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Nine things we learned: The Dogs are miles off the best

The 10: round five's best moments Some brilliant highlights across the Easter weekend, here's the best of the best
1. The Bulldogs are miles off the AFL's best sides

After two rounds of the season, Luke Beveridge's side was sitting pretty at 2-0 and some were trumpeting the return of the side that won the 2016 premiership. But that has turned out to be a false dawn, with the Bulldogs' struggles laid plainly bare over the next three weeks. The side's inaccuracy continues to be an ongoing frustration, but it is more than that. When their midfield gets beaten, as it did against Carlton, the Bulldogs struggle to generate winning scores. They lack a key target up forward, with the age-old conundrum of whether to play the promising Aaron Naughton forward or back continuing to rear its head. They lack a game-changing aerialist in the back half and too often their under-sized defensive options get exposed. And, although they had some promising pieces of play in transition against the Blues, they need to desperately improve their connection forward of centre before it's too late. Until they do that, the Bulldogs will struggle to be a finals-contending side. - Ben Guthrie

2. Eddie Betts might have sewn up Goal of the Year … for the fourth time

When it comes to a combination of quality and sense of occasion, there will be no better goal in 2019 than what Adelaide master Eddie Betts produced on Sunday night. The 32-year-old capped off his 300th game celebrations in the only way he knows how, kicking a sensational checkside goal – his sixth of the night – off his left foot from hard on the left boundary. That was despite having to evade the pressure of Gold Coast defender Jarrod Harbrow before composing himself to kick a goal that only Betts can. That effort was every bit as good as his goals from 2006, 2015 and 2016 that collected Goal of the Year. - Lee Gaskin

3. Dylan Shiel was worth it

The Bombers had to fight off a number of other Victorian clubs, and then pay a big price, to land Shiel from Greater Western Sydney last year. Essendon took until the final minutes of the NAB AFL Trade Period to get it done, but gave up two first-round draft picks for Shiel (plus a second-round pick back their way). Five games in, Shiel has shown why he was worth it. The explosive midfielder has added genuine speed and line-breaking ability to Essendon's midfield that wasn't previously there. Against North Melbourne he was electric, gathering 36 disposals and having 10 inside 50s. Shiel still needs to hit the scoreboard more, and he can spray a kick when running flat chat, but his inclusion at Essendon has given the Bombers a far more even and dangerous midfield brigade. - Callum Twomey

4. Alarm bells are ringing for Dees veteran

Even allowing for the fact that Jordan Lewis was making his first appearance after being sidelined for the first four rounds with a hamstring injury, the best that can be said of his performance in the loss to St Kilda was that it was one he'd rather forget. In the first three quarters Lewis had just six touches and gave two free kicks away, before collecting seven touches in the last quarter when the game was effectively over. He had such little impact that Saints great Danny Frawley observed on radio: "Jordan Lewis looks so slow out there today, they look like they're a man down." And this followed a poor showing in Lewis' previous outing in last year's preliminary final against West Coast, when clearly he wasn't on his own in that regard. The Demons tend to perform better with Lewis in their line-up, largely because of his leadership and organisational skills, which have become more important with the virtual removal of team runners, but he will need to shake out the cobwebs quick-smart. Another factor that could go against Lewis at the selection table is the four-day turnaround before facing Richmond on Wednesday night, given it's often physically harder for players in their second game back. Especially when you're due to turn 33 on game day like Lewis is. - Ben Collins

'COULDN'T HIDE HIM' Kane Cornes on veteran Dee's return

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5. Freo's new-look attack is starting to click

The Dockers' forwards showed in Saturday's win over Greater Western Sydney that given opportunities they can influence games against the very best, and given they're still learning how to play together, coach Ross Lyon should be excited. Key recruit Jesse Hogan and Matt Taberner shared 27 marks and six goals against the Giants, while Brandon Matera (four goals) and resting midfielder Michael Walters (three) were dangerous, and Travis Colyer and Sam Switkowski provided speed and tackle pressure on the deck. The potential to add Rory Lobb and Cam McCarthy to the mix gives Fremantle plenty of options, and with more games of experience as a group they can only increase productivity and scoreboard results. - Adam Curley

6. Chad yet to live up to the hype

Outside of a 15-minute final term burst in his Hawthorn debut in round three, Chad Wingard has failed to deliver on his hefty price tag in his first three weeks as a Hawk. Chased by coach Alastair Clarkson for several years, Wingard finally arrived at Waverley Park in the last off-season, costing the Hawks Ryan Burton and a first-round pick. But Wingard gave the Cats' defenders little to worry about in his 150th game, finishing with one behind opposed to a combination of Jake Kolodjashnij and Tom Stewart. Playing mostly as a deep forward, Wingard lacked his typical explosive power and went at just 50 per cent with his 16 disposals. A dual All Australian by the age of 22 at Port Adelaide, Wingard will be desperate for a sharp increase in his output in the rest of the first year of his five-year contract. - Mitch Cleary

7. West Coast's two-ruck policy isn't working

The Eagles bucked the trend playing two big men last season and it helped propel them to a flag. But this year they have looked unbalanced, and were horribly exposed on the spread by a hungrier Port Adelaide in slippery conditions on Friday night. Young forward Oscar Allen isn't the problem, but his emergence has made West Coast even taller than last year and it is time for Adam Simpson to bite the bullet and use him as a pinch-hitter behind one genuine ruckman. Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy were a solid combo after Nic Naitanui went down in round 17 last year because they could both have an impact in attack. This season, Vardy's output has been way below where it has needed to be both in the ruck and around the ground, and the premiership big man is staring down the barrel of being dropped against former club Geelong. Vardy has gone goalless in five games after booting seven in 10 matches in 2018. He had just three disposals in an anonymous effort against the Power and is averaging just six touches. Despite some inconsistency, ex-Saint Tom Hickey has had a much bigger impact, especially around clearances (3.8 to Vardy's one per game), and deserves to hold his spot. - Travis King

8. The narrative about the Tigers' lack of depth is dead

Tom Lynch in, Richmond's depth out. That's how the story went, didn't it? Fringe Tigers Reece Conca, Corey Ellis, Sam Lloyd, Anthony Miles and Tyson Stengle all departed for rival clubs in last year's NAB AFL Trade Period. Richmond's charmed injury run subsequently ended in the early rounds of this year, with Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin, Bachar Houli and Shaun Grigg all going down and Dustin Martin missing a game through suspension. Those setbacks came with the Tigers wobbling with two losses through three rounds. Their fans needn't have worried. No-name replacements Jack Ross, Sydney Stack, Liam Baker, Shai Bolton and Noah Balta slotted in seamlessly to perform key roles in back-to-back victories over Port Adelaide and Sydney. As Damien Hardwick said: "(Our recruiting team does) a wonderful job and they've got a really good idea of what makes a Richmond player." - Marc McGowan

9. Pies' forward line will be a headache for anyone

Brisbane made the Magpies look like world-beaters with a mountain of back-half turnovers and half-baked efforts on Thursday night, but the performance from Collingwood's forward line would send a shudder through most opposition defences. With Mason Cox the only recognised 'tall', the versatility in the air and on the ground around the giant American is a match-up nightmare. Jaidyn Stephenson torched his Lions' opponents with blistering speed off the mark and took seven marks inside 50. He kicked three goals. Brody Mihocek was tireless up and down the field. He kicked four. Jordan de Goey floated in and out to kick three. Spring-heeled Jamie Elliott is looking better every week. He kicked two. And as if that wasn't enough, Josh Thomas and Callum Brown drifted in to add two apiece. There is nowhere to hide defensively if the Magpies move the ball with speed. - Michael Whiting 


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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs