In this week's Nine things we learned, brought to you by Haier, the world's No.1 appliance maker, we look at the Bombers' injury nightmare, why the Lions are the team to beat and how the Tigers will need to summon something special.

BARRETT Pies derailing own season with nasty PR crashes

04:31 Mins
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The 10: Round five's best moments

Watch all the best highlights from a thrilling round five

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1. Esava Ratugolea is crucial to the Cats' premiership hopes

In a team containing the midfield brilliance of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, and the all-round champion skills of 350-gamer Gary Ablett, it might seem incongruous to suggest a raw 33-gamer is one of Geelong's most pivotal players. But Ratugolea sits in that group for the Cats. Structurally, Ratugolea is crucial for Geelong's hopes this year, which was evident on Saturday night against Gold Coast. Ratugolea wasn't a standout, but his second half – when he flew for several big marks and competed as a target up the ground – was critical in the Cats' 37-point victory. With Tom Hawkins the Cats' focal point deep in attack, Ratugolea needs to become more hit and less miss and be a consistent centre half-forward option if Geelong is to challenge for the flag. - Callum Twomey


2. An injured Jake Stringer is an Essendon nightmare

The star Bombers forward showed his value on Friday night against Collingwood, stepping up with three vital goals as Essendon stunned the Magpies with a 15-point win. He was dangerous, he tackled more than any game since round one last year (an equal game-high seven tackles) and he slotted his shots in the big moments. That was before he limped from the field in the final minutes after suffering a syndesmosis injury to his ankle. It will leave him sidelined for what appears a best-case four weeks and worst-case three months. Essendon will miss him dearly, because he is their best forward (he has won their goalkicking the past two seasons) in an attack that is already missing Joe Daniher. They could cover the loss of a star midfielder and even an important defender, but Stringer's absence will be tough to face. - Callum Twomey

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Stringer's big night ends on a sore note

Jake Stringer limps from the field with a sore right leg after landing awkwardly

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3. The Lions are the team to beat

If you didn't have it marked down already, you can do so with confidence now. Brisbane is the team to beat in 2020. Everything clicked for Chris Fagan's side against a previously unbeaten Port Adelaide on Saturday night. And when it did, the results were emphatic. You could barely notice this was a midfield missing captain Dayne Zorko and the hardened Cam Ellis-Yolmen, as Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale led the charge. His understudies, which include Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry, weren't half-bad either. If Eric Hipwood and Dan McStay weren't clunking marks forward of centre, then a mosquito fleet that features the best small forward in the competition Charlie Cameron, as well as former No.1 pick Cam Rayner, will mop up. They humbled a Power backline that was conceding just 36.5 points per game heading into the contest. Then there's Harris Andrews, perhaps the best key defender in the game, who kept the in-form Charlie Dixon goalless on Saturday night. It's a well-balanced, well-oiled machine. And it's going to be hard to stop. - Riley Beveridge

4. The Tigers will need to summon something special

Remember round four last year, Richmond fans? A breezy Saturday evening against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval. No Dustin Martin. No Trent Cotchin. No Jack Riewoldt. No Alex Rance. The seven-point win was later described by Damien Hardwick as the victory that changed the team's fortunes and catapulted them towards a second premiership in three years. Then 1-2 heading into the clash, an undermanned Tigers outfit hardly looked back after recording the upset win. Perhaps a few victories in the Queensland hub, potentially without eight of its 2019 premiership stars, could provide a similar foundation to build upon this year for the 2-2-1 side. Cotchin (hamstring), Dion Prestia and Toby Nankervis (both ankle syndesmosis), and Tom Lynch (broken finger) look set to be unavailable next week. David Astbury (knee) is already out. Shane Edwards and Bachar Houli look likely to remain in Victoria for family reasons. Brandon Ellis has left for Gold Coast. Hardwick described the subsequent challenge in front of the Tigers, which includes heading interstate for the next five weeks without those key premiership stars, as "exciting" on Sunday night. Win a couple of games along the way and it could be inspiring as well. - Riley Beveridge

00:29 Mins
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Huge Tiger blow as star mid injures ankle

Richmond face a massive concern with important midfielder Dion Prestia limping off the ground

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5. The Blues have an over-reliance on their co-captain

When Sam Docherty was blanketed by St Kilda skipper Jarryn Geary in the first half on Thursday night, the Blues defence looked lost without their usual outlet from defensive 50 and produced some horror turnovers. Docherty had 32 disposals in the previous week's win over Essendon but had little influence until he moved to the wing after the main break. Kade Simpson has been below his best this year and is not offering the rebound he once did, while Sam Petrevski-Seton hasn't delivered the drive the Blues had hoped in moving to half-back. Without Docherty in the past two seasons, the Blues had a 9-35 record. Shutting down the 26-year-old will be at the top of Luke Beveridge and Ken Hinkley's radar in the next fortnight. - Mitch Cleary

6. The Eagles can play four talls in the dry

With Willie Rioli (ASADA suspension), Daniel Venables (concussion) and Jarrod Cameron (groin) out of the reckoning, the Eagles went with four forwards over 191cm on the weekend with instant success. After being well beaten with just Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling against Port Adelaide, Adam Simpson introduced Oscar Allen and Jake Waterman back into the line-up. Simpson admitted they added "spirit and passion" to a side low on confidence after three consecutive losses and the young pair also performed, combining for five goals and 11 marks. After not acclimatising to the slippery Queensland night conditions in previous weeks, they get another chance against Adelaide in an afternoon slot next week. Cameron will come into consideration after a strong training block to replace Jamaine Jones (hamstring). - Mitch Cleary

01:07 Mins
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Tall Eagle crumbs and snaps like a small

Oscar Allen shows he can get it done at ground level

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7. The Dogs don't always need a dominant Bont

Marcus Bontempelli entered the season as the Western Bulldogs' new skipper and arguably the AFL's best player. However, Bontempelli was ordinary, by his standards, in round one and despite some highs in between, he was subdued again on Saturday night with 12 disposals (four kicks). Kangaroo Luke McDonald minded him at stoppages and when he went forward, while winning more of the Sherrin than Bontempelli. Even so, the Dogs produced an even performance, with Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae, in particular, picking up the slack. Lachie Hunter is due back next week, while Josh Dunkley is still some time away, proving the Bulldogs have genuine depth. They've won three games on the trot since an 0-2 start and are showing they can play at a high level without Bontempelli performing a starring role. And that's healthy. - Marc McGowan

8. Nat Fyfe's pain is Andrew Brayshaw's gain

If a silver lining comes out of Nat Fyfe's absence through a hamstring injury, it might well be Andrew Brayshaw's emergence as a genuine first-choice midfield option. He was outstanding in Fremantle's breakthrough win against Adelaide, winning 23 disposals, laying five tackles and making good decisions under pressure all day. Coach Justin Longmuir rated it the 20-year-old's best four-quarter performance. Brayshaw had been pegged as one of the Dockers' big pre-season improvers and after 44 games, he looks ready to become the player Fremantle hoped for when it picked him at No.2 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. - Michael Rogers

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Brayshaw's twist and Sturt's shout

Andrew Brayshaw stands tall in a tackle and feeds the ball to Sam Sturt who snaps truly

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9. Harry Perryman is the ultimate Swiss army knife

With nine goals in four games, Giants utility Harry Perryman's Coleman Medal campaign was in full swing coming into the clash against Hawthorn. Instead, coach Leon Cameron decided to throw the unheralded Giant back to a defensive role and it paid off handsomely. Perryman racked up 18 disposals in the first half as his side controlled the tempo. The 21-year-old has rapidly gone from a handy player to one of the most crucial parts of the team. - Jourdan Canil