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Aussie Rules: Talking points from week five

Gather Round in week five of the AFL campaign turned out to be a huge success despite heavy rainfall in Adelaide, and there were big wins for the Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers in particular.

The supporters packed into venues across South Australia as the whole competition moved to Adelaide for the weekend, and they were treated to some fine footy. 

It was such as success that Adelaide will host the Gather Round for the next three seasons. Adelaide Crows rose to the occasion and are starting to prove they are in with a real shout of making the eight after a big win over Carlton. 

Essendon are showing the same after a huge win over one of the hot fancies for the flag, Melbourne. There were also wins for Brisbane, Sydney, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney and Collingwood

Where there are winners, there are also losers, and some clubs need to do a lot of soul searching after the weekend. Richmond Tigers being one of them. 

Let’s take a closer look at the main talking points from week five.

Crows looking good for the eight 

Adelaide Crows made another big statement in the opening game of Gather Round as they thrashed Carlton by 56 points. 

Wins over Port Adelaide and Fremantle showed Adelaide were on the up, but it is the manner of the victory over the Blues that has really got people talking. 

Adelaide have finished in the bottom five in each of the last three seasons but now they are looking like genuine top-eight contenders. They can now be backed at 2.25 to get there.  

It would appear that patience has been a virtue for coach Matthew Nicks and the Crows board, and they are now starting to see some reward. 

There is still a long way to go and the next few weeks will be another big test. After this weekend’s game against wooden-spoon contenders Hawthorn, the Crows must then play Collingwood, Geelong and St Kilda. 

The pressure will be off and the way Adelaide are playing, a couple of upsets could be on the cards.

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Bombers genuine contenders?

Essendon sit second on the ladder with a 4-1 record for the season and the question is now being asked, are the Bombers genuine flag contenders? 

Before the Gather Round, most would probably answer no. They had picked up three wins but they were against Hawthorn, Gold Coast and GWS – three teams expected to struggle. 

You can only beat what is put in front of you, and although impressive, the pundits and fans needed to see more. 

The one defeat came against ladder-leaders St Kilda, so the jury was still out on Brad Scott’s side. However the 27-point win over a Melbourne side that is expected to challenge for the flag, will change a lot of people’s opinions. 

Again, the Bombers face more big tests in the next few weeks. Next up is a clash with Collingwood in the traditional Anzac Day clash, before they entertain Geelong the week after. Essendon can be backed at 23.00 to win the flag. 

It may be a bit early to start making such bold predictions but a couple of wins over the Pies and Cats could have the Bombers faithful believing. 

Alarm bells ringing at Richmond 

It was another tough weekend for Richmond Tigers who have slumped to 15th position on the ladder after picking up just one win so far. 

The Tigers had high hopes of challenging at the top of the ladder in 2023 but following a 44-point defeat against Sydney Swans, they will do well to make the eight. 

There is still a long way to go and coach Damien Hardwick is not panicking just yet. He accepts that his side are not clicking together just now and need to play better. 

Richmond have been hit by some body blows on the injury front, losing the likes of star forward Tom Lynch, and things should improve when they return. 

However the captures of Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto on bumper seven-year deals are already being called into question. 

Especially when the Tigers traded away three first-round draft picks to get them. In fairness their numbers are good and like Hardwick points out, it is the failure to gel as a team that is probably costing them. 

Next up is a big clash with Melbourne on Monday, and the Tigers can be backed at 3.60 to win.

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