Rounds 1 & 2 Mongrel Votes
It’s back. The Mongrel of the Year award returns for another season, like none we’ve seen before. The format of the award has changed a little this year, however. Unlike last year, when we followed a Brownlow style voting system, the Mongrel Award this year will award votes on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis. The criteria remain the same; votes should be awarded based on a player’s impact on the contest, rather than purely on disposals. This should mean that the award goes to the most influential player, rather than the most prolific. Last year, Patrick Dangerfield won the award, narrowly beating out Marcus Bontempelli and the fast-starting Travis Boak. This year, with more room for flexibility in the votes, the result might well be even tighter.
Due to pandemic related delays, this article will wrap up the votes from the first two rounds of the year, and a follow up on rounds 3 & 4 will follow close behind. Without much more from me, here are the Mongrel team’s votes from the first two rounds of 2020.
Richmond v Carlton
5 Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
Key Stats: Kept Tom Lynch to 9 touches, 0 marks and 0.1. Had 12 touches and a game high 10 one percenters of his own. Clearly the best performed backman on a night where Richmond were pretty efficient going forward.
4 Dion Prestia (Richmond)
Key Stats: A team-high 25 touches weren’t the only factor in the ex-Sun’s placing as the best Tiger on the ground, but it certainly helped. His five tackles were an equal game high, while his nine inside 50’s were an outright game high. No Tiger gained more metres than his 546, and he also booted a goal and had two direct goal assists as part of eight score involvements.
3 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Key Stats: Played, as ever, what was effectively a lone hand in midfield. 10 clearances were a game high, as were his 31 disposals and 17 contested possessions. Only Jack Martin had more score involvements than his nine, as he consistently kept Carlton marching forward.
2 Dustin Martin (Richmond)
Key Stats: Fresh off a second Norm Smith Medal, Dusty may not have had his best game in yellow and black, but it was still a fairly handy one. Only Prestia had more than his 24 touches for the Tigers, while he also booted a goal, and directly assisted two others as part of eight score involvements. Sent the Tigers forward four times as well.
1 Jack Martin (Carlton)
Key Stats: In his first game in Navy Blue, showed his prodigious talent. 10 score involvements were a game high, out of 21 scores for Carlton on the night. No player kicked more than his four goals, all of which came in the third quarter when David Teague’s side finally switched on.
Unlucky to miss: Sam Docherty, in his first game since 2017, was more than serviceable, with 26 touches and a game high nine rebounds. David Astbury managed to restrict Mitch McGovern handily, while Shane Edwards was, as ever, effective with ball in hand, turning 15 touches into eight score involvements.
Western Bulldogs v Collingwood
5 Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
Key Stats: Continued on his way to becoming arguably the best player in the competition, brutalising Tim English. Of his 19 touches, only Taylor Adams had more than the ruckman’s 13 contested, while he almost tripled English’s hitouts, 35-12. His nine score involvements were a game high, and he was the only player on the ground with multiple goal assists. The only way he could have been more damaging would have been if he capitalised going forward, though instead he booted just 1.3. Collingwood won the clearance 34-21 against a much vaunted Dogs’ midfield, and Grundy was arguably the reason why.
4 Taylor Adams (Collingwood)
Key Stats: If Grundy was the one feeding the Pies midfield, Adams was the one filling his guts. Only Chris Mayne managed more than the former Giant’s 26 touches, and no one managed more than his 14 contested possessions. The most remarkable number, however, was his 12 clearances, triple the number of any other individual on the ground.
3 Jeremy Howe (Collingwood)
Key Stats: Though the Dogs managed just 22 inside 50’s for the night, whenever they did go forward they had Jeremy Howe to contend with. As a backman, he has flourished at Collingwood, and no player had more than his 12 intercept possessions as he cut off countless forays forward. Add in a team high four rebounds, and a game high 433 metres gained, and you have arguably the perfect night from a defender, creating attack from the backline.
2 Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
Key Stats: For a player who finished in the top 3 in the Brownlow two years ago, Sidebottom somehow continues to fly under the radar. His 26 touches were only beaten by Mayne, though he ran at a typical 77% efficiency, rarely being wasteful with ball in hand. 21 of those possessions were uncontested, as he was given far too much room to move, and he turned that into eight score involvements, beaten only by Grundy on the night.
1 Darcy Moore (Collingwood)
Key Stats: Moore has been at various times in contention for the All Australian Centre Half Back spot, and he showed why in Round 1. While his 11 touches at 100% may not seem like much, it was his ability to restrict the Dogs’ forwards that won him a vote here. Namely, new recruit Josh Bruce, who was meant to carry his side’s forward line in tandem with Aaron Naughton, managed just one mark and one goal, while the aforementioned Naughton had just two touches and no scoreboard impact.
Unlucky to miss: Mayne was the leading disposal winner on the ground, with 29, at 93% efficiency, to go with eight score involvements, but ultimately missed out. The Dogs simply had too few winners to be considered.
Essendon v Fremantle
5 Dylan Shiel (Essendon)
Key Stats: Arguably won the Dons the game in the middle, with game highs in 35 touches, 13 contested, and nine clearances in shortened quarters. While disposal quality has at times been an issue for the former Giant, against Freo he ran at 77% and had five score involvements in an influential performance.
4 Adam Saad (Essendon)
Key Stats: With Shiel winning the ball on the inside, Saad was allowed to dominate on the outside, while also playing a critical role in defence. His 28 touches for the game were beaten only by Shiel, and his five intercepts were beaten only by Andy McGrath. No Bomber had more than his six rebounds or 481 metres gained, as he continually drove his side forward.
3 Rory Lobb (Fremantle)
Key Stats: With Sean Darcy in the ruck, Lobb was freed up to play his more natural role as a key forward. It nearly paid off for Justin Longmuir, as Lobb was the most dominant key forward on the ground. Others may have kicked more than his two goals, or taken more than his seven marks, but no player managed more than his four contested marks, as he provided a significant presence in the air.
2 Jacob Townsend (Essendon)
Key Stats: At the other end of the ground, in his first game for the Bombers, Jacob Townsend showed patches of his end of 2017 form at Richmond. From just nine touches, Townsend booted three goals, clunking three contested marks inside 50 to put the Dockers to the sword. Add in three tackles and it was a pretty solid debut performance
1 Brett Bewley (Fremantle)
Key Stats: Bewley may not be a household name, but he just about snuck the Dockers home in this one. His eight marks, seven rebounds and 498 metres gained were all team or game highs, and he also ran at 85% efficiency coming out of the back half, translating into five score involvements.
Unlucky to miss: Nat Fyfe may not have been as good as we know he can be, but his 26 touches were quite influential. Devon Smith provided constant pressure in the Essendon forward line, and had the most score involvements of anyone for his side. Andy McGrath was also unlucky to miss.
Adelaide v Sydney
5 Isaac Heeney (Sydney)
Key Stats: In the absence of their more senior forwards, Isaac Heeney provided the most dominant forward presence in the game. 12 of his 16 touches were contested, but his most telling contribution was his four goals, of the Swans’ 11 for the match. Had a chance to ice the game in the last quarter but missed, but still features as the best player on the ground.
4 Luke Parker (Sydney)
Key Stats: 30 touches in shortened game time is an impressive feat, but that’s what Luke Parker managed, 13 of which were contested. No player on the ground had more than his 12 clearances, either, as the Swans dominated in that metric 46-25. Only Ollie Florent had more than his 357 metres gained for his side.
3 Tom Lynch (Adelaide)
Key Stats: Lynch has often been considered one of Adelaide’s most important players, and though they were soundly beaten in the middle, Lynch was one of the reasons they remained competitive. 100% of his 14 touches were effective, while he also booted important goals in the first and last quarters. Only the hard-running, long-kicking Paul Seedsman had more than Lynch’s 418 metres gained for the Crows.
2 Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
Key Stats: Nearing on age 32, Josh Kennedy shows no signs of slowing down. His 16 contested touches were a game high, and only Parker had more than his 25 touches and 10 clearances for the game. Add in an equal game high seven tackles, and you get a telling narrative of JPK’s commitment to the cause.
1 Tom Papley (Sydney)
Key Stats: Papley’s performance for the Big V in the Bushfire Charity Match in preseason put his name up in lights, and he carried some of that form into Round 1. While he managed just the one goal, from 15 touches, he laid three tackles inside 50 and had five score involvements in a livewire showing.
Unlucky to miss: Ollie Florent was very stiff to miss here, with 21 touches, eight score involvements and 518 metres gained. For the Crows, though they were soundly beaten in the middle, Rory Laird put in a solid performance down back, and Rory Sloane put in a decent shift.
GWS v Geelong
5 Harry Perryman (GWS)
Key Stats: In a game which really announced him on the main stage, Harry Perryman was arguably the difference in this encounter. Having never booted more than one goal in a game to this point, Perryman booted four, one in each quarter, to torch Geelong. His outside running was damaging too, with his 20 touches coming at 85% efficiency, to go with 378 metres gained.
4 Toby Greene (GWS)
Key Stats: No one can really dispute the ferocity Toby Greene brings to the contest, and he too provided another winning option up forward for the Giants. He was one of just two players for his side to kick a behind, though mixed in amongst four goals, that’s hardly a criticism. He also had two goal assists and took four marks inside forward 50, as the second most dangerous forward on the ground.
3 Mitch Duncan (Geelong)
Key Stats: Efficiency was clearly the key in this game, and Mitch Duncan was one of the few who provided that for Geelong, both with ball in hand and in front of goal. Looking at home in an outside role, Duncan had 21 touches, kicked three goals, and had a game high eight score involvements and 503 metres gained.
2 Nick Haynes (GWS)
Key Stats: Though the Cats narrowly won the inside 50 count, 41-39, the fact that they had Nick Haynes to contend with meant that effectively counted for very little. Haynes had 20 touches, 10 of which came from intercepts, and nine rebounds, as time and again he cut off Geelong’s forward chances. He also gained 444 metres, turning defence into attack.
1 Matt de Boer (GWS)
Key Stats: GWS made their advantage count in midfield, and a big factor in that was de Boer. The former Docker managed 14 touches, five clearances and five score involvements of his own, while keeping his direct opponent Dangerfield to 16, six and three respectively.
Unlucky to miss: A handful of Giants, including Stephen Coniglio, could feel harshly dealt by to not have been included, while for Geelong only Gary Ablett had any meaningful impact.
Gold Coast v Port Adelaide
5 Tom Rockliff (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Rockliff can at times be criticised for the impact he makes with ball in hand, though it’s hard to fault his ability to find the ball. Against the Suns in Round 1, though, he managed to turn disposal into influence. His 26 touches were a game high, and only Travis Boak had more contested touches for Port than the former Lion. Tellingly, he also had 447 metres gained, behind only Byrne-Jones and Karl Amon for the game, to go with six clearances and seven inside 50’s.
4 Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: As mentioned before, Boak started last year with a bang in this award, and this season looks to be following that trend. His 25 touches, at 76%, were behind only Rockliff, while his 12 contested were a team high. Seven clearances were a game high, along with four tackles, five inside 50’s and 425 metres gained.
3 Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: When Port’s forward line is on song, it’s generally Robbie Gray at the heart of it. While he didn’t manage a goal himself, from 18 touches, he managed a game high 11 score involvements, meaning more than half the time he touched the ball, Port scored. He also laid three tackles inside forward 50, pressuring the Suns’ backline.
2 Darcy Byrne-Jones (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Byrne-Jones too had 25 touches, though he plays a different role to Boak and Rockliff. Just seven of his touches were contested, as he roamed the half-back line, but to say his possessions were cheap would be inaccurate, given 10 of his touches came from intercepts. He went at 80% efficiency, while also gaining a game high 504 metres.
1 Sam Collins (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: In his second season at his new club, Collins showed the role he can play down back. His 12 intercepts were a game high, and he effectively stood alone against what could have been an absolute mauling. He also reeled in an equal team high six marks, of which a game high half were contested.
Unlucky to miss: Connor Rozee continued this season where he left off, with 21 touches at 81%, eight score involvements and eight inside 50’s. Touk Miller worked hard for the Suns, for little reward.
North Melbourne v St Kilda
5 Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: No player on the ground had more than Cunnington’s 25 touches, or 16 contested possessions. While this award isn’t solely about disposals, his 13 touches in the third quarter, when St Kilda looked like running away with the game, and two goals in the last, to ultimately give North the lead, demonstrate his influence. His six clearances were the second most for his side, while his seven tackles were the equal most for North, and his eight score involvements were an equal game high.
4 Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Much credit was given to Rowan Marshall following his breakout season last year, but Goldy’s performance in Round 1 showed there’s still competition for the spot of third best ruckman in the competition. His 27 hitouts, against Marshall and Ryder, were crucial in providing North with the ascendancy in the middle, while he also had 14 touches, a goal and a game high seven clearances of his own.
3 Zak Jones (St Kilda)
Key Stats: Though by no means the highest profile recruit to come to Moorabbin in the off season, Jones seems to provide the kind of big body St Kilda desperately need. In his first game for the Saints, he had an equal team high 22 touches, to go with equal game highs in eight score involvements and seven clearances, and the only knock on his game really was that he finished with 0.3 in a game his side lost by two points.
2 Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Simpkin continues to fly under the radar, but he seems to be fitting in well with the rest of North’s lineup in that regard. Against St Kilda, his 23 touches, 10 of which were contested, were vital in getting his side over the line, and his third quarter goal sparked the Roos to life. Only Polec had more than his 419 metres gained, and no player had more than his eight score involvements.
1 Jack Billings (St Kilda)
Key Stats: Billings may not have been the most prolific Saint on the ground, but he was certainly one of the more effective ones. His 18 touches came at 89% efficiency, and he managed to boot two first half goals when St Kilda looked like they would run away with the game. In addition, he laid six tackles, four of which came inside forward 50.
Unlucky to miss: Jared Polec provided constant drive for North going forward, while a number of Saints were there or thereabouts.
Hawthorn v Brisbane
5 Chad Wingard (Hawthorn)
Key Stats: Chad Wingard may not have had his best season in his first year at Hawthorn in 2019, though he seemed to begin to fit in in the second half of the year. In Round 1, he showed why Clarko was so keen on picking him up. His 20 touches weren’t the most on the ground, but he managed to turn those into three goals, seven score involvements and a phenomenal 538 metres gained, highlighting his capacity to provide speed and run to this Hawthorn side.
4 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
Key Stats: Lachie Neale was another player who dominated this award early last season before fading a little. In this game he reminded the AFL world of his talent after a straight sets finals exit last year. He had game highs in disposals (26), contested possessions (16) and tackles (10), a team high eight clearances, and a goal in the first quarter when Brisbane struggled to capitalise on their opportunities.
3 Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn)
Key Stats: Hawthorn’s ageing list has been held against them at times recently, but when one of those older players is Shaun Burgoyne, you can’t blame the Hawks for keeping him around. Deployed mostly as a forward this year, he’s shown his nous close to goal, and that was certainly the case in Round 1. Though he had just 10 touches, at 90%, he kicked three goals, had six score involvements and laid four tackles.
2 Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Key Stats: In his first game back from a nasty broken leg which kept the 2018 Brownlow Medalist out of action for the entirety of last year, Mitchell’s return was exactly what we’ve come to expect from the former Swan. His 25 touches, at 84%, 14 contested possessions, and nine clearances were all either team or game highs, and his ability to win the ball in the middle was a significant factor in Hawthorn’s win.
1 Eric Hipwood (Brisbane)
Key Stats: Hipwood has always been touted as a talented prospect for the Lions, but his output hasn’t always matched that. Against the Hawks he played a solid hand up forward, booting three goals from 16 touches, having a team high eight score involvements and sending the ball inside 50 a team high six times.
Unlucky to miss: Liam Shiels and Jaeger O’Meara provided strong support for Mitchell in the middle, and Mitch Robinson was as ever a battering ram.
West Coast v Melbourne
5 Liam Ryan (West Coast)
Key Stats: Never a prolific ball winner, Ryan doesn’t need many disposals to change a game entirely. His 14 touches certainly weren’t the most on the ground, but he turned that into nine score involvements out of the Eagles’ 18 scores. His return of 3.3 could have been even more damaging to Melbourne had he converted, though the goals he did kick came at critical times, to effectively ice the game.
4 Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
Key Stats: Gaff continued to do Gaff things against Melbourne, and with the inclusion of Tim Kelly he was able to play almost entirely on the outside. His 30 touches came at 87%, and included the Eagles’ final goal amidst seven score involvements.
3 Tom Barrass (West Coast)
Key Stats: Melbourne have always been a high inside 50 team under Simon Goodwin, so the fact they won the count 45-35 in Round 1 may have been unsurprising, but a big factor in why they scored just 16 times from that was Barrass. The Dees managed just eight marks inside 50, with Barrass having 11 one percenters and nine marks, to go with six intercepts.
2 Jack Viney (Melbourne)
Key Stats: In his first game since being deposed as captain in favour of Max Gawn, Viney looked freed and turned in one of his best performances in recent memory. It wasn’t just the game highs in 34 disposals, 20 contested possessions, six tackles, and seven clearances, but his ability to intercept, which he did eight times, was critical, in one of the most dominant midfield performances in a loss this season.
1 Ed Langdon (Melbourne)
Key Stats: Having crossed from Freo in the offseason, Langdon showed why he was so highly rated. Only Viney had more than the former Docker’s 31 touches for the game, and just three of those disposals were contested as he managed to find copious amounts of space. His eight inside 50’s were beaten only by Michael Hibberd’s, though he was only involved in five scores, suggesting his delivery wasn’t always sublime. That being said, he also gained a game high 797 metres, a colossal number.
Unlucky to miss: For the Eagles, Shuey and Sheed were, as ever, solid in midfield, while Michael Hibberd ran all day for the Dees.
Collingwood v Richmond
5 Jeremy Howe (Collingwood)
Key Stats: For the second game in a row, despite the months in between, Howe’s defensive brilliance was a factor in Collingwood taking (some of) the points home. His 20 touches went at 80% efficiency, while he also gained 364 metres, reeled in an equal team high seven intercepts, rebounded a game high six times and clunked seven marks, including two contested.
4 Trent Cotchin (Richmond)
Key Stats: In a game which could never have been described as free-flowing, Cotchin’s ability to win the ball in close significant spark to the Richmond midfield. His 23 touches included a game high 15 contested and six inside 50’s, to go with a team high seven clearances and 412 metres gained, and he also laid five tackles, showing his commitment.
3 Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
Key Stats: Pendlebury is an effectively timeless midfielder, and in a game where others scrapped, he stood out from the pack. His 31 touches were a game high, and no Pie had more than his 11 contested possessions as he won the ball on the inside and on the out. Only one player had more than his 417 metres gained, and he ran at a credible 68% efficiency on a night where others struggled in that metric.
2 Tom Lynch (Richmond)
Key Stats: With Jack Riewoldt essentially missing in action, a lot fell on Lynch’s shoulders to lift the Richmond forward line. While both sides managed just five goals each for the game, the former Sun kicked three of them from his 12 touches, and was the leading score involvement player on the ground, with six.
1 Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
Key Stats: Make no mistake, Collingwood should have won this game, but a big reason why they didn’t was Vlastuin. He had just the 13 touches, but it was his defensive efforts, and the coordination he provides to Richmond’s backline, which get him a vote here. He had five intercept possessions of his own, and he was a big factor in keeping Collingwood’s talented small forwards quiet.
Unlucky to miss: Bachar Houli provided constant drive off the halfback line for the Tigers, and was also the leading interceptor on the night. Brayden Maynard played a similar role for the Pies, while Tom Phillips was his side’s only multiple goal scorer.
Geelong v Hawthorn
5 Joel Selwood (Geelong)
Key Stats: Winding back the clock, Selwood demonstrated why Hawthorn supporters in general have a grudging respect for him in this contest. His 28 touches, 17 contested possessions and eight clearances were all game highs, to go with a first quarter goal, 364 metres gained and five score involvements.
4 Mitch Duncan (Geelong)
Key Stats: Picking up where he left off, Duncan showed that if Geelong are to contend again this year, he will be a big factor in that. His 20 touches came at 80% efficiency, but his workrate up and down the wing, with three inside 50’s and four rebounds, as well as a goal, two direct goal assists and six score involvements, was a big factor in him winning votes here.
3 Gary Ablett (Geelong)
Key Stats: Just another 20 touch, two goal performance from Ablett, and while they may not be the absurd numbers he was putting up between 2007 and 2013, it’s hard to question his impact. His 21 touches included two goal assists, seven score involvements, a team high six inside 50’s and 409 metres gained.
2 Rhys Stanley (Geelong)
Key Stats: In one of his better performances in blue and white, Stanley put Jon Ceglar to the sword for the majority of the contest. Though his opponent won the hitouts, Geelong won the clearances 41-23, of which the former Saint had six of his own, more than any Hawk. He also managed a game high nine score involvements, booted two goals when the game was on the line, and sent the ball inside 50 an equal team high six times from 14 touches.
1 Brandon Parfitt (Geelong)
Key Stats: Parfitt, too, played one of his best games for the Cats. His 19 touches may not look overly impressive, but only Selwood and Dangerfield had more than his 11 contested possessions for the game, and no player laid more than his 10 tackles or had more than his eight clearances.
Unlucky to miss: Dangerfield played a solid game, though arguably below his lofty standards. Gryan Miers booted three goals up forward in the second half.
Brisbane v Fremantle
5 Michael Walters (Fremantle)
Key Stats: Despite their loss, it’s hard to look past Walters as the most influential player on the ground. His 28 touches included two last quarter goals, as Freo staged their comeback, to go with a game high 10 score involvements, 12 contested possessions, and five tackles, in a quite masterful display.
4 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
Key Stats: Neale indicated in Round 1 that his 2019 form was no fluke, and he reaffirmed that in Round 2. His 29 touches were a game high, as were his 17 contested possessions and eight clearances, to go with two goals and six score involvements in a seesawing contest against his old side. Most notably, perhaps, he went at 97% efficiency, meaning he rarely wasted the ball.
3 Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)
Key Stats: The reigning Brownlow Medalist has perhaps not yet reached similar peaks as last year, but his ability to impact contests in short periods is undisputed. He had just two touches in the first quarter, before finishing with 24, a team high 13 of which were contested. Also reeled in three contested marks, had five clearances and was his team’s leading goal kicker, with 3.1 as he kept his side in the contest across the middle half of the game.
2 Charlie Cameron (Brisbane)
Key Stats: If votes were being given at half time, Cameron would have been a shoe in for best on ground honours. Six minutes into the second quarter, he was sitting on 4.1, and looked on for a career best bag. Once Freo tightened up on him, his impact was diminished, but the damage was already done, setting the Lions up for their first win of the season.
1 James Aish (Fremantle)
Key Stats: In his first season at Freo, Aish has been tasked with the thankless task of replacing Brad Hill and Ed Langdon on the wing. He seems at home in the role though, and was a big factor in keeping Fremantle in the game. His 26 touches included three inside 50’s, three rebounds, and six score involvements, and only Luke Ryan had more metres gained for the Dockers than Aish’s 491.
Unlucky to miss: Luke Ryan was excellent down back for the Dockers, while Dayne Zorko made good use of the ball when he had his hands on it.
Carlton v Melbourne
5 Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
Key Stats: In a game Melbourne won convincingly in the first quarter, before almost throwing it away, Petracca’s performance was vital in getting his side home. His two goals came in that first quarter, when the Demons were on a run, and in the third quarter, Melbourne’s solitary goal after half time. 11 of his 24 possessions were contested, a game high, as were his seven score involvements, and no Dee had more than his five clearances as he influenced the game in the middle and in the forward line.
4 Max Gawn (Melbourne)
Key Stats: Against opposition best characterised as unrecognised, Gawn was hugely influential in his first win as captain. He won the hitouts against Pittonet and Casboult 34-26, and gave his side a slight edge in the clearances, but it was his work around the ground which was most important. He, too, had a game high 11 contested possessions, to go with seven intercepts, a team high five rebounds and five score involvements in a strong performance.
3 Sam Docherty (Carlton)
Key Stats: Having not played for two years, Docherty was good in Round 1, then backed that up more than three months later in Round 2. His 24 possessions, at 83%, were an equal team high, to go with eight intercepts, game highs in seven rebounds and 559 metres gained, and six marks, as the Dees were restricted to just three goals after quarter time.
2 Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)
Key Stats: Oliver may at times be ignored in the discussions around the best young talent in the game, but his performance against Carlton showed he should be at least in the conversation. His 28 touches were a game high, and only Gawn and Petracca had more than his 11 contested for his side. Add in six tackles and a team high five inside 50’s, and it’s not hard to see why he features here.
1 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Key Stats: It may not have been Cripps’ best performance in navy blue, but he was still integral to Carlton’s near win. His 11 contested touches tied with Gawn and Petracca for most in the game, and he turned a game high seven of his 21 touches into scores, including a goal of his own in the last quarter. He also had a game high six clearances as he worked hard in the middle of the ground.
Unlucky to miss: Marc Murphy provided the experienced head Carlton needed in the middle, while Ed Langdon followed up his outstanding Round 1 performance with a decent hit out second up.
Port Adelaide v Adelaide
5 Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Port’s youthful exuberance was perhaps best encapsulated by Butters’ volleyed goal in the second quarter, but his performance across the course of the game meant he was hard done by not to be awarded the Showdown Medal. His 21 touches included eight score involvements, and he also laid a game high eight tackles, three of which came inside forward 50, to go with five intercepts, demonstrating the constant pressure he was able to apply.
4 Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Boak ended up being the recipient of the Showdown Medal, and on weight of numbers it isn’t hard to see why. His goal late in the second quarter effectively iced the game, while his 24 touches included team or game highs in score involvements (10), inside 50’s (seven), and metres gained (439). A very handy performance from the former skipper.
3 Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: It’s no mistake that the young guns feature highly in these votes. Duursma’s work on the wing has been quietly superb thus far in 2020, and against the Crows he managed to capitalise. His 17 touches included seven score involvements, of which three were goals of his own, as he sunk an arrow into Adelaide hearts. Also had 327 metres gained in an entertaining showing.
2 Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Rozee is arguably the most talented of the youthful trio Port possess, and yet his performance was rated below the other two. That’s probably encouraging for Ken Hinkley, although to say Rozee was by any means poor is unfair. His 12 contested possessions, out of 17 total, were a team high, as were his eight clearances, and when you add in six tackles, eight score involvements and a goal, it capped off a great night for the young forward.
1 Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide)
Key Stats: Adelaide had 30 inside 50’s against the Power, and they scored from just 10 of them. They also took just four marks inside 50. A huge factor in that was the work of the criminally underrated Clurey, who added seven intercepts to his 17 total touches, as well as five tackles and eight marks.
Unlucky to miss: You could effectively throw a blanket over the Port players, each of whom could arguably have featured. No Crows players were considered.
Gold Coast v West Coast
5 Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: Hard to believe one of the best midfield performances we’ve seen this year came from a second gamer against one of the best midfields ever assembled, but that’s exactly what happened. The number one pick had team or game highs in disposals (26, at 81%), contested possessions (14), and tackles (seven), to go with six score involvements, two goals and five clearances.
4 Lachie Weller (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: Pick 2 always seemed overs for Weller, but the Suns would be thrilled with his output and it’s hard to imagine they regret the trade one bit now. His 24 touches included the first goal of the game, 372 metres gained, five clearances and four score involvements.
3 Touk Miller (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: In his sixth season, Miller is fast growing into one of the Suns’ most important players. It wasn’t just the 22 touches, five score involvements or three inside 50’s which got him votes. It was just as much the big bodied presence he provides in the middle to aid the Suns, who ended up effectively breaking even in the clearances despite the experience differential.
2 Sam Collins (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: Collins may have had just the seven touches against the Eagles, but the fact that West Coast managed just six goals from 46 forward entries is telling of the role Collins played to aplomb. His 10 one percenters were beaten only by Charlie Ballard, while he, in conjunction with the other Gold Coast backs, kept Kennedy and Darling to just 14 touches and two goals between them.
1 Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast)
Key Stats: Ever underrated in the ruck, Gold Coast’s captain stayed the course against Naitanui, and though he may have lost the hitouts, the former Pie was important in Gold Coast’s breakeven in the clearances. He arguably won the battle around the ground against the Eagles’ flyer, winning the disposals 14-9, clearances 3-2, and score involvements 4-3. If Stewie Dew was offered a breakeven prior to the first bounce against NicNat, he would have taken it in a heartbeat.
Unlucky to miss: Elliot Yeo and Tom Barrass put in strong efforts in vain for the Eagles, while Hugh Greenwood and Sam Day were maybe unlucky to miss out on votes for the Suns.
GWS v North Melbourne
5 Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Opposed to a ruckman far from an easy beat in Sam Jacobs, Goldstein was instrumental in keeping Rhyce Shaw’s good times rolling. Playing as the sole ruckman, Goldy’s 51 hitouts led to North winning the clearances 44-36 against a better than handy midfield. He also booted a second quarter goal to keep the margin in reach, and had game highs in contested possessions (14) and clearances (nine), putting the GWS centre combinations to the sword.
4 Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: North’s Rolls Royce keeps rolling on. Effectively tagged out of the game by de Boer in the first quarter, having just two touches, Higgins finished with a game high 28 touches, 12 of which were contested. He also was a benefactor of Goldy’s work in the ruck, racking up six clearances, and gaining 395 metres with his disposals.
3 Jared Polec (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Polec’s acquisition by North was largely ignored by some aspects of the media as simply being the another Roo attempt to sign a big fish. The former Port man is by no means a star, but he fits in very well with North’s model of getting the best out of their players. Against GWS, he provided the outside polish they needed, with 23 touches, five clearances, 466 metres gained, and game highs in seven inside 50’s and 10 score involvements, to go with the sealing goal in the last quarter.
2 Luke McDonald (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Luke McDonald is another Roo who tends to fly under the radar, but his job on Toby Greene, keeping the star Giant goalless, deserves plaudits. His opponent managed just two marks, and none of those inside 50, while McDonald himself had 12 touches, four intercepts and three score involvements of his own.
1 Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)
Key Stats: Zurhaar may have finished with just the three goals, but each of those came at a vital time for his side, in the first, second and last quarters. Seven of his 11 touches resulted in scores for North, demonstrating his efficiency with ball in hand, while he also won seven contested possessions of his own.
Unlucky to miss: Robbie Tarrant will likely be launching charges against us for robbery, not featuring in the votes here despite an outstanding day offensively and defensively. De Boer limited his opponents in the first half, but Cunnington broke free after half time.
Sydney v Essendon
5 Adam Saad (Essendon)
Key Stats: Saad was integral for the Bombers in earning their first win at the SCG in over a decade, as much for the stats he put up as the acts he won’t register a stat for; his ability to get in a defensive touch at just the right moment was exemplary. His 20 touches resulted in a team high 508 metres gained, while he also sent his side inside forward 50 a team high six times, and intercepted a team high eight times, highlighting his capacity to turn defence into attack.
4 Dane Rampe (Sydney)
Key Stats: At the other end of the ground, one of Sydney’s co-captains did almost exactly the same thing for his side. Rampe, too, had 20 touches, and while it can be easy for a backman to do that dinking the ball around in defensive 50, Rampe gained the second most metres on the ground, with 579, all whilst going at 100% efficiency. Also had game highs in eight marks and 10 rebounds.
3 Oliver Florent (Sydney)
Key Stats: It’s often the usual suspects for Sydney, but against the Bombers, Florent played one of his best games of his 50 game career. Only Jake Lloyd had more than Florent’s 27 touches for the Swans, and no player on the ground had more than his nine inside 50’s or 635 metres gained. Seven clearances were only matched for Sydney by one of the premier inside mids of the last ten years in Josh Kennedy. Clearly, a standout game for Florent.
2 Zach Merrett (Essendon)
Key Stats: When the Bombers needed someone to stand up in the last quarter, Merrett delivered, as did Darcy Parish. The former edges out the latter simply on the basis of his entire game. 11 of Merrett’s game high 29 disposals came in the last quarter, and he also booted the Dons’ only goal in the second as Sydney whittled down the margin. He also had five score involvements and gained 410 metres with ball in hand.
1 Andy McGrath (Essendon)
Key Stats: McGrath was quite clearly Essendon’s best midfielder across the first three quarters, before being shifted out of the middle in favour of Parish in the last. 22 of his 23 touches came before the last break, while he also laid a game high seven tackles. Only Dylan Shiel had more than his six clearances for Essendon.
Unlucky to miss: Darcy Parish nearly snuck into the votes on the basis of his incredible last quarter, while Kennedy and Parker worked hard all day for the Swans.
St Kilda v Western Bulldogs
5 Zak Jones (St Kilda)
Key Stats: As mentioned before, Jones isn’t exactly white collar, but in a midfield which has lacked grunt for too long, the former Swan provides that in droves. His 29 touches were a game high, and only Jade Gresham had more than his 13 contested possessions for the Saints. His six clearances were an equal game high too, benefitting from the dominance of Marshall and Ryder in the ruck. His goal in the third quarter basically sewed the game shut.
4 Jack Billings (St Kilda)
Key Stats: With Billings freed up to play on the outside in his more natural role, he flourished. Just eight of his 24 touches were contested, as he found space and drove the Saints forward at every opportunity. Booted three goals in the first three quarters, to go with a game high 470 metres gained, five inside 50’s and six score involvements.
3 Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs)
Key Stats: As one of few Bulldogs to actually crack in, Dunkley features in the votes. His 28 touches were behind only Bailey Smith, to go with 10 contested possessions, a game high eight tackles, four score involvements and a goal.
2 Jade Gresham (St Kilda)
Key Stats: One of several Saint forward/mids to excel against the Dogs. Gresham had 25 touches, beaten only by Jones for the Saints, but no one on his team had more than his 14 contested possessions. Also had 419 metres gained, five clearances and five tackles.
1 Seb Ross (St Kilda)
Key Stats: The man likely to be St Kilda’s next captain looks to be a new man now he doesn’t have to do all of the grunt work. Just seven of his 24 touches were contested, as he laid six tackles, five clearances, took seven marks and was involved in six scores. A more than handy day out against a below-expectations midfield.
Unlucky to miss: Bailey Smith showed off his development, being the equal leading disposal winner on the ground, while Jack Steele was creative forward of centre, finishing with three goal assists and a goal of his own.
1 Todd Goldstein (9 votes)
1 Adam Saad (9)
3 Travis Boak (8)
3 Jeremy Howe (8)
3 Zak Jones (8)
3 Lachie Neale (8)
7 Mitch Duncan (7)
These seven players are all of those to have so far polled more than the maximum in a game, being five. North’s competitiveness in their first two games of the year, including their upset win over GWS, has been sparked by the work of Goldy in the ruck, showing that sometimes experience is the best weapon a player can have. Saad, meanwhile, has taken his game to another level in the first two rounds, critical in Essendon’s two wins by less than a goal.
Boak has continued his fine form from last year, in a side which looks like challenging for the flag. At time of writing, Jeremy Howe’s season looks finished, but his start to the season had him firmly on an All Australian half back flank. Jones’ acquisition was not as high profile as some others at St Kilda, but he’s arguably been the best performed, while Lachie Neale turned in consecutive four vote performances as Brisbane look to atone for last year’s straight sets exit. Mitch Duncan was one of few Cats to leave Round 1 with his head held high, then backed that up with a strong showing against the Hawks.