The Winners and Losers of Round Five

It’s an easy task, right?

Five winners and five losers. Simple. But from eight games of footy, picking just some may seem unfair.

I’m doing it, anyway. Here are the winners and losers of Round Five.





Last year, Cam Rayner was used sparingly as a midfielder. Whether it was his tank or a strategic decision, he only attended 56 centre bounces for the whole year, but the damage he did when he was on the footy was considerable.

As a result, it was thought he could move into the middle more in 2024, IF – and yes, it was a big if – he could have the motor to do it.

Well, whilst he spent only nine occasions at centre bounces in this game, it was his hustle and crash and bash work around the ground that saw him collect nine clearances for the Lions in a difference-making effort.

Rayner has always had such high expectations attached to him. With the mantle of being the number one pick hanging around his neck, he has struggled at points. Maybe that is now ready to turn around. Cam Rayner, when played in and under, is a bull!



So, Sam… you’ve passed concussion protocols and are free to return to the team. It’s all good news. Now, you just have to go out there and put the brakes on arguably the best player in the competition and save our midfield, the week after we were bent over by Port. You all good with that?

Damn right, he was all good with it!

Durham played a solid, accountable, and gutsy game for the Bombers, not only keeping Bont under wraps, but doing enough on his own to keep Essendon moving forward. It wasn’t a hard tag – it was a midfielder being accountable at stoppages and playing his own game from that point, and it may have been the making of the young man as a midfielder.



So many to choose from for the Crows – Rankine stepping up, Tex returning to form, and Ben Keays having another great day against the Blues.

However, I am going for an unsung hero – Luke Nankervis.

Too often, we are told that a player should be protecting themselves and not putting themselves in harm’s way, even if doing so helps the team. There is a cultural shift occurring, and if you’re missing it, you’re watching some of the more courageous acts in the game being labelled dumb by these critics.

I am glad Nankervis hasn’t got their memo.

With Harry McKay charging at the footy in the first quarter, Luke Nankervis, in game number seven, dropped into the hole, got in the way, and put himself in peril. Some would say it was unnecessary.

And that is what made his actions great!

I don’t know the bloke. I have never had anything to do with him, but as a long-term footy lover, I was damn proud of him.



I was so tempted to put Brandon Zerk-Thatcher in here, again, for the continued excellence he’s displayed, but I couldn’t go past Alex Pearce, who I have bumped from the shortlist twice so far this season.

Combining with Luke Ryan, he dominated the back half for Freo, and looked impassable for long periods of the game. He beat Charlie Dixon pretty comprehensively and would have to be the front-runner for one of the two All-Australian key position roles.

Freo may have lost, but Pearce was mighty, and he is obviously leading his club by example in 2024.



Timing is everything, isn’t it?

He saw the writing on the wall at Richmond. He saw where the club was headed, with an ageing list and a lack of A-Grade kids, and he did what any me-first person would do.

He jumped ship.

And he landed at a Gold Coast team that look primed to hit their window of contention.

It is almost the perfect storm for Hardwick and the Suns. High picks maturing into quality players, depth at several positions, and academy kids looking bloody fantastic. If you’re still thinking that the Suns are the same team they’ve always been, the way they handed my Hawks – with absolute ease – should start to change your mind. I reckon Carrara could become a fortress over the next couple of years.

Nice timing, Dimma… although I am sure the Tigers may not be as pleased about it as you are.


And I know, I know… no West Coast inclusions in the top five. Harley Reid will get the Rising Star nod this week – that’s a nice little bit of recognition. All is well… all is well.




I always feel a bit bad when I pick one player from a team that is underperforming…

But not so bad that I stop doing it. What an asshole, right?

Mabs Chol had a golden opportunity to show his former coach that he had plenty to offer against the Suns, but failed to capitalise on the chance. It was not that he was the worst guy out there – not by a long shot, but with the chance to basically “stick it up” the bloke that helped him leave Punt Road, and whose arrival hastened his exit from the Suns, I wanted to see a bit of mongrel from him. Instead, I saw a puppy.



Time is just about up for Tabs. Far out, he has fallen a long way.

His body has given out on him so many times that now, when he is finally healthy, he simply doesn’t have much left to give.

Gone are the long, searching leads. Gone is the leap. All that’s left is the chance to contest and bring the footy to ground, and really, is that enough to make him part of a starting 22?

Sean Darcy will return this coming week. That’ll mean Luke Jackson will play more time forward. And flowing on from that, it means that Matt Taberner will be out of the Freo team. With just three disposals in over 100 minutes of footy, he may not have retained his spot even if Darcy was weeks away.



Another who Father Time is rapidly catching.

After a strong opening to the game against West Coast, the veteran wingman managed just three touches across the next three quarters of footy.

The wings were once such a commanding position for the Tigers, with McIntosh and Marlion Pickett providing a powerful presence. Many times, they had more muscle than their opposition, but those days are gone, and the Tigers have not really nurtured anyone to take their place.

That both McIntosh and Pickett remain as the permanent wings four years after the golden era speaks volumes about where the Tigers are, and where they thought they might be.

It may be time to start playing the kids.



Tick tock… a bit of theme in the blokes on this list in Round Five, isn’t there?

When I saw Jack Payne line up on Ben Brown on Thursday night, I immediately mentioned that this matchup would play Payne into form. Without perfect delivery, Brown is no longer a threat, and with Payne wearing him like a cheap suit, the former Kangaroo could barely get near it.

Through three quarters, Brown managed one handball, only contributing anything of note in what was really extended junk time.

This was made worse by the fact that Harrison Petty, his partner in crime, made Brown look like a stats monster, managing two disposals for the entire game.

The Dees’ forward woes have once again reared their ugly head, and pose a huge problem for Simon Goodwin. Relying on an opportunist like Bayley Fritsch is fraught with danger, as he so often feeds on the chaos created by others around him. When they’re being beaten, Fritsch is limited.

The Dees were much worse against the Lions than the end result indicates, and a lot of that stems from having a forward line that could not do much of anything.



The heat is on.

Caleb Daniel dropped.

Bailey Dale used as a sub.

Ryley Sanders subbed off.

The 2016 premiership coach is giving people plenty of ammunition when the team drops games, isn’t he? Earlier in the year, there were rumours of Bevo heading to Freo after the 2024 season. I can kind of see Fremantle motioning back toward him at the moment – “Nah Bevo… we’re okay, mate. You stay there at the Whitten Oval.”

The game against the Saints this Thursday night will have huge ramifications for both these clubs


So, who were your winners, and who were your losers from Round Five. I’m all ears.



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