Round 5 of the 2023 AFL season is officially in the record books and with it, the first edition of Gather Round hosted in South Australia.
The AFL was more than pleased with the reception for the inaugural event, with it to become a feature on footy calendars for the foreseeable future.
We officially have no more undefeated teams in season 2023 after St Kilda's loss on Sunday afternoon, while things down the other end of the ladder are producing plenty of storylines too. After a crazy weekend of football in Adelaide and surrounds, we are here to take a look at the winners and losers from Round 5.
Winner - South Australia
More than 200,000 fans headed through the gates throughout Gather Round, with South Australians, and fans from around the country, embracing the new event. With tickets sold out and Adelaide and its surrounds booming, plenty were getting in the ear of AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to get their share of the Gather Round pie.
Sydney are reportedly keen to host to grow the game, while Perth, with Optus Stadium as a major selling point, are also undoubtedly interested in bringing the round out west. The AFL announced late on Sunday that Gather Round will remain in South Australia until at least 2026, with the state government interested in hosting games in the Barossa Valley.
There will be plenty of interest in snagging the event once the current deal expires, but now set to host Gather Round for another three years after a mammoth inaugural event, the state of South Australia is the clear winner from Round 5.
Loser - Most other states
With the announcement of Gather Round staying in SA for the next three years there were some obvious losers from the decision.
Both Western Australia and New South Wales were seen to be in some level of contention for this year's festival of football, and now find themselves without a shout until at least 2027.
Queensland are unlikely to claim the hosting rights for some time given the incoming redevelopment plans for the Gabba, which could rule the Brisbane venue out of action for when Gather Round is next up for grabs.
Tasmania, who are likely to have a team in the competition by 2027, may find themselves in contention should a license fall their way, however the addition of a 19th team is sure to cause some headaches when the AFL is forced to leave one club back home while the other 18 venture to the same state.
Winner - Will Brodie
After failing to get a big enough chance at senior level across five years with the Suns, Will Brodie pieced together a dominant campaign in purple last year to finish 2022 as arguably the competition's best recruit of the year.
He was dropped for Rounds 3 and 4 and in his return was named as the sub, before putting in a performance to remind Justin Longmuir of his place in the side.
And what a way to claim your first win over your old side, with Brodie injected into Friday afternoon's clash at The Parade to be the difference maker by the final siren.
The former Suns midfielder would tally 16 possessions, six clearances, five inside 50s and five score involvements in just 48 % time on ground to lift Fremantle to their second win of the year.
Can we just take a second to appreciate Brodie taking out 2 x suns with minimal candy https://t.co/F7GLtFlrUj
— Dylan McEvoy (@DylanMcEvoy) April 15, 2023
Loser - Gold Coast Suns
Gold Coast are heading into their Round 6 clash against North Melbourne with a 1-4 record, with their lone win coming against Geelong in Round 3. Early losses against Sydney (49 points) and St Kilda (53 points) have caused plenty of alarm bells to be rung. Despite having talent on the list, with the likes of Touk Miller, Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell, among others, performing admirably, the Suns' future after five rounds doesn't look promising.
This is season 13 in the AFL for the Suns, who are yet to feature in a finals series, and look set to continue that streak this season. With matches to come against North Melbourne, Richmond, Melbourne and West Coast, the pressure is now on for the Suns to prove that they can be more than a club yet to win more than ten games in a season.
Despite hope throughout the pre-season that this could be the best version we have seen of the club yet, Gold Coast are yet to deliver on any of those promises. The side looks stuck, uninspiring, and in desperate need of some drastic on-field improvement or the sun may set on Stuart Dew's time at the club.
Winners - the 'lids-off' brigade
The 2023 season has thrown up plenty of surprises five weeks in, with few predicting St Kilda and Essendon would be sitting first and second on the ladder after strong opening months.
The Bombers had plenty of doubters heading into their first season under Brad Scott, but seemed to quiet some of those after a comprehensive win over Melbourne on Saturday, a strong scalp against a team considered a premiership contender.
Essendon are now heading into Anzac Day with a 4-1 record and sitting second on the ladder, with the prospect of finals now not just sitting on the tip of supporters tongues, but feeling tangible. A big test awaits against Collingwood, win that, and the lid will be well and truly off.
St Kilda still sit atop the ladder and while they may have been handed their first loss of the season, they still proved that they have what it takes to push contenders all the way to the final siren. While it would have been nicer to fly home with the four points, the Saints wouldn't have lost too many admirers in their six-point twilight loss, now facing Carlton as their next test to potentially go 5-1.
Loser - Dangerous tackles
After Will Day and Gary Rohan were both cited and banned for their tackles in Round 4, the MRO had sent a clear message that the league wasn't going light on head trauma. Yet as another Monday rolls around, there are yet again more players set to come under MRO scrutiny for their actions on the weekend.
Zach Merrett has already been handed a one-match ban after Essendon's win on Saturday, while Taylor Adams should attract attention from the MRO for his tackle on St Kilda's Seb Ross. Both the MRO and tribunal have been busy this season, with this week not set to be any different with these actions continuing to happen.
Winner - Harry Himmelberg
The Giants claimed the four points in a tense finish at Norwood Oval on Sunday afternoon, with Harry Himmelberg emerging as the unlikely hero in the final minutes.
Himmelberg had a busy last few minutes, taking a spectacular mark, kicking the goal to put the Giants in front, and then making a save on the goal line to prevent Hawthorn from taking the lead. In an afternoon that saw Himmelberg claim 12 disposals, three marks and two goals, the 26-year-old proved his worth as a swingman the Giants can count on when the pressure is on.