Mongrel of the Year 2019- Round 5

This year, we at the Mongrel Punt have decided to create our own award, to celebrate football the way we see it. As much as we love watching the best midfielders go about it, we derive just as much pleasure from watching a ruckman dominate a game, or a defender playing their role to perfection, or, apparently controversially, a tagger shutting down their opposition number. Each week, those of us writing match reviews for the Mongrel site hand out votes on a 3-2-1 basis, though that is largely where the similarities to the Brownlow end, as we want the role-players to poll just as well as the stars. With that in mind, here are the Mongrel’s votes from a huge Easter weekend

Brisbane v Collingwood

3 Adam Treloar (Collingwood)

2 Brody Mihocek (Collingwood)

1 Jaidyn Stephenson (Collingwood)

In what turned out to be a fairly comfortable win for the Pies, Adam Treloar was enormous, especially when the game was there to be won in the first half. Finished the game with 35 touches at 80% efficiency, with three direct goal assists in amongst his 12 score involvements. He was clearly the best midfielder on the ground, whilst also managing to limit Lachie Neale’s impact, playing as what his coach described as his side’s “best tagger”.

Brody Mihocek continues to be arguably Collingwood’s most important and underrated forward, with his ability to work up the ground freeing up space for the smaller men, while also managing to impact the scoreboard. Kicked 4.2, but also had 12 score involvements, highlighting his influence.

Finally, Jaidyn Stephenson may not have started the year in the same vein of form he was in throughout the large part of 2018, but he was excellent against the Lions, with 2.1 and another 3 goal assists among his 10 score involvements. He took 7 of his 9 marks inside 50, and if he does manage to get back to the heights of last year, this Collingwood forward line will trouble plenty of other sides. On a night where few Lions shone, there were a number of other Pies who could have received votes, though these three seem to be the most deserving.

North Melbourne v Essendon

3 Zac Merrett (Essendon)

2 Dylan Shiel (Essendon)

1 Orazio Fantasia (Essendon)

I’ll be honest, I tossed and turned over these votes for longer than I probably should have, given there were probably five players on the ground, all of whom were in red and black, deserving of three votes. Those are the three players listed here, as well as Dyson Heppell, who I thought was absolutely outstanding and was desperately unlucky not to receive a vote, and Michael Hurley, who probably has a claim on an All-Australian spot as it currently stands and completely blanketed Jack Ziebell on the night.

In saying that, nothing should be taken away from these three gentlemen, who were excellent. Merrett and Shiel were outstanding, the former’s statline reading 39 touches (16 contested), 12 score involvements, seven clearances and nine tackles, and the latter’s 36 touches and 10 inside 50’s, with his 11 score involvements includingfour4 direct goal assists. Of course, it isn’t all about stats, but the pair lifted in the back half of the second quarter, when Essendon got their run on, and carried that form into the third quarter when the Bombers iced the game. Orazio was arguably best on ground at half time, with his first three goals all coming when the contest was there to be won, and he finished the night with four goals from 18 touches.

West Coast v Port Adelaide

3 Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)

2 Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide)

1 Brad Sheppard (West Coast)

It’s been a long time coming for Travis Boak’s recognition to come in this column, but when it has come for the former Port skipper, it came in what is arguably as good a win as any in the Hinkley era. While other Power players may have racked up more of the ball than him, very few go as hard as he does, and 13 of his 23 touches came from the contest, and 15 of those possessions came in the first half with the game on the line. Eight clearances and four inside 50’s make for good reading in a game that was played in the wet for the majority, while he also ran at 78% efficiency on the night.

Likewise, Powell-Pepper may not have dominated in terms of stats but he certainly stood up in the first half, when the game was there to be won. Finished with 19 touches, nine of which were contested, in only about two-thirds of game time, but still managed 513m gained and five score involvements. An honourable mention, too, to Ollie Wines, who did manage to rack up an equal-career high in disposals, while also ramming home an important co-captain’s goal.

For the Eagles, it was a fairly dismal night, although Hurn and Gaff were both decent. Votes, however, for the second week in a row, to Brad Sheppard, whose 26 touches included nine intercepts and went at 81%, which is a downgrade on last week though still impressive in slippery conditions. Sheppard probably flies under the radar a little bit, given both the prowess of Hurn and McGovern down back and the fact that he missed the Grand Final, but he’s been as good as any Eagle so far this season.

GWS v Fremantle

3 Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)

2 Brandon Matera (Fremantle)

1 Matt Taberner (Fremantle)

In what was a seminal win for the Fremantle Football Club, who else would you expect to see at the top of the heap but their captain. Was excellent against the Giants, with his 31 touches including 18 contested and 13 clearances. It’s not necessarily a stretch to suggest that the Dockers would have won the Derby last week and subsequently would be top of the ladder as it currently stands, such is his class.

Up forward was where the Dockers won this game though, managing 100 points for the second time this year, and that was in large part attributable to the class of the former Sun Matera, who kicked a goal in each quarter, each coming at a critical juncture of the game, to get his side home. A handy pick up, Matera, who flies under the radar a little but has been more than serviceable when he’s been able to get on the park.

It could have been an absolute day out for Matt Taberner today, if he’d
managed to finish with just a little more class than he did. Ultimately, though, he and Jesse Hogan ruled the airways on the day, taking 27 marks between them, with the former just edging the latter for his 3.3 and seven marks inside 50. There will be very few players more stiff not to receive votes this weekend than Michael Walters, whose 25 touches included 3.1 and 13 score involvements. Continues to be massively underrated this side of the Nullarbor. For the Giants, despite being beaten on the day, Lachie Whitfield and Steven Coniglio both had good days out and could potentially have snuck in here.

Melbourne v St Kilda

3 Tim Membrey (St Kilda)

2 Jarryn Geary (St Kilda)

1 Shane Savage (St Kilda)

The rampaging Saints’ win on Saturday propelled them temporarily into top spot, in case you somehow missed it, and in large part this was due to the return to form of Tim Membrey, who probably by his own admission didn’t have the best season in 2018. Against the Demons, though, he was superb, with three of his four goals coming in the first half to set up the win for his side. Adding to that scoreboard impact, he managed four contested marks out of his eight for the day, and four tackles which is impressive for a key forward. Make no mistake, Membrey was the reason the Saints won this game, exploiting an undermanned (in part by choice) Demons defence.

Down back for the Saints, the captain Geary and former Hawk Savage provided outstanding drive and resolute defence. The former has flown under the radar a bit, and he may not have been the most obvious choice as skipper once Nick Riewoldt retired, but he has received plenty of rightful praise from this site for his leadership. On Saturday he put his body on the line for his club, requiring surgery on a corked thigh, but with ball in hand he was excellent too, with 22 touches at 77%. Geary isn’t the kind of player you’d want in your Supercoach side, but out on the field there aren’t too many in the AFL you’d rather have leading you into battle. Savage, meanwhile, was superb, with his 27 touches coming at 89%. With seven marks and seven rebound 50’s across half back, it was a day out.

There are probably three or four Saints stiff to miss out here, with Jack Billings and Dean Kent both outstanding on the day among others, while for the Dees you could have made the case for a few at half time, such as Brayshaw or Preuss, before the entire side fell away late.

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Richmond v Sydney

3 Shane Edwards (Richmond)

2 Dion Prestia (Richmond)

1 Dustin Martin (Richmond)

It was a return to the Richmond of old against the Swans, with pressure being a key feature, and it was also a return to form of All-Australian Shane Edwards, who has probably been a little down on his form of previous years, though he’s not necessarily the only one wearing yellow and black about whom that could be said. He was more than handy against the Swans, with 26 touches in the first three quarters when the game was on the line before dropping off in the last once the game was essentially over. Ran at 75% efficiency on the night, and I don’t reckon there are too many Tigers Damien Hardwick would rather see the ball in the hands of than this man.

Prestia is another player who has needed to lift in the absence of Richmond’s other on-ball stars, either through form or injury, and left he did against Sydney, with 15 contested touches out of his 32 on the night, including 10 score involvements and three direct goal assists. He’s a player who can be a bit hit-or-miss with ball in hand, but he went at 71% efficiency on the night, which is probably good enough, and he showed that when this side welcomes Cotchin back, they’re still going to be there or thereabouts.

Speaking of out of form on-ballers, there was plenty of media conjecture surrounding Dusty prior to, and following, his suspension. He had looked at times disinterested, hadn’t laid a tackle in the first two rounds and hadn’t kicked a goal before his mandatory week off. Against the Swans it was a return to form, though, with 3.2 and 25 touches (16 contested). It may not have been his best game ever, but in the context of this season it shapes as critical. If the Tigers can get this kind of production from Martin most weeks, they’ll likely win enough games to finish top four, and then all bets are off.

For the Swans, seven players had 29 touches or more, with Jake Lloyd chief among them with 37, but no player really managed to impact the game enough to be considered for votes. The scoreline probably flattered them in the end, and while their midfielders are more than handy, it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, John Longmire makes for their game against GWS this weekend.

Western Bulldogs v Carlton

3 Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton)

2 Harry McKay (Carlton)

1 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

What a win for the Blues! These three were instrumental in getting Brendon Bolton’s side their first win in 267 days, as well as getting them to a three-digit score for the first time since July 2016. It would be hard to argue against any of these players receiving votes. Petrevski-Seton had a breakout game, a blinder by any standards, with 35 touches at 88% including 15 contested, a goal and 6 score involvements to go with seven clearances and four inside 50’s. He was one of the “green shoots” under a little bit of pressure to stand up but, in his 47th game, he put on a display that might be hard to top for the rest of his career.

Meanwhile, Harry McKay continues to be a contested marking beast up forward for Carlton. He added five among his 11 marks against the Dogs, to take his season tally to a league-leading 22. Kicked 4.3 as well amongst 10 score involvements, and had a day out against an undersized back line, but Sunday may indeed loom as the day we first saw the best of McKay.

In contrast to the preceding two, Patrick Cripps hasn’t burst onto the scene this year. He has been a genuine bull for years now, in a side giving him very little support. He may even be a little unlucky to only have received one vote for his efforts on the weekend, and the fact he has just two votes for the year so far shows how far off the pace Carlton have been so far. Had 37 (16 contested) at 83%, with 11 clearances. Arguably misses out on higher honours due to having just 5 kicks and one inside 50, but Sunday was just a continuation of a brilliant year so far for the Carlton captain, who leads the league in contested possessions. While there are only a few Dogs players who could hold their head high after their efforts, a number of Carlton players could have also been considered for votes here, including Liam Jones, for limiting Aaron Naughton to just five touches and two marks.

Adelaide v Gold Coast

3 Brodie Smith (Adelaide)

2 Rory Sloane (Adelaide)

1 Alex Keath (Adelaide)

No votes for Eddie! A travesty. However, digging a little deeper, these three players were excellent in getting the Crows a much-needed win. Brodie Smith is probably underrated due to the fact he doesn’t play in Victoria, but Adelaide certainly felt his absence last season. He was excellent against the Suns, with 27 touches at 85% for 674 metres gained. Add in eight score involvements and 2.1 and it was a great day out for the 2014 All-Australian.

The Crows newly appointed co-captain was also outstanding, in a midfield that ran amok, as he and the Crouch brothers had 104 touches between them. Ultimately, though, Sloane gets the nod, with 20 of his 32 touches coming from the contest, and with seven clearances and six tackles, he was the stand out performer. If Adelaide are to get a roll on this season and play finals, you’d imagine Sloane would be a big part of that, with his hard-headed leadership a key factor.

After Tom Doedee went down, Adelaide’s backline looked like it may have struggled for a tall, intercept marking type. However, Alex Keath has made the role his own, with a vote for the second consecutive week. Had 18 touches, 12 of which came from intercepts, as the Crows defenders managed to repel any attacks that came in from the Suns. Plenty of other Adelaide players could have been considered, but the Suns were beaten by far too much for any of their players to be in the conversation.

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Hawthorn v Geelong

3 Joel Selwood (Geelong)

2 Gary Ablett (Geelong)

1 Ricky Henderson (Hawthorn)

The Mongrel himself, HB, said in the lead to this game he couldn’t remember Joel Selwood having a bad game against the Hawks. He certainly didn’t break his duck on Easter Monday, with his first big possession game of the year coming when his side most needed it. Finished with 32 touches, of which 12 came in the third quarter, when Geelong really set up their win, kicking five goals. Had eight clearances and five tackles as well, in an inspiring display of leadership to propel the Cats to the top of the ladder against their arch enemies.

My dad texted me halfway through the second quarter saying that Gary Ablett Junior thought he was Gary Ablett Senior today. How good was it to see him flying for marks, kicking goals and even laying two tackles? There’s a bit of a knock on Gary now, that he can be a bit lazy and look for the cheap possessions, but he wound back the clock against the Hawks, with three important goals amid 11 score involvements and eight inside 50’s. If he keeps this kind of form up, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see him add a 9th All-Australian jumper come season’s end.

It’s hard to believe Ricky Henderson was delisted by Adelaide but, as they so often do, Hawthorn have taken another team’s trash and turned it into their treasure. And while it would have been hard to imagine him having a better game than he managed against the Dogs in Round 2, he did it on Monday against the Cats, with a game-high 33 touches to go with 2.1 and 10 score involvements. At times, it looked like Geelong simply had no answer to his outside run, as he found the footy at will and used it well too, running at 78% for the day. If Hawthorn had managed to get up, Henderson would have been a big factor as to why, as he continues his good year. A few players were unlucky to miss out here: for the Cats, Kelly, Dangerfield and Dahlhaus all had significant days out, while Gary Rohan managed to impact the scoreboard from minimal disposals; while for the Hawks, McEvoy was outstanding in the first half before fading a little, and Worpel and O’Meara were serviceable in midfield.

LEADERBOARD

1. Patrick Dangerfield (6)

1. Josh P. Kennedy (6)

1. Lachie Neale (6)

4. Travis Boak (5)

4. Marcus Bontempelli (5)

4. Shaun Higgins (5)

4. Zac Merrett (5)

4. Brody Mihocek (5)

No change at the top for the second straight week, as Kennedy, Dangerfield and Neale didn’t manage to poll. Three new players join Bontempelli and Higgins on 5 votes though, just a vote back from the leaders. Travis Boak continued his wonderful season so far against the Eagles on Good Friday, while Merrett’s last two weeks have seen him catapult up the leaderboard after a meagre start to the season. The surprise packet, however, comes in the form of Mihocek, who as mentioned above has become arguably his side’s most important forward

 

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