Five rounds into the AFL season and slowly but surely, the ladder and feel of the year is taking shape. Teams are needing a win while others look to consolidate their early season form, but what can we look for in Round 6?
Several teams are under pressure heading into Round 6 of the AFL season. One is winless, while some head coaches are needing a good result to ease their minds and silence the critics.
Others are making their mark on the competition and some are trying to push themselves into premiership calculations. The umpires will also be in the spotlight as well.
Here are five things to look out for this weekend.
How the umpire dissent rule is judged
Perhaps one of the most talked-about issues this week has been the umpire dissent free-kicks that we saw in Round 5. Some that shouldn’t have been paid were and ones that should have been paid weren’t.
Many expect the natural over-umpiring to occur when new rules come in and this one was no exception. After being hot on umpire dissent throughout the preseason and the opening round, it was somewhat left to its own devices over the last few weeks.
Not now. With General Manager of Football Brad Scott coming out this week and essentially laying down the law and stating that no umpire dissent will be tolerated, players should now know what to expect from here on.
The entire AFL community waits with bated breath to see how it plays out this weekend.
Can Port Adelaide win their first game of the season?
Not something that many would have predicted heading into the season, but the boys from Alberton are still winless and remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder.
Injuries to key personnel and players not performing up to their usual standards have seen Port’s season just about end before it even began.
On Saturday, Ken Hinkley’s men face a West Coast side that has been hit from every which way this season. From COVID-19 to crippling injuries, Round 6 presents the club’s best chance to break its duck.
After playing some of the worst and best football of the season against Carlton last week, Port Adelaide simply has to win. Whether by one point or 50, a win is imperative against an Eagles side that is there for the taking.
Anzac Day clashes
Hawthorn v Sydney
The Hawks and Swans kick off the day down in Tasmania. Both are coming off wins but of a very different kind.
Sydney obliterated the Eagles on their home deck while the Hawks had a hard-fought win in another Easter Monday classic against the Cats.
Sam Mitchell has the Hawks playing some inspired football of late and are a joy to watch with their running, rebound game. The Swans are firming as a genuine top-four chance this season so there will be plenty on the line in this one.
The Hawks are notoriously tough to beat down in Tasmania, so this one should be a tight contest that will be must-watch football.
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Essendon v Collingwood
The Bombers are a team under intense pressure heading into the traditional blockbuster. During the preseason, many tipped Ben Rutten’s side for a top-eight place, but after only one win in the opening five rounds, that looks like a pipedream.
Collingwood on the other hand was spirited in its loss to Brisbane at the Gabba last time out. Under Craig McRae, the Pies play some expansive football and have been good value in most of the games played this season.
This Anzac day clash promises to be another classic. Essendon is a club in crisis and will not want to roll over on the biggest stage outside of the Grand Final. While Collingwood will look to build on what has been a solid start to the 2022 campaign.
The return of Toby Greene
The GWS superstar is back for his first game of the year. Having finished serving his suspension for contact with an umpire during last year’s finals series, the diminutive forward is set to be unleashed on Friday night.
Not many players divide public opinion quite like Toby Greene. With the Giants’ season on a knife’s edge and head coach Leon Cameron’s job in question, the club needs its star to come back with a bang on Friday night.
The Giants are a completely different proposition when the 28-year-old is in the side. In the 18 games he played in 2021, Greene kicked 45 goals. He adds another dimension to the Giants’ forward line that has been screaming out for some star power.
Adding him into the midfield mix will also take some of the pressure off other stars. Such as Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto, and Tom Green. The Giants, now more than ever, need their star man to produce from the outset to try and salvage the season in Round 6.
Can ANZAC Eve become the main-event of the Round?
Now a genuine rivalry between Richmond and Melbourne, this is a dead-set blockbuster. With the Tigers being somewhat up and down to start 2021 while the Demons have been seriously impressive.
While not hitting their stride yet, Melbourne has laid waste to every side this season, while in second gear mind you. Seemingly having the ability to change up through the levels as we saw in the third quarter against the Giants last week.
The Dees piled on 10 goals to two in a blistering quarter of football. The Tigers could present a rather difficult challenge for the reigning premier on Sunday night. They are still Richmond after all.
However, should Melbourne run all over the Tigers and win comfortably, it will send a message that they are head and shoulders above the rest.
These games rarely disappoint and there is a bit on the line for both teams. Melbourne will want to maintain their undefeated start to the year, while Richmond wants to remind the competition that they aren’t done just yet.
Round 6 of the AFL season is sure to be a fascinating weekend of football.
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