Sport AFL AFL Round 5: Eddie rises to occasion as Crows, Carlton salute
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AFL Round 5: Eddie rises to occasion as Crows, Carlton salute

Adelaide's Eddie Betts doing what he does best against Gold Coast's Jesse Joyce on Sunday. Photo: Getty
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Sure Betts, for a timely lift

Eddie Betts marked his 300th AFL game in style by kicking six goals and helping Adelaide to a resounding 73-point win against Gold Coast on Sunday.

The Crows were languishing near the bottom of the table with only one win from four games before Sunday’s match, but the milestone was celebrated in style as Betts was chaired from Adelaide Oval on teammates’ shoulders after the win.

Betts, the sixth indigenous player to reach 300 AFL games, capped his milestone with a trademark freak goal – a 30-metre left-foot checkside from the boundary line in the last quarter.

Kudos also to Sydney’s Lance Franklin, who passed Essendon great Matthew Lloyd into seventh on the all-time AFL goalkicking list on 928.

And with three years left on his historic 10-year contract, ‘Buddy’ will gradually creep closer to the record established by Tony Lockett (1360).

Gordon Coventry (1299), Jason Dunstall (1254), Doug Wade (1057), Gary Ablett (1031) and Jack Titus (970) are the only players in VFL/AFL history to have kicked more.

Blues heaven

Jackson Macrae attempts to handball clear of Carlton captain Patrick Cripps. Photo: Getty

At the same end of the confidence spectrum, Carlton proved that persistence pays as it ended a 59-game drought to break the 100-point mark in its 44-point win over Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

The competition’s premier ball winner, Patrick Cripps, was best afield in Sunday’s 44-point routing of Western Bulldogs, a start-to-end performance that coach Brendon Bolton rightly labelled as mature.

“Last week was had to swallow because until the last 10 seconds we had the game,” Bolton said. “You could lose morale and sink but they were outstanding.

“At training, we had to slow them down from doing extras. And they got the result.”

Carlton fans among the 35,069-strong crowd were already celebrating, but Sam Walsh’s snap to get the Blues to the century just as the siren sounded enhanced the jubilation – not that Bolton was worried.

“Not fussed,” Bolton said. “I just care that we’re in front. It’s nourishment for our whole club, not just for our players.”

Saints on top

St Kilda trio Josh Bruce, Dean Kent and Matthew Parker enjoy a goal against Melbourne. Photo: AFL/Getty

If Hawthorn can topple Geelong at the MCG on Monday, St Kilda will be the standalone leader of the AFL after Round 5.

Who would have thought that possible?

Having finished 2018 in 16th position, coach Alan Richardson is starting to reap the rewards of the Saints’ potential finally being realised.

Richardson said his players had been determined to redeem themselves after the Saints managed just four wins last season.

“The fact we had such a disappointing year probably helped in some ways,” he said.

“Embarrassment, disappointment, I don’t know what it was, but they want to do something about it.

“They are a great group of lads. They are working really hard.”

Staying on top is another matter, particularly as the Saints will have to do without their inspirational skipper Jarryn Geary for at least a month after he underwent surgery to relieve pressure from a cork in his thigh.

Geary suffered the injury in the third quarter against Melbourne while laying a fierce bump on Demons opponent Jayden Hunt, preventing what would have been a certain goal.

Demons in hell

Confidence is a wonderful thing in football and 2018 beaten preliminary finalists Melbourne has next to none.

Nothing appears to be going right for the hapless Dees, whose game plan appears to be in disarray after expectations were high among the faithful that this could be the year to break their 55-year premiership drought.

Losses to Port Adelaide and Geelong in the first two rounds were seen as an aberration, which was seemingly corrected by a Round 3 win over Essendon at the MCG.

But subsequent losses to Sydney and St Kilda have cast a cloud over the team’s direction and coach Simon Goodwin.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin and his team are under fire after another loss. Photo: Getty

After being the AFL’s No.1 scoring team in 2018, it’s obvious the emphasis should be placed on defence and stemming the flow of goals.

Sydney (1-4) is in a similar predicament before it hosts Greater Western Sydney in a massive derby on Saturday night. But coach John Longmire is keeping faith.

“We’ve been in similar situations (0-6 in 2017) and been able to get ourselves going,” Longmire said.

“But it’s not just a matter of talking about it, it’s a matter of getting out there and doing it.

“There’s no question it’s a different team … it doesn’t change our belief we can turn it around.”

Good Friday for Port, bad one for West Coast, North

Collingwood’s credentials as the team to beat were confirmed as it smashed Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Thursday night, but Port Adelaide’s shock win over West Coast in Perth took the limelight off the Pies.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson is blaming the surface at its home ground for the latest injury that may have contributed to the premiers’ 42-point loss to Port Adelaide.

Defender Tom Barrass was a late withdrawal after succumbing to a foot injury, adding to numerous foot and lower leg injuries over the summer when training at the $1.6 billion stadium.

While indicating that a new venue may be found for training, Simpson said the ground was not to blame for his team’s inept display against Port.

In Melbourne, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is feeling the heat after lamenting his side’s “atrocious” ball use and inability to compete for the loose ball in the 58-point loss against Essendon.

Playing in front of a near-sellout home crowd at Marvel Stadium, North (1-4) was obliterated in the midfield and looked bereft of answers after the electrifying Bombers piled on five goals in 10 minutes during the second quarter.

Former North Melbourne great David King labelled the performance embarrassing, while dual-premiership teammate Corey McKernan tweeted the performance “is hard to watch”.

Scott, in his 10th season at the helm at Arden Street, urged North’s long-suffering fans to keep the faith.

“Now more than ever, we need people to rally around the players,” he said.

Tipping woes not improving

We mentioned last week about Kiss of Death leading the Herald Sun’s tipping competition, and the TAB confirmed the craziness that season 2019 has been.

Columnist Jon Anderson confirmed it in the Sunday Herald Sun by noting 50 per cent of favourites before Round 5 had been beaten, well above the average of 30 per cent and the 2018 average of 28.5 per cent.

Shock Round 5 results, such as Port’s win over West Coast, Carlton beating the Dogs and Fremantle overcoming the Giants would have done little to restore the faith in favourites.

So don’t feel too bad if you’re lagging behind in the work tipping competition.

No doubt your luck is about to turn.

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