Back for week two of the 2021 Finals, the Mongrel Punt Player Rankings feed directly into the Mongrel Player of the Finals Award.

In each game, two Mongrels rate every player on the park to give us the basis on which we’ll build our award on.

This week, Trent Adam Shields looks after the Lions, whilst The Doc rates his beloved Dogs. Here’s how they saw it.

 

Semi Final 2: Brisbane vs Bulldogs

 

A contest worthy of a final, less than 0.1 of a % separated them on the Home & Away ladder, and the barest of margins would again come to determine their ultimate fate in this knock out semi-final. For a game so close on the scoreboard it seems unfathomable that the Bulldogs would appear to make significantly less mistakes, but were also more efficient with their chances up forward. 

Macrae was a standout with his relentless ball-winning and Daniel shrugging off injury concerns to again be the premier decision-maker on the ground. The Lions will be left with plenty of soul searching over summer, despite a better game plan and probably more stars on the night they once again couldn’t get it done in a close battle under the fierce blowtorch of finals pressure. McCluggage was exceptional apart from his known flaws in front of goal, while Jarryd Lyons again produced a game of elite quality.

Much will be spoken about and dissected of the umpiring influence in this match, and rightly so, we can’t have situations where the men in yellow impose themselves so haphazardly on a contest, however all that counts for naught now as the Bulldogs take a deserved place in the Preliminary Final with their sights still firmly on adding to that 2016 premiership cup in this era.      

 

Brisbane – (Trent Adam Shields)

 

[24] Marcus Adams – 6

Succeeded admirably in his primary role that of nullifying star Bulldog forward Naughton who only contributed one goal and three marks, Adams, however, was a liability with ball in hand, turning it over repeatedly or taking the wrong option. Nine disposals and four marks brought to a close his best AFL season.   

 

[27] Darcy Gardiner – 4

Looks a shadow of the player so assured in past years, and injuries may have caught up as appeared to be running in quicksand at times against a vibrant Bulldog front half. Twelve disposals from seven intercepts and one sensational contested mark to repel an attack late in the game weren’t enough to override the memory of Gardiner escorting Smith inside forward 50 which led to Schache’s goal. 

 

[37] Brandon Starcevich – 5

Another Brisbane defender that excelled in the defensive component of his role, effectively shutting livewire match winner Cody Weightman out of the game before he was subbed out. HIs 14 disposals and five marks should have made a better impact based on his quality that had him in All Australian calculations throughout the first half of the season, however, he repeatedly was under pressure and made a critical error in the last term turning over the ball after trying to take on three tacklers. 

 

[14] Grant Birchall – 7

If that was to be the 286th and final game in the star defender’s career it perfectly encapsulated what he has done so many times before. 18 disposals at just a tick under 90% efficiency, his trademark ferocity at the contest has diminished as the years have progressed and he no longer breaks lines with his pace, but to the very end he was the trusted outlet for teammates to safely progress the ball to a better position on the field.  

 

[31] Harris Andrews – 8

Appeared hampered by a leg injury that restricted his pace around the ground, but that did not stop the big Lion from controlling the airways in his usual fashion. Nine spoils and eleven pressure acts are the unfashionable statistics he thrives on and his presence and commitment were integral to a botched goal where Schache and Hannan each had chances to deliver a knockout punch but were thwarted by the multiple-AA star. Almost became the unlikely match-winner when swung forward late, taking two commanding contested marks, but spraying his set shot that might have changed the result. 

 

[10] Daniel Rich – 7

Used his powerful left foot on nineteen occasions driving his side forward a team-leading 719m, but his usual impact and creativity was somewhat stifled with the Bulldogs players always aware of his presence and not allowing him the time nor space to cut them up. This was illustrated by him contributing a solitary score involvement well down on his season average of 4. 

 

[6] Hugh McCluggage – 9

Almost a complete game from the outstanding young Brisbane winger, an equal team-high 28 disposals, eight score involvements, five clearances and 609m gained. A tremendous team-lifting contested mark and snapped goal and searing long pass to Charlie Cameron for his first to kick start the Lions were the highpoints of a wonderful game. If the result had gone the other way probably would have pipped Macrae for best afield honours, but alas it was the old millstone around his neck, his poor conversion, twice missing gettable set shots in the third term that resulted in his ‘almost’ rating. 

 

[15] Dayne Zorko – 8

You feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster watching the Lion skipper go about his business, his brilliant work rate often usurped by moments of ill-discipline. He won plenty of ball in this contest, twenty-four touches, from four clearances and six marks, delivering five tackles also, but pointedly none after half time. It was probably an occasion where he needed to sacrifice his attacking instincts to restrict Macrae, that said he set up Robinson’s inspiring goal through sheer willpower, smothering a defensive kick, and could have been the hero as his flying shot in the dying moments sailed just out on the full rather than giving his side the lead.   

 

[5] Mitch Robinson – 8

The kamikaze Lion has enjoyed a renaissance in 2021 after looking like his best footy was behind him last year, and he finished off the season with one of his better games of the year. Twenty-four hard won possessions which resulted in seven inside 50s and five score involvements at 84% efficiency well up on his season average of 67%, best illustrated by the surgically precise hit to Cameron on the lead after bursting through a tackle on the wing. A typically bombastic five tackles, and a remarkable show of finesse to step around defenders and kick truly, he kept a cool head in the final term and almost willed his side over the line, if only a few others showed the same composure.   

 

[11] Lincoln McCarthy – 6

Finished strongly, being a constant threat in the final term as he continued presenting in marking contests, unfortunately his best chance after the first term he faded the shot badly for a behind. Was a workhorse, delivering five tackles inside his forward fifty zone to lead all comers on the night. Seven score involvements spoke to his presence, but unable to land that killer blow.  

 

[21] Tom Fullarton – 4

A vast improvement on last week as he was worked over by the stand out tandem of Gawn & Jackson. Impacted strongly on the first term with six of his 13 disposals, but was unable to provide support to McInerney late in the game as he tired, only contributing four hit outs. Kicked accurately from a rushed Daniher pass late in the final term to keep his side in contention, but appeared mostly out of his depth in this company.  

 

[33] Zac Bailey – 7 

His final play of the game probably deserved the mantle of match winner as he swooped on a loose ball, broke free of congestion, composed himself and tied the scores with less than 80 seconds left on the clock. Finished with 2.2 and had opportunities to break the game open as his feet appear to be moving faster than anyone else’s on the ground, a team leading 11 score involvements and took a big step forward to super-stardom this year. 

 

[18] Keidan Coleman – 7

Made a couple of early blues, telegraphing a handball to Rich when he should have taken a set shot, and being run down in the defensive fifty thinking he had more time than he did. However, was able to bounce back and probably be considered the best Lion across their two finals games. His 15 disposals rating over 90% for efficiency and made up of eight intercepts, and back to back holding the ball decisions against Vandermeer and then English part of a Lion purple patch in the third term. 

 

[3] Joe Daniher – 2

I sympathise with Joe, who has proven to have played his best footy as the second ruckman and floating tall in the forward line since his move to Brisbane, but with all of Hipwood, McStay and Payne knocked out, two of them literally, more was expected and he didn’t deliver. A sharp snap in the first term for goal, and then a clever certering pass to Fullarton late were great, but his positive moments were few and far between. You could almost accept a six disposal game matched up to an elite lockdown defender, but his lack of intensity when the opposition had the ball was his legacy in this one.  

 

[23] Charlie Cameron – 5

Dropped his head in what should have been a simple mark early before exploding with three electrical goals as part of an unstoppable early game onslaught had him as the most important player on the ground as the quarter time siren blew. Beveridge shifted Wood and Williams far away from the star and beckoned the underrated Duryea to stop the Lion talisman, who was arguably best on ground in the remaining three quarters. Cameron only once got off the leash again and despite a scintillating run, missed a very getable snap in the third before his opportunities once more dried up. 

 

[46] Oscar McInerney – 7

His rating eroded the longer the game went as he was worn down by the two man approach of the dogs, and potentially the long season rucking single handed. Comfortably won the hit outs with 40, but lost the count in the second half 16-22 as the Dogs got on top at the clearances. 17 disposals and six clearances was a great return, but only two marks, and several gilt edged chances missed on his forward forays where he would typically end up with set shots went begging.  

 

[17] Jarryd Lyons – 9

Led from the front throughout and was alongside McCluggage the stand out Lion player. Twenty-seven disposals, fifteen of which were contested, were supplemented by three tackles which earnt free kicks from his five recorded on the night. Delivered the ball inside fifty on six occasions with his disposals efficiency up by 8% on his season average. Gave his absolute all and was clean throughout when others fumbled or double grabbed. 

 

[9] Lachie Neale – 6

The Brownlow medalist finished with an equal team-high 28 touches, however his inside 50 and clearance count were well down on season averages as he struggled to impose himself on the game as he has so many times before. Will have nightmares about the two shots on goal from 40m that failed to register scores, and his last quarter snap that only snuck in for a behind, any of these hit the target and he’s likely playing off for a Grand Final in Adelaide next week. 

 

[2] Deven Robertson – 2

The impressive Brisbane rookie was overlooked in the side as Berry returned from injury and looked well short of the tempo in this game. Despite finding excellent positions throughout the game, was apprehensive in his attack when earlier in the season he showed no fear. A great run down tackle in the third could have turned around his fortunes, but unfortunately he was a passenger in this one. A bright future beckons though and should be a regular from 2022. 

 

[7] Jarrod Berry – 4

Has struggled to regain his 2020 form this year primarily due to injury, and started this game well with his trademark attack on the ball coming to the fore. Ten disposals and some crunching tackles were his contribution, before the effect of one of those tackles led to him being subbed out before half time. 

 

[12] Nakia Cockatoo – 1

Probably deserves a zero, but after receiving that rating for his qualifying final it just seemed cruel to deliver a king pair to the former cat. An inspiring story in being able to overcome so many injuries and setbacks to reach the highest standard again, but in hindsight based on where his fitness currently is he has no right playing in an AFL final. 72% game time for only five disposals was disappointing, especially when the one good chance he had to hit the scoreboard drifted wide. Impacted a contest winning his side a free kick for out on the full, and beat the imperious Duryea in a one on one, but if honest with himself needs to start pre-season training today for next year.   

 

[40] Jack Payne – 2

Called into the side to replace the concussed McStay as a makeshift forward, Payne was making a reasonable fist of competing in the air until he was split open by an errant knee from “team mate” McCarthy and subbed out of the game. Two tackles inside fifty and a shot on goal were a good start, but his loss critically wounded the Lions preferred structure. 

 

Medi Sub [35] Ryan Lester – 6

The consistent Lester returned from a hamstring strain and was called into action as Payne was taken to hospital. Was integral in several important moments as a forward in the third term including his first goal in more than four seasons, then went back to his more familiar defensive role with aplomb in the last.  

 

Bulldogs(Alex Docherty)

 

[10] Easton Wood – 7

Started the game matched up against Charlie Cameron, fresh off a five-goal bag against Melbourne last week, and couldn’t have started any more horrendously when Cameron kicked three of Brisbane’s five goals in the opening term. Not that Wood lacked effort, it was more just that he struggled to keep up with the pace of the game, especially off turnover. Looked as if he was moved off him after quarter time, which was good as I was starting to fear for his hamstrings. He was more effective when he was peeling off to become that classical intercept defender: equal leading Bulldog for intercept possessions with eight, and had three intercept marks – the most of any Bulldog.

 

[42] Alex Keath – 9

As I quietly anticipated, got the match up on Joe Daniher from the first bounce, and despite big Joe getting a goal early in the game, only saw the ball a further five times as the match unfolded. It was a blanket job of epic proportions, Keath himself had the nine disposals, which is a telltale sign that a key defender has beaten his man if they get more disposals. Had a rare opportunity to kick a goal in the third quarter, but his shot skewed wide, which would’ve been the cherry on top. I say it most weeks with Keathy, but he’s top five in the best and fairest, such is his importance.

 

[34] Bailey Williams – 6

Was caught out flying for contests that he failed to impact and as a result, direct opponents were queuing up for goals early in the piece, but settled down for an okay return. Was the equal-leading Dog for intercept possessions with eight for the game, but also took two intercept marks and was able to generate some offensive run from half back, recording six rebound 50s going at 70 percent efficiency by foot.

 

[15] Taylor Duryea – 8

That chase on Charlie Cameron in the dying seconds of the last quarter sums up the sort of season this man is having. He’s a smart and methodical defender and most of the time has the cool head to make sure the Dogs don’t cough up anything silly. Looked as if him and Wood were rotating between manning up Charlie Cameron during the game, and it worked, because Cameron struggled to continue his form from quarter time. His use of the ball quite good too, 83.3 percent by foot, as well as recording five intercepts and seven rebound 50s.

 

[43] Ryan Gardner – 4

Had the job on Jack Payne up forward before he was subbed out of the contest with a horrendous gash to his head. He wasn’t terrible, I’d still prefer him to Zaine Cordy, but he certainly wasn’t setting the world on fire either defensively. Recorded the four spoils, which is equal-second out of any Bulldog, but lost out in two separate one on ones late in the piece to an out-of-sorts Harris Andrews in a desperate attempt by the Lions to find a tall target up forward.

 

[31] Bailey Dale – 6

Not his best game, but I thought he did a solid enough job rebounding out of half back. I really admired his ability to try and make something when he shrugged off a tackle in the defensive half during the last quarter – this helped set up a Bulldogs goal and he’s been quite handy at doing this all season. However, was a little rattled by foot, going at just 40 percent efficiency from 15 kicks. Fumbled at times, but also came through with some good plays to help set the Dogs up on the offensive end.

 

[1] Adam Treloar – 3

It probably goes without saying, but this was one of the worst games I’ve seen from him this year. Not in terms of application, because I thought his pressure and his intent on the defensive side was okay as he laid the five tackles. But it just looked like one of those games where he struggled to get his hands on the footy – he went into quarter time without a disposal to his name and finished with just 10 for the match. 

 

[5] Josh Dunkley – 6

This was genuinely hard to judge, because it was pretty clear that he had the role of negating Brisbane’s Lachie Neale around the stoppages and for that, he played quite the handy role in keeping the 2020 Brownlow Medallist to just three clearances in this one. He was always getting a good number of touches, it was more a matter of making sure he wasn’t as damaging with them, which I think Dunkley was successful in mitigating, however he did get the seven score involvements. Dunkley himself had the 21 disposals, but also laid seven tackles and four clearances and had the 24 pressure acts – a fair game.

 

[7] Lachie Hunter – 7

I thought that this was your typical Lachie Hunter, run-of-the-mill sort of game. When I say that, it is in the sense that he was getting enough of the ball, I thought his linking up work with his teammates was good, he was getting others involved and it was a fine performance without standing out enormously. He would go on to record 20 disposals, four marks, four clearances, seven score involvements and seven inside 50s going at a very tidy 78.6 percent efficiency by foot.

 

[23] Laitham Vandermeer – 5

Tackled and pressed well early in the game,, but he’s got to learn how to make the most of his opportunities in front of goal when they present themselves. If Weightman is going to miss the Port game next week as expected, goals will be even more at a premium than they currently are. Kicking issues aside, his hunger and desire for the footy has been most impressive, four tackles and 16 pressure acts is a solid return defensively and we can’t forget his attack in the final minute to get the ball through for a point to break the deadlock.

 

[33] Aaron Naughton – 6

He was settling down with former Bulldog Marcus Adams for company for all of the game, but the second and third efforts from him in this one were again extraordinary. Conditions made the ball slippery at times, but he still managed to pull in three contested marks, laid six tackles, set up Cody Weightman’s goal in the second term and in his only set shot for the match, made the most of it in a season where he’s been consistently inconsistent. 

 

[6] Bailey Smith – 9

The way this kid boots the ball without thought is enough to give any Bulldogs supporter an aneurysm, but fair play where it’s due, as the game progressed, this kid churned out diamonds, and his ball use wasn’t actually too bad either. Kicked three goals, including two massively clutch goals in the last term and helped set another one up in the last term, and had 27 disposals, eight score involvements and nine inside 50s at 63 percent kicking efficiency but also compiled six marks and four tackles too. His work-rate is enormous.

 

[21] Tom Liberatore – 8

A strange start to the game for Tom Liberatore, who kicked the Bulldogs’ first two goals of the match from seemingly half-chances and only had one other disposal up to quarter time. Looked to have had Jarryd Lyons for company around the stoppages at various points of the contest, and while this won’t go down as one of his best performances, he was still strong enough around the contest to play a part in the win: seven clearances and eight score involvements from his 21 disposals. But he also was very good defensively recording six tackles and amassing 32 pressure acts – the most of any player on the ground.

 

[44] Tim English – 7

Tough to assess his game, I thought before the last quarter, it wasn’t anything spectacular, his efforts in the air at times were a bit soft, but his last quarter in his ruck battle with Oscar McInerney showed a side of Tim that I have rarely seen, a want to compete that I haven’t seen in him before. Attended more ruck contests than Lewis Young this week and almost recorded similar hitouts to advantage on nearly 20 less hitouts won: 22 hitouts, eight to advantage, but also four centre clearances in a close game is huge and the seven tackles is actually quite a startling statistic for someone I have labelled as timid and conservative in recent weeks.

 

[19] Cody Weightman – 4

Subbed out at half time after copping a head knock from Marcus Adams and his absence could’ve derailed the Dogs’ completely, such is his influence in the forward half. I loved his chase on Daniel Rich at the start of the game and was in amongst it for the most part of the first half – 1.1 for his troubles and six pressure acts up to half time were telling of how threatening he was looming. Wasn’t labelled as a concussion on the report, but highly unlikely he’ll play in the prelim.

 

[2] Lewis Young – 4

I thought he tried hard for most of the game when he was in the ruck against Oscar McInerney, but when around the ground, he didn’t look like he was going to make much of an impact at either end. Whether that was just the greasy conditions playing to his disadvantage or not, Lewis struggled to get clear possession of the footy once the ruck contest was done, however, he did lay the five tackles which does outline how hard he tried all night and six spoils are the most of any Bulldog.

 

[11] Jack Macrae – 10

Jack Macrae and Brisbane seem to go hand in hand, because I can’t think of a game against the Lions where he hasn’t run roughshod on them. Started the game with leather poisoning, had queries from commentators about whether or not he’s damaging enough with his disposal and then answered it in the last quarter when he made a rare feature on the scoreboard with a crucial goal early. Macrae led all players for disposals (39), clearances (11), inside 50s (11), metres gained (813) and contested possessions (19). Also recorded nine score involvements – a freakin’ star.

 

[4] Marcus Bontempelli – 7

It’s a hard game to judge this one, it wasn’t your standard dazzling, five-star performance from the Bulldogs’ captain, a few times he got caught looking for the perfect option in congestion and his kicking for goal was off-target with the three behinds (all of them were hard shots). However, he still dug in and reeled in a strong performance, despite coming off late with a knee complaint. Had 29 disposals, five clearances, seven marks and nine score involvements going at 50 percent efficiency by foot. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was still strong.

 

[13] Josh Schache – 3

He was brilliant for the Dogs last week, but I thought he was largely ineffective in this one, save for a couple of big intercept marks as well as bobbing up for a vital goal in the last quarter. But apart from that, was completely out-bodied up forward numerous times by Brisbane’s key defenders  and a few of his defensive efforts left a lot to be desired – 0 tackles is a bit concerning considering his counterpart Aaron Naughton laid six. Had the four marks though, which does underline his leading patterns to an extent.

 

[29] Mitch Hannan – 3

Largely quiet in this one, he came up with a big goal in the second term to help trim that quarter time deficit down and sort of popped in and out of moments. Only had the eight touches, the two marks and two tackles, but felt as if his defensive pressure was solid enough to help make a difference on Brisbane’s backline, applying 11 pressure acts for the match, however, if we compare this game to last week, he was quite the way off.

 

[35] Caleb Daniel – 9

Was facing a lot of doubt during the week with injury niggles from the week before meaning that the Bulldogs could’ve potentially swung another very late change, but the little maestro proved everyone wrong with a masterclass by foot. Had 31 disposals, 22 kicks at just under 82 percent efficiency, with a number of them breaking Brisbane’s lines and resulting in fast scoring opportunities up the other end. Also recorded 11 rebound 50s, seven intercepts and five score involvements. Was the man you wanted the ball in the hands of in that defensive half in the last 30 seconds.

 

[37] Roarke Smith – 3

Looked as if he got the match up with Hugh McCluggage on the wing for large parts and whilst not necessarily a hard tag, Roarke’s seemingly made a habit to make the wingmen more accountable in recent times, having checked Ed Langdon, Karl Amon and Andrew McGrath in past weeks. He came up with some good moments in this game, but McCluggage was running rampant for the Lions and was one of their best, could’ve been best on if the Lions had got up.

 

Medi Sub [39] Jason Johannisen – 6

Came on after half time and I was left quite impressed with the impact he had on the contest. He kept himself on the move, had himself a number of opportunities to influence the scoreboard and came up with a goal in the third quarter when the Dogs were struggling to keep up with the Lions’ intensity. Had an opportunity for a second goal squandered at the three quarter time siren, but five score involvements from seven touches is a good return from the medi-sub.

 

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