Easter saw plenty of highlights across the league, as some teams delivered sweet treats, while others were left feeling sour after disappointing showings.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through round five, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding round five of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.
A is For Ah Chee’s Gotcha! With Collingwood still a chance of causing an upset at the hands of Brisbane, being within two kicks late, it fell to Callum Ah Chee to stop the plucky Pies in their tracks. His tackle on Jack Crisp proved critical and allowed the Lions to hold on for their fourth win of the year.
B is For Backing Himmelberg pays off: Elliott Himmelberg was in the side in Round 1 after much debate about his form coming into the season. After much heat in scoring only two points in the first two rounds, he withstood the mounting pressure to produce a four-goal performance against Port Adelaide, two goals against Essendon, and produced another fantastic game against Richmond with four goals, 11 disposals, three marks, and three tackles.
C is For Captain courageous cruelled by ACL injury: One of the most widely respected captains in the game, Adelaide’s Rory Sloane limped off the ground late in the final quarter of the match against Richmond. The worst fears were realised when scans confirmed that he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament, meaning at least twelve months on the sidelines.
D is For Dee-molition at the G: Reigning premiers Melbourne were in full flight on Saturday night, thrashing GWS to the tune of 67 points. A devastating third term saw the Demons pile on 10 goals, finishing the game with 12 individual goalkickers. Christian Petracca amassed 30 disposals to go with two goals, while livewire forwards Bayley Fritsch and Kysaiah Pickett combined for seven majors.
E is For Essendon’s troubles continue: Having finally got off the mark with their first win of the season last year, the Bombers are back to square one. Putting in a spirited first-half performance, the Bombers fell away in the second half, lingering in the bottom four with just a single win for the season after five rounds.
F is For Five-Goal Functioning Forwards: There were no issues with accuracy this week for the Western Bulldogs piling on 21.13, including 8.3 in the first quarter. Their forwards had a field day, with both Aaron Naughton and Cody Weightman working beautifully together to snag five goals each.
G is For Great Barrier Reef: In only his third game, Reef McInnes became somewhat of a target up forward for the Pies, with a respectable 2.2 return from four marks. Although not the most prolific forward on the night, his mere presence allowed the Pies extra options, with Mason Cox having little impact on the game, kicking just the one behind.
H is For Hammy Hall: Aaron Hall has been a shining light thus far for the Kangaroos, and already had 14 disposals before his troublesome hamstring caused an issue again in the second quarter. Hall was forced to be subbed out and looks set for a stint on the sidelines – a costly blow for the rebuilding side.
I is For Intercept King: Melbourne full-back Steven May was everywhere on Saturday night, collecting 24 disposals, including eight intercept possessions and 11 rebound 50s. The 30-year-old thwarted multiple GWS attacks, working in tandem with returning defenders Jake Lever and Harrison Petty to restrict the Giants to seven goals and their lowest score for the season.
J is For Jack Jack Jack: The six Brownlow votes will likely be split between the Saints’ Jack pack with five goals for Higgins, along with 27 touches each for Steele and Sinclair helping their side to a fourth consecutive win, keeping them in the top four.
K is For Kane’s Permanent Serve of Humble Pie: Rewind back to 2019 and former Port Adelaide midfielder Kane Cornes made many, many comparisons between Connor Rozee and Sam Walsh. It unfairly put extra pressure and scrutiny on the Power young gun, and Walsh is now one of the competition’s premier midfielders, highlighting that with 38 touches and six tackles in the win over Port.
L is For Let’s Switch Jumpers, Boys: In one half at the MCG, Carlton looked like world-beaters and Port Adelaide looked as if it would struggle to beat anyone. Come half-time, it would be as if the two sides switched guernseys as the Power rallied to nearly overcome a 50-point deficit to win before succumbing by three points.
M is For Milestone Men: Jeremy Howe and Lachie Neale notched up 200 games each and having both come from other clubs, the milestone wasn’t the only thing they shared. As it happens, Howe was his usual rock in defence, taking nine marks (the most on the ground) to go with his 14 disposals. But it was Neale, with 33 disposals, five tackles, and four clearances that got the win in his 200th game, a tremendous milestone worthy of two greats of our game.
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N is For Newcombe Ball: Jai Newcombe was the tone-setter from Hawthorn right from the first contest of the game where he rode a big bump to win the first clearance of the day which led directly to Hawthorn’s first goal. Newcombe, a mid-season draft recruit from last season, was a presence in the midfield all day for the Hawks, turning in a best-on-ground performance collecting 31 disposals, three tackles, two clearances, and six inside 50s.
O is For Optus Obliteration: For a team who is notoriously hard to beat at home, West Coast just hasn’t been on target. A season marred by injuries, and several players entering health and safety protocols has heavily impacted the Eagles, who were scoreless in the first quarter. Skipper Luke Shuey (18 disposals) returned to the side, along with Elliot Yeo and Tim Kelly, but they failed to make an impact against a strong Sydney outfit. The Eagles are now 0-3 at Optus this season.
P is for Pistol Pete Packing Heat: He may have had to wait for a spot to open up in the side, but Peter Ladhams impressed in his second outing for Sydney. The new recruit made the most of Nic Naitanui’s absence for the Eagles, with 25 hit-outs, 24 disposals, and his first goal as a Swan.
Q is For Quite the colossus down back: Despite the Cats getting the result last week against the Brisbane Lions at home, the absence of their great All-Australian defender Tom Stewart was duly felt as the big Lions forwards combined for six of the 11 goals. Stewart was back this week for Geelong and instantly calmed a lot of the panic from the Cats in the back half down with his cool head and exquisite ball use. Comfortably the Cats’ best, Stewart had 27 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency with nine intercepts and six rebounds out of defence.
R is For Richmond’s third-quarter burst: The Crows were leading the game 9.4 to 6.3 at halftime and were looking in control when their lead increased to 25 points in the third quarter. Then the Tigers looked like the Tigers of old when they flicked a switch to kick four consecutive goals in seven minutes to take the lead back. This burst featured veterans Shane Edwards and Jack Riewoldt as well as Liam Baker who chipped in with two.
S is For Swans on song: No Buddy? No worries. Sydney may have been without its star forward, but it rarely missed a beat. The Swans kicked eight goals before the Eagles had even scored. 11 individual goal scorers, including Isaac Heeney (three goals) and Luke Parker (26 disposals and two goals), helped lead the visitors to a 63-point thrashing of the Eagles.
T is For Taberner proved to be the difference: Running out eight-goal victors, Dockers forward Matt Taberner put in a career-best game, finishing the game with seven goals. Looking like it could be anyone’s game at halftime, Taberner kicked four majors in the third term, sparking the Dockers’ purple patch which saw them kick five goals inside nine minutes.
U is For Upset on Easter Monday: As they always tend to do, the Easter Monday clash delivers a high-quality game of football regardless of where both teams are situated on the ladder. As the Cats’ gained the ascendency after halftime and skipped out to a lead. The Hawks rallied in the final quarter, led by their experienced stars, kicking four final quarter goals to nil to cause a boilover at the MCG and run out 12 point winners, pushing the Hawks back into the top eight.
V is For Vindication continues for discarded Blue: Although not a career-best outing for Levi Casboult, another solid performance given the lack of delivery he received with a goal, four marks, and five score involvements proves he still has plenty left to give at the top level.
W is For Wasteful Giants: Succumbing to its fourth loss of the season, GWS struggled to convert inside 50 entries to scoreboard pressure on Saturday night. Failing to kick a goal in the first quarter, it took Leon Cameron’s side 21 inside 50s to register their first major. Despite losing by 67 points, the Giants only had four fewer inside 50s compared to the Demons.
X is For Xerox: This year’s Good Friday game was a copy of last year’s in many respects, with the Bulldogs dominating to easily account for North in a contest effectively over by quarter time. The result left many pundits querying the choice of sides for the day, but given the Kangaroos’ extensive charity work and support of the RCH over many years, the greater picture needs to be considered.
Y is For Young guns paving the way for the Saints: St Kilda has already debuted its top three draft picks from the 2021 draft, and Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Marcus Windhager are looking good early in their careers, standing up when the game was in the balance with 19 pressure acts between them on Saturday.
Z Is For Zealous second half: Leading by just five points in the second half, the Dockers stepped up in the second half kicking ten goals to three. Finishing the game as 48-point winners, Fremantle when challenged was able to find another gear and is proving to be a dangerous side in 2022.
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