Every round has winners and losers on the scoreboard, but what about the nuances of the game? What about the individuals who staked a claim as a star, or watched their star fall?
The Mongrel has cast his eye over Round Five and here are the winners and losers.
Went into the game against the Blues with a plan, and brought his old team undone. Sent Geary to Docherty and Steele to Cripps. Both moves paid dividends.
If nothing else, his proactivity reflected poorly on the coaches in weeks before who opted to allow Docherty all the room he wanted at half back. Not with Ratten – he got on the front foot and stopped all that before it started.
He’s 20 years old and I had him as best on ground against the Blues. Consistently put himself in harm’s way, sat in the hole an at the pressure all night, and gave the Saints a calm, composed presence at half back.
With all the talk of the St Kilda recruits, it could be the development of Coffield that makes people sit up and take notice most.
And yes, two for the Saints as I neglected to add them last week. Glad they won…
Everything he touched in the game against Collingwood turned to gold. Whether he was taking marks and kicking goals or moving into the guts and winning clearances, Jake Stringer looked like a million bucks against the Pies.
If there were an Anzac Medal handed out for this game, he would have had to have gone close. What a shame he injured his ankle late in the game – Stringer was ready to be The MAN for the Bombers.
The former Saint was experiencing some teething problems at his new home. With a couple of less-than-stellar outings, Josh Bruce needed to lift with the absence of Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd.
And lift, he did. Matching a career-high, Bruce got the better of Robbie Tarrant to kick six majors as the Dogs powered home over the Roos.
The big fella must have been licking his lips when he saw both Sam Naismith and Callum Sinclair on the sidelines.
Forced to deal primarily with Aliir Aliir, Nic Nat had his way with some of the best ruckwork you’ll see. We tend to think of Naitanui as this unstoppable physical force, but some of his deft touches and palm downs to his onballers were absolutely brilliant in this game.
Anything less than a three vote result would be downplaying his impact.
Has lived in the shadows of the Geelong midfield for a couple of years, but has burst from the pack over the last couple of weeks.
Now making his permanent residence on the wing, Menegola’s ability to push forward and hit targets by foot is starting to stand out. In the Cats’ best for the past two weeks, I expect him to surge up our weekly wingman rankings when it drops Monday night.
The best full back in the league put his stamp on the game that was heralded as the game with the biggest stakes of the young season.
Aided by the underrated Darcy Gardiner, Andrews was at his contest-killing best as he strengthened his claim for a back-to-back berth in the All-Australian team.
The Tigers have been a team that might miss with the right, but will connect with the left. They always seem to have another string to their bow.
This week, it was Kane Lambert stepping up whilst others may have taken a swing and missed. He finished with three goals and an equal game-high 27 touches in a best on ground performance.
He’s been waiting in the wings for a while, but he stepped into the spotlight in this game.
Many will question how the Tigers are going to travel (literally) with a host of injuries and players opting out of moving into a hub, but it is the emergence of players like Balta that will make things work.
With Nat Fyfe on the sidelines, this became a danger game for the Dockers, but after struggling through the first part of the season, and working back from a broken leg, Mundy broke the shackles against the Crows.
He finished with 25 touches and seven clearances as he put the Dockers on his back.
I don’t want to say he took the chocolates against Todd Goldstein, but a few weeks ago if I’d told you that Tim English would be on a run of three weeks where he was amongst the Dogs’ best every week you would have laughed at me.
English has been huge for the Dogs, and if you’re looking for a reason for their resurgence, look no further than his form.
After the first couple of games this season, I was a little concerned that Kelly was a man without a position. His end to 2019 was poor and his start to this season was… average.
But his move to the wing has been a good one. He had the lazy 30 touches in this game, racking up 23 uncontested disposals and running at 80% efficiency.
The GWS midfield is stacked, and with Kelly embracing an outside role they become an absolute weapon.
I’m tired of Mitch. I’m tired of games where he has zero impact, I’m tired of him looking lost, and I am tired of waiting for him to do… something.
He has had under ten touches 12 times since joining the Blues. He’s become a very expensive passenger.
Well, it’s already been almost a week, and Sidebottom’s stupidity is still astounding. You know how sometimes you give things a day or two and it’s not as big a story and people are less outraged?
Sidebottom and Eddie Excuses really didn’t read the room on this one. In order to retain credibility, occasionally you have to put your hand up, cop it on the chin and move on. Ed thought it was better to label the suspension “excessive” and “contestable”.
He later softened his stance, and that was a wise move. Trying to defend the indefensible is something McGuire has made a habit out of.
MASON COX AND THE COLLINGWOOD SELECTORS
I’m not sure what the Collingwood selectors were thinking with Cox. In a way, he was set up to fail. The conditions were nowhere near conducive to a tall forward playing well, and guess what – he didn’t play well!
Now a fringe player at best, Cox’s senior career appears to be in a bit of jeopardy.
Another goalless week for Brown as he struggles to come to terms with 2020.
North are in desperate need of someone to step up, take contested marks and convert. Brown has done none of those things, looking more like a draught horse than a thoroughbred. He had plenty of mates who were ordinary, but Brown has been a star over the last few years and suddenly, he’s not.
How very 2020 for this to occur.
The toast of the town was dragged down in a nice Brandan Parfitt tackle (one of his 11) and tried to brace for impact. He did, but the resultant shock injured his shoulder and will see Rowell on the sidelines for weeks.
As the Suns hit the road, the timing could not be worse, but he doesn’t look like the sort of kid that will let this faze him. Seeing him sitting in with the mids at half time gives you an indication of the kind of player he is, and the kind of presence he has at that club.
He is a match winner. He is a star of the game. he is one of the most talented players in the league and can be best on ground either in the middle or up forward.
He also ducks way too much and gets nowhere near enough heat for it. I’d wager that he’s ducked a lot more than Joel Selwood over the last few years, and he is too good for that to remain part of his game.
I’m not sure there is another coach doing so little with so much.
Gawn, Viney, Petracca, Oliver, May, Lever, Melksham… the Dees should be better than this,. And had he not signed an extension on the back of their 2018 season, I doubt Simon Goodwin would be Melbourne coach right now.
That said, smart move signing that extension when he did.
What is he at the moment? A decoy forward? Is that the role he is playing for the Crows?
They rarely kick it to him, and when they do, Tex is moving like a container ship. I hate saying it, but 200 games is no longer a certainty.
NORTH MELBOURNE SELECTORS
Really? Ben Cunnington? The bloke looked like I do when my three year old wakes me in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.
Should not have been out there.
When the master coach talks, the AFL listens… but do the umpires?
After talking about tackles not being paid, the umpires paid a heap of them. Sadly for Clarko, it was the Giants reaping the rewards. At one stage the free kicks for holding the ball were 10-1 in GWS’ favour.
Shhhh, Clarko, shhhhhh.
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