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The big talking points and questions out of Round 5


Round five is complete with eight interesting games taking place over the weekend.

We kicked things off with a Thursday night blockbuster before the Dons upset the Dogs on Friday night.

Saturday was a treat for footy fans as three of four games were decided by a solitary kick before two further games on Sunday.

With so much to take from each game, here’s what we learned from the weekend just gone.

That’s what we’ve been waiting for, Cam

That was the best game of Cam Rayner’s career.

The 24-year-old was electric in Brisbane’s 60-82 win over Melbourne at the MCG on Thursday, gathering 25 disposals to go with nine clearances and 10 inside 50s.

The former No. 1 pick has been used primarily as a forward throughout his six-year career but playing in a hybrid mid/forward role could get the most out of his obvious talent.

Rayner has all of the attributes to become Brisbane’s version of Isaac Heeney and Thursday night showed off that he really can become that type of X-factor on-baller.

He matched his career-highs in disposals and easily beat his previous records in both clearances and inside 50s on Thursday.

We can only wonder what he’ll keep doing with some more opportunities in this new advanced role.

Sunday's win shows West Coast's Round 4 improvement wasn't a false dawn

West Coast impressed many last week against Sydney, challenging the quality side before going down by 26 points.

Many wondered whether that was just a one-off or a genuine sign of improvement. Well, their 109-70 win over Richmond at Optus Stadium on Sunday shows there's a spike in trajectory for the Eagles.

Now, we're not saying this side is now destined to climb above 16th at all this season ... but there had to eventually be some movement up from the rock bottom they've found themselves at.

West Coast's spike has come on the back of their veterans with Elliot Yeo (two goals, 27 disposals), Jeremy McGovern and Tim Kelly (29 disposals) dominant and now the likes of Harley Reid (one goal, 27 disposals) can jump on their coattails and really show what he's capable of.

Jake Waterman showed that he's a more than capable key forward with six goals against the Tigers as well. Suddenly, there's something for Eagles fans to at least feel positive about.

Yes, it was against an injury-riddled Richmond at home, but this is still a huge step in a positive direction for a team that's only looked to trend one way in recent years.

They'll hope to back it up in next weekend's Derby against the Dockers.

Melbourne continues to fall short in the big games

While there’s no shame in going down to a hungry and talented Brisbane side, losses against top-level opposition are beginning to mount on Melbourne.

We all know about their 0-4 finals record since 2021, but it’s not just in September where the Demons are failing against genuine contenders.

The Demons will always bank wins with how easily they account for middling or poor opposition, but there’s clearly something about their game style that’s letting them down when it really matters.

Melbourne have now lost each of their last games against Brisbane, Sydney, Carlton, Collingwood, GWS and Geelong. Many would consider those teams as the only real premiership threats in 2024 apart from Port Adelaide.

We all know this Melbourne team is good, but can they be great in 2024? They’ll need to prove it first against the big boys before we really buy in.

Gold Coast’s forward line is going to be frightening

Gold Coast’s forward line is full of incredible talent.

While the Suns’ talls kicked a solid eight goals between them on Saturday night against Hawthorn, it was the signs that they showed that truly excited.

Ben King is the leader inside 50 and he kicked four majors. His talent is obvious and at 23, he’s only scratching the surface.

But it was two other Suns who really emerged on Saturday and that was 2023 draft first-round duo Jed Walter and Ethan Read.

Read kicked two majors which shows he can perform in a resting ruck/forward role, which must be exciting with co-captain Jarrod Witts holding down the fort as the side’s No. 1.

As for Walter, his size, athleticism and contested marking already are drawing comparisons with Charlie Curnow and Josh Kennedy. The No. 3 pick finished with two majors of his own.

If Read and Walter come on as expected and King continues on his trajectory, Gold Coast will have the competition’s most dangerous tall forward line in the not-too-distant future.

It’s a scary thought for opposition clubs.

That’s how Adelaide needs to continue using Rankine

Adelaide got their season off the ground in Saturday’s 98-100 upset win over Carlton and that was thanks to some coaching moves from Matthew Nicks.

While superstar small forward Izak Rankine trained as a forward/mid during the summer, from Rounds 1-4 he only attended an average of 5 centre bounces a game.

That changed on Saturday with the spark injected at 20 centre bounces and that resulted in a 23-disposal, 3-goal, 9-score involvement performance from the 23-year-old.

His presence on-ball helped give the Crows a new look at the source and there’s no doubt he injected some energy into the midfield rotation.

You want your best players with their hands on the footy as often as possible. Playing Rankine in this role is one way to get that happening at Adelaide.

It’s a big week for the Western Bulldogs

Something has to give at the Whitten Oval.

The Dogs are now 2-3 after their poor performance against Essendon on Friday night and fingers are being pointed at coach Luke Beveridge for his selection calls and tactics.

We all know that the Dogs have a strong list, but it appears Beveridge is trying to regenerate on the run by overlooking some of his experienced stars in favour of youth.

Whatever the Bulldogs are doing, they can’t afford to be 2-4 in what could end up becoming another wasted season of Marcus Bontempelli’s prime.

They face St Kilda in a big game at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night, which looms as a perfect opportunity to bounce back and make a statement.

We know what we’ll get from St Kilda, and beating them would show that the Dogs still have it in them to play finals this year.

If they go down though, it might tell Doggies fans a harsh truth that they may start to believe in.

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