With one more round of byes to come before the business end of the season truly gets underway, players, teams and coaches will be hoping for more winning moments than losing ones as the 2023 campaign rapidly heats up.

The Bulldogs, Blues, Power and Tigers face being overtaken on the ladder as they undergo their weekend off, with Richmond, in particular, sitting vulnerably within a logjam of 24-to-28-point teams surrounding them.

Despite claiming three impressive wins in succession, the Tigers could realistically fall from 9th to 12th if all of Geelong, Fremantle and Gold Coast are able to collect wins.

Adelaide has a chance to climb from 8th to 5th if it can knock off Collingwood at the 'G in what has the potential to be Matthew Nicks' best win in his West Lakes tenure.

Consequently, they would be directly gifting their cross-town rival in Port Adelaide a handy cushion up the top of the table.

With plenty to ponder after the most recent weekend of footy, let's dive into the winners and losers of Round 14.


Richmond renaissance

Tigers fans could not have asked for much more from their interim coach Andrew McQualter in the weeks since Damien Hardwick's departure.

A loss to the ladder-leading Power by 10 points a few weeks ago may have been his most impressive performance, but the Tigers have now claimed three wins in a row and have truly rejuvenated their season, particularly after an inspiring win over McQualter's former team and coach in St Kilda and Ross Lyon.

The means with which they've collected these wins may worry future opponents, as Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin look to be hitting their straps while ex-Giant Tim Taranto maintains his excellent form in his first season at Tigerland.

Cotchin's 29-disposal, two-goal performance in his 300th league outing was a fitting moment and a testament to his illustrious career as the longest-serving captain of the Tigers. Can his leadership, alongside McQualter's fresh set of eyes, fill the hole left by the great Hardwick and put Richmond in a contending position?

Paul Roos' 2005 triumph with Sydney means the precedent has been set for an interim coach to make a historic charge at a premiership and a potential fourth flag for Martin, Cotchin, Riewoldt and the like. It shapes as inspiration if they can sustain their winning ways.

Blues are back?

After losing eight of their last nine matches and kicking a sluggish 1.2 to open proceedings in their Sunday clash against Gold Coast, nobody could have predicted what Carlton would pull off in the next 30 minutes of footy at the MCG.

In a second quarter for the ages, Carlton reeled off nine goals to three behinds in a midfield masterclass, with the majority of their scores coming directly from centre bounces.

Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, Sam Docherty, Harry McKay, Tom De Koning and others enjoyed a much-needed return to form in a relieving performance for Carlton fans, players and the coaching staff.

Presented with a week off now, it's impossible to predict how this performance will age. While there is the potential for the bye to kill the momentum they have just generated, it does give them more time to reflect on how they flicked the switch, and it may create an increased sense of urgency to get back on the field and continue what they started in that second quarter at the home of football.

Sunday, July 2 brings about a clash against Hawthorn at the MCG and a mouthwatering opportunity to put together a second consecutive statement win and a chance to turn their season around with a late-season charge.

There is potential for Sydney to move ahead of Carlton this weekend with a win over Geelong at home. But, astonishingly, Carlton sits just six points outside the eight despite losing all but one of their last nine outings before Sunday.

It seems they would have to knock off at least one of Port Adelaide, Collingwood or Melbourne in their run home, however, if the Blues can build some form in the meantime, anything is possible in footy.


Old Cats & Dogs 

Chris Scott and Luke Beveridge face quite the conundrum after the weekend's proceedings, as both will be forced to accommodate the position of two of the competition's most valuable assets.

Patrick Dangerfield was left with a partially collapsed lung and cracked rib after a brutal contest with Port Adelaide's Dan Houston. Unbelievably, he played out the remainder of the match, but will now be sidelined for an estimated month.

Liam Jones was subbed out of the Bulldogs' clash with North Melbourne in the first quarter, after fracturing a bone in his forearm in a contest with Kangaroo Paul Curtis.

As for the Cats, they are once again left to battle without their captain, Brownlow medallist, and lead-by-example warrior in Dangerfield for their highly anticipated clash with Melbourne, before a 50-50 game against Sydney awaits them in the Harbour City.

They currently sit 10th on the ladder with about five teams nipping at their heels behind them. It could get ugly for the Cats if they can't rally without their captain.

For the Dogs, they have just lost the man who many believe has been wallpapering over the cracks of their flawed defensive unit, leaving Luke Beveridge with plenty to ponder in their week off.

The prospect of trialling Liam Jones and Aaron Naughton in the same backline has been put on hold, and they do not have a concrete option as their replacement primary key defender. None of James O'Donnell, Ryan Gardiner and Josh Bruce has proven consistently capable of standing up against the premier forward attacks of the competition, and they may need to resort to desperate measures as they await the return of Jones.

Dockers' doom, Suns gloom

Two poor performances stood out from the rest on the weekend, as Fremantle and Gold Coast fell by 70 and 59 points, respectively, in games most expected them to win.

Fremantle's intensity and effort at GIANTS Stadium were pitiful, with little-to-no pressure being applied to GWS' ball movement for the entire match, and dangerous players such as Toby Greene and Jake Riccardi were left alone inside 50 on countless occasions.

Missed tackles and weak chases allowed the Giants' offense to flow effortlessly and seamlessly, as Riccardi and Greene booted nine majors between them, while Josh Kelly added three goals to his 33-disposal, best-on-ground performance.

The Suns could have easily separated themselves from Carlton by quarter time and taken control of the game with eight scoring shots to three in the first stanza. Unfortunately, their six behinds kept the Blues in it, and after a second-quarter blitz from Carlton, the game was declared by half-time.

Gold Coast was incapable of slowing down the Carlton surge, as the Blues took advantage of the home crowd and repeatedly won centre clearances with no challengers coming the other way. Jack Lukosius was deployed behind the ball to steady the ship, and suddenly, the Suns once again looked like a vulnerable side.

Sunday twilight brings forth another danger game for the Suns against Hawthorn, and it now appears they will have to defeat the odds in order to secure a top-eight spot in 2023.