Mongrel of the Year – The Final Round

 

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 TWENTY-TWO**

 

The 2022 season’s penultimate round sets up a mouth-watering finale with all positions between 2 and 10 still up for grabs in the race to qualify for that coveted premiership. The round itself sorted the wheat from the chaff as Brisbane, Geelong, Fremantle, Sydney and Richmond flexed their collective muscle while Melbourne broke Carlton hearts and left the door ajar for the Bulldogs to stumble and blunder their way into 8th next week. The Cats have now claimed the minor premiership, but history shows this is no guarantee of holding that cup aloft, it would be a brave punter to bet against them though despite recurring soft tissue injuries to Dangerfield and Cameron. The tantalising Melbourne vs Brisbane game next week will secure a top four berth with the Swans, Magpies, and Dockers all eyeing the double chance as well, it’ll be a round not to be missed.

Equalling fitting is the battle for the most prestigious ‘Mongrel of the Year’ award which will also be decided on Friday night, as only Lachie Neale and Christian Petracca can win with only five votes up for grabs. The late season rush by Touk Miller and Rory Laird will see them fall just short, but both well on track for a podium finish, while frontrunners throughout the season, Andrew Brayshaw, Patrick Cripps, Callum Mills and Ben Keays have all finished strongly polling votes in the last few weeks. A handful of key position players finishing in the top two dozen was one of the best parts of the season, and next week when we crown our champion we’ll include a full rundown on the team votes, rising stars and surprisingly absent stars from a magnificent 2022.

 

St Kilda vs Brisbane

5 – Cam Rayner

4 – Mason Wood

3 – Hugh McCluggage

2 – Marcus Windhager

1 – Harris Andrews

 

The former #1 stood up when his team needed him most in a dour struggle with the Saints. After taking control of the match in the first half, the Lions were caught napping and St Kilda sensing their season slipping away piled on five unanswered goals to take the lead, that was short-lived though as Rayner sprang to life, kicking three last-term goals to ice the game for his club.  His four second-half goals, and two contested marks has him primed as a finals wildcard for the under-the-radar Lions.

 

Bulldogs vs GWS

5 – Josh Kelly

4 – Ed Richards

3 – Tim English

2 – Harry Perryman

1 – Callan Ward

 

A pulsating clash saw the Bulldogs cling on to their finals hopes with a last-gasp victory over the bottom four GWS at Marvel. Blue-chip Giant Josh Kelly was sublime with a game-high 35 possessions gaining 600m, but also getting his hands dirty winning five clearances and applying four tackles. He also took 12 marks as the Giants took full advantage of the loose defending by the Bulldogs to almost pull of a surprise win.

 

Adelaide vs North Melbourne

5 – Jordan Dawson

4 – Luke Davies-Uniacke

3 – Darcy Fogarty

2 – Rory Laird

1 – Jy Simpkin

 

Star Sydney recruit Jordan Dawson has enjoyed a stunning first season at Westlakes and will surely be competing with Laird and Keays for the yellow jacket that accompanies the Malcolm Blight Medal. In a highly entertaining match, he was the premier player on the field, his raking left foot progressing his team 830m with his 33 disposals at the elite 82% efficiency.

 

Gold Coast vs Geelong

5 – Jeremy Cameron

4 – Mark Blicavs

3 – Touk Miller

2 – Max Holmes

1 – Gryan Miers

 

Geelong’s star key forward Jeremy Cameron was literally everywhere on the Gold Coast as he torched the Suns with 3.3 from his 21 disposals. Three contested marks and a game-high ten score involvements showed his impact, it’s a shame that yet another hamstring injury will deny him the chance to win the Coleman in the final round.

 

Melbourne vs Carlton

5 – Angus Brayshaw

4 – Jake Melksham

3 – Sam Docherty

2 – Lewis Young

1 – Jack Viney

 

In a season of close finishes, even post-siren winners this may have been the standout as Kysaiah Pickett’s snap with 13 seconds remaining left Carlton defeated and perilously clinging to their spot in the final 8 that they’ve held all year. Angus Brayshaw stood taller than anyone else in this thriller however, his 38 possessions game leading as he moved back into a familiar midfield slot. A whopping 12 clearances and four tackles further emphasised his contribution and gave his team enough chances to kick a winning score.

 

Fremantle vs West Coast

5 – Sean Darcy

4 – Tom Barrass

3 – David Mundy

2 – Andrew Brayshaw

1 – Liam Duggan

 

The Fremantle big man went up in the estimations of true footy fans everywhere by denouncing long sleeve jumpers in his victorious post-match interview. Sean Darcy monstered Nic Natanui in this game, claiming 56 hit outs to a measly 24 and also adding 16 disposals, five marks, four clearances, a goal and an assist, hitting top form at the pointy end of the year.

 

Richmond vs Hawthorn

5 – Tom Lynch

4 – Dion Prestia

3 – Trent Cotchin

2 – James Sicily

1 – Jayden Short

 

Was it an icy wind or the ominous form of Tom Lynch that gave Cats fans a shudder as the big #19 ran roughshod over an inexperienced Hawks defence. Lynch is in outrageous form, coinciding with a Tiger charge to September and while his eight goals were magnificent, perhaps his seven contested marks were even more impressive. A game-high 13 score involvements showed his impact, and a repeat of this in the coming weeks will go a long way towards progressing Richmond deep into the mix.

 

Sydney vs Collingwood

5 – Callum Mills

4 – Robbie Fox

3 – Paddy McCartin

2 – Ryan Clarke

1 – James Rowbottom

 

Moving back into equal 3rd with a best afield performance, Callum Mills put an exclamation mark on his outstanding season. 29 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances, each slightly above his season average were critical in the Swans breaking the Magpies’ 11-game winning streak.

 

Essendon vs Port

5 – Jeremy Finlayson

4 – Allir Allir

3 – Zak Butters

2 – Sam Powell-Pepper

1 – Jordan Ridley

 

Playing in an unfamiliar small ruck role in the second half of the year, Jeremy Finlayson produced a game for the ages as his Power dismantled the Bombers. While soundly beaten in the hit outs, he excelled around the ground accumulating 25 disposals as another midfielder, gaining 616m, 10 score involvements, four tackles and clearances, two goals and an assist had him easily the most valuable player in the game.

 

ROUND TWENTY-TWO LEADERBOARD:

 

43 – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

41 – Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

37 – Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

37 – Callum Mills (Sydney)

36 – Rory Laird (Adelaide)

35 – Ben Keays (Adelaide)

34 – Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

33 – Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

32 – Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)

31 – Sam Walsh (Carlton)

30 – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

28 – Tom Stewart (Geelong)

27 – Taylor Walker (Adelaide)

27 – Will Brodie (Fremantle)

26 – Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

25 – Liam Baker (Richmond)

25 – Jai Newcombe (Hawthorn)

25 – Dion Prestia (Richmond)

25 – Brad Crouch (St Kilda)

24 – Chad Warner (Sydney)

24 – James Sicily (Hawthorn)

23 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)

23 – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

23 – Tom Lynch (Richmond)

 

And for transparency, here are the previous rounds’ votes.

 


 

 

**ROUND TWENTY-ONE**

 

Melbourne vs Collingwood

5 – Brayden Maynard

4 – Jordan De Goey

3 – Jamie Elliott

2 – Christian Petracca

1 – Max Gawn

 

Another Collingwood match, another heartstopper! This time the Magpies overcame a seemingly match-winning lead against the premiers with hard-nosed defender Brayden Maynard the standout from an MVP perspective. He claimed 18 assured touches, six intercepts and three tackles and importantly limited the opportunities of the feted Demon offence from hitting the scoreboards.

 

Hawthorn vs Gold Coast

5 – David Swallow

4 – Jack Gunston

3 – Finn Maginness

2 – Jaegar O’Meara

1 – Elijah Hollands

 

The Suns travelled to Launceston with only lowly Hawthorn in their way of continuing to push for a maiden finals appearance. Alas, it was a disaster as the Hawks put them to the sword, and despite a late game fade out managed to hold on for a 7-point win. Former Gold Coast skipper David Swallow tried hard all day, his 33 possessions leading all comers, adding seven tackles and six clearances to a special individual performance that wasn’t quite enough.

 

GWS vs Essendon

5 – Lachie Whitfield

4 – Jesse Hogan

3 – Stephen Coniglio

2 – Darcy Parish

1 – Harry Perryman

 

Shockingly it took 16 matches for Giants star and key pillar of their 2019 Grand Final run, Lachie Whitfield to poll Mongrel votes. However, he made up for it with a starring role in the GWS dismantling of a disappointing Essendon, claiming 29 touches, eight marks, five I50 along with four R50 and a goal in an impressive performance.

 

Western Bulldogs vs Fremantle

5 – Luke Ryan

4 – Caleb Serong

3 – Jordan Clark

2 – Josh Dunkley

1 – Rory Lobb

 

In another clash between potential finalists it was the travelling Dockers who secured an impressive road victory, outlasting the Dogs by 17-points. The win was set up by an air-tight defence, led by All Australian Luke Ryan who claimed 15 marks as he controlled the sky. He collected a season-high 32 disposals delivered at a remarkable 97% efficiency, also adding four tackles to a dominant showing.

 

Geelong vs St Kilda

5 – Max Holmes

4 – Isaac Smith

3 – Sam De Koning

2 – Brandan Parfitt

1 – Mason Wood

 

The Cats welcomed St Kilda to GMHBA in a danger game, but the disappointing Saints barely raised a whimper, succumbing by 45 points to basically end their finals pursuit. Young Geelong winger Max Holmes was excellent in his role, winning 24 possessions, laying three tackles, extracting two clearances and topping off his big game with a goal.

 

Port Adelaide vs Richmond

5 – Shai Bolton

4 – Toby Nankervis

3 – Dion Prestia

2 – Zak Butters

1 – Trent Cotchin

 

Tiger magician Shai Bolton was again prolific in the forward line, if not for inaccuracy he could’ve played one of the all-time games. As it was he collected seventeen touches, impacted with ten score involvements, won four clearances and contributed four goals, five behinds.

 

North Melbourne vs Sydney

5 – Chad Warner

4 – Nick Larkey

3 – James Rowbottom

2 – Luke Parker

1 – Luke Davies-Uniacke

 

Budding superstar, Chad Warner was again superb as he further established himself as one of his club’s best and most influential players. 11 of his 20 disposals became score involvements, he won six clearances, laid four tackles and impacted the scoreboard with a personal tally of 3.2.

 

Brisbane vs Carlton

5 – Zac Bailey

4 – Lachie Neale

3 – Harris Andrews

2 – Jacob Weitering

1 – Oscar McInerney

 

Brisbane matchwinner Zac Bailey was back doing what he does best, driving a stake into his opponent’s heart with each of the four goals he slotted. His ten score involvements included two direct goal assists as his run and carry became unstoppable as he accumulated nineteen touches.

 

West Coast vs Adelaide

5 – Josh Kennedy

4 – Rory Laird

3 – Darcy Fogarty

2 – Tom Barrass

1 – Mitch Hinge

 

For the last of 293 times we witnessed Josh J. Kennedy on the football field, and what a crescendo he supplied before riding into the sunset. Eight goals, two behinds in what looked for all intents and purposes a double-figure outing and backs against the wall victory finished just short on both counts. Mustering one final effort, he took eight marks, winning 14 possessions and signed off on a legendary West Coast career with an almost certain three Brownlow votes.

 

ROUND TWENTY-ONE LEADERBOARD:

 

43 – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

41 – Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

35 – Ben Keays (Adelaide)

34 – Rory Laird (Adelaide)

34 – Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

34 – Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

32 – Callum Mills (Sydney)

31 – Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

31 – Sam Walsh (Carlton)

30 – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

28 – Tom Stewart (Geelong)

27 – Taylor Walker (Adelaide)

27 – Will Brodie (Fremantle)

27 – Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)

26 – Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

25 – Liam Baker (Richmond)

25 – Jai Newcombe (Hawthorn)

25 – Brad Crouch (St Kilda)

24 – Chad Warner (Sydney)

23 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)

23 – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

22 – Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)

22 – James Sicily (Hawthorn)

22 – Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)

22 – Mason Redman (Essendon)

22 – Cam Guthrie (Geelong)

 

**ROUND TWENTY**

 

Fremantle vs Melbourne

5 – Jack Viney

4 – Christian Petracca

3 – Angus Brayshaw

2 – Alex Pearce

1 – Bayley Fritsch

 

A rare Fremantle Friday night home blockbuster turned into a fizzer as a Jack Viney-inspired Demons reaffirmed their premiership credentials with a 46-point drubbing of the disappointing Dockers. Viney was immense, his intent apparent from the opening whistle and never relenting as he went on to gather 33 touches, six tackles and four clearances as he threw himself into every contest.

 

Collingwood vs Port Adelaide

5 – Josh Daicos

4 – Jordan De Goey

3 – Connor Rozee

2 – Brayden Maynard

1 – Sam Powell-Pepper

 

The older, somewhat forgotten Daicos brother ruled supreme in yet another Magpie cliff-hanger, the #7 who has enjoyed a stellar season utilised all of his kicking mastery to outlast the Power while he collected 26 disposals, seven intercepts, seven marks and three clearances as he repeatedly used his phenomenal vision to set teammates up in space.

 

Sydney vs GWS

5 – James Rowbottom

4 – Errol Gulden

3 – Luke Parker

2 – Sam Taylor

1 – Paddy McCartin

 

The unsung Rowbottom has been a star for the Swans in their run towards September and he was the most influential player on the park in the Battle of the Bridge that relegated the once proud Giants to a laughingstock. His 23 possessions, six score involvements and three clearances tell a pretty compelling story, but his 13 tackles elevate his effort above all else in this one.

 

St Kilda vs Hawthorn

5 – Rowan Marshall

4 – Brad Crouch

3 – Jack Steele

2 – Mitchito Owens

1 – Jai Newcombe

 

The enigmatic Saints part-time ruckman has failed to deliver on potential in the peak of his career, but on this occasion, at Marvel he showed why so many fans and onlookers are frustrated as he torched the undermanned Hawks. A career-high 30 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles, seven clearances and ten intercepts to go along with a game-high 35 hit outs were well worthy of BOG status. Saints fans will be secretly hoping it isn’t a one off as has so often been the case with this talented player over the years.

 

Geelong vs Western Bulldogs

5 – Patrick Dangerfield

4 – Cam Guthrie

3 – Ed Richards

2 – Tom Liberatore

1 – Bailey Smith

 

The Cat maestro polled votes for only the second time this year after a best-afield outing in round 1 he was back to his damaging best, sending the Dogs packing at GMHBA by 28 points after a bright start. Danger for his troubles accumulated 26 disposals throughout the night, with seven clearances and intercepts and a goal to announce he was back in form just in time for another finals run.

 

Adelaide vs Carlton

5 – Ben Keays

4 – Taylor Walker

3 – Brodie Smith

2 – Patrick Cripps

1 – Josh Worrall

 

Prolific ex-Lion Ben Keays played a different role in the Crows’ stunning upset of the Blues to threaten their September dreams. Keays played more forward of centre than usual but was equally effective if not more so, turning his 21 disposals into 11 score involvements, setting up four direct goals and scoring 3.1 himself in a highly impactful performance.

 

Gold Coast vs West Coast

5 – Jack Darling

4 – Touk Miller

3 – Tom Barrass

2 – Mabior Chol

1 – Noah Anderson

 

A Metricon thriller this time as the improving Eagles just fell short to the Suns at home. Key forward Jack Darling worked tirelessly as he slammed in an equal career-high six goals straight from his 14 disposals with eight marks and three tackles.

 

Richmond vs Brisbane

5 – Shai Bolton

4 – Tom Lynch

3 – Keidean Coleman

2 – Lachie Neale

1 – Noah Cumberland

 

The electrifying Shai Bolton lit up the MCG as the Tigers reeled in a big Brisbane lead to run away seven point victors. Bolton created havoc wherever he roamed winning four valuable centre clearances, driving the ball I50 nine times on his way to a game-high 12 score involvements, his 24 touches could’ve been far greater if he’d finished better as his 2.5 attests.

 

Essendon vs North Melb

5 – Zac Merrett

4 – Mason Redman

3 – Jake Stringer

2 – Jy Simpkin

1 – Jayden Laverde

 

The heir-apparent to Dyson Heppell’s captain’s armband, Zac Merrett produced his second consecutive 38-disposal game as he finishes off the season in the form we’ve grown accustomed to rather than what was seen for much of 2022. 10 clearances and score involvements, along with eight clearances show the work rate required to lift his team back up the ladder.

 

ROUND TWENTY LEADERBOARD:

 

39 – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

39 – Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

35 – Ben Keays (Adelaide)

34 – Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

34 – Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

32 – Callum Mills (Sydney)

31 – Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

31 – Sam Walsh (Carlton)

30 – Rory Laird (Adelaide)

30 – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

28 – Tom Stewart (Geelong)

27 – Taylor Walker (Adelaide)

27 – Will Brodie (Fremantle)

27 – Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)

26 – Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

25 – Liam Baker (Richmond)

25 – Jai Newcombe (Hawthorn)

25 – Brad Crouch (St Kilda)

23 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)

23 – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

22 – James Sicily (Hawthorn)

22 – Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)

22 – Mason Redman (Essendon)

22 – Cam Guthrie (Geelong)

 

 

**ROUND NINETEEN**

 

Fremantle vs Richmond

5 – Hayden Young

4 – Robbie Tarrant

3 – Dion Prestia

2 – Brennan Cox

1 – Andrew Brayshaw

 

Hayden Young was superb in the first drawn game of the season, compiling career highs with disposals (31) and marks (14) as he drove the ball I50 five times, while also repelling the Tigers with ten intercepts and five R50s.

 

North Melbourne vs Hawthorn

5 – Jai Newcombe

4 – Ben McKay

3 – Tom Mitchell

2 – Luke Davies-Uniacke

1 – Blake Hardwick

 

In a game between the two cellar dwellers and Tasmanian co-tenants, the Hawks were too powerful, flying out of the gates with an eight-goal opening term. As has often been the case in 2022 the Hawks were led by their rising star Jai Newcombe who attacks the ball and player with a ferocity rarely seen, but also possesses deft skills in a thrilling package. He collected 30 touches, 15 contested, led all comers with nine clearances and finished superbly with two goals.

 

Adelaide vs Sydney

5 – Rory Laird

4 – Callum Mills

3 – Nick Blakey

2 – Chad Warner

1 – Sam Berry

 

The Adelaide midfield dynamo Rory Laird continues his stunning second-half form and should be right in the mix for another AA blazer. 38 disposals, 14 I50s, 11 clearances, six tackles, 848m gained and a goal were more than anyone could have hoped for, unfortunately, his efforts were not enough to prevent the Mills-led Swannies saluting by 33 points.

 

Port Adelaide vs Geelong

5 – Charlie Dixon

4 – Tom Atkins

3 – Tom Hawkins

2 – Karl Amon

1 – Zach Tuohy

 

Another riveting game that went right to the wire as the hometown Power led by the talismanic Charlie Dixon piled on eight goals in the third term as Port took the lead only to be run over in the dying stages. Dixon was a constant thorn in Chris Scott’s side as he bustled his way to 23 touches, seven marks (three contested), 12 score involvements, three direct goal assists and 2.2 of his own as he did everything physically possible to will the teal and black over the line.

 

Brisbane vs Gold Coast

5 – Brandon Starcevich

4 – Levi Casboult

3 – Touk Miller

2 – Lachie Neale

1 – Callum Ah Chee

 

Brandon Starcevich was handed one of the toughest assignments in footy, quelling the sublime brilliance of Izak Rankine, and he excelled in this role keeping the livewire Sun to just ten largely ineffectual possessions and one scoring shot. The Lion #37 was also busy offensively, helping himself to 14 touches and seven marks as the Lions saw off Gold Coast to claim another Q-clash.

 

Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne

5 – Marcus Bontempelli

4 – Tim English

3 – Jamarra Ugle-Hagen

2 – Angus Brayshaw

1 – Max Gawn

 

The sputtering Bulldogs exacted a small measure of revenge for last season’s Grand Final annihilation as they nosed their way in front of the Demons on the back of a captain’s masterclass by Bont. In an unusually subdued season the tall left-footer matched and beat his star-studded opposition, finishing with 26 disposals, eleven clearances, nine marks (three contested), and a damaging last-term goal.

 

Carlton vs GWS

5 – Adam Saad

4 – Sam Walsh

3 – Patrick Cripps

2 – Charlie Curnow

1 – Tim Taranto

 

The AFL’s bounce king, Adam Saad with 111 has double the number of the second-placed Nick Hind, and made the disappointing Giants pay in this one as he turned eight intercepts into 22 kicks at 92% efficiency, repeatedly driving the ball forward and breaking lines in his team’s big win.

 

West Coast vs St Kilda

5 – Jack Steele

4 – Brad Crouch

3 – Marcus Windhager

2 – Tom Barrass

1 – Bailey Williams

 

The Saints’ matinee idol with a resolve that matches his name was the star in a win against the flagging Eagles. The St Kilda captain was at his absolute best brutalising West Coast to claim a career-high 40 possessions alongside ten clearances and eight tackles inspiring his side to a win that kept their finals hopes alive, albeit barely.

 

Collingwood vs Essendon

5 – Zac Merrett

4 – Jack Crisp

3 – Sam Draper

2 – Josh Daicos

1 – Dylan Shiel

 

A pulsating match ended in extraordinary circumstances with the team leading at the final siren not the ultimate victor, thanks to Jamie Elliott’s clinical finish from distance. Despite being on the losing team Bomber star Zac Merrett was the premier player on the ground, helping himself to 38 touches, nine clearances and two goal assists in a game that will live in the memory for a long time to come.

 

ROUND NINETEEN LEADERBOARD:

 

37 – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)

35 – Christian Petracca (Melbourne)

32 – Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

32 – Callum Mills (Sydney)

31 – Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)

31 – Sam Walsh (Carlton)

30 – Ben Keays (Adelaide)

30 – Rory Laird (Adelaide)

30 – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

30 – Touk Miller (Gold Coast)

28 – Tom Stewart (Geelong)

27 – Will Brodie (Fremantle)

27 – Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)

26 – Jack Crisp (Collingwood)

25 – Liam Baker (Richmond)

24 – Jai Newcombe (Hawthorn)

23 – Taylor Walker (Adelaide)

23 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)

22 – James Sicily (Hawthorn)

22 – Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)

21 – Brad Crouch (St Kilda)

20 – Nick Daicos (Collingwood)

20 – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

 

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