Round five produced the unexpected with an undefeated team losing to a winless side, a premiership contender silencing doubt around its history at the MCG, and several games keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

Here are the biggest talking points from every game of round five.

1. Brisbane finally get a home-and-away win at the MCG

No matter how well the Brisbane Lions have played over the past few years, the lingering doubt over the inability to win at the MCG has haunted them.

Despite defeating the Demons at the ‘G in a 2022 semi-final, the Lions still had not recorded a home-and-away win there since 2014.

Cam Rayner of the Lions (right) celebrates after teammate Eric Hipwood during Brisbane’s win at the MCG.(AAP: James Ross)

Staring down the barrel of a 1-4 start to the season, the Lions smothered Melbourne on Thursday night in what was easily their best performance through five rounds.

While the focus was on two-time Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale in his 250th game, it was Cam Rayner who got plenty of the plaudits. 

Moved into the midfield from the start of the contest, Rayner’s work from stoppages gave Brisbane platforms to launch attacks into the forward 50. 

He had nine clearances for the match, a career-high, with six of them coming in the first term.

He combined that with 25 disposals, four tackles and two goal assists to produce a starring performance.

It would be hard for Brisbane coach Chris Fagen not to keep Rayner in the middle this Saturday against the Cats, but the suspension of Charlie Cameron may force him to keep Rayner forward.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Cam Rayner (Brisbane)

2. Josh Dunkley (Brisbane)

1. Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane)

2. Good dogs, bad Dogs

The Western Bulldogs have two wins and three losses this season — reflective of their inconsistency.

Marcus Bontempelli and the Bulldogs look dejected after defeat to Essendon.(AFL Photos via Getty Images: Michae Wilson)

Coming off a valiant loss to Geelong in Gather Round where they matched it with one of the season’s early pace setters, the Bulldogs were expected to beat an Essendon side that had won nine of their last 10 against.

But their frailties — which have been coupled with patches of excellence in 2024 — were on display at Docklands.

They were well beaten in the stoppage, losing out 27-35 in clearances against the Bombers. They lost hit-outs 35-23, while conceding 44 points from stoppage.

Set shots were another area in need of improvement, with the Bulldogs creating too many opportunities to only come away with 9.13.

Luke Beveridge, under fire for some interesting team selection and tactical decisions, needs a quick turnaround ahead of their clash with St Kilda on Thursday night.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Sam Durham (Essendon)

2. Kyle Langford (Essendon)

1. Zach Merrett (Essendon)

3. Giants count the cost of victory

At one point in the final quarter, GWS held a 35-point lead over St Kilda.

They had been brilliant all day but nearly let it slip as the Saints kicked six-straight goals to come within a point of the ladder leaders.

Stephen Coniglio of the Giants is carried off the ground during the round five AFL match against St Kilda.(Getty Images: Morgan Hancock)

GWS looked stuck in the mud in the final minutes and much of it was understandable.

The Giants had to activate their sub in the first quarter after fullback Sam Taylor was left motionless following a head collision with St Kilda’s Jack Steele.

Stephen Coniglio was then carried off the field with the best part of 12 minutes remaining in the final quarter — while the Giants still held a 28-point lead.

He is expected to miss two weeks with an MCL injury.

Josh Kelly also spent time on the bench in the final quarter with a rib issue, although was able to return.

Coach Adam Kingsley may be missing some star power but will be hoping to have Callan Ward available, who has not played since Opening Round against Collingwood.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Rowan Marshall (Saints)

2. Lachie Whitfield (Giants)

1. Lachie Ash (Giants)

4. Carlton finally lose a close one

Adelaide managed to finally break its duck in 2024 with a scintillating comeback win over the previously undefeated Carlton at Docklands.

The Crows looked gone for all money when the Blues led by 16 points with less than 10 minutes to go, before closing out the game with three straight majors, including Sam Berry’s winner inside the final two minutes. 

After being masters of close games in the last 12 months, Michael Voss will be ruing a bunch of missed opportunities from his players in their attempts to close this one out. 

Patrick Cripps and Carlton could rue their late collapse against Adelaide as they prepare to face a gruelling month of football.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Voss will be particularly perturbed by the defensive miscommunication that led to Brayden Cook’s goal in the final quarter. 

A hack kick inside 50 by Adelaide looked sure to be intercepted before two Carlton defenders got their wires crossed, allowing the Crows to centre the ball to Cook, who took a mark and duly slotted a goal to give his side hope.

While Carlton is currently sitting pretty with a 4-1 record after five matches, dropping this one may be something that hurts them down the line as they prepare to run through the gauntlet of matches against the Giants, Cats, Magpies and Demons over the next four weeks.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Sam Walsh (Blues)

2. Taylor Walker (Crows)

1. Izak Rankine (Crows)

5. Fremantle cruelled by another late collapse

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir must be wondering just what his side has to do to close out a nailbiter.

Longmuir’s Dockers were mighty impressive for the second time in two weeks against a fellow finals contender, only to come away with zero premiership points.

Andrew Brayshaw looked to have sealed the four points for the Dockers when his final quarter goal extended Freo’s lead to nine points with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. 

Justin Longmuir’s Fremantle side has coughed up late leads in the last two weeks.(AAP: Michael Errey)

Fremantle seemed set to secure the upset win when they still led by two kicks inside the final five minutes, before copping goals to Charlie Dixon and Jason Horne-Francis in a matter of minutes to steal defeat from the jaws of victory. 

It’s one thing being competitive against some of the more talented teams in the competition, but it’s an entirely other thing being able to close them out when victory is in sight.

That step seems to be a little too far beyond Longmuir’s young Fremantle side, and it’s soured what would’ve otherwise been a very positive start to the season.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Ollie Wines (Power)

2. Caleb Serong (Dockers) 

1. Ivan Soldo (Power)

6. Suns showcase ruthless side in demolition job of Hawks

Damien Hardwick has ushered in a ruthless era at the Gold Coast after arriving at the perennial battlers.

Hardwick rung the changes after two straight losses and was rewarded with a complete performance from his charges. 

The Suns kicked the first three goals of this contest and never looked back, even as the Hawks managed to somehow stay in the match in the first half. 

Matt Rowell and the Gold Coast Suns flexed their muscles against Jack Ginnivan’s Hawthorn side on Saturday night(AAP: Jason O’Brien)

Gold Coast has been blessed with an abundance of top picks over the last half decade and the kids are finally starting to take over as they become bona fide stars of the competition.

The Suns’ new-found star power was on full display against the winless Hawks, as the top two picks from the 2019 draft, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson, ran riot, while the number six pick from the 2018 draft, Ben King, briefly threatened to outscore the Hawks by himself. 

Having amassed a host of young stars through the draft in recent years, there can be no excuses for Hardwick’s men this season. The assignment is simple: it’s finals or bust. 

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Noah Anderson (Suns)

2. Mac Andrew (Suns)

1. Touk Miller (Suns)

7. Big Cat rests as Roos’ struggles continue

In a weekend of surprises, Geelong offered nothing to those hoping for another upset.

North Melbourne young gun Colby McKercher was taken to hospital during the Kangaroos’ loss to Geelong.(AFL Photos via Getty Images:  Michael Willson)

The Cats remained undefeated with a 75-point victory over the winless Kangaroos.

And they did it without Tom Hawkins, who was left out of the side as part of workload management, according to the club.

There was also no urgency to try to rush Patrick Dangerfield into the line-up on Sunday.

That is a luxury for coach Chris Scott, who knows his ambitions of a second flag in three years could hinge on the fitness of his superstars at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, the Kangaroos remain winless and may be sweating on the fitness of last year’s number two draft pick, Colby McKercher.

McKercher injured his ribs after coming together with Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron.

The hit was forceful enough for the 19-year-old to be taken to hospital for assessment.

It is another concern for coach Alastair Clarkson, who watched his side concede points too easily on Sunday afternoon.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)

2. Max Holmes (Geelong)

1. Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne)

8. Old heads help Eagles open account

West Coast finally won its first game of the 2024 season with a convincing performance against a Richmond side that was severely undermanned. 

While much of the talk surrounding anything Eagles this season has been centred around last year’s number one pick Harley Reid, it was some of his more experienced teammates who spearheaded this win. 

Elliot Yeo’s career has been ravaged by injuries in the last four seasons, but the 30-year-old turned in a vintage performance to help the Eagles gain the ascendancy.

Elliot Yeo was at his absolute best in the clinches as West Coast opened its account with an impressive win over Richmond.(AAP: Gary Day)

Yeo was once one of the AFL’s most dominant clearance players, and wound back the clock against a young Tigers on-ball brigade, racking up 15 clearances in the win. 

The two-time All-Australian combined well in the middle with Tim Kelly (29 disposals) and Reid, who was electric right from the outset in a much-heralded match-up with Richmond star Dustin Martin. 

The Eagles were mighty impressive in a loss to Sydney last week, and the positive momentum from this victory comes at the best possible time for Adam Simpson’s charges with next weekend’s derby against Fremantle looming.

ABC player of the year votes:

3. Elliot Yeo (West Coast)

2. Jake Waterman (West Coast)

1. Harley Reid (West Coast)