AFL Round 5: Ladder flips out after surprise finishes

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Jake Carlisle of the Saints drops a mark in a controversial final few seconds of the match. 

Kavisha Di Pietro, Nathan John, Nickolas Zakharia, Thomas Foster and Tas Mavridis

This week’s AFL action was anything but ordinary with the first draw of the AFL season and the ladder being flipped on its head after Collingwood stunned Essendon on the traditional ANZAC Day fixture.

Contentious umpiring leaves Saints up in arms

After facing public scrutiny for playing with a lack of heart, the pressure was on St Kilda to deliver against premiership contenders GWS Giants and they couldn’t have come much closer. After clawing their way back from an 18 point deficit in the final quarter, the Saints came excruciatingly close, levelling the Giants score with two minutes to play. Despite delivering the first draw of the season, arguably the game’s biggest talking point was the lack of free-kick paid to Saint Jake Carlisle after a questionable Phil Davis spoil. If the free had been awarded, Carlisle would have had the opportunity to kick for the win from 40 metres out and give the Saints a much-needed victory. St Kilda coach Alan Richardson and midfielder Jack Steven both felt the free should have been awarded but accepted contentious umpiring decisions are part of the game. If the Saints can bring the same drive into this weekend’s game against Hawthorn they will likely earn just their second victory of the season. – Kavisha Di Pietro

Young Dogs struggle to attack 

The Bulldogs looked back in form against Sydney last round, but Saturday night at Optus Stadium was instead a story of Fremantle’s rejuvenation, with the hosts running out 54-point victors. The Dogs had no answer for the Dockers’ ball movement, ceding 19 marks inside 50 and recording just five of their own. Ross Lyon’s side adjusted to the slippery conditions, moving the ball by hand while the visitors fumbled and continued to risk turnovers with long diagonal kicks. The Dockers look invigorated by an injection of youth and a more attacking license, while Luke Beveridge needs to shuffle the magnets. Fielding the youngest team in the competition each week, his charges may benefit from a simpler approach. – Nathan John

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Shaun Higgins on the ground unconscious during the match. 

A giant Roo victory signals a new top-four contender

A battered North Melbourne scrimmaged their way to 28-point victory over Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon to become shock top-eight contenders. Scoring 11 goals to three in the first half, the Kangaroos continued their relentless efforts inside 50 against a wilted early performance by the Hawks. Third quarter turmoil eclipsed North Melbourne’s scoring dominance and pushed the game back to a more levelled contest. A bump from Hawk Ryan Burton which left Shaun Higgins unconscious occurred seconds before Brownlow favourite Tom Mitchell added to North’s horror by landing a high-contact elbow that took Todd Goldstein out of the game. Hawthorn’s best efforts to trudge their way back into a late comeback was not enough to silence the exhausted Kangaroos, who claimed their third win for the season and moved into the top four. – Nickolas Zakharia

A dying-seconds miss leaves Brisbane 0-5

The fifteenth QClash saw both Gold Coast and Brisbane under pressure after drubbings at the hands of West Coast and Richmond. After Brisbane opened the scoring, Gold Coast took the reins but weren’t able to build more than a two-goal lead until late in the second quarter. The Suns’ lead remained stable until Brisbane booted three goals midway through the final term to slash the margin to less than six points. However, a winning goal proved elusive for the Lions, with last year’s No. 1 draft pick Cam Rayner kicking a behind on the siren. Marcus Ashcroft Medal winner Touk Miller made the evening miserable for Brisbane, keeping Dayne Zorko to just 10 touches and desperately diving for a crucial smother in the dying minutes of the game. – Thomas Foster

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Kane Lambert led the way for the Tigers. 

Reigning premiers too strong for struggling Dees

After a mediocre performance in round four, the Dees would have been hoping for a response. For three quarters Melbourne managed to keep up with the reigning premiers, with the Tigers unable to put away the Dees. Despite a shining beacon of hope for Melbourne through some sloppy Tigers play, eventually Richmond’s class shone through. For the Tigers, plenty of players outside of the big four stood up. Kane Lambert led the way (29 disposals, 8 tackles and 2 goals) ensuring Richmond’s midfield class and pressure eventually wore down a Melbourne outfit who seem to be feeling the pressure of expectation. Big inclusions into the Richmond side in the form of premiership player Nathan Broad and Jack Higgins played their roles replacing Nick Valustin and Josh Caddy. A new member of Richmond’s mosquito fleet, second-gamer Higgins impressed in the first half with three goals and six tackles presenting Damien Hardwick with selection headaches. – Tas Mavridis

Calm and composed Collingwood move into top eight  

With both teams coming off their biggest scalps of the season in the previous round, the traditional ANZAC Day clash loomed to shape the seasons of Collingwood and Essendon. A slicker and more tactical Collingwood outfit controlled the game from quarter time as their forward pressure forced Essendon to over-possess the ball in their defensive 50, with 68 per cent of their disposals coming from the back half. A more agile forward line of Jordan De Goey, Jaidyn Stephenson, Will Hoskin-Elliot and Steele Sidebottom allowed Mason Cox to provide a strong aerial target and bring the ball to ground, proving to be a challenge for Essendon’s sluggish defence. The inability of Essendon coach John Worsfold to adapt to Collingwood’s fast-paced style of play saw the Bombers double the season-average of 9 backward kicks per game. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley looks to have silenced his critics as the Magpies moved into the top eight at the end of a round for the first time since early 2015. – Kavisha Di Pietro