Rounds 5, 6 & 7 Mongrel Votes

 

Three more weeks finished in the strangest season the AFL has ever seen, which means it’s time for a Mongrel vote update. While one player continues to hold a handy lead at the top, the jostling for spots in the chasing pack is heating up, and with 10 rounds of footy to go, it’s still anyone’s bet as to who will be taking home the coveted title of Mongrel of the Year.

 

The format for the award is simple: each week, the writer covering the game for the Mongrel awards votes on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, using individual criteria which centre in general more on influence than purely on stats. The Brownlow may be a midfielder’s medal, but anyone in the league is capable of winning this award, from small forwards to key defenders. Here are the votes from Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2020 season:

 

Round 5

 

Carlton v St Kilda

 

5 Nick Coffield (St Kilda)

Key Stats: In his third season on the list, Coffield churned out one of his best games for the Saints so far. His 20 touches were one away from a career high, to go with a game high nine marks and 461 metres gained. Only Dean Kent had more than his six score involvements for the team, as he provided constant drive out of the backline.

 

4 Jack Steele (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Given one of football’s most important negating roles, Steele managed to restrict, somewhat, the influence of Patrick Cripps while having an impact offensively. Steele’s 23 touches and nine tackles were both game highs, and he matched the Carlton skipper’s output with four clearances. 13 of Cripps’ 22 touches came after three quarter time, when the game was effectively done.

 

3 Jack Billings (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Billings’ outside run was critical for the Saints in racking up their third win of the season. His 23 touches were an equal game high, and as with Coffield, he also was involved in six scores, including a goal late in the third quarter which made coming back a much trickier prospect for the Blues. Also had four clearances and gained 376 metres.

 

2 Rowan Marshall (St Kilda)

Key Stats: The dominant big man on the ground, Marshall may have only broken even with Marc Pittonet in the ruck, but it was his work around the ground which got him into the votes. His 19 touches included a team high 12 contested possessions, and game highs in clearances and inside 50’s with seven and five respectively. Also had 397 metres gained, the second most of any Saint.

 

1 Jarryn Geary (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Given the negating forward role opposed to his captain counterpart in Sam Docherty, Geary made the All Australian accountable while having an impact offensively. Kicked two goals in the first quarter, and turned all six of his touches into score involvements, while keeping his opponent to just two intercept possessions, and though Docherty finished with 20 touches, half of those came in the last quarter.

 

Unlucky to miss: Liam Jones was stoic in defence for the Blues, with five contested marks and nine intercepts, and Callum Wilkie was handy down back for the Saints, with five intercepts and five rebounds.

 

 

 Collingwood v Essendon

 

5 Dylan Shiel (Essendon)

Key Stats: Shiel’s value to Essendon only seems to increase with every passing week. Against the Pies he was crucial in setting up what was an impressive win. His 29 touches and six clearances were both team highs, and his goal in the last quarter slammed the door shut on the Pies’ chances. Add in game highs in seven score involvements, 570 metres gained, and six inside 50’s and it was an outstanding night for the former Giant.

 

4 Jake Stringer (Essendon)

Key Stats: At his best Stringer can turn not much into a whole lot, and he certainly managed that against Collingwood. Finished with just 10 touches, but three of them were goals as part of a run of eight unanswered by the Bombers which set up the win. Also laid a game high seven tackles including four inside 50 as Essendon demonstrated their pressure game.

 

3 Jordan Ridley (Essendon)

Key Stats: One of the most impressive young defenders in the game, Ridley showed his talent on the big stage in this game. 18 touches came at 83% efficiency, to go with game highs in seven marks and five rebounds. Also gained 374 metres with his disposals.

 

2 Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Essendon’s clearance dominance was critical to their win, but Grundy was one of few Magpie mids to attempt to stop the rot. His 10 clearances were a game high, as part of a 20 touch effort which also included 16 contested possessions and six tackles.

 

1 Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Essendon)

Key Stats: Another master of impacting contests with minimal disposals, McDonald-Tipungwuti’s 10 touches included a return of two goals, both of which came in the third quarter bookending a run of four Pie misses which may have allowed them back into the contest. Also laid a game high seven tackles.

 

Unlucky to miss: Adam Treloar was a ball magnet in his first game for the year with 30 touches and 18 contested, and the Essendon defence were all good, with Hooker and Hurley the standouts.

 

West Coast v Sydney

 

5 Nic Naitanui (West Coast)

Key Stats: Opposed to, well, very little in the ruck, Nic Nat had a field day against the Swans. His 39 hitouts translated to a 36-22 clearance advantage for the Eagles’ midfielders, and Naitanui had seven clearances of his own, to go with six score involvements and five inside 50’s. In a performance which suggested the Eagles may have gotten back into their groove, Naitanui was integral.

 

4 Elliot Yeo (West Coast)

Key Stats: The main beneficiary of Naitanui’s aerial dominance, Yeo’s numbers across the board were excellent. His 21 touches included 12 contested possessions, team highs in five tackles and 469 metres gained and game highs in nine clearances and nine score involvements. Also sent the Eagles inside 50 five times in an outstanding display.

 

3 Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Key Stats: In a game featuring forwards like Darling, Kennedy and Papley, Oscar Allen was the dominant player in attack for the game. His three goals were the most for the game, as were his three contested marks, and his seven hitouts were the second most for the game behind Naitanui, as an interesting bit of trivia. Accrued eight score involvements too.

 

2 Dom Sheed (West Coast)

Key Stats: Sheed’s struggles since the season restart were largely emblematic of his side’s struggles, but he turned that around against the Eagles. His 24 touches were a team high, his 14 contested possessions a game high as he crashed in in the middle. Matched Yeo for clearances with nine and gained 424 metres for the match, to go with a second quarter goal which gave the Eagles the lead for good.

 

1 Jake Waterman (West Coast)

Key Stats: While it may not have shown in terms of statistical output, Waterman’s workrate was what won him the votes here. His 11 touches included five score involvements, including two first quarter goals to keep the margin in check and a direct goal assist, and he also sent the Eagles inside 50 on three occasions.

 

Unlucky to miss: It was the usual suspects, in Kennedy, Florent and Parker who were Sydney’s best, although their side were largely uncompetitive after quarter time. A number of Eagles could have been considered, including Shannon Hurn and Brad Sheppard.

 

Geelong v Gold Coast

 

5 Sam Menegola (Geelong)

Key Stats: Deployed on a wing in recent times, Menegola’s form has been vital to Geelong’s rise up the ladder. Against the Suns he was the Cats’ best. 20 of his 23 disposals came before three quarter time, when the game was there to be won, to go with a third quarter goal, eight score involvements and 380 metres gained in a standout display.

 

4 Zach Tuohy (Geelong)

Key Stats: Increasingly seeing time further up the ground, Tuohy’s hard running ability was on display against the Suns. His 20 disposals resulted in a game high 507 metres gained, and he led the Cats in both inside 50’s (five) and rebounds (four), demonstrating his workrate up and down the wing.

 

3 Hugh Greenwood (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: An under the radar acquisition, perhaps, Hugh Greenwood has been a more than handy addition to the Suns’ midfield. With Matt Rowell going down injured, Greenwood was forced to take on more responsibility and he did with aplomb. Only David Swallow had more than his 21 touches for the Suns, but no player in the game had more than his 15 contested touches, six clearances or 11 tackles.

 

2 Tom Hawkins (Geelong)

Key Stats: It may have been ‘just’ a three goal return for Hawkins, but it was arguably his work further up the ground which was most impressive for the Cats. Took a game high eight marks, including four inside 50, but also had four direct goal assists as part of 12 total score involvements from just 17 touches.

 

1 Brandon Parfitt (Geelong)

Key Stats: In what has so far been a season which has suggested Brandon Parfitt has a genuine place in Geelong’s midfield, the 50-gamer turned in another impressive performance against the Suns. Had just 11 touches, but matched that with an equal game high 11 tackles and two goals before three quarter time.

 

Unlucky to miss: In game number 300, Joel Selwood turned in a strong shift, as did Mitch Duncan, while for the Suns it was their co-captains in Swallow and Witts who were their next best.

 

 

 Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne

 

5 Josh Bruce (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: With their young ace tall forward Aaron Naughton lost for a period to a syndesmosis injury, the Dogs needed their new recruit to step up and boy, did he. In his fifth game for the Dogs Bruce matched his career best with six goals, and nine of his 10 touches resulted in scores. Also reeled in six marks, three of which were contested and four of which came inside forward 50.

 

4 Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Against a team who relish hard ball winning, Liberatore stood up for the Dogs as his side’s most important mid. His nine contested possessions were a team high, and only ball magnet Macrae had more than his 23 disposals for the game. Racked up an equal team high five clearances and was involved in eight scores.

 

3 Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: In his first game back since the season restart, the Dogs’ flag captain was back near his intercepting best. Only Robbie Tarrant had more than Wood’s nine marks for the game, but no player had more than his four contested grabs, and no Dog had more than his nine intercept possessions as the Dogs’ backline kept the Roos to five goals from 40 entries.

 

2 Tim English (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Votes for the third week running for English, who has more than made up for his inability to win ruck contests with his work around the ground. The young Dog’s 22 touches included an equal team high nine contested touches, eight marks, seven score involvements and five intercepts. Despite Todd Goldstein’s ascendancy in the hitouts, the Dogs actually won the clearances 29-26 in an important statistical win.

 

1 Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Jack Macrae the leading disposal getter in a win for the sons of the West. You’d read that and think this year was going exactly to plan. Macrae’s 24 touches included five clearances, seven score involvements and three inside 50’s, as well as five rebounds from defence.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jy Simpkin and Todd Goldstein were solid again in a team that were largely uncompetitive. Caleb Daniel was very unlucky to miss out on votes.

 

Brisbane v Port Adelaide

 

5 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Lachie Neale the leading disposal getter in a win for the Lions. You’d read that and think this year was going exactly to plan. His third straight best on ground performance included 29 touches and seven clearances, both game highs, to go with strong numbers in score involvements (six), inside 50’s (five) and metres gained (505). Perhaps most importantly, after his goal kicking debacle the week before, the former Docker kicked a last quarter goal to settle the yips.

 

4 Jarryd Lyons (Brisbane)

Key Stats: How a player of this quality has been effectively allowed to leave two clubs is beyond me, but that’s tangential to the point. Lyons seems to be back somewhere near his best, and his 27 disposals were beaten only by Neale for the game. His 10 contested possessions were also the second most for the Lions, to go with five tackles, four clearances, five inside 50’s, five score involvements and five intercepts.

 

3 Hugh McLuggage (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Perhaps not the young winger’s best performance in maroon, but a good one nonetheless. 19 touches came at 74% efficiency and included a goal, four score involvements and 318 metres gained. Most importantly, though, registered a game high seven tackles.

 

2 Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Despite the loss, the former skipper’s performance required recognition. His 17 contested possessions were a clear game high, and no Power player had more than his 26 touches. Also had team or game highs in clearances (six), score involvements (eight) and inside 50’s (four).

 

1 Daniel Rich (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Rich may well be the key to Brisbane’s flag chances, and if he plays as he did against the Power they’ll be even closer to the pinnacle. His 20 touches included a game high nine rebounds, a team high 508 metres gained and eight contested possessions in a solid showing off half back.

 

Unlucky to miss: Harris Andrews kept Gerard Healy’s pet project, Charlie Dixon, to 0 goals, but couldn’t be squeezed into the votes. Dan Houston ran hard for the Power but ultimately they finished too far back.

 

Adelaide v Fremantle

 

5 Griffin Logue (Fremantle)

Key Stats: In a game which was by no means pretty but would provide a critical win for either side, Logue and the Freo backline were crucial. Only Andy Brayshaw had more than Logue’s nine contested touches for Fremantle, and the defender’s 14 possessions came at 93%, but Logue’s defensive output, including six spoils and seven intercepts, restricted the Crows to just four goals from 42 entries.

 

4 David Mundy (Fremantle)

Key Stats: With Nat Fyfe out, it was up to Freo’s old skipper to carry the midfield. At times he’s looked old and slow this season but in this game he was excellent, with a team high 25 touches including nine contested possessions, a game high seven clearances and five score involvements as the Dockers’ premier midfielder.

 

3 Rory Laird (Adelaide)

Key Stats: Laird’s ability to rack up touches across half back and drive the Crows forward has been somewhat limited this year, but against the Dockers he had one of his better games of 2020. Only the Crouch brothers had more touches for Adelaide than Laird, who had 22 of his 25 touches before three quarter time when the Crows were competitive. Also took six marks and gained 334 metres.

 

2 Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Continuing to improve with every game in the side, Brayshaw’s work in the middle, in tandem with Mundy, was one of the most important factors in Freo’s first win of 2020. His 10 contested possessions, out of 23 total, were a team high, to go with six intercepts, four score involvements and 324 metres gained, as well as five tackles.

 

1 Darcy Tucker (Fremantle)

Key Stats: In a game where just 12 goals were kicked, Darcy Tucker’s two, in the first and last, proved very important. However, he also led the game in score involvements, with six, and metres gained, with 489, from just 16 touches. Also sent the Dockers inside 50 on four occasions.

 

Unlucky to miss: Luke Ryan and Tom Doedee both had game highs in intercepts, with 12 apiece. James Aish was handy again for the Dockers.

 

 

 Melbourne v Richmond

 

5 Kane Lambert (Richmond)

Key Stats: In his 100th game, Kane Lambert demonstrated exactly why he has two top three best and fairest finishes in the last three years as the dominant player on the ground. His 27 touches, 12 contested possessions, eight score involvements and five clearances were all either game or team highs, while he also managed to kick three goals after quarter time as Richmond ran away with the game.

 

4 Noah Balta (Richmond)

Key Stats: Deployed down back in his first game for the year, Balta indicated that key defence may well be his position. His 20 touches were the second most for Richmond, as he racked up ball with ease, and a game high 10 of those came from intercepts. No Richmond player marked the ball more than his eight times, nor gained more than his 409 metres, and no player on the ground took more than his three contested marks or rebounded more than his seven times.

 

3 Max Gawn (Melbourne)

Key Stats: With Toby Nankervis playing just a half, Max Gawn was able to dominate in the ruck and around the ground. His 22 touches included five clearances, while he also reeled in five marks and laid a game high six tackles, setting the tone for his side.

 

2 Nathan Broad (Richmond)

Key Stats: Broad may not have won a lot of the ball, but his and the rest of the Tigers’ defensive workrate was crucial in restricting the Dees’ capacity to score. His 13 touches came at 85% efficiency and included six intercepts and six rebounds from defensive 50.

 

1 Michael Hibberd (Melbourne)

Key Stats: The 2017 All Australian is one cog in a Melbourne backline which on paper is one of the best in the league, and while their restrictive capacity wasn’t on show against Richmond, Hibberd was one of the Dees’ best. His 25 touches included a team high eight intercepts, as well as 327 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: Steven May was solid down back in his first game against his former co-captain, though Lynch kicked three important goals and also could have been considered for votes. Clayton Oliver and Dustin Martin were amongst their side’s respective best.

 

GWS v Hawthorn

 

5 Nick Haynes (GWS)

Key Stats: Not since the halcyon days of Jarryd Hayne at Parramatta has Sydney’s west had a Hayne Train worthy of the celebration Nick Haynes is worthy of. Tenuous, I know, but Haynes could be the man who ensures GWS go one better this year. His 21 touches included 11 marks and six intercepts, as well as 382 metres gained and a game high seven rebounds. Only Harry Himmelberg laid more than his five tackles for the Giants. Another very solid game from an All Australian in the making.

 

4 Josh Kelly (GWS)

Key Stats: After a lacklustre (by his lofty standards) start to the year, Kelly followed up a very good game against the Pies in round 4 with a stellar one against the Hawks. His 30 touches and 12 marks were both game high numbers, and only Jeremy Finlayson was involved in more than his seven scores for the Giants.

 

3 Jeremy Finlayson (GWS)

Key Stats: Jeremy Cameron kicked ‘just’ the two goals in this game, but it mattered little for Leon Cameron’s side, with a new forward pairing providing ruthless efficiency. Finlayson had 11 touches for the game, but three of his five marks were contested, and the same number came inside forward 50. He turned that into four goals, to go with a game high seven score involvements.

 

2 Harry Perryman (GWS)

Key Stats: At one point this year Harry Perryman was leading the Coleman. Having been moved into a more defensive role, he showed he isn’t just a one trick pony with 28 touches, 11 marks, seven intercepts and a team high 400 metres gained. Somewhat surprisingly, his three inside 50’s were also a team high. Though he (probably) won’t win the Coleman this year, Perryman is progressing very nicely.

 

1 Harry Himmelberg (GWS)

Key Stats: Himmelberg was the other part of GWS’s ruthless forward pairing. Though he had just the nine touches, he converted that into four goals, to go with a goal assist. Equally impressive was his work without the ball, with an equal game high six tackles.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jack Gunston and Jaeger O’Meara were probably Hawthorn’s best, though the magnitude of the loss precluded them from consideration. A host of Giants, including Lachie Whitfield, could have been included.

 

Round 6

 

Geelong v Brisbane

 

5 Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)

Key Stats: After a, by his lofty standards, subpar start to the season, Danger turned it on in his first game in front of fans in 2020. His 26 touches included a team high 14 contested possessions, and game highs across the board in nine score involvements, three goal assists, eight clearances, seven inside 50’s, and 473 metres gained. A pretty decent game then, all things considered.

 

4 Sam Menegola (Geelong)

Key Stats: Menegola was named on the wing in the Mongrel’s rolling All Australian side, and performances like these were exactly why. His 26 touches came at 92% efficiency, and included a game high seven intercepts as well as five score involvements. Two of those were goals, with a composed finish in the second getting the Cats back in the game and a long bomb from 50 in the last slamming the door shut on the Lions.

 

3 Mark Blicavs (Geelong)

Key Stats: Without Tom Stewart to marshal the defence, the two time best and fairest has had to step up in the last three weeks and was impassable against the Lions. His 11 touches may not read like a lot, but he also had a team high nine one percenters, as Brisbane were kept to six goals from 42 inside 50’s, and just two goals after half time.

 

2 Gary Rohan (Geelong)

Key Stats: Back on his old home deck, in new colours, but again as part of the home team, in a weird turn of circumstance, the former Swan looked aggressive and hungry from the start. Put a few over the top incidents in the first quarter behind him to run out a pretty strong game. Booted two goals in the third quarter to seal the Cats’ advantage.

 

1 Sam Simpson (Geelong)

Key Stats: Apart from looking the spitting image of his dad, Sam Simpson also looked scrawny and at times clueless in his debut year. After two years in the VFL, he came back and announced his arrival with a bang as the leading possession getter on the ground. His 27 touches included 13 contested possessions, six marks and six intercepts, as well as five tackles, in a strong display.

 

Unlucky to miss: Lachie Neale misses out on votes for the first time this year, despite being the Lions’ best. Jed Bews shut Charlie Cameron out of the game, while Joel Selwood just did the usual, collecting 20 touches and laying eight tackles.

 

 

 Collingwood v Hawthorn

 

5 Adam Treloar (Collingwood)

Key Stats: With his club having endured a torrid time in the media during the build up to this game, at his old home ground, Treloar put in one of the most prolific performances of the season. His 35 touches included further game highs in contested possessions (15), inside 50’s (eight), and clearances (six). Only Taylor Adams had more than his five score involvements for the Pies and only Brayden Maynard gained more than his 481 metres for the team.

 

4 Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Increasingly a lock at centre half back in the All Australian side, Moore marshalled a defensive unit that restricted the Hawks to just three goals. His nine intercepts were a game high, his four rebounds an equal team high, and he added 21 touches and 409 metres gained in a strong display across defence and offence.

 

3 Brody Mihocek (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Mihocek may have had just the nine touches, but the value he provided with that proved the offensive difference, arguably, in this encounter. Four of his five marks came inside 50, and he converted that into a return of 4.1, just two points fewer than what Hawthorn managed for the game.

 

2 Brayden Maynard (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Maynard could well be joining Moore in the AA backline, and in fact did when we released our rolling side last week. Against Hawthorn he managed 20 touches, including seven intercepts, and team highs in four rebounds and 523 metres gained. Restricted the dangerous Chad Wingard to 10 touches and two score involvements.

 

1 Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Providing dash off the half back line, in the absence of Jeremy Howe, Quaynor’s fifth career game suggested he will be in the league for a long time. His 15 touches came at 93%, and included 431 metres gained, six intercepts and five inside 50’s.

 

Unlucky to miss: Very few Hawks stood up, though Will Day was impressive on debut. A host of Pies could have been in the votes, including Pendles and Adams.

 

Fremantle v St Kilda

 

5 Michael Walters (Fremantle)

Key Stats: With Nat Fyfe clearly hampered, it was up to Freo’s next best player to lead the charge. Had just seven touches in the first half but finished the game with game highs in 26 touches, 12 contested, eight clearances and six inside 50’s. Had a team high 387 metres gained, too, and only Matt Taberner was involved in more than his six scores. Most notably stood up in the last quarter, especially late, atoning for a 50 metre penalty that allowed scores to be tied.

 

4 Taylin Duman (Fremantle)

Key Stats: There may not be a worse first name in the AFL than Taylin (Gryan is objectively a better name), but Duman was the best defender on the ground in this contest. With St Kilda managing just four goals after quarter time, Duman’s nine intercepts were a game high, as were his eight one percenters, and he went at 92% for his 12 touches.

 

3 Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Providing the support for Walters in the middle, with Fyfe mostly forward, this was one of the best games of Brayshaw’s young career. His 20 touches came at 85%, including eight at 100% in the third, and his five tackles were a game high, providing a defensive edge.

 

2 Matt Taberner (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Taberner’s two third quarter goals were vital to Freo’s comeback win, but his work further up the ground was equally integral. His seven marks and seven score involvements were both game highs, and the latter included two direct goal assists. Also reeled in three of those marks inside 50 as a constant aerial threat.

 

1 James Aish (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Bumped from the wing to defence to restrict Dan Butler’s influence, Aish kept the former Tiger to just six touches and a first quarter goal. The former Pie himself had 18 touches at 89%, and reeled in an equal game high seven marks.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jack Steele and Zak Jones were probably amongst the Saints’ best, though a team wide lack of defensive pressure probably cost them votes. Nat Fyfe’s impact was below his usual standards but he still kicked two goals from 18 touches.

 

West Coast v Adelaide

 

5 Elliot Yeo (West Coast)

Key Stats: Perhaps unsurprisingly, with West Coast rediscovering their mojo, Elliot Yeo was at the forefront in midfield. Only Sheed and Kelly had more than his 21 touches for the Eagles, but no Eagle had more than his 478 metres gained or five tackles, and no player on the ground had more than his seven score involvements or eight inside 50’s.

 

4 Tim Kelly (West Coast)

Key Stats: In his best game at his new club, Kelly dominated for three quarters before being wrapped in cotton wool for the last. His 24 touches were a team high, while his seven score involvements and eight clearances were both game highs, as the main beneficiary of Nic Naitanui’s ascendancy in the ruck.

 

3 Brodie Smith (Adelaide)

Key Stats: Moved up the ground a little to allow him to be more creative, Smith had his best game for the year in another loss. His 31 touches were a game high, to go with another game high in 662 metres gained, a goal in the last quarter and involvement in four out of the Crows’ nine scores.

 

2 Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Key Stats: It could have been a massive day for Allen had he converted his chances, but as it was it was just a solid day out for the young tall. His scoreboard return of 1.3 formed part of an equal game high seven score involvements, and nine of his 15 touches were contested.

 

1 Tom Doedee (Adelaide)

Key Stats: Having missed all of last season, Tom Doedee seems to have been forgotten as a footballer but his performance against West Coast showed he was back near his best. His 20 touches came at 90% efficiency, and included a game high six rebounds, team high 11 marks, seven intercepts, and 361 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jeremy McGovern was, as ever, impassable in the backline, and Dom Sheed was solid in the middle. Matt Crouch worked hard for the Crows though the midfield were soundly beaten.

 

 

 Melbourne v Gold Coast

 

5 Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

Key Stats: Melbourne had copped a bit of criticism in the lead up to this game, and Petracca’s kicking was, in conjunction with a number of teammates, under the microscope. His 25 touches in this game were the most by any player, as were his 15 contested touches, and though he went at 64%, his two goals were decisive. Also had six clearances and gained 335 metres in a bullocking performance.

 

4 Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

Key Stats: Oliver was another whose kicking was very much in question during the week, and though he wasn’t perfect by any means, his kick to Petracca for the decisive goal was arguably the most important field kick of the game. His 24 touches and 14 contested were only beaten by Petracca, but no player had more than his eight clearances or six inside 50’s.

 

3 Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: With Rowell out, the spotlight was shone on the Suns’ vice captain, and he was close to willing his side home. His 23 touches and 11 contested possessions were team highs, and he ran at 91% efficiency, which translated into seven score involvements. Only Izak Rankine had more for the game.

 

2 Jack Viney (Melbourne)

Key Stats: When Melbourne needed Viney to stand up, he did, and despite just two touches in the second, his impact in the second half gets him votes. His 12 contested possessions were more than any Sun, as he added another big body in the middle. Most notably, laid a team high eight tackles to restrict the flow of the Gold Coast offence.

 

1 Charlie Ballard (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Melbourne won the inside 50 count by 13, but only had two more scoring shots than their opposition. Ballard, in conjunction with Sam Collins, who was unlucky to miss votes, was critical to that. His seven marks were an equal team high, and three of them were contested grabs. A game high 11 of his 15 touches were intercepts, as he cut off a number of forward thrusts.

 

Unlucky to miss: As above, Sam Collins was unlucky, as was Hugh Greenwood with 12 tackles. Lever and May showed why the Dees chased after them as recruits.

 

Essendon v North Melbourne

 

5 Andrew McGrath (Essendon)

Key Stats: In a game that require cleanliness, Andy McGrath provided it in spades. With Dylan Shiel well held, McGrath’s 25 touches, at 84%, were a game high, while he intercepted six times. Only Darcy Parish sent Essendon inside 50 more often than his four times, and no player in the game laid more than his eight tackles.

 

4 David Zaharakis (Essendon)

Key Stats: With questions surrounding his place in the side growing louder and louder with each passing week, Zaharakis turned the clock back against North with a decisive performance. His 20 touches included three goals, one in each of the first three quarters, and only Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti had more than his eight score involvements for the game.

 

3 Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: Though Andrew Phillips broke even with Goldy in the ruck, the Roo ran his opponent ragged around the ground, as North’s best player. His 19 touches included 11 contested and six clearances, and only Jy Simpkin had more in both metrics for their side. The ruck had a team high seven score involvements and sent North inside 50 on four occasions in another vintage showing.

 

2 Cale Hooker (Essendon)

Key Stats: It is, as ever, abundantly apparent that North’s only avenue to goal goes through a tall, Sideshow Bob looking Tasmanian. Teams that can restrict Brown’s output put themselves in with a good chance of winning, and Hooker did that to aplomb for the Dons. Brown had just eight touches and one goal, while Hooker had seven intercepts and a game high 10 one percenters.

 

1 Jordan Ridley (Essendon)

Key Stats: Ridley’s output off half back has been one of the key factors in Essendon’s near perfect start to the year, and he was integral against the Roos again. His 18 touches came at 83%, and included five intercepts, a team high seven rebounds and 420 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: Saad and Parish were both excellent for Essendon and unlucky to miss votes, while Jy Simpkin continued his breakout season.

 

Port Adelaide v GWS

 

5 Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: In what was probably Port’s most impressive win of the season, Powell-Pepper provided the edge his side needed. His 22 touches were a team high, as were his 442 metres gained, and no player on the ground sent their side inside 50 more often than his six times. Also had three clearances, all of which came out of the centre square.

 

4 Kane Farrell (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: In his third season, and just his 14th game, Farrell provided a touch of outside class, to go with some immense kicking. His goal from inside the centre square in the last extended the gap between the two sides beyond a kick, as part of a game high eight score involvements, while he also gained 400 metres with his disposal.

 

3 Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Leader of one of the best defensive units in the league, and leader of statistically the best team in the league, Jonas turned in a strong performance down back. His 16 touches included a team high 10 intercepts and eight marks, while he also had a team high seven one percenters and sent his side inside 50 on four occasions.

 

2 Lachie Whitfield (GWS)

Key Stats: Whitfield’s outside run provided the Giants with some spark, and it was the number one pick who kept his side in the game for long stretches. His 25 touches were a game high, to go with a goal in the third quarter which gave his side their first lead of the day. Gained a game high 457 metres, was involved in a team high seven scores, had a team high four inside 50’s, took a team high eight marks and rebounded five times.

 

1 Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Butters provided a hard edge with his touches, and only Houston and Lycett had more than his nine contested possessions for the Power. His 14 touches included his side’s last goal of the day, and a goal assist, in another impressive performance.

 

Unlucky to miss: Ollie Wines was handy in the middle for the Power, while Jacob Hopper continually cracked in for the Giants.

 

 

 Richmond v Sydney

 

5 Callum Mills (Sydney)

Key Stats: As one of 75000 men in Sydney’s backline, Mills was arguably the difference between an eight point and an eight goal loss for Longmire’s men. A massive, game high 15 of his game high 29 touches came from intercepts, and his nine marks were also the equal most of any player on the ground. Gained 535 metres with ball in hand, and rebounded from defence six times.

 

4 Kamdyn McIntosh (Richmond)

Key Stats: McIntosh was everywhere for the Tigers, providing drive while also adding some defensive run. His 24 touches were the second most for Richmond, but included a game high 12 contested possessions, to go with seven intercept possessions and 540 metres gained.

 

3 Jayden Short (Richmond)

Key Stats: Roaming the halfback line, Short’s ability to propel the ball forward was critical for Richmond. His 26 touches were a team high, as were his nine marks and 542 metres gained. Went at 85% efficiency in a game where others struggled, and was involved in five scores.

 

2 Nathan Broad (Richmond)

Key Stats: Sydney scored just three goals from 35 inside 50’s, and Broad played a significant role in that. Only Nick Vlastuin intercepted more than his eight times for Richmond, and he added 302 metres gained at 88% efficiency.

 

1 Jack Graham (Richmond)

Key Stats: Graham’s work as a half forward, and especially the cleanliness with which he went about his work, gave Richmond a narrow edge. His 16 touches at 81% included game highs in score involvements (six) and inside 50’s (seven), as well as tackles (six), and he gained over 400 metres with the ball.

 

Unlucky to miss: Kane Lambert played a similar role to Graham to similar effect, while Tom Papley was the best forward on the ground.

 

Carlton v Western Bulldogs

 

5 Eddie Betts (Carlton)

Key Stats: Few players are more enjoyable to watch in full flight than Eddie, and in full flight he was against the Dogs. His 14 touches included a game high 10 score involvements, to which he contributed a return of 4.1. He also sent the Blues inside 50 on four occasions in a livewire performance.

 

4 Levi Casboult (Carlton)

Key Stats: Levi may have had just the 10 touches, but his aerial threat was a significant factor in the Blues’ win. Was involved in seven scores, including a goal of his own in the last quarter as the Teague Train rolled into party time. Also reeled in six marks, two of which were contested.

 

3 Harry McKay (Carlton)

Key Stats: It was a night for the Carlton forwards on the Gold Coast, and McKay enjoyed himself just as much as the two men above. His nine touches included five marks, three of which came inside forward 50, and he turned that into three goals. Impressively, also laid a team high five tackles as a tall forward.

 

2 Ed Curnow (Carlton)

Key Stats: With Pat Cripps’ impact limited, Curnow was the big bodied replacement for the Blues. No player on the ground had more than his 12 contested possessions, and his seven clearances were an equal team high. Was also involved in six scores, including a first quarter goal as Carlton got the jump on their opponents.

 

1 Sam Walsh (Carlton)

Key Stats: Walsh’s impact in the middle was arguably as important as Curnow’s. His 22 touches were a team high, as were his 410 metres gained and seven intercepts, in arguably the best game of his second season, to go with 10 contested touches, four inside 50’s and three rebounds.

 

Unlucky to miss: As ever, the Dogs’ midfielders were handy, with Macrae and Smith the standouts, though they had too few winners elsewhere. Matt Kennedy worked hard for the Blues, and Jack Martin was very stiff to miss out.

 

Leaderboard

 

1 Lachie Neale (23 votes)

2 Travis Boak (15)

2 Todd Goldstein (15)

2 Matt Rowell (15)

5 Chad Wingard (13)

6 Sam Docherty (12)

6 Sam Menegola (12)

6 Touk Miller (12)

6 Michael Walters (12)

10 Jy Simpkin (11)

 

Despite missing votes for the first time all year in Round 6, Lachie Neale maintains his firm grasp on first place on the leaderboard, as the driving force behind a young, hungry Lions’ side. Just behind him feature the trio of Boak, who started the year in similar fashion to 2019 but has polled just two votes in the last three weeks; Goldstein, whose dominance in the ruck has significantly boosted his side’s competitiveness; and Rowell, who made a barnstorming start to his career but is unlikely to be seen again in 2020.

At the next rung down, Chad Wingard has been Hawthorn’s most influential player all year, though he didn’t poll a vote in the last fortnight. Docherty’s return to football has been a reminder of his talent, Menegola’s work on the wing has been crucial to the Cats’ run of form lately and Miller has provided grunt to a Gold Coast side that look on the rise. Walters, as ever, has demonstrated his prodigious talent, with a best on ground performance in Round 6 seeing him in the votes. Jy Simpkin, one of the most improved players in the competition, rounds out the top 10, having proved a more than adequate replacement in the middle for the injured Ben Cunnington.

 

 

Rounds 7 & 8 Mongrel Votes

 

 

Round 7

 

Geelong v Collingwood

 

5 Jordan de Goey (Collingwood)

Key Stats: As a Cats supporter it warmed the absolute cockles of my heart that de Goey will play one game in 12 rounds and it was against us. Just truly joyous. In any event he really put the Cats to the sword in this encounter, with five goals from 17 touches, and a game high eight score involvements in the wet.

 

4 Brayden Maynard (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Maynard was part of a Collingwood backline that was impenetrable against Geelong. His 13 touches may not have been a game high, but they included four intercepts, to go with five one percenters and four tackles in a restrictive display.

 

3 Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Crisp’s run and carry off half back and the wing was critical to an impressive win for the Pies. His 20 touches came at a staggering 95% in the wet, and resulted in 466 metres gained. Also reeled in five marks.

 

2 Adam Treloar (Collingwood)

Key Stats: The leading disposal winner on the ground, again, Treloar may not have always been clean with his disposal but the amount of ball he won more than made up for it. His 34 touches, 18 contested possessions, and 11 clearances were all game highs, and only one player on the ground gained more than his 582 metres.

 

1 Darcy Moore (Collingwood)

Key Stats: Moore was a key pillar in the black and white backline, in tandem with Maynard. His 13 touches included five intercepts, but perhaps most impressive were his equal team high eight one percenters that restricted Geelong to just four marks inside forward 50.

 

Unlucky to miss: Patrick Dangerfield was very stiff here, though his 53% disposal efficiency hurt him. Isaac Quaynor and Scott Pendlebury were very good for the Pies.

 

 

 Essendon v Western Bulldogs

 

5 Tim English (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: It’s hard to remember, but in March this year English was absolutely slaughtered by Brodie Grundy, and questions were being asked about his position. Fast forward, and he’s now demonstrating some of his remarkable talent. Though beaten in the hitouts by Andrew Phillips, English ran his opponent ragged around the ground, finishing with 22 touches, of which a game high 17 were contested, as well as game highs in score involvements (eight), clearances (six) and contested marks (four). Capped off an outstanding night with a second quarter goal.

 

4 Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: The Dogs look a much harder, much better side with Libba in, and that was very much on display against the Dons. Libba’s 22 touches included 10 contested possessions, game highs in eight score involvements and six tackles, five clearances and three inside 50’s.

 

3 Mitch Wallis (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: Wallis’ move forward may well have extended his career while also adding a hard edge to the Dogs’ attack. His 10 touches against the Dons weren’t many, but he translated them into three goals, in an opportunistic showing.

 

2 Adam Saad (Essendon)

Key Stats: Perhaps aware he was left out of our last Mongrel All Australian side, Saad did everything he could to remind us at this site of his performance this season. Only one Bomber had more than his 23 touches at 87%, but no one on his side had more than his six score involvements, seven intercepts, and 429 metres gained.

 

1 Lachie Hunter (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: With the Dogs dominant in the middle, Hunter was one of the main beneficiaries of Tim English’s work. Only Jack Macrae, who was stiff to miss votes, had more than his 26 touches for the match at 81% efficiency, while he also laid five tackles and was involved in the same number of scores.

 

Unlucky to miss: As above, Macrae was stiff to miss votes, as, arguably, was the Bont. For Essendon, McGrath and Parish were solid if unspectacular.

 

GWS v Brisbane

 

5 Harris Andrews (Brisbane)

Key Stats: The best key back in the competition, Andrews’ aerial ascendancy was crucial for the Lions in getting back on the winners’ list. An equal game high 10 of his 14 touches came from intercepts, while he also reeled in seven marks and went at 93% efficiency. When a forward line with Cameron, Himmelberg and Finlayson takes just four marks inside 50, something is going well for the defenders, and in this one it was Andrews’ game high nine one percenters.

 

4 Zac Bailey (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Bailey’s workrate around the ground was another crucial factor in the Lions’ win. His 18 touches included a game high 10 marks, to go with 303 metres gained and two goals, in the second and last quarter, the latter of which really put the margin beyond reach.

 

3 Darcy Gardiner (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Gardiner provided effective back up to Andrews in defence, locking down a dangerous Giants’ forward line. He too had 10 intercepts from 15 touches, going at 87% with ball in hand, while he also had nine contested touches and took five marks.

 

2 Daniel Rich (Brisbane)

Key Stats: With Andrews and Gardiner locking down the aerial threats, Rich was allowed to create off half back, and that’s exactly what he did to strong effect. His 16 touches came at 75% efficiency, and included 364 metres gained.

 

1 Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

Key Stats: With external noise surrounding his position in the side, the GWS skipper put that out of his mind, turning in a season best showing. His 27 touches and 15 contested possessions were game highs, as were his nine clearances, and he was also involved in six scores.

 

Unlucky to miss: Mitch Robinson and Dayne Zorko did the bulk of the work in the middle for the Lions, with Neale well restricted. His tagger, de Boer, may have been considered for votes if the Giants got up.

 

 

Sydney v Gold Coast

 

5 David Swallow (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Though perhaps operating in the shadows a little bit this season, Swallow’s leadership and quality were both on display against the Swans. Only Greenwood had more touches for the Suns than his 22, while the co-captain managed a last quarter goal, six tackles, 13 contested possessions and seven score involvements.

 

4 Hugh Greenwood (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Perhaps unlucky not to be considered best on ground, the former Crow thrust his name further into All Australian contention with a very strong display. His 23 touches were a team high, to go with game highs in contested touches (18), tackles (12), clearances (nine), and inside 50’s (five). Not bad for a bloke who’s “too slow”.

 

3 Luke Parker (Sydney)

Key Stats: As Swallow did for his side, Parker led his side from the front as their best player on the day. His 27 touches and 488 metres gained were game highs, and no Swan managed more than his 13 contested, eight tackles, seven clearances or four inside 50’s.

 

2 Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Against Cal Sinclair, Witts had a day out, dominating the ruck contest and allowing his midfield to win the game. His 36-16 hitout advantage led to the Suns winning the clearances by 11, of which Witts himself had a couple to go with six score involvements. Also had 14 touches and eight contested, compared to his opponent’s eight and five respectively.

 

1 Izak Rankine (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: Desperately close to votes last round, Rankine showed it was no fluke by again displaying his raw talent. His 16 touches included two goals as part of a game high eight score involvements, as well as four tackles and an equal game high five inside 50’s.

 

Unlucky to miss: Touk Miller was a bull, as ever, in midfield and could consider himself unlucky to miss out. The Swans’ defenders were ultimately swamped though worked hard.

 

 

 Richmond v North Melbourne

 

5 Shai Bolton (Richmond)

Key Stats: With more outs than some considered coverable, the Tigers’ B-Listers turned in a very solid performance against a truly hapless North Melbourne. Bolton was the leader of the line; his 19 touches included a team high 10 contested, a game high seven inside 50’s, and 491 metres gained, seven score involvements and five clearances, all while running at 84%.

 

4 Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (Richmond)

Key Stats: Football needs more hyphenated surnames, and Eggmolesse-Smith might be the man to bring them back in fashion. In just his fourth game, the Hyphen looked very comfortable at AFL level, with 23 touches at 83% being a team high. Also gained 471 metres, laid three tackles, sent the Tigers inside 50 three times and had four rebounds.

 

3 Jason Castagna (Richmond)

Key Stats: Castagna is far, far from the most talented player in the Richmond line up, but his workrate is near unmatched around forward 50. His 18 touches against the Roos included a second quarter goal, and a goal assist as part of a game high eight score involvements, as well as five inside 50’s and 386 metres gained.

 

2 Dylan Grimes (Richmond)

Key Stats: North Melbourne kicked two goals in this game, and it would be criminal not to recognise at least one defender for their role in that. Grimes’ 19 touches came at 100% efficiency, and only Nick Vlastuin had more intercepts for the Tigers than his six. Was also involved in five scores, and no Richmond player had more than his nine one percenters.

 

1 Jack Graham (Richmond)

Key Stats: Graham’s ability to provide defensive pressure was the reason he was in the side that won the flag in 2017, and he looks to be back near his best in that metric. His nine tackles against the Roos were a game high, to go with five score involvements from 14 touches.

 

Unlucky to miss: Shaun Higgins? Nah. Racked up a shitload of ball through the middle, but did near nothing with it; his 36 touches included not one inside 50 and just four score involvements. Maybe a result of those around him but, nonetheless, he wasn’t considered. Nick Vlastuin, however, was stiff, intercepting a game high 11 times.

 

 

Carlton v Port Adelaide

 

5 Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: Port’s skipper ultimately proved the difference between victory and defeat for the Power, well before Robbie Gray pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Only Ladhams and Pat Cripps had more than his 20 touches for the afternoon, but no player intercepted more than his 11 times or had more than his 10 one percenters. Was a huge factor in Carlton’s tall forward line taking just nine marks inside forward 50.

 

4 Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: At the other end of the ground, Dixon dined out on Liam Jones, and but for some pretty woeful kicking he could have had a huge day out. Kicked 3.4 from 15 touches as part of a game high 10 score involvements, and reeled in a massive six contested marks, all of which came inside 50.

 

3 Jacob Weitering (Carlton)

Key Stats: With Jones being slaughtered continually, Weitering was forced to mop up, and did so with aplomb. No other Power player managed more than one mark inside 50, as Weitering intercepted an equal team high seven times, and rebounded a game high seven times as well. Westhoff and Marshall were goalless and had just 18 touches between them, and the number one pick was a big part in that.

 

2 Sam Walsh (Carlton)

Key Stats: From one first selection to another, Walsh’s last fortnight has perhaps quietened some critics. His mark back with the flight was the obvious highlight, and looks the favourite for mark of the year at this stage, but Walsh added two goals from 16 touches as part of five score involvements. Took the chocolates in the individual battle with Connor Rozee which is sure to rage for years to come.

 

1 Peter Ladhams (Port Adelaide)

Key Stats: When Scott Lycett was listed as an out, Carlton probably didn’t expect Port’s ruckman to be as crucial to the victory as he was. Ladhams had his best game at AFL level though, with an equal game high 21 touches. Only Travis Boak had more than his four clearances for the side, to go with five score involvements in an encouraging showing.

 

Unlucky to miss: Robbie Gray’s post-siren heroics may have won him votes in other outlets, but he was pretty well held for the rest of the game. Pat Cripps was handy, and probably only misses votes due to being marked against his own high standards.

 

 

Hawthorn v Melbourne

 

5 Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

Key Stats: As the AFL media is wont to do, comparisons following this game of Petracca to the absolute cream of the comp arose. On the basis of a small sample size, admittedly though, it does look like Melbourne’s bull has arrived. His 29 touches and 16 contested possessions were equal game highs, to go with an outright game high 14 score involvements out of the Dees’ 21 scores. The latter is a truly remarkable number, in combination with four clearances, six inside 50’s and 431 metres gained.

 

4 Max Gawn (Melbourne)

Key Stats: At times in the first half it appeared that Hawthorn’s game plan incorporated kicking it long and high to Gawn inside their forward half. The skipper picked off intercept marks with ease, finishing the game with a team high eight intercepts and a massive six contested marks out of eight total. Also had 22 touches, a game high 16 contested, seven score involvements and gave his side a +13 clearance advantage.

 

3 Jack Viney (Melbourne)

Key Stats: Viney’s last fortnight appears to suggest he is back, providing able support to Oliver on the inside. His 19 touches included 11 contested possessions; only Gawn and Petracca had more for the game. Add in a first quarter goal, a game high six tackles and nine clearances, and seven score involvements and it was a pretty solid outing from the former skipper.

 

2 Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

Key Stats: With Viney dominant on the inside, Oliver was freed up into a more outside role, and though his disposal is still imperfect, he was pretty handy overall. His 29 touches were an equal game high, to go with four clearances, a game high nine inside 50’s and a team high 505 metres gained.

 

1 Steven May (Melbourne)

Key Stats: It seems responsibility has fallen to May to distribute out of the backline, a role he has played to aplomb in recent weeks. His 19 touches came at 84%, and included a team high six rebounds, to go with five intercepts and five one percenters. Converted his disposals into 380 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: James Sicily was solid as ever down back for the Hawks, although weight of inside 50’s ultimately put him to the slaughter. Sam Weideman could have had a big day if he kicked straight.

 

 

 Fremantle v West Coast

 

5 Josh Kennedy (West Coast)

Key Stats: It’s one thing to turn the majority of your touches into score involvements; it’s quite another to turn them into scores yourself. Kennedy was unstoppable inside forward 50. His 11 touches included six marks, four contested and five inside 50, and he turned that into a scoreboard return of 4.4. Could have been one of the truly great games if he had have kicked straight.

 

4 Andrew Gaff (West Coast)

Key Stats: Being allowed to do Andrew Gaff things, the wingman’s 24 touches were a game high as he racked up uncontested ball and drove the Eagles forward with every opportunity. Gained a game high 477 metres, and sent his side inside 50 on a game high five occasions.

 

3 Tim Kelly (West Coast)

Key Stats: Kelly in recent weeks has shown that what West Coast gave up to get him was worth it. His 18 touches included 11 contested, and only Elliot Yeo had more for the game. Laid a team high six tackles, to go with five clearances, five inside 50’s and four score involvements.

 

2 Brad Sheppard (West Coast)

Key Stats: Sheppard hasn’t had quite the same impact he did early last season, but he was excellent against the Dockers. His 23 touches were all uncontested and came at 100% efficiency, highlighting his cleanliness, and he also gained 311 metres, rebounded a team high three times and marked a game high 10 times.

 

1 Luke Ryan (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Gallant in a backline swamped by sheer weight of numbers, Ryan’s team high 19 touches came at 90% and gained a team high 450 metres. Rebounded an equal game high five times, and had a game high nine one percenters.

 

Unlucky to miss: Elliot Yeo’s 20 touches included 14 contested and seven clearances, but no votes. Fremantle had very few winners across the board.

 

 

Adelaide v St Kilda

 

5 Jack Steele (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Given the tagging role on Brad Crouch, Steele managed to both ably defend and provide offence out of the middle. His opponent was kept to 15 touches, while the former Giant had a game high 26, including another game high 20 contested. Laid a game high six tackles and sent the Saints inside 50 a team high four times, but perhaps the most impressive stat was his massive 13 clearances as he torched the Crows’ big bodies. Also curled home an impressive finish from the pocket.

 

4 Zak Jones (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Providing similar amounts of grunt in the middle, the former Swan has been one of the recruits of the season and his 20 touches (10 contested) were crucial in his new side’s first ever win at Adelaide Oval. Had six clearances, and gained 365 metres with his disposals.

 

3 Nick Coffield (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Down back, Coffield’s intercepting and rebounding work were both significant factors in the win. His 17 touches came at 88% efficiency, to go with seven intercepts, four rebounds and seven marks in an impressive display.

 

2 Dougal Howard (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Opposed to Taylor Walker, Howard managed to restrict his opponent to some extent while providing decent drive. Walker managed three goals from just eight touches, but the former Power man had 16 of his own, to go with a team high seven marks, and game highs in five rebounds and nine one percenters. Also booted a goal of his own on the run from beyond the arc.

 

1 Tom Doedee (Adelaide)

Key Stats: Adelaide’s stand in skipper was probably their best performed player. His 18 touches came at 94%, and included a game high 10 marks, four of which were contested. Only Jake Kelly intercepted more than his seven times for the Crows, but no player on his side had more than his 402 metres gained or three rebounds.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jade Gresham went at just 39% efficiency so was probably excluded from calculations, though his raw numbers were very solid. The Crows simply had too few winners, although Matt Crouch tried hard in the middle and Jake Kelly was solid down back.

 

 

Round 8

 

Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs

 

5 Caleb Daniel (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: I’m convinced Caleb Daniel’s helmet contains some sort of Google Glass style targeting technology. The bloke very rarely makes a mistake, and Thursday was no exception. His 25 touches came at 84%, with six intercepts, 484 metres gained and a massive eight rebounds from defence as the Dogs’ designated deliverer off half back.

 

4 Sam Collins (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: The Dogs’ main issue in this game was confronting the wall Collins was. Freo supporters must be having nightmares about letting this bloke go. His 17 touches included a massive, game high 17 intercepts, and only Touk Miller had more than his 12 contested touches for the game. Also had 10 one percenters, another big number.

 

3 Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

Key Stats: His fifth three vote game since the season resumed, Miller is fast encroaching on All Australian certainty. No Sun had more than his 26 touches, and no player had more than his 16 contested possessions or seven clearances. Also sent his side inside forward 50 on four occasions and gained 377 metres.

 

2 Alex Keath (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: In tandem with Hayden Crozier, Keath pinned down the Dogs’ backline, ensuring the Suns managed just six goals, despite winning the inside 50 count by 10. The former Crow had 13 touches, of which nine were intercepts, as well as six rebounds and five one percenters in another strong display at his new club.

 

1 Tom Liberatore (Western Bulldogs)

Key Stats: While not always clean with ball in hand, the grunt work Libba provides to the Dogs’ midfield is vital to their success. His 19 touches included eight contested, four clearances, four tackles and a game high eight score involvements.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jack Macrae was given 10 coaches’ votes and 0 votes in this award, somewhat controversially. David Swallow provided guts in the middle but wasn’t especially efficient with ball in hand.

 

 

 GWS v Richmond

 

5 Toby Greene (GWS)

Key Stats: Though I’m sure GWS supporters wish Greene had have turned in a performance like this in the last meeting between these two sides, I doubt many would be complaining. The GWS forward line seemed to gravitate around him. His 18 touches included eight marks, four of them contested, and, of course, five goals straight, which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides.

 

4 Josh Kelly (GWS)

Key Stats: Kelly’s year has been motoring along since his four vote performance against the Pies in Round 4, and he was excellent against the Tigers in this game. His 26 touches were a game high, to go with a goal in the shadows of half time, team highs in 13 contested touches, eight score involvements, eight clearances and 491 metres gained, and a game high eight tackles.

 

3 Dustin Martin (Richmond)

Key Stats: In what was almost certainly his best game since these two sides last met, the two time Norm Smith Medallist did all he could but failed to get his side over the line. Had 23 touches and two third quarter goals, to go with game highs in nine clearances, eight inside 50’s and 506 metres gained.

 

2 Lachie Whitfield (GWS)

Key Stats: Whitfield may not have been as clean as he usually is, but though he missed a few targets he was ultimately very good for the Giants. His 26 touches were a game high, and only Nick Haynes took more than his nine marks. Gained 393 metres and rebounded from defence seven times.

 

1 Shai Bolton (Richmond)

Key Stats: With a number of Richmond’s A-Graders out or down on form, Bolton’s last couple of weeks have been outstanding. His 19 touches included an equal game high eight score involvements, with a goal, five clearances, six inside 50’s and 499 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: Brent Daniels could well have been considered for votes if he had have converted his gettable opportunities into goals, while Jayden Short gave Richmond drive off half back.

 

 

North Melbourne v Carlton

 

5 Sam Walsh (Carlton)

Key Stats: It’s been a solid month for Walsh, who put criticism of his game winning ability behind him to have won votes in each of the last three games. His 21 touches included 11 contested, a goal, six intercepts, four inside 50’s, five tackles and 303 metres gained.

 

4 Ed Curnow (Carlton)

Key Stats: Given the tagging job on Jy Simpkin, Curnow restricted his opponent to just 11 touches and no score involvements, while having a game high six clearances of his own for his side. His 19 touches included a team high 13 contested possessions and 431 metres gained, and a game high 10 tackles, as well as five inside 50’s.

 

3 Jared Polec (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: Playing the hard running role to which he is probably most suited, the former Power man was North’s best player in this game. His 25 touches and 16 contested were both clear game highs, to go with a third quarter goal, six tackles, eight intercepts, five inside 50’s and 335 metres gained.

 

2 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

Key Stats: Despite having opponents hanging off him at every contest, Cripps still managed to have an impact on this contest. I suppose he is used to carrying blokes week in, week out. His 16 touches came at 88%, and included five tackles, five score involvements and four inside 50’s.

 

1 Bailey Scott (North Melbourne)

Key Stats: Bailey Scott hasn’t played anywhere near enough footy for North over the last season and a half, and he showed why he should be a fixture in the side on Saturday. His 11 touches included three goals, as well as four tackles in a good display of forward pressure.

 

Unlucky to miss: Somewhat controversially, according to probably no one except my one-eyed Carlton supporter family, Will Setterfield didn’t receive a vote. Jed Anderson did a decent job restricting Cripps, though the Carlton player certainly got the chocolates.

 

 

Sydney v Hawthorn

 

5 Dane Rampe (Sydney)

Key Stats: More astute judges than I would certainly have Rampe in the conversation for best defender in the game, and his value to his side shouldn’t be understated. Only Jake Lloyd had more than his 25 touches for the game, despite a broken hand. Went at 84% efficiency, had a game high 12 intercepts, rebounded six times and had nine one percenters in an all round great defensive display.

 

4 Tom Papley (Sydney)

Key Stats: The other game winner for the Swans, Papley is the best small forward in the game right now. In a game decided by less than two kicks, Papley’s four goal return was vital to the Swans getting the win on the board. His double goal, controversial though it was, was the decisive moment in the game. Only James Rowbottom sent the Swans inside 50 more often than his six times.

 

3 James Sicily (Hawthorn)

Key Stats: Dominant down back, Sicily was thrown forward late and looked a possible game winner. His 23 touches included 11 contested, and only Shiels had more for the game. His seven marks and three contested marks were both game highs, and no Hawk had more than his 11 intercepts. Also gained 433 metres.

 

2 Jake Lloyd (Sydney)

Key Stats: Questions often surround Lloyd’s ability to actually impact contests, but on weight of numbers alone he receives votes here. His 34 touches were a game high, as were his seven marks and 12 intercepts. In addition, no Swan had more than his 524 metres gained or 11 contested possessions.

 

1 Luke Parker (Sydney)

Key Stats: The Swans’ other co-captain, Parker provided a stoic presence in the middle of the ground. His 22 touches included a first quarter goal, 10 contested possessions, four clearances and five tackles.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jaeger O’Meara and Liam Shiels both worked hard in the middle for Hawthorn, while Callum Mills was solid down back for the Swans.

 

 

 Port Adelaide v St Kilda

 

5 Rowan Marshall (St Kilda)

Key Stats: With questions surrounding whether he and Ryder could ruck together in the same side, Marshall turned in a best on ground display in what was certainly St Kilda’s best win of the Ratten era. Had 11 hitouts, kicked two goals from 15 touches, including a team high 13 contested and five inside 50’s, to go with seven clearances, and a game high six score involvements and 421 metres gained, in arguably his best performance of the year.

 

4 Paddy Ryder (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Squeezed out of Port Adelaide by Scott Lycett, and with Peter Ladhams on the rise, Ryder looked like he had a point to prove, putting on a rucking masterclass. His 29 hitouts were double the next best, of Ladhams, and he also booted two goals from his 10 touches. A huge factor in St Kilda’s 41-31 clearance ascendancy.

 

3 Hunter Clark (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Hunter Clark continues to look like he belongs at the level, and Saturday night was no exception. His 24 touches were a game high, to go with six intercepts, the second most of any Saint. Also gained 296 metres and rebounded from defence five times.

 

2 Jack Steele (St Kilda)

Key Stats: After a best on ground performance on Monday, the former Giant backed that up with votes against the Power. Given the role in reducing Boak’s impact, Steele kept the former Power skipper to 15 touches while having 21 of his own, to go with 10 contested, six tackles, four clearances, three inside 50’s and 229 metres gained.

 

1 Callum Wilkie (St Kilda)

Key Stats: Given the role on Robbie Gray, who has been down on form of late but showed last week he still demands respect, Wilkie kept him to seven touches and one goal, having nine touches of his own which included four rebounds.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jade Gresham was good again for the Saints, though was again wasteful at times and so misses votes. Darcy Byrne-Jones was very good off half back for the Power.

 

Adelaide v Essendon

 

5 Zach Merrett (Essendon)

Key Stats: In what loomed as a potential danger game for the Dons, Merrett ultimately proved the difference in the middle of the ground. His 33 touches were a game high, as were his eight score involvements, to go with six tackles, six clearances, and team highs in inside 50’s (six) and metres gained (613).

 

4 Brodie Smith (Adelaide)

Key Stats: In almost any other game, Merrett’s metres gained would be a game high. Deployed on a wing, though, Smith was the driving force for Adelaide’s best performance under Matthew Nicks. His 24 touches included a goal, a game high 705 metres gained, a game high 10 inside 50’s, and a game high eight score involvements.

 

3 Andy McGrath (Essendon)

Key Stats: Quietly enjoying a pretty good season, McGrath’s work on the inside in the middle of the ground was another big factor in the Bombers’ win. His 25 touches included 12 contested, a game high 10 tackles, as well as a game high eight clearances. Also had six intercepts and gained 398 metres.

 

2 Jordan Ridley (Essendon)

Key Stats: One of the most improved players of the season, Ridley’s intercepting work has been crucial for the Bombers in their hot start to the year. His 18 touches included a team high eight intercepts, whilst going at 94% efficiency with ball in hand.

 

1 Ben Keays (Adelaide)

Key Stats: Quietly one of the recruits of the season, the former Lion has slotted right in at Adelaide as one of their better players. His 21 touches against the Bombers included 12 contested, as well as a team high five clearances, six score involvements and four inside 50’s.

 

Unlucky to miss: Paul Seedsman provided run and carry through the middle of the ground for the Crows to good effect, while Darcy Parish was good again for the Bombers.

 

 

West Coast v Collingwood

 

5 Josh Kennedy (West Coast)

Key Stats: In one of the more dominant performances we’ve seen from a forward this season, Kennedy took what was regarded as the best defence in the league and tore it to shreds. His 13 touches included five marks, all of which were inside 50, and two of which were contested. Most notably, though, he also booted seven goals, in an ominous return to form.

 

4 Tim Kelly (West Coast)

Key Stats: In probably his best game as an Eagle, the former Cat tore Collingwood’s midfield to shreds. His 29 touches came at a staggering 90%, and included game highs in score involvements (10), contested possessions (13), clearances (six), and metres gained (528), as well as a team high six inside 50’s.

 

3 Nic Naitanui (West Coast)

Key Stats: Naitanui broke even in the ruck with Grundy, and for anyone against Collingwood, that’s probably a win. Nic Nat went further, though, giving his side a +8 advantage in the clearances, having three of his own, and booting a first quarter goal from a snap. Numbers don’t always reflect Naitanui’s dominance, but he got on top of Grundy, and that went a long way to securing the win.

 

2 Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Key Stats: Maybe the most exciting young tall playing footy at the moment, with Aaron Naughton out, Allen enjoyed another excellent outing against the Pies. His 14 touches came at 86% efficiency, and included three goals across the second and third quarters as the Eagles hammered home their advantage.

 

1 Elliot Yeo (West Coast)

Key Stats: The Eagles’ bull was back near his best in this encounter, and though he wasn’t as clean as usual, he was still very good. His 22 touches included nine contested, six clearances, three tackles, five score involvements and 313 metres gained.

 

Unlucky to miss: Andrew Gaff did Andrew Gaff things, racking up uncontested ball and driving the Eagles forward, while Treloar and Adams were solid if not spectacular in the big loss.

 

 

 Melbourne v Brisbane

 

5 Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

Key Stats: After a fortnight out of the votes, Neale was back to his best on ground, ball winning ways against the Dees, edging his side home. His 33 touches were a game high, his 16 contested a team high, and he also had either game or team highs in clearances (seven), inside 50’s (seven), and score involvements (six). After talk that Petracca had become the best player in the league, Neale reminded us of his prodigious talent.

 

4 Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

Key Stats: Back in a more inside role this week, Oliver was very, very good. His 28 touches were a team high, his 17 contested possessions and 10 tackles both game highs as he continually did the work that needed to be done. Also had five clearances (a team high), four inside 50’s and 343 metres gained.

 

3 Jarryd Lyons (Brisbane)

Key Stats: Lyons has built well into this season, and his importance to the Lions’ midfield should not be underestimated. His 22 touches included nine contested possessions, as well as a team high nine tackles as he provided a much-needed defensive edge. Also sent the Lions inside 50 on four occasions.

 

2 Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

Key Stats: While he may not have been as good as he was last weekend, Petracca’s performance was solid again as he moved into second place on our leaderboard. His 24 touches included 14 contested touches, eight tackles, a game high nine score involvements, a team high five inside 50’s and 385 metres gained.

 

1 Zac Bailey (Brisbane)

Key Stats: For the second week in a row, Bailey features in the votes after a hardworking display. His 21 touches included a goal, four inside 50’s, seven rebounds and a game high 491 metres gained, working up and down the ground.

 

Unlucky to miss: Jack Viney was very good again for Melbourne in the middle of the ground, while Hugh McLuggage was solid for Brisbane.

 

 

Fremantle v Geelong

 

5 Mitch Duncan (Geelong)

Key Stats: Mitch Duncan’s value for the Cats should not be understated, and his addition into the middle more than compensated for the loss of Joel Selwood. His 26 touches were the second most of any Cat, 10 of which were contested, to go with a team high seven tackles, six intercepts, a goal and 354 metres gained.

 

4 Sam Menegola (Geelong)

Key Stats: Enjoying a superb season, against a club who didn’t consider him good enough to get a game, Menegola looked like he had a point to prove. His 26 touches included a goal, 12 contested possessions, five inside 50’s and a team high 587 metres gained.

 

3 Mark Blicavs (Geelong)

Key Stats: Without a recognised ruckman, Blicavs was thrust further up the ground and competed very strongly with Sean Darcy. The two time best and fairest had 19 touches at 84%, including 13 contested, a game high 10 clearances, four inside 50’s and 24 hitouts, as he allowed the Cats to enjoy a +11 clearance advantage.

 

2 Andy Brayshaw (Fremantle)

Key Stats: Freo’s best midfielder with Fyfe out and Walters well held by Cam Guthrie, Brayshaw cracked in when he needed to. His 28 touches and six clearances were both team highs, his 17 contested a team high, and he also laid eight tackles in an encouraging showing.

 

1 Tom Hawkins (Geelong)

Key Stats: Despite no impact in the first half and a suspension, Tom Hawkins’ performance in the wet ultimately won him a vote. Ended the game with 3.1 from 12 touches, including five marks, five score involvements, and two contested marks.

 

Unlucky to miss: Cam Guthrie is very stiff to miss votes here. 30 touches including 15 contested, and limited the impact of Michael Walters, crucial to the Cats’ win. Though Hawkins probably got on top of him in the second half, Luke Ryan performed very strongly in the backline with 14 intercepts and 661 metres gained.

 

Leaderboard

 

1 Lachie Neale (28 votes)

2 Christian Petracca (17)

3 Sam Menegola (16)

4 Travis Boak (15)

4 Todd Goldstein (15)

4 Touk Miller (15)

4 Matt Rowell (15)

8 Tim English (14)

8 Toby Greene (14)

10 Mitch Duncan (13)

10 Chad Wingard (13)

 

After a quiet fortnight, Lachie Neale made his way back into the votes, with a best on ground performance against the Demons opening up an 11 vote advantage for the former Docker at the top of the leaderboard. Petracca recorded best on ground performances in Rounds 6 & 7, before adding two votes in Round 8, to take him into outright second place. In third, Sam Menegola’s season has gone under the radar for near every media outlet except here at the Mongrel, with his work on the wing against the Dockers earning him votes for the fourth time in five games.

 

Boak, Goldstein and, perhaps obviously, Rowell didn’t add to their totals in the last fortnight, with the trio sitting in equal fourth place with Touk Miller, who has filled the void left by his young Suns’ teammate. Miller has polled votes in all bar two games since the resumption of the season. English was considered best on ground against Essendon, taking him into equal eighth with Greene, who was best on ground against the Tigers for his first votes since Round 4.

 

Rounding out the top 10 are Duncan, whose best on ground showing against the Dockers gave him his first votes since Round 3, and WIngard, who hasn’t polled since Round 4.