The Anzac Day round of matches begins with a belter at the MCG, where the Crows go toe-to-toe with the premiers, Hawthorn on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, the Swans will look to add to their impressive record against the West Coast at the SCG while later games feature the Suns up against the only undefeated team in the AFL; North Melbourne.
The Western Bulldogs face a buoyant Brisbane Lions later on Saturday at Etihad Stadium, then Geelong saddles up to play the Power in Adelaide. On Sunday, the Saints and Giants meet in Melbourne, the two teams without a win in 2016; Freo and Carlton face-off in Perth before the Dees and Tigers play the penultimate match of Round 5.
The traditional Anzac Day blockbuster between Essendon and Collingwood is the highlight of the season so far. Even though both the Pies and Dons are battling to find form, this clash rarely disappoints.
Friday, April 22, 7:50 pm (AEST) @ MCG
Both the Hawks and Crows have posted three consecutive wins after losing their opening round matches. Last weekend, the Crows burst the previously undefeated Swans’ bubble at the Adelaide Oval. A brace of goals by the Crows’ Eddie Betts stymied any hope Sydney had of keeping their unbeaten run alive.
Hawthorn was expected to make light work of the battling Saints at the MCG; however Nick Riewoldt’s men showed some fight and tenacity in the Hawks’ three-point win. Despite losing in key statistical areas such as disposals (410-370), contested possessions (152-139) and marks inside 50 (12-9) Hawthorn, like they so often do, just found a way to win.
Josh Gibson and Bradley Hill come into the Hawks' team. Adelaide has named Charlie Cameron to replace the injured Wayne Milera.
Saturday, April 23, 1:40 pm (AEST) @ SCG
The Swans and Eagles have developed a healthy rivalry since the 2005 and 2006 grand finals and both teams are enjoying strong starts to 2016, with three wins from the first four rounds.
There is a raft of positives for the Swans despite losing their first match of the season on the weekend; they are third on percentages, they have an excellent record against West Coast and star forward Buddy Franklin has begun the year beautifully, kicking four goals in each of his last four games.
Since losing the grand final rematch to Hawthorn, the Eagles have posted impressive wins over Freo and Richmond on home soil. The big challenge for West Coast this season though, is how they play away from Domain Stadium.
Callum Sinclair and George Hewett have been included by Sydney coach John Longmire, while Matt Priddis, Sharrod Wellingham and Fraser McInnes are welcome additions for the Eagles.
Saturday, April 23, 4:35 pm (AEST) @ Metricon Stadium
Last week this match had the potential to feature the only two undefeated teams in the AFL, but alas the Suns were upset by lowly Lions at the Gabba. Gold Coast’s loss last week ended the club’s second best winning streak (they achieved five in succession in 2014).
The Kangaroos upheld their perfect start to 2016 by beating round four opponents, the Dockers by 31 points. Inspirational veteran Brent ‘Boomer’ Harvey has led the way in victories over Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Fremantle. North start favourites to add the Suns (and the fifth city) to their list of victims in 2016.
The Gold Coast have made a few changes including one forced, after Steven May's hefty suspension. Trent McKenzie, Peter Wright, Jarrad Grant, Daniel Currie and Luke Russell have all been added for the Suns. The Kangaroos are unchanged.
Saturday, April 23, 7:40 pm (AEST) @ Adelaide Oval
The grand finalists from nine years ago saddle up at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. While the Power is struggling to match the expectations of fans so far in 2016, the Cats are exceeding them.
One of the most intriguing points in this match will be how Brownlow Medal favourite and star Geelong recruit Patrick Dangerfield performs on his return to Adelaide Oval and how Port’s star midfielder Robbie Gray performs after an excellent individual start to the year.
Last week, the Power were humiliated against the Giants in Canberra – that 86-point shellacking handed GWS the club’s biggest ever AFL win. Geelong, on the other hand, performed admirably in their dismantling of Essendon.
Port has omitted Brendon Ah Chee and Jared Polec for Cam O'Shea and Paul Stewart. Corey Enright is a big addition for Geelong coach Chris Scott, who has also included Shane Kersten and Lincoln McCarthy
Monday, April 25, 3:21 pm (AEST) @ MCG
Both the Pies and Bombers are battling to find form. With only two wins between them to start the 2016 season, they will both be as eager as ever to get perhaps the most meaningful regular season win on the board. The traditional Anzac Day clash regularly features crowds of 90,000+ and this year shouldn’t be any different, despite where Collingwood and Essendon sit on the ladder after four rounds.
Last week, the Pies mumbled and fumbled their way to a loss against the struggling Demons, while the Bombers were brave in their 30-point loss to Geelong. Even without 12 of their top-line players, the Dons showed a lot of guts and determination against Geelong, even snatching the lead at one stage during the third quarter.
Jack Frost and Mason Cox will start for the Pies while Brayden Maynard and Josh Smith are part of an extended bench. Courtenay Dempsey, Ryan Crowley, Jonathan Simpkin and Sam Grimley make up an extended Bombers bench.