There's only four AFL games on Saturday after round five started so memorably with the Collingwood-Essendon Anzac Day thriller. Carlton hung on for victory against Fremantle in Perth last night. So far today the Western Bulldogs survived a scare to defeat GWS. Likewise, North Melbourne had some flutters against the Gold Coast before winning by 34 points.
SATURDAY THOUGHTS: It's going to be another long season for the Demons. They're improving and wins will eventually come but it's just too far back for a club from 0-5. Any thoughts of the finals are now gone. The jury is still out on the Saints. They simply did enough to get the four points but do they have the cattle to compete with the league's best? Lower reaches of the top eight might be their best result. Discuss.
Match details from the MCG:
ST KILDA 5.4 8.5 10.9 12.12 (84)
MELBOURNE 4.1 8.3 10.6 10.6 (66)
Goals: St Kilda: B Wilkes 3 J Steven 2 N Riewoldt 2 S Milne 2 L Hayes L Montagna R Stanley. Melbourne: N Jones 2 R Bail 2 A Davey B Moloney C Bartram J Watts L Dunn M Bate.
Umpires: Troy Pannell, Jacob Mollison, Andrew Mitchell.
Official Crowd: 24,798 at MCG.
... and the details from the Gabba:
GEELONG 4.1 7.5 10.6 12.7 (79)
BRISBANE LIONS 0.5 0.7 1.9 4.17 (41)
Goals: Geelong: T Hawkins 6 P Chapman 2 J Corey J Selwood M Duncan S Motlop. Brisbane: A McGrath J Brown S Black T Rockliff.
Umpires: Ben Ryan, Chris Kamolins, Shane McInerney
Official Crowd: 15,528 at Gabba
FINAL: Brisbane 4.17 (31) Geelong 12.7 (79)
A great win by Geelong. They dominated early when the match was up for grabs and the conditions were horrible. Not the right result for Simon Black in his 300th game but nobody can take away anything away from his superb career.
FINAL: Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 12.12 (84)
Victory for the Saints and Melbourne, along with GWS and Gold Coast, remain winless. Players from both teams are out on their feet. Exhausted.
Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 12.12 (84)
GOAL! Saints! And it's the sealer! It's been a draining game and both teams have given their all. Less than two minutes to play.
Brisbane Lions 4.15 (29) Geelong 12.6 (78) - Q4 26.30
Late goals in junk time for the Lions, including one to milestone man Simon Black. The final scoreboard will look better.
Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 11.12 (78) - Q4 21.30
A Brendon Goddard set shot on goal results in a behind. But it's an important one. Two goals the difference with less than five minutes on the clock.
Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 11.11 (77) - Q4 16.55
GOAL! St Kilda! It's Hayes who puts the Saints 11 points clear. Is this now a mission too far for the Demons? Certainly it's a great test. Less than seven minutes to play.
Brisbane Lions 1.12 (18) Geelong 12.6 (78) - Q4 19.23
Scuffles across the ground at the Gabba. Joel Selwood involved in a clash with Andrew Raines. Geelong players remonstrated with him at every opportunity. Watch this space.
Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 10.10 (70) - Q4 6.30
No goal to either team after six minutes. It's tight in the clinches. Melbourne still on top on clearances, contested possessions and overall disposals. This is going down to the end.
Brisbane Lions 1.11 (17) Geelong 11.6 (72) - Q4 7.29
Still only one goal to the Lions. In an amazing contrast, Hawkins has half a dozen. If there were still any doubters out there about the Tomahawk's arrival as an AFL star, can they please step forward?
3QT: Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 10.9 (69)
That's the three-quarter-time siren and the MCG is abuzz. Dees are showing plenty of grit. Nathan Jones and Jack Grimes among the top possession-winners. Magner continuing his impressive debut season. For the Saints, Dal Santo all class to this point.
Melbourne 10.6 (66) St Kilda 10.9 (69) - Q3 30:10
We've got the close one! Melbourne is showing plenty of fight and the margin will be less than one kick at the final break. Bartram helped narrow the gap with a superb right-foot checkside from the left forward flank. A stunning GOAL. Dees have a chance to break their duck.
3QT: Brisbane Lions 1.9 (15) Geelong 10.6 (66)
The game is done and dusted. Main question now: how many Tom Hawkins? The big man has snared five of Geelong's 10 majors. A top performance in the wet.
Melbourne 9.5 (52) St Kilda 10.9 (69) - Q3 23.30
The Dees get that much-needed goal to stay in touch. Beau Wilkes has been subbed out for the Saints, despite having three goals to his name. Dean Polo comes on. Lynden Dunn subbed out for Melbourne with Sylvia now getting his chance.
Brisbane Lions 1.9 (15) Geelong 9.6 (60) - Q3 19.10
GOAL! Brisbane's! Ash McGrath breaks the drought with a soccer-off-the-ground effort. That's a monkey off the back. The game is gone but there's still time for the Lions to avoid some unwanted records.
Melbourne 8.4 (52) St Kilda 10.8 (68) - Q3 17.34
Danger period her for Melbourne. Saints edge out by 16 points and the Dees really need the need major.
Melbourne 8.4 (52) St Kilda 9.6 (60) - Q3 12.20
It's still tight at the 'G. Demons have had an injury concern with Magner who surprisingly came back on the ground after treatment. Col Sylvia sitting in the wings on the pine and wearing the sub's vest.
Brisbane Lions 0.9 (9) Geelong 8.5 (53) - Q3 9.30
A golden chance for a goal to the Lions goes begging. McGrath earnt a free kick for a heavy in-the-back from Hunt but his set shot effort from the left forward pocket missed to the near side. With every minute the pressure increases on Brisbane .... to simply score a goal.
Brisbane Lions 0.8 (8) Geelong 7.5 (47) - Q3 4.15
There's an injury scare for the Cats. Allen Christensen has copped a boot to the head at a stoppage and gone down heavily before receiving assistance from trainers. That looked nasty and would've hurt.
STATS WATCH: Geelong's guns are getting some good numbers. Paul Chapman (15), Allen Christensen (15), Joel Corey (12) and Taylor Hunt (12) have been the most prolific. Daniel Rich (15) and Tom Rockliff (15) doing the most damage for the home team at the Gabba.
HT: Melbourne 8.3 (51) St Kilda 8.5 (55)
Saints snare the last two goals to edge in front. It's going to be tight throughout at the MCG. The stats are pretty even across the board with the Demons in front with contested possessions and clearances - two very important categories.
HT: Brisbane Lions 0.7 (7) Geelong 7.5 (47)
That's the half and that's the game. Surely? Very impressive footy from the Catters. Classic wet-weather footy in a city which doesn't do storms in small measures. Commentators are raving about the top drainage in Brisbanetown. It's a good thing they're not blocked.
Melbourne 8.3 (51) St Kilda 6.5 (41) - Q2 23.01
Dees in the middle of a good patch. Dominating the tackle count in the last 10 minutes. Nathan Jones leading the way with 75% disposal efficiency.
Brisbane Lions 0.6 (6) Geelong 6.4 (40) - Q2 18.50
GOAL! Tom Hawkins again! He has four. Is this a match-winning lead for the Cats? They are showing their characteristic fight. Simply, they play with a lot of confidence with three flags in five seasons.
Melbourne 6.3 (39) St Kilda 6.4 (40) - Q2 14.30
An even contest. The goal is also falling at the MCG but it doesn't even compare with the Gabba. Nathan Jones has 15 touches for the Demons with Magner and Moloney offering good support.
Brisbane Lions 0.5 (5) Geelong 5.3 (33) - Q2 7.35
GOAL! Selwood. Aren't they precious? Both goals tonight and the Selwood family! The Geelong skipper showed his class in a one-on-one contest deep in the forward pocket. He kept his feet, gathered possession and immediately snapped truly. Cats out by nearly five goals with 15 minutes left in the term.
Brisbane Lions 0.5 (5) Geelong 4.3 (27) - Q2 4.30
What will be a winning score under teeming rain at the Gabba? Eight goals? 10? The Cats already have four - including three to Hawkins - accrued under duress in the opening stanza. Daniel Rich and Tom Rockliff getting plenty of the ball thus far for the Lions.
QT: Melbourne 4.1 (25) St Kilda 5.4 (34)
Saints edge ahead at the break. Nick Dal Santo and Sam Fisher picking up posessions at will. Interestingly, Melbourne winning the contested possessions count to the break.
QT: Brisbane Lions 0.5 (5) Geelong 4.1 (25)
Extraordinarily wet conditions at the Gabba. Geelong has been smart with their ball use and are leading the way with their disposal efficiency. Hardened bodies - ala Joel Selwood and Paul Chapman - are going to love a night like this. Wet weather footy at its best.
Melbourne 4.1 (25) St Kilda 4.4 (28) - Q1 30.05
The dying stages of the opening stanza. Saints have fought back in this game. Former Eagle Beau Wilkes has snagged two goals after coming in as a late change.
Brisbane Lions 0.0 (0) Geelong 3.1 (19) - Q1 19.39
The rain is now even heavier! Believe it or not, Geelong's Tom Hawkins is the only goalscorer so far and the big man has also dragged down a couple of marks.
Melbourne 2.1 (13) St Kilda 1.2 (2) - Q1 17.50
St Kilda's Sam Fisher the leading possession winner with solid support from Dal Santo and Armitage.
Brisbane Lions 0.0 (0) Geelong 0.0 (0) - Q1 4.04
This score may not change for a while. It's teeming with rain at the Gabba and there's a film of water across the playing surface. Great to see the pre-match tributes to Simon Black for his 300th match. But he's starting the game on the bench!
Melbourne 2.0 (12) St Kilda 0.2 (2) - Q1 5.30
Demons gets the jump on Saints with goals to Matthew Bate and Brent Moloney.
FINAL: North Melbourne 17.25 (127) Gold Coast 13.15 (93)
A couple of late goals to the Suns reduces the damage. The Roos had a mammoth 42 scoring shots and could have enjoyed a big percentage boost.
The countdown is on to tonight's two key matches. Both Melbourne and St Kilda have made late changes at the MCG. Luke Tapscott is out for the Demons, replaced by James Frawley. And St Kilda has brought in Beau Wilkes for Jack Newnes. At the Gabba, James Polkinghorne has been replaced in Brisbane's team by Sam Sheldon for the clash against Geelong.
Brisbane: Jared Polec, Simon Black, Jack Crisp, Pat Karnezis (substitute)
Geelong: Josh Hunt, Mitch Duncan, Jesse Stringer, Billie Smedts (substitute)
Melbourne: Joel Macdonald, Jeremy Howe, James Magner, Colin Sylvia (substitute)
St Kilda: Joel Macdonald, Jeremy Howe, James Magner, Colin Sylvia (substitute)
North Melbourne 16.24 (120) Gold Coast 10.14 (74) - Q4 14.30
The zing is out of this game but the Roos are still pushing to the finish line. The disposal differential (in North Melbourne's favour) is fast approaching the 100 mark, a helpful indicator of the Roos' dominance. Most of that difference have been uncontested possessions with their superior ball movement on display. Less than nine minutes to play.
North Melbourne 15.22 (112) Gold Coast 10.13 (73) - Q4 4.05
Level pegging with contested possessions so far in the final quarter. North's dominance after half-time is shaping as the decisive and match-winning period in the match.
3QT - North Melbourne 14.22 (106) Gold Coast 10.12 (72)
Great term by the Kangas. The question was asked about the Coasters pulling off a mighty upset and the Roos reponded as a top eight aspirant should: six goals to one.
North Melbourne 14.20 (104) Gold Coast 10.10 (70) - Q3 25.55
Brad Scott can breathe easier now. The Kangas are safe but they shouldn't take their foot off the pedal. They have improved their disposal noticeably in this decisive quarter. Drew Petrie just experienced an 'eye-catching' moment. He marked strongly but copped a finger in the eye from an opponent that left teammates looking concerned. Another accidental impact injury in footy. Four minutes left in the term.
North Melbourne 13.19 (91) Gold Coast 9.9 (63) - Q3 17.40
The run is on. Kangas well back in control after the half-time scare. Five goals to one this quarter with the Roos extending their advantage in the contested possessions category. Less than nine minutes to play for the quarter.
North Melbourne 11.18 (84) Gold Coast 9.9 (63) - Q3 10.43
All North Melbourne so far this quarter. They are scoring from nearly every inside 50 opportunity. Poor kicking still a factor though - 3.5 to 0.1.
North Melbourne 10.14 (64) Gold Coast 9.9 (63) - Q3 6.54
Sounds like Brad Scott may have delivered a bake at the break. The Roos come out after half-time playing with more venom. The Coasters have still been competitive at the clearances but the Roos have managed to penetrate their inside 50 more frequently. It's a better game that most predicted pre-match.
ANALYSIS: There's little doubt North Melbourne should have capitalised on their first quarter dominance. Already then can rue their inaccuracy during that period. Gold Coast showed traits of an emerging footy team in the second term, grinding their way back into the contest, scoring seven goals in the quarter to snatch the lead. Harley Bennell had a great quarter while Kyal Horsley leads the possession count for the Suns with 14.
HT: North Melbourne 8.13 (61) Gold Coast 9.8 (62)
A great quarter by Gold Coast. Seven goals to four. They take the impetus into the second half, holding a slender one-point lead. Dermott Brereton on the telly raving about the game of Karmichael Hunt so far.
North Melbourne 8.12 (60) Gold Coast 9.8 (62) - Q2 28.28
After GC snatched the lead, the Roos responded with their first goal from a centre clearance as Lindsay Thomas kicked truly. But the Suns came again ..... David Swallow regained the lead. The fight is on. Less than four minutes to play in the half.
North Melbourne 7.12 (54) Gold Coast 8.8 (56) - Q2 23.25
The Coasters hit the front! Tom Lynch boots truly from a set shot. This game is alive.
North Melbourne 7.11 (53) Gold Coast 7.7 (49) - Q2 19.20
We've got the close one! The Coasters have scored five goals this quarter to narrow the gap. Gold Coast's disposal efficiency has improved rapidly in the last 10 minutes.
North Melbourne 5.10 (40) Gold Coast 4.5 (29) - Q2 5.20
The Suns are playing with plenty of spirit. Swallow leading the way against the odds as Gold Coast looks to find a way to win (somehow!!!) without Ablett and Rischitelli. We've already laboured on North's inaccuracy but poor kicking is .... wait for it ... poor footy.
In the first of today's four matches, the Western Bulldogs survived an early scare before securing back-to-back wins with a dogged 42-point win over Greater Western Sydney at Canberra's Manuka Oval. Read the full report HERE.
QT: North Melbourne 4.9 (33) Gold Coast 2.5 (17)
Thirteen scoring shots for the Roos. The Suns also inaccurate. Brent Harvey once again prolific with 10 possessions, while Anthony, MacMillan, Mullett and Firrito also getting their hands on the pill.
North Melbourne 3.8 (26) Gold Coast 2.3 (15) - Q1 25.10
The Kangaroos would rue this inaccuracy against most other opponents. Then again, they may still regret their wastefulness by later in the game. North Melbourne dominating the tackle count and using plenty of handball (31 more than Gold Coast thus far). Just a few minutes left in the term.
North Melbourne 2.5 (17) Gold Coast 1.3 (9) - Q1 18.10
The odds are really against the Suns with Gary Ablett (knee, not selected) and Michael Rischitelli (ankle, late withdrawal) out of the team. But they've started impressively and Swallow and Brennan accumulating early touches. Kangas inaccurate from the outset. Eight minutes left in the opening term.
North Melbourne 1.3 (9) Gold Coast 0.1 (1) - Q1 10.55
The Kangaroos opted for Ryan Bastinac, Ben Cunnington and Aaron Edwards to start on the bench with Levi Greenwood the substitute. For the Suns, Trent McKenzie, Josh Caddy and Maverick Weller are on the pine and Luke Russell is wearing the vest.
Details for today's first match:
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5 8.9 12.12 15.14 (104)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS 2.4 5.5 8.6 9.8 (62)
Goals: Western Bulldogs: A Cooney 2 L Dahlhaus 2 S Higgins 2 A Cordy J Grant J Sherman L Jones L Picken M Boyd M Wallis N Djerrkura R Griffen. Greater Western Sydney Giants: J Cameron 5 C Hampton 2 J Bruce T Adams.
Umpires: Stefan Grun, Matthew Leppard, Craig Fleer.
Official Crowd: 9,128 at Manuka Oval.
North Melbourne 1.2 (8) Gold Coast 0.0 (0) - Q1 7.10
Play should be frenetic under a closed roof at the Docklands. The Gold Coast was forced into one late change with Michael Rischitelli (ankle) replaced in the selected side Maverick Weller. That's big loss.
FINAL: Western Bulldogs 15.14 (104) Greater Western Sydney Giants 9.8 (62)
Despite not scoring a goal in the opening term and trailing by 11 points at quarter-time, the Bulldogs get the job done against the Giants in Canberra. More details very soon.
North Melbourne 1.0 (6) Gold Coast 0.0 (0) - Q1 2.00
GOAL. The Kangas get the early jump at Etihad Stadium. The ball ends with Hamish McIntosh in the square and he grabs the chance to snare a major.