Throwing its black hat into the ring alongside the Brownlow, Leigh Matthews Trophy and AFLCA Award as the most prestigious individual award in the game, the Mongrel of the Year Award is back bigger than ever with a regular Thursday slot to recognise last week’s heroes.

Using the superior 5-4-3-2-1 configuration to recognise the most important and best player each game, the Mongrel will keep a running tally through the year as well tip its aforementioned lid to the stars each round. Round 1 started with a bang as some of the biggest names in the game, Petracca, Dangerfield, Cripps and Rowell flexed their considerable muscle on the competition, the race is on in earnest to the crown.

 

Melbourne vs Bulldogs

5 – Christian Petracca

4 – Ed Langdon

3 – Ben Brown

2 – Jack Macrae

1 – Aaron Naughton

 

Has there been a bigger improvement on perfection in a sequel since Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back? Well, the answer was no, until the newly minted Norm Smith Medallist Christian Petracca ran roughshod over a stunned Bulldogs squad. Near on 40-touches in last year’s thrilling decider might have tipped off the same opposition about his talents, but it appears not as he brutalised his way to nine clearances, eleven I50s, 13 score involvements and a casual two goals in a masterpiece that had him edging ahead of contemporary Bont as the Brownlow favourite. Two of Melbourne’s shrewdest pick ups Langdon and Brown filled the podium for best afield honours as they ran down and marked everything respectively on a famous night for the grand old flag.

 

Richmond vs Carlton

5 – Patrick Cripps

4 – George Hewett

3 – Matthew Kennedy

2 – Marlion Pickett

1 – Adam Cerra

 

One of the biggest questions for Michael Voss stepping into the hot seat at Princes Park was whether he could return skipper Patrick Cripps to his former glory after a couple of below-par seasons, on the back of injuries and poor teams around him. If Thursday night’s blockbuster is any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes as Cripps re-found his aura with 30 powerful possessions, achieving 542m and hitting the scoreboard with three majors. He was surrounded by winners in the midfield, a gaping hole in previous Carlton teams, as second-hand but all big bodied recruits Kennedy, Hewett and Cerra shared in 88 disposals to run the formidable Tiger mids down.

 

St Kilda vs Collingwood

5 – Jordan De Goey

4 – Patrick Lipinski

3 – Taylor Adams

2 – Jack Sinclair

1 – Jeremy Howe

 

The enigmatic Collingwood mid/forward brought all of the attributes on Friday that have had commentators salivating over his potential for his entire career. A stunning return of 27 disposals with five clearances was supplemented by his two goals from five shots in goal in his resting periods up forward as he spearheaded his team to win in Craig McRae’s first game in charge. Pat Lipinski was almost as spectacular, and that’s not just his dreamy eyes in a Collingwood debut after crossing from the runners-up Bulldogs in the off-season. A game-high 30 disposals with five clearances and a highly influential two goal assists saw him equal De Goey with nine coaches votes apiece.

 

Geelong vs Essendon

5 – Patrick Dangerfield

4 – Tom Hawkins

3 – Brandan Parfitt

2 – Nic Martin

1 – Joel Selwood

 

Superstar Cat, Patrick Dangerfield proved to the AFL world that he’s just as effective on land as in the sea as he commenced his 15th season with a best afield performance. 31 typically belligerent possessions, eight clearances and a goal were far too much for an outclassed Bomber midfield. Fellow veteran, the remarkably consistent Hawkins slotted four from his 17 disposals as he continued to roam far and wide to great effect, and livewire mid Parfitt continued his rise to the top of the Cats midfield pecking order with a team-high 32 disposals and game-highs in metres gained, 623m and clearances, 11.

 

GWS vs Sydney

5 – Luke Parker

4 – Phil Davis

3 – Oliver Florent

2 – Isaac Heeney

1 – Nick Blakey

 

Decorated Swans veteran and co-Captain Luke Parker claimed the coveted five votes in the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ with his five goals ample reward for a player always standing up for his team. With some outstanding talent moving into the Swans midfield, warhorses such as Parker and Kennedy found themselves outside the centre square for long periods on the weekend, and Parker excelled on the forward flank, teaming with fellow marking small Heeney to create headaches for Leon Cameron. Former Giants skipper Phil Davis flew the flag for his side keeping Franklin to a solitary goal from his eight touches, while collecting 15 and six marks himself.

 

Brisbane vs Port Adelaide

5 – Dan Houston

4 – Lachie Neale

3 – Karl Amon

2 – Marcus Adams

1 – Joe Daniher

 

Chris Fagan, we have a problem exclaimed the panicked Lions coaching group as Dan Houston ran amok on a greasy Gabba deck, his 36 disposals driving the ball inside F50 a game-high ten times. Lachie Neale was also prominent, the 2020 Brownlow Medallist returning to form after a quiet 2021, back to doing what hew does best with 15 contested possessions amongst his team-high 31 along with seven clearances.

 

Hawthorn vs North Melbourne

5 – Luke McDonald

4 – Changkouth Jiath

3 – Mitch Lewis

2 – Jy Simpkin

1 – Jack Gunston

 

Syd Barker medallist Luke McDonald began the seasons in style claiming the five votes with his assured display including 27 touches and 12 marks, nine of which were intercepted. With his side under attack as the Mitchell-led Hawks unleashed a fast moving forward entry style game, McDonald repelled time and again to prevent a bigger scoreboard loss. Two young Hawks were next in line, Jiath returned where he left off after surgery ended his 2020 and interrupted the pre-season, not that you’d know it the way he crashed marking contests, broke lines, and delivered the ball with precision to teammates further afield as his nine intercepts turned the game to the home side. Mitch Lewis suffered back to back interrupted seasons after a Rising Star nomination late in 2019, but returned the faith on Sunday as he torched the Kangas early, his five first quarter contested marks and two goals keeping the Hawks close.

 

Adelaide vs Fremantle

5 – Ben Keays

4 – Josh Rachele

3 – Andrew Brayshaw

2 – Caleb Serong

1 – Lachie Schultz

 

Arguably the most improved player in the competition for 2021, former Lion Ben Keays produced the goods again on Sunday as his team were pipped at the post despite his valiant four-quarter effort. 37 disposals, gaining over 600m and a match high 12 score involvements were supplemented by two tackles inside forward fifty showing his workrate. Star Crows recruit Josh Rachele took less than two hours to prove his class, five sublime goals from 14 touches earned him nine coaches votes from the impressed off-field judges. Young Docker leader Andrew Brayshaw drove his team forward relentlessly to the tune of a mammoth 713 metres with twenty-eight touches in yet another fine showing.

 

West Coast vs Gold Coast

5 – Matt Rowell

4 – Izak Rankine

3 – Jack Redden

2 – Jamaine Jones

1 – Charlie Ballard

 

The standout number 1 pick from the 2019 National Draft returned to his early 2020 form when he scored top Brownlow votes in three successive games scorching the Eagles in a come from behind win. Rowell dominated around the ball with 33 disposals (22 contested), eight clearances, six tackles and proved highly effective with 10 score involvements. Coach Stuey Dew would’ve wiped the sweat from his brow as his prized star excelled alongside another precocious talent Rankine, who became more influential as the game wore on with a career-high 23 disposals to go with his superb four-goal haul. Eagles veteran Redden toiled hard for the vanquished, 28 hard won possessions earned despite the lack of mature teammates Yeo, Shuey and Kelly in the side.