one of the best individual performances he'd ever seen as Buddy condemned critics after a wayward streak in front of goal in the most emphatic manner. The 25-year-old disposed of three opponents in the 115-point mauling and kicked 12 goals after his first in stoppage time of the opening quarter. The mark improved on Franklin's previous best of nine goals which he has reached twice and with 13.4 for the match, propelled him straight back to the top of the Coleman Medal race after coming into the clash with 21.36 from the opening nine games. For most, 11 goals would have sufficed but not content, Franklin kicked two of the day's best in the final minute, including one just about on the final siren to cap a truly remarkable performance.'''2. Expect the unexpected'''
Few would have predicted Brisbane to topple ladder leaders West Coast, fewer still would have picked Port Adelaide to smash one-time premiership fancy Carlton, and surely no one saw the previously winless Melbourne's six-point victory over premiership contender Essendon coming. The round of results will go down as one of the more astonishing in recent memory; betting agencies were offering close to $200 for the aforementioned treble alone. With constant talk of which club deserves flag favouritism the only thing that is for certain this season is its unpredictability with side after side falling from their perch and as many as 15 sides still in the hunt for a top eight spot and as many as half that number in the flag equation.'''3. Gary Ablett's prolific ball-winning ability counts for little'''
The former Geelong star just keeps racking them up and even drew jeers from Collingwood fans as he collected the last few of his AFL-record 53 touches. Ablett equalled the mark set by Greg Williams, who had 53 for the Sydney Swans against St Kilda in 1989, but was still on the end of a 97-point defeat. The Suns were hopelessly outclassed by the Pies and, despite doing all he could to get them over the line, Ablett has received criticism, perhaps unfairly, for starving the club's other young midfielders of touches. It was Ablett's 13th 40-plus disposal game and fourth this season but it means little, as the 28-year-old attested after the loss, if you continue losing as Gold Coast have in their first 10 clashes this season.'''4. The Kangaroos are in real trouble'''
As good as Buddy's solo performance was, Scott's Roos were equally poor. Everything looked on the up after a Round 3 win over premiers Geelong but things have slowly fallen apart inexplicably since, with Saturday's defeat to Hawthorn the crushing nadir. The Kangaroos were decimated in every department, conceding 30 more inside 50s, 91 more disposals, including 64 contested in a performance which will surely now prompt the first real question marks about Scott's position. It's hard to pinpoint were North Melbourne have gone wrong given they were dealt one of the easiest draws and have one of the healthiest lists in the league. Yet, losses to the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and now Hawthorn in recent weeks have pegged them back to 4-6 with the pre-season target of a top-eight finish now looking highly unlikely.'''5. Brett Ratten is in real strife'''
No one at Carlton forecast the sudden and dramatic drop-off in recent weeks that has Ratten's position now firmly under the microscope. The Carlton coach signed a two-year deal at the end of last season but things have gone awry following a blistering 5-1 start to the season. Three bitterly disappointing losses to Port Adelaide, Adelaide and St Kilda in the past four matches don't account for the loss of key midfielders Andrew Carrazzo and Marc Murphy. Many have questioned Ratten's ability to respond to changes on game day and while the Blues are a formidable force when their key attacking players are up and running, there is a distinctly soft look about the side when they aren't. With clashes against Geelong, West Coast, Hawthorn and Collingwood looming in the next four, those calling for the appointment of Mick Malthouse looks set to grow with Carlton already teetering on the brink of the eight.