Three takeaways from round five

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Patrick Cripps continues to grow as one of the AFL’s elite on-ballers. (Photo by: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Bombers are starting to look like the team many thought they would be

Following a gloomy 0-2 start to the year, all roads led to Essendon when it came to which club was under the most pressure early on this season. Coach John Worsfold was under the spotlight, and there was criticism of effort and understanding levelled at the Essendon playing group.

Fast forward three weeks and the Bombers have launched themselves into the eight following three wins in a row; with their Anzac day clash against traditional rival Collingwood shaping as a blockbuster.

The Bombers blew away North Melbourne in the second quarter of their Good Friday game, with their damaging style of play built on speed and fast ball movement too much for their hapless opponents.

Their midfield looks as strong as its been in a long while, with captain Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel all dominant on Friday; whilst they’ve been bolstered by the return of star forward Joe Daniher, who played his first AFL game in almost twelve months.

Shiel, their biggest signing over the off-season had his best game in the red and black, collecting 36 disposals and gaining 866 metres for his side.

 The Swans are in the process of a rebuild

It was imminent to most before the season started that the Sydney Swans, after so many years in the top echelon of the ladder, could find themselves sliding down the ladder in 2019. Premiership heroes such as Kieren Jack, Heath Grundy and Jarrad McVeigh are likely to retire at year’s end, with the next younger generation tasked with filling the gaping hole that will be left behind.

The Swans’ loss to Richmond on Saturday night saw them slump to 1-4 and 16th on the AFL ladder, it’s not territory that the Swans will fear, afterall they still made the finals following a 0-6 start in 2017; however their 2019 team is a different one, and no such feat can be expected this year of a team in transition, regardless of if you have Lance Franklin roaming the forward 50.

The Swans can be made to look slow and are susceptible to teams that are able to move the ball quickly, Richmond’s pressure on Saturday forced the Swans into mistake after mistake, with 81 of the Tiger’s 89 points coming from Swans’ turnovers.

What the Swans do for the rest of this season will determine what sort of rebuild we’re going to see in the Harbour City, and whether their kids can take the next step to ensure they don’t slide too far before being able to challenge again.

Carlton’s future IS bright

Most people knew it, but were just waiting to see it – right? Carlton finally got their first win of 2019 on Sunday afternoon against a disappointing Western Bulldogs outfit, and it’s a victory they can use to springboard them a long way.

After winning only 3 of their past 36 games, honourable losses had worn thin on long suffering Carlton supporters; regardless of how often coach Brendan Bolton would preach ‘patience’.

Entering round five they were 0-4 on the ladder after a heartbreaking loss in the dying seconds versus Gold Coast a week earlier, the positive signs have been there, but at some point a respectable loss has to just simply turn into a win.

Winning is the easiest way to show improvement and direction, and it’s something that the Blues finally did against the Bulldogs thanks to their plethora of emerging stars led by superstar captain Patrick Cripps.

It was an emphatic response from a young playing group that had been under the media spotlight heavily during the week – capped off by a goal on the siren to no.1 pick Sam Walsh which took them over the illusive 100-point barrier for the first time in 1051 days.

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