Rounds 3 & 4 Mongrel Votes


It’s been a long season, and we’re only in round 4. Irrespective of the surrounding context of this AFL season, it’s indisputable that having footy back on our screens and in our lives is a good thing, and what better way to celebrate that than with football’s most recently created award* (*allegations not checked for accuracy), 2020’s Mongrel of the Year.


The voting system for this year is largely the same as it was last year, except that where 2019’s votes were given on a 3-2-1 basis, 2020’s are 5-4-3-2-1. Votes continue to be given by the Mongrel team member writing the game review, and are awarded based on individual criteria which centre on which player had the most influence on the game. In that way, we try to avoid recognising solely midfielders, and there are ruckmen, half backs and small forwards who all feature prominently in this wrap of the votes from rounds 3 & 4.


Rd 3


Richmond v Hawthorn


5 Jaeger O’Meara (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: In a game Hawthorn effectively had in the bag by quarter time, and which was entirely done and dusted by half time, O’Meara’s first half performance was enormous. 17 of his 23 touches came before the long break, to go with one of the Hawk’s five first quarter goals. For the game, he went at 91% efficiency, gained 406 metres, and only Jon Ceglar had more than his four clearances for either side.


4 Isaac Smith (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: It was O’Meara on the inside in the first half, and Smith on the outside. 18 of his 29 touches came before half time too, and his total disposals were a game high to go with an outstanding running goal in the second. Only James Sicily had more than his 531 metres gained, as he managed to consistently outwork his Richmond opponents.


3 Chad Wingard (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Wingard has just about returned to his very best form, very quietly, in his second season at Waverley. His 15 touches weren’t a game high, but his three goals were, with one in the first, third and fourth to cap off a very good night. He also went at 87% efficiency and had an equal game high six score involvements.


2 Jon Ceglar (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Opposed to premiership ruckman Ivan Soldo, Jon Ceglar had a field day, backing up from his poor showing against the Cats the week before. In a game which featured few stoppages, Ceglar, with help from Tim O’Brien, won the hitouts 25-11, translating to a 22-17 clearance advantage of which Ceglar himself had a game high seven. His eight contested possessions were also a team high, and he capped all that off with a first quarter goal.


1 James Sicily (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Back to his organisational best, Sicily wasn’t necessarily the biggest intercepter on the ground, but his capacity to ensure Hawthorn’s backline remained impenetrable gets him the final vote here. Richmond’s 43 inside 50’s returned a score of just 5.9, with Sicily playing an important role in that. Intercepted six times and gained a game high 651 metres in a strong showing.


Unlucky to miss: A number of other Hawks could have been considered for votes, including the ever efficient Shaun Burgoyne, while for the Tigers, Vlastuin and Houli were their best in a poor showing overall.


Western Bulldogs v GWS


5 Alex Keath (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Ticking along very nicely in his first season at the Whitten Oval, Keath demonstrated why he was in All Australian discussions at times last year. It wasn’t just the 14 touches or game high six intercepts which got him the votes, as he managed to keep last year’s Coleman Medalist Jeremy Cameron to just eight touches, one goal and four marks. The former Crow matched his opponent on the scoreboard, with his second quarter goal important in ensuring the Dogs didn’t waste their efforts.


4 Jackson Macrae (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Perhaps underrated by some, Macrae was vital to the Dogs’ run to September last year and, while this wasn’t his best ever performance, it was a very solid one. His 25 touches were a game high, and only Josh Dunkley had more than his 11 contested possessions for their side. Also laid a game high seven tackles, and had team highs in score involvements (five), clearances (four), and inside 50’s (five).


3 Tim English (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Had he kicked straight, English could well have been best on ground in this one. Instead, he’ll have to settle into third spot, but after poor outings in the first two games of the year, it was encouraging to see the Ken Doll lookalike up and running. While Sam Jacobs won the hitouts, English had 15 disposals, of which an equal game high six were intercepts and a team high seven were marks, to go with five score involvements and two behinds in the first half.


2 Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: The heart and soul of the West, the Dogs looked much better with Libba crashing into packs. His 18 touches came at 89%, to go with a third quarter goal that effectively iced the game. Also racked up an equal team high four clearances around the ground as the Dogs basically broke even in midfield.


1 Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: There’s not much more to say about Caleb Daniel that hasn’t already been said, to be honest. His height is always remarked upon, but when you can have 23 disposals at 91% efficiency, it clearly doesn’t hinder him. He also had an equal game high six rebounds, was involved in five scores and only Tim English had more than his six marks for the Dogs.


Unlucky to miss: Had GWS been closer, Steve Coniglio or Harry Perryman may have featured in the votes, but they weren’t so they don’t. Several other Dogs could have featured, including Bailey Smith, who is unlucky to not have featured in the votes yet this season.


North Melbourne v Sydney


5 Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: In a game North Melbourne essentially gave away across the course of one bad third quarter, Jy Simpkin showed his performance against GWS was no fluke in a best on ground showing. Both his 26 touches and 14 contested possessions were game highs, as the young mid covered for the absence of Ben Cunnington. Only Todd Goldstein had more than his eight clearances for the game, and only Aaron Hall had more than his five inside 50’s. Simpkin also kicked the last goal of the game to bring the margin back to two goals and give the Roos a sniff.


4 Isaac Heeney (Sydney)

Key Stats: After a quieter than expected performance against Essendon, Heeney bounced back as his side’s best player in their second win of the year. Seven of his 18 touches resulted in scores, including the first of five Swan goals in the third term, and both his eight marks and three contested marks were game highs, as he posed a serious aerial threat to the Roos’ defence.


3 Luke Parker (Sydney)

Key Stats: By no means was this Luke Parker’s most prolific outing, but it was a significant one in getting his side over the line. 11 of his 19 touches were contested, to go with five clearances; only Josh Kennedy had more in either metric for the Swans. Only Robbie Fox sent the Swans inside 50 more often than his four, and no player was involved in more than Parker’s seven scores. He also racked up a game high six intercepts, cutting off a number of forward forays.


2 Dane Rampe (Sydney)

Key Stats: Another of the Swans’ co-captains, Rampe may not have been the Swans’ best but he was certainly pretty bloody good. Statistically, it wasn’t an especially notable outing for Rampe, with just eight touches and one mark, but his ability to restrict Ben Brown to just two touches and one goal after quarter time went a big way to ensuring his side left Melbourne with four points.


1 Josh Kennedy (Sydney)

Key Stats: Without Ben Cunnington in the opposition, Kennedy was clearly the most notable contested ball winner on the ground, and he demonstrated that through his team high 12 contested touches. His 22 touches, six tackles, and six clearances were all also either game or team highs.


Unlucky to miss: George Hewett restricted Shaun Higgins to just 11 touches in a vital performance for his side’s fortunes, and Todd Goldstein was dominant in the ruck and around the ground.


Collingwood v St Kilda


5 Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)

Key Stats: With no disrespect intended to those of a certain age, 30 is the new 40. With about 20 minutes of overall game time being removed from AFL games in this bizarre season, a 30 disposal performance becomes much more impressive, and Sidebottom’s was exactly that. No player on the ground had more than his 31 touches or six tackles, and he added in 11 contested touches, and six score involvements including a goal in the first quarter in an outstanding display.


4 Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

Key Stats: The former Lion flies under the radar a little, but against St Kilda he was hard to ignore. Roaming across half back, Crisp had 24 touches at 88%, to go with 319 metres gained, six intercepts and five score involvements including a direct goal assist as part of a Pies’ backline which both defended strongly and attacked with vigour.


3 Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)

Key Stats: If the Leigh Matthews Trophy were truly awarded to the Most Valuable Player, it would be hard to see how Grundy wouldn’t have won one yet. This year he looks a solid chance for it, considering his dominance against even the upper echelons of ruckmen. Against the solid pairing of Ryder and Marshall, Grundy had 31 hitouts, 20 touches, three clearances and five score involvements and contributed to a Collingwood midfield which won the clearances 32-21.


2 Dan Butler (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Arguably St Kilda’s best player for the season, there’d have to be some at Tigerland asking whether they let the right small forward leave. He led the Saints in contested ball (11), goals (2.1), score involvements (six), and inside 50’s (five), and only Dougal Howard gained more than his 364 metres gained for the Saints in a lone display up forward.


1 Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Darcy Moore could easily have been left up forward for the Pies and would by now have almost certainly grown into a handy option, but his proficiency down back is driving a premiership-quality defence. His nine intercepts and seven one percenters were both game highs, as the Saints managed just five goals for the game, and his 15 disposals came at 80%.


Unlucky to miss: Any number of Magpies could have featured in the votes here, including Jeremy Howe, Brayden Maynard, Scott Pendlebury or Taylor Adams.


Geelong v Carlton


5 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

Key Stats: It was, of course, Patrick Cripps who was vital in Carlton’s most impressive win in years. His 24 touches, 17 contested possessions and 12 clearances were all game highs, to go with two goals either side of half time which really should have put the game to bed. No Blue had more than his seven score involvements either, as he torched a number of big name opponents.


4 Sam Docherty (Carlton)

Key Stats: It was also perhaps no surprise that Carlton’s second most impressive player was their co-captain. Against a Geelong side which won the inside 50 count 43-37, Docherty was impenetrable, with game highs in rebounds (14), marks (nine), metres gained (578) and intercepts (nine). Arguably his most important touch came late in the game on the goal line to save a goal which would have put the margin back within a kick.


3 Jacob Weitering (Carlton)

Key Stats: Opposed to Tom Hawkins, Weitering managed to keep his opponent relatively quiet in spite of a few moments later in the game where the big Cat looked threatening. The number one draft pick had 12 touches, eight of which came from intercepts, seven rebounds, and seven one percenters as the Cats’ forward line was kept relatively impotent for three quarters.


2 Eddie Betts (Carlton)

Key Stats: While he probably isn’t at the level of Tom Papley, Toby Greene or Charlie Cameron as far as small forwards go, Eddie Betts showed against Geelong that his acquisition wasn’t just for nostalgia’s sake. Booted two goals from 12 touches and directly assisted three others as part of a team high seven score involvements.


1 Mitch Duncan (Geelong)

Key Stats: The key factor in Geelong’s last quarter fightback, 12 of Duncan’s 24 touches came after three quarter time. His touched goal in the last would have brought the margin back to four points, while he was also involved in five scores and gained 380 metres.


Unlucky to miss: Marc Pittonet tore Rhys Stanley to shreds in the ruck, Levi Casboult was an aerial force, and Jack Martin and Michael Gibbons were solid up forward and rotating through the middle. Geelong were largely absent from this game.


Brisbane v West Coast


5 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

Key Stats: In his first best on ground performance for the season, Neale was absolutely dominant in the middle of the ground. His 32 touches, 15 contested possessions, and seven tackles were all game highs, to go with excellent numbers in clearances (six), score involvements (six), inside 50’s (five) and metres gained (463). Also hit the scoreboard, kicking 2.0, in one of the finest midfield performances of the year.


4 Hugh McLuggage (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Neale on the inside, McLuggage on the outside. It’s a pairing we’ll be hearing for years to come. In clearly his best game for the year, the young winger was second only to Neale for total disposals for the Lions with 26, to go with 12 contested possessions, five tackles, and game highs in 10 score involvements, eight inside 50’s and 616 metres gained.


3 Jarrod Berry (Brisbane)

Key Stats: A young Lion who maybe hasn’t received the attention he deserves, Berry is developing into a fine young talent. No player on the ground hit the scoreboard more than he did, with a return of 3.2 including goals in the second, third and last quarters when the Lions needed them. Also laid five tackles and gained 311 metres.


2 Harris Andrews (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Though it’s all well and good that the Lions managed to dominate out of the middle, Andrews’ performance down back was a huge factor in keeping the Eagles out of the contest after quarter time. His eight touches included six from intercepts, and he also managed a game high thirteen one percenters as Kennedy and Darling marked just twice between them inside forward 50.


1 Tom Barrass (West Coast)

Key Stats: A rare bright spot for West Coast arising out of the South East Queensland hub, Barrass managed to earn a vote here despite having just two possessions (both from intercepts) for the match. His 12 one percenters and defensive lockdown effort were a big factor in keeping the Lions to just eight total marks inside 50, despite going in there 50 times.


Unlucky to miss: Plenty of Lions, including club debutant Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Jarryd Lyons, could have featured in the votes here, while only Nic Naitanui could maybe have been considered for the Eagles.


Gold Coast v Adelaide


5 Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: The B-Rowell-nlow bandwagon keeps chugging along, picking up steam with every passing performance. I’ve trademarked that by the way, so other parts of the media better not steal this. Ably supported by a Suns midfield which seems full of confidence, Rowell had 20 touches against Adelaide, of which 12 were contested, three were clearances and, most notably, two were goals, as the third gamer and his band of young stars committed a murder of Crows.


4 Ben King (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Free to roam the forward line as he liked, Ben King had the best game of his short career against the Crows. 11 of his 13 touches came inside forward 50, and all of them came in the forward half, as the Suns locked the ball in at every opportunity, and he returned a game high score of 3.2 from six marks. An encouraging performance in just game number 17.


3 Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Now one of the Suns’ most experienced players, Miller, in game 103, completely blanketed a dispirited Adelaide midfield. His 26 touches were a game high, to go with 10 contested touches, four clearances, and six score involvements including a goal which put an emphatic exclamation mark on one of Gold Coast’s most impressive performances.


2 Sam Collins (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: It wasn’t often that Adelaide managed to go forward, entering their forward 50 just 28 times, but when they did they ran into the brick wall that Sam Collins is fast becoming. A team high seven of his 10 touches came from intercepts, to go with a team high six one percenters, as the Suns conceded their lowest score as a club.


1 Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Arguably unlucky not to feature higher, Gold Coast’s captain was remarkable against the Crows. Despite losing the hitouts to Reilly O’Brien, Witts won just about every other metric, including disposals (17-15), contested possessions (15-6, a game high), marks (6-3), score involvements (7-1, also a game high), clearances (8-0, also a game high), and inside 50’s (7-1, again, a game high). The former Pie also clunked three contested marks in an extraordinary display.


Unlucky to miss: Pick a Sun out of a hat and they were probably unlucky not to get votes. For the Crows, who managed just one goal in the first three quarters, they were lucky to even get the credit for an appearance in this game.


Fremantle v Port Adelaide


5 Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Two former captains put Freo to the sword. The first, and best, was Mongrel favourite Boak, whose 26 touches were a game high, as were his eight inside 50’s and 495 metres gained, to go with six clearances, six score involvements, seven tackles and 12 contested possessions, in conditions which his side clearly adapted to far more effectively than their opponents. Also managed Port’s only goal of the third quarter to just about ice the contest.


4 Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: In tandem with Boak, Wines’ performance in the middle was a big factor in Port’s third win of the year. Of his 25 touches, a team high 14 were contested, to go with an equal team high six clearances, seven score involvements including Port’s last goal of the game and 324 metres gained in his first game of the season.


3 Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)

Key Stats: While he maybe hasn’t dominated games to the extent expected, it would be unfair to suggest Fyfe’s impact has simply evaporated. A game high 17 of his 23 touches were contested, as he clearly was the focal point of Fremantle’s midfield, and perhaps the only criticism was that he tried to bring his teammates into the play too often. Also booted a goal from a team high six score involvements and laid four tackles, and missed a fairly gettable set shot in the last which may have opened the door for his side.


2 Michael Walters (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Perhaps unlucky to have been pipped by his skipper, Walters was the other of Atlas’ shoulders, keeping the Dockers afloat. His 23 touches were matched by Fyfe, to go with 12 contested touches, a goal and seven clearances. Had a couple of chances in the last which may have made Port a little panicky, but failed to capitalise.


1 Scott Lycett (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: In conditions not exactly suited for big men, Lycett’s dominance over Rory Lobb in the ruck went a long way to securing the Power the win. His 37 hitouts, to his main opponent’s 17, translated into a 37-27 clearance ascendancy, of which the former Eagle himself had four. Nine of his 12 touches were contested, he was involved in five scores and laid four tackles as an imposing presence.


Unlucky to miss: Charlie Dixon’s kicking saw him left out of the votes, despite his five contested marks in the wet, while Trent McKenzie continued his solid season at his old home ground. The Dockers’ wingmen were good but not great, and weren’t considered in a five goal loss.


Round 4


Sydney v Western Bulldogs


5 Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: In his best game of the season so far, the Dogs’ skipper was outstanding in the first half, where his side really hammered home their advantage. 12 of his 19 disposals came before the long break, including the last two goals of the second quarter to open up a five goal lead. He also had team highs in 14 contested possessions, eight tackles, and seven clearances, to go with an excellent mark running with the flight.


4 Tim English (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: After a lacklustre opening two rounds, English’s last fortnight has been more representative of his talent. Despite losing the hitouts to the tandem of Naismith and Sinclair 18-45, English won 22 disposals around the ground, the equal most of any Dog, and took six marks, the outright most for his side. He added in solid numbers in intercepts (five), score involvements (four), clearances (three) and had the equal most inside 50’s of the game, with five, in what was probably his career best performance, capped off with a goal to end the game.


3 Tom Papley (Sydney)

Key Stats: It isn’t often anymore that a player kicks 80% of a side’s goals, but that’s exactly what Tom Papley managed against the Bulldogs. With their forward stocks depleted, Papley kept the Swans in with any hope for the majority of the game, booting four goals and taking a game high eight marks, including six inside forward 50 for eight score involvements, the most of any player on the ground.


2 Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: His first votes for the season are welcome ones for one of the best second year players in the competition. His 20 touches included nine contested possessions and four clearances, as he provided able support to Bontempelli in the middle in a very tidy performance.


1 Zaine Cordy (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Quietly, but rarely beaten, Cordy’s performance in the Dogs’ backline against the Swans was instrumental. His nine touches included five rebounds; only Bailey Williams had more for the Dogs, while no one for his side had more than his four one percenters, as he and his fellow band of defenders kept the Swans to just five goals from 42 entries inside forward 50, including very little output from Heeney and Taylor.


Unlucky to miss: Luke Parker was strong in midfield for the Swans, and Jack Macrae shook the tag of George Hewett to be an effective contributor.



 GWS v Collingwood


5 Toby Greene (GWS)

Key Stats: Though the post match discussion around Toby Greene centred on the different set of rules by which he is seemingly umpired, his performance shouldn’t be overlooked. In a tight game, he booted three goals either side of half time to ensure Collingwood didn’t run away with the contest, to go with an equal team high six score involvements. Opposed to the underrated Brayden Maynard, Greene was the most influential player on the ground in arguably the game of the season so far.


4 Josh Kelly (GWS)

Key Stats: It’s a rarity, though less rare now than in the past, that an AFL club can have a player the quality of Josh Kelly on a wing, but it’s a luxury the Giants can afford at the moment. Against the Pies, his workrate was a huge factor in the win. His 21 disposals were beaten only by Whitfield for the Giants, though Kelly went at 81%, laid an equal team high six tackles, was involved in six scores and gained 429 metres in a strong display of outside craft.


3 Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Despite Jeremy Cameron’s goals in the first and late in the last, Darcy Moore really had a handle on the reigning Coleman Medalist for the majority of the night. The father-son pick kept Cameron to just three marks and 11 touches, five of those coming in the last quarter. The Pie himself had a team high eight intercepts and a game high nine marks too, as he cut off a number of GWS forays forward.


2 Nick Haynes (GWS)

Key Stats: At the other end of the ground, arguably the game’s best intercepter went about his work to the same quality we’ve come to expect. His 10 intercepts were a game high, his eight marks a team high, as he ensured Collingwood were unable to capitalise on their 48-37 lead in inside 50’s.


1 Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)

Key Stats: In season number 15, in game number 305, Pendles outwardly shows very few signs of ageing. His 26 disposals and 17 contested possessions were both game highs in a match where Steele Sidebottom was effectively handled by Matt de Boer. Only Moore had more than his seven intercepts for the Pies, while none had more than his seven clearances, or seven inside 50’s.


Unlucky to miss: Jeremy Howe was excellent for the Pies before going down with what appeared to be a season ending knee injury, and Tom Green in his first season for the Giants indicated he’s going to be a very good footballer.


Port Adelaide v West Coast


5 Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Having beaten up on an undersized Fremantle forward line in Round 3, Dixon turned his attention to a much stronger Eagles’ backline and tore them to shreds in the best game by a key forward this year. His 6.2 return was probably enough to get him the votes alone, but six of his seven marks were contested, an excellent number opposed to Tom Barrass, who has been far from ordinary this season. Outside of his own eight scores, he was involved in four more, as the dominant presence in the game.


4 Hamish Hartlett (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: In an outside, wing/back flank role, Hartlett has flourished this season and had his best game of the year against the Eagles. His 22 disposals were the most for the Power, as were his 515 metres gained, and he was involved in seven scores, including a goal of his own in the second to really hammer home Port’s ascendancy. Sent his side inside 50 four times and rebounded the same number.


3 Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: The Eagles managed 36 inside 50’s for the match, which isn’t a great number but the fact that they managed just six goals from those entries is largely attributable to the Power skipper, whose seven one percenters came mainly in the form of golden-fisted spoils. His eight intercepts were the most of any player on the ground, and the Eagles managed just six marks inside forward 50 for the match, in large part due to the defensive work of Jonas.


2 Karl Amon (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Karl Amon has been on the fringes of the Power side for six years now, but he looks to be very much a key part of Ken Hinkley’s plans this year. On a wing, he managed 17 touches, six of which resulted in scores, to go with 405 metres gained, the second most of any player in teal.


1 Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Butters may well, currently, be the forgotten member of Port’s youthful trio, but his second year has arguably been the best so far out of him, Rozee and Duursma. While his 14 disposals against the Eagles weren’t a game high, he turned half of those into scores as a small mid/forward. Also sent his side inside 50 three times and attacked the ball with vigour.


Unlucky to miss: With the Eagles again failing to fire, it was hard to consider any of them for votes, though new captain Luke Shuey was probably one of their best. For the Power, any one of a number of players, including Westhoff, Boak, and Lycett could have been considered.


St Kilda v Richmond


5 Dan Butler (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Like rocking up to the pub and running into your ex with a new, hotter partner, Dan Butler’s best on ground performance reminded the Tigers of what they lost in last year’s trade period. His three goals across the first three quarters included a superb snap from the boundary, to go with 337 metres gained and a game leading seven score involvements.


4 Tim Membrey (St Kilda)

Key Stats: The focal point of the Saints’ forward line, Membrey’s aerial threat was too much to overcome for Richmond’s backline. Only Jake Carlisle and Bachar Houli took more than his seven marks for the match, though no one took more than his five marks inside forward 50. Also booted three goals, his first game with multiple goals for the year.


3 Toby Nankervis (Richmond)

Key Stats: In a game where the Tigers needed a big body to crack in, Nankervis provided that. Opposed to Rowan Marshall, who has a plethora of fans at The Mongrel, Nank effectively split the hitouts with his main opponent, 26-25. Richmond narrowly lost the clearances, 33-29, but Nankervis had five of his own, the second most for his team, to go with seven tackles, 13 contested possessions, and a goal in the dying stages of the third to give his side some hope.


2 Rowan Marshall (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Nankervis’ opponent was hard to fault, however. Marshall was the only Saint to register double digit contested possessions, with 10 of his 15 touches coming in that manner. He was also solid around the rest of the ground, with five score involvements including two goals, one in each of the first and last quarters.


1 Josh Battle (St Kilda)

Key Stats: After his previous three years on the Saints’ list reaped just 26 games, Battle’s first game of 2020 was one of his best yet. His 16 touches included six marks, as well as six intercepts, the second most for the Saints behind Ben Long. Worked hard as a half forward and booted St Kilda’s third goal of the game as a reward.


Unlucky to miss: Ben Long showed plenty, tackling hard and using the ball well, while Shane Edwards was probably Richmond’s next best performed player.



 Essendon v Carlton


5 Sam Docherty (Carlton)

Key Stats: Docherty has polled votes in every game bar one this season, and was arguably stiff to be overlooked in round 1. In what was clearly his best performance for the year, though, he was critical to Carlton’s win. His eight rebounds were a game high as part of a massive 32 touches. That number included nine intercepts, a team high, as the Blue backline restricted the Bombers. His 547 metres gained were also a game high, performing what is hastily becoming football’s most important role.


4 David Cuningham (Carlton)

Key Stats: With Patrick Cripps being well held by Langford, it was up to the less heralded names to shoulder the midfield load. Cuningham did that, with his 28 touches being beaten only by Docherty for the game. Sent his side inside 50 a game high six times, was involved in a game high seven scores, gained a game high 510 metres gained and reeled in eight marks in a performance which only could have been improved had he converted his late behind to seal the door.


3 Levi Casboult (Carlton)

Key Stats: Somehow Levi Casboult seems to be in All Australian conversations at the end of round 4. His performance against the Bombers certainly helped that. His nine marks, three of which were contested and five of which were inside 50, were all game highs, to go with three goals straight in the first, second and last quarters to hand the Blues the narrowest of wins.


2 Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton)

Key Stats: Whether you consider Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti a barometer for the Bombers, or simply a player who plays better when his side play better, SPS ensured there would be no discussion, keeping the small forward to just four touches and one last quarter goal. The Blue himself had 14 touches, five marks, and three score involvements, as he managed to turn wily defence into strong offence.


1 Kyle Langford (Essendon)

Key Stats: The Bomber’s best player on the night was tasked with keeping Carlton’s best player quiet, and while Cripps wasn’t a non-factor, the chocolates go to Langford. Cripps managed just two clearances, his worst performance in that metric since Essendon’s win over Carlton in Brendon Bolton’s last game, and Langford himself had three. Further, Cripps was involved in just two scores, one of which was his own third quarter behind, as the Bomber was able to restrict the brilliance of Carlton’s captain while also having three score involvements of his own.


Unlucky to miss: The Bombers’ defenders were all fairly solid, keeping Carlton to seven goals from 49 forward entries, and Marc Pittonet continued his strong form with eight clearances.


Gold Coast v Fremantle


5 Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: The B-Rowell-nlow bandwagon rolled on against the Dockers, with the number one draft pick turning in his third consecutive 20 touch, two goal game. It’s hard to find fault with the young bull’s game, with seven clearances, five tackles, 12 contested possessions and a game high six score involvements in addition to the above numbers. His goals came either side of the Dockers’ fifth, sixth and seven goals and ensured that the Suns remained in the game at three quarter time before going on to win.


4 Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Probably fair to say the sooner Freo get Sean Darcy back the better. Rory Lobb is largely unable to compete with the competition’s best ruckmen, which is what Jarrod Witts is fast becoming. His 38 hitouts translated into a 37-22 clearance advantage for the Suns. The skipper himself had three clearances, five marks and six score involvements in a dominant rucking performance.


3 Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: The footy world’s current amorance with Matt Rowell has allowed Touk Miller to fly under the radar, but the Suns’ vice captain could just as easily be up there in the count as it currently stands. Miller also had 20 touches, a game high 13 of which were contested, seven clearances, and six tackles, including three inside forward 50.


2 Darcy Tucker (Fremantle)

Key Stats: With Nat Fyfe’s hamstring letting him down in the third quarter, the Dockers needed one of their young brigade to stand up. Darcy Tucker provided that, playing one of the best games of his 74 so far. His 20 touches and five tackles were both team highs as he continually cracked in around the ball, and his goal just before half time meant Freo remained in the game.


1 Jack Bowes (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: As a young leader, Jack Bowes is continuing to indicate his strong talent. A game high nine of his 18 touches came from intercepts, as he repeatedly cut off Fremantle’s possessions, and he also sent his side inside 50 on a game high five occasions. Only Jack Lukosius gained more than his 354 metres for the game.


Unlucky to miss: As ever, with Fremantle, Michael Walters was the spark, with two goals from 15 touches. Brandon Ellis put in his best performance in red and yellow, as, arguably, did Jack Lukosius.


Brisbane v Adelaide


5 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

Key Stats: It could have been a performance for the ages, had Lachie Neale managed to kick straight. Instead, the former Docker has to settle for a second consecutive best on ground performance, with 31 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 13 score involvements, and 568 metres gained all game or team highs, to go with seven intercepts and four clearances. The only blemish on his game was the 0.6 return, as he managed to break the shackles from teammate Ben Keays to run riot in the second half.


4 Jarrod Berry (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Berry’s development quietly continues, and he was very solid against the Crows to feature in the votes for the second week running. His 23 touches included nine score involvements, two of which were direct goal assists, and he also laid a game high 10 tackles demonstrating his outstanding workrate.


3 Hugh McLuggage (Brisbane)

Key Stats: McLuggage, too, could have had the kind of performance that people remember for years, like Chris Judd’s five goals against Brisbane early in his career. Instead, it was an almost game for the young winger, with a 1.5 return from 24 touches. Only Neale gained more than his 479 metres and was involved in more than his 12 scores for the Lions though, while he also managed to send his side inside 50 seven times.


2 Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane)

Key Stats: The former Cat hadn’t kicked a goal yet this season, but turned in a solid performance to feature in the votes. His 11 touches included four marks (two contested), two first half goals, and seven score involvements, as he buzzed away craftily forward of centre. Also laid four tackles.


1 Mitch Robinson (Brisbane)

Key Stats: It probably wasn’t Robbo’s best game for the Lions but it was a pretty good one. His 12 contested possessions out of 17 total were more than any Crow, while he also intercepted seven times, had two goal assists out of five score involvements, sent the Lions inside 50 five times and gained 465 metres.


Unlucky to miss: Jarryd Lyons’ performance against his old side was unlucky not to feature here, but the Crows had very few winners apart from a decent patch in the third quarter.



 Melbourne v Geelong


5 Cam Guthrie (Geelong)

Key Stats: In a game few will be in any haste to rewatch, Guthrie’s run and cleanliness with ball in hand was a decisive factor. Only Menegola had more than Guthrie’s 24 touches for the game, but the latter’s 88% efficiency gets him the nod. Also reeled in 10 marks, had an equal team high three clearances, booted a goal just before three quarter time and gained 304 metres in a best on ground display.


4 Mark Blicavs (Geelong)

Key Stats: With Tom Stewart down, it was left to Blicavs to organise the defence, a role which he handled mostly well. A game high 10 of his 15 touches came from intercepts, to go with seven one percenters, five marks and three score involvements. In a game where goals were at a premium, the Geelong defence’s capacity to restrict Melbourne to just six goals from 46 entries was decisive, and Blicavs played a big role in that. Head Mongrel HB gave some of the Geelong supporters (myself included) in our Mongrel Chat a little whack in the group chat for being too harsh on Blicavs after last week, but his performance against the Dees was reminiscent of his two B&F seasons.


3 Sam Menegola (Geelong)

Key Stats: Geelong’s other wingman for most of the day, Menegola too played an important role. His 25 touches were a game high, racking up 10 marks as the Cats chipped the ball around. Also had a game high seven score involvements and team highs in three clearances and six inside 50’s in one of his better performances of the season.


2 Steven May (Melbourne)

Key Stats: Just as the Dees struggled to score, so too did the Cats, and May was integral to that. His 11 one percenters were a game high as an impassable force down back for the Dees, and he also rebounded an equal team high five times in a strong, lockdown defensive performance.


1 Jake Kolodjashnij (Geelong)

Key Stats: In his first game back, Kolodjashnij added a solid pair of hands to a Geelong backline which needed it given the absence, largely, of Stewart. His eight one percenters were beaten only by Jack Henry for the Cats, while he also took six marks and intercepted six times as part of a very handy Geelong backline.


Unlucky to miss: Honestly the fact that five players even found their way into the votes in this one is a miracle given the quality of football played. Maybe a little harsh. O’Connor, Henry and Duncan were pretty good for Geelong, and for the Dees Brayshaw could maybe have won them the game, had he played more than 67% game time.


Hawthorn v North Melbourne


5 Chad WIngard (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Back to All Australian form, Wingard was integral to the Hawks’ win in another game not many will be in any hurry to request a re-run of. The only multiple goalscorer on the ground, Wingard’s three, all of which came after half time, looked certain to seal the game before a late fightback from North. The former Power man also had 18 touches for a game high seven score involvements, and gained 401 metres with ball in hand.


4 Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: Continuing a strong year with votes for the third time out of four starts, Simpkin, cast in the Ben Cunnington role given the bull’s continued absence, almost got the Roos over the line. Only Todd Goldstein had more than his 12 contested touches and seven clearances for their side, and no player in blue and white laid more than his six tackles. Also booted North’s first goal of the game as part of five score involvements.


3 Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: Up against the hot and cold Ceglar, Goldstein largely broke even in the ruck, though North won the clearances 42-27, but the Roo also dominated around the ground. A large factor in North Melbourne’s clearance dominance, Goldy had a game high nine of his own as part of 18 touches (13 contested). The ruckman also gained 383 metres in another quality display.


2 Ben McEvoy (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Deployed, perhaps, out of position in defence, McEvoy looked the part of a full back against North. You’d be ropable if you had him in Supercoach, given he finished with just two touches, but it was his work without the ball which was most important. Ben Brown went markless and finished with just three touches and one last quarter goal, being completely blanketed by the former Saint in one of the key matchups of the game.


1 James Worpel (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: The reigning Peter Crimmins Medalist perhaps hasn’t lived up to that bulling thus far this year, but against North he turned in his best performance so far in 2020. His 24 touches were a team high, and only Tom Mitchell had more than his 11 contested possessions for the Hawks. His numbers across the rest of the board were solid, but it was his game high nine tackles which ultimately got him the final vote.


Unlucky to miss: Shaun Higgins was very handy for North Melbourne in a tight loss, as was Robbie Tarrant, while for the Hawks Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara turned in tidy performances in the middle.



(asterisk denotes club has game in hand)


1 Lachie Neale (18 votes)

2 Matt Rowell (15)

3 Travis Boak (13)

3 Chad Wingard (13)

5 Sam Docherty (12)

5 Todd Goldstein (12)

7 Jy Simpkin (11)

8 Patrick Cripps (9)

8 Toby Greene (9)

8 Isaac Heeney (9)

8 Touk Miller (9)

8 Adam Saad (9*)


Neale is the only player to have polled votes in every game this year, and has been vital to Brisbane’s improved fortunes upon the restart of the season. Rowell and Boak have been the two premier midfielders for two top 4 teams to this point, and so it figures that they feature highly, given their influence especially. Wingard may be a bit of a surprise, but for a Hawthorn team which is now 3-1, he’s been the critical figure.


Docherty is the forgotten man for Carlton, but the wider community seems to be waking up to his return. Goldy would have to be just about the All Australian ruck at the moment, if not for the ever excellent Brodie Grundy, and despite Bun Cunnington’s absence, Jy Simpkin has slotted right in at his feet as North’s inside man.


Two of the bigger names in the competition feature in the next rung down, with Cripps having polled three times and Greene twice, as two teams with contrasting fortunes last year look towards finals. Heeney and Saad have also polled twice, though Saad’s Bombers do have a game in hand due to Conor McKenna’s positive COVID test. Finally, in the media’s clamour to recognise the work of Matt Rowell, Touk Miller has gone somewhat forgotten, but has polled three votes in each game since the restart to feature in the top 10.