Each week, as we compile The Kongrel Punt Player of the Finals, players are assessed on their performance. Here are the ratings for week three of the finals, starting with the Cats and the Lions
Preliminary Final 1: Geelong vs Brisbane
Geelong were facing their demons on Preliminary final night once again, their seventh penultimate engagement since wining the 2011 flag with only one Grand Final appearance to show in that time, while the Lions were on the crest of a wave, having finally broken their finals and MCG hoodoo the previous week. Alas for the purist, it was a rout, the confidence of this Cats’ side far too powerful on the night as their tactics, not often a strength in September came to the fore perfectly.
Geelong have often been accused of playing individual football but led by their oldest players Selwood and Smith playing selfless roles to negate the opposition’s primary movers is a conscious change to the previous plans that hadn’t quite got the job done in the past. The Lions meanwhile couldn’t break the Cats trap of rushed and aerial delivery inside their F50 and were well beaten on the night. Some strong steps forward though for this young team and the likely inclusions of Josh Dunkley and nominal #1 draft pick Will Ashcroft will drive their response in the offseason, meanwhile, the Cats sit back with their ticket to the big dance booked and await their opponent. Please find our individual player ratings and assessments thanks to @Trent Shields (Geelong & Brisbane)
 Zach Tuohy – 8
Was a constant source of drive all night and controlled his side of the ground as he worked up the ground to provide space for teammates throughout. 24 touches and ten marks was a good outing for the Irishman who will play game 250 in next week’s decider.
 Sam De Koning – 7
An understated but highly effective game from the young key position defender. Won four of his seven disposals through intercept, all of them via marks. Only two spoils on the night but was able to make body contact at other times to prevent the Lions’ tall forwards from getting off the hook.
 Jed Bews – 8
An excellent display in game number 150, keeping the matchwinner Charlie Cameron subdued. Won ten possessions and was noticeably clean early in the game while the heat was still at its fiercest, will have an important role next week against another dangerous opponent regardless of the result today.
 Mitch Duncan – 7
Flew under the radar for three quarters before springing to life in the final term with a dozen of his 26 possessions coming in that stanza. Was neat and creative by foot, a feature of his game is never biting off more than he can chew which makes him so effective. A key playmaker for the Cats, if given space will slice the opposition to ribbons.
 Jack Henry – 7
Part of a very stable and basically impenetrable defensive unit, Henry’s marking was a highlight as he took nine marks, four of them interceptions. He delivered the ball at 100% to teammates, destabilising the Lions’ defence with his precision play.
 Tom Stewart – 7
Not required to do any more than necessary in this game, but was as always, an important cog in the structure. Always knows the right time to attack the ball, defend position, or support and this was best shown through a strong mark in front of McStay where he out-bodied the bigger man. 15 touches, 5 marks, but an uncharacteristic four frees against in a workmanlike performance.
 Isaac Smith – 5
Nine disposals in the final term after the sting was well and truly out of the game padded his stats nicely in an unusually quiet outing for the three-time Hawk premiership player. Was tasked with limiting Rich’s output in the first half, a job he performed admirably, albeit at the expense of his own offensive output. Is known for big performances on the last Saturday in September and will want to keep that streak alive after a poor miss from a set shot.
 Joel Selwood – 8
The skipper’s impact far exceeded his pure numbers, which were surprisingly low on review. Addressed the fast start by Neale to win his own clearances, 6 of them and progress the ball to dangerous forward attacks on each occasion. 20 pressure acts, and a coolly taken goal at range after a 50m penalty were a cherry on the top of a masterful performance in his record-equalling 39th finals appearance. Will surpass the legendary Michael Tuck next week as the first player to 40 finals matches.
 Max Holmes – 7*
The youngest Cat, whose speed and dare has given them a new dimension this year was unfortunately struck down with a hamstring injury in the third term and subbed out of the game. Had managed 12 touches, three tackles, nine pressure acts, 2 direct goal assists and a classic snap after the first quarter siren to give his team the complete ascendency after winning a holding-the-ball decision. Will be sweating on the result of the scan otherwise could be a heartbreak story during the week.
 Brad Close – 8
Career high disposals (22) in the biggest game of his life, Close was a constant menace for the Lions’ defence that could not keep up with his leg speed. Best moment was a committed smother on Berry, in which he was able to recover and shoot out an attacking handball to free up Miers, and also his sublime finish from 50m at the end of the game to put an exclamation mark on some slick ball movement.
 Jeremy Cameron – 4
Well beaten by Darcy Gardiner, but kept presenting, and probably should have kicked three goals, after missing a simple set shot after a free kick and a snap in the last which a player of his ability would kick 95 times out of a 100. Will look forward to the opportunity for redemption on the big stage after his invisible display at the last MCG Grand Final back in 2019.
 Gryan Miers – 9
Not unlike Close, Miers produced his best disposal tally for the season with 22 and used each one expertly as he kicked two goals, set up three and had 10 score involvements to underline his impact. His delivery to Hawkins in particular during the third term was a thing of beauty.
 Tyson Stengle – 7
Was able to break the shackles of a tight Starcevich tag towards the end of the first term, and did what good small forwards do, made it count every time he had a look. His three straight goals were all what most would consider half chances, and Stengle executed perfectly on each occasion.
 Tom Hawkins – 8
Well held by Andrews early, and then spurned three straightforward chances in the second term, including a bizarre free kick where he was awarded a holding the ball free kick against himself. Eventually found his range in the third term and finished with four that could’ve been a bag, and a game-high 13 score involvements.
 Gary Rohan – 5
This was an unusual game for Rohan in a final, as he’s historically been an all or nothing performer. While ultimately beaten by Payne, he kicked two good goals, one from a strong mark, the other on the run set up by Selwood and remained involved throughout which would have pleased the coach. Capable of being the difference next week and is in good touch.
 Rhys Stanley – 6
Led his team in one percenters with 5, as he battled manfully against a dominant ruckman in McInerney, but still managed to direct seven of his 18 hit outs to advantage. Spent more time in the backline than usual after attending the bounces, and was disruptive to the Lions’ structure, and composed when he took possession.
 Mark Blicavs – 8
A well-rounded game without dominating by the versatile utility. Acquired nineteen disposals, seven tackles, five clearances, 20 hit outs, and 23 pressure acts in a mature performance where he played multiple roles, often at the same time. An ace up Scott’s sleeve at present.
 Patrick Dangerfield – 9
The maligned Preliminary Final record of Dangerfield took a big step towards the positive on the back of a best afield performance on Friday night. Hitting the ground running after a strong mark with the flight and his often-wayward kicking laser straight to put the first goal on the board. His impact didn’t slow down either as he added 8 touches and another excellent goal in the first term before continuing his form throughout. He took contested intercept marks, ran the wings like a player ten years his junior, led all comers with 28 possessions, eight clearances and a massive 720m gained – could this be the year his final fairy-tale chapter is written?
 Zach Guthrie – 6
Started shakily with a terrible out on the full after refusing to use his non-preferred foot, before quickly adjusting to the pace and being a solid contributor. Laid seven tackles, setting up Rohan’s first goal with a line-breaking run, and getting on the end of a goal himself (only the sixth of his career) in a celebratory last term.
 Jake Kolodjashnij – 9
Yet another Cat who probably played their career-best game. The medium defender was under an injury cloud after being subbed off in the Qualifying Final, but hit this game at full pace, finishing with 23 disposals and nine marks, more than double his season average. Four of his marks were intercepts through a combination of superior reading of the play and haphazard forward delivery.
 Cameron Guthrie – 6
Had his hands full in the first half as Neale and Rayner were on song, only able to touch the ball six times, before returning with vengeance after the long break contributing a further 15 disposals to finish with 21 on the night. A clever touch helped set up Danger’s second goal and came off second best after a bone-crunching contest with Neale in the third term.
 Tom Atkins – 7
Three turnovers from 11 touches superficially suggests Atkins was down on his usual output, but a closer look at his game showed the grunt work which nullified a talented Lions midfield from playing their own game. A game-high 29 pressure acts alongside ten tackles, and all while battling a suspected rib injury were a blue-collar masterclass by the important Cat.
Medi-Sub  Mark O’Connor – 2
Got an opportunity after Holmes’ untimely injury to state his case for a Grand Final berth but will have restless nights this week after he wasn’t really able to stake his claim. Appeared to struggle with the pace even though the game was effectively over when he was inserted and his five touches were inconsequential.
Brisbane – (Trent)
 Darcy Gardiner – 8
Battled adversity throughout the season but shone under the finals spotlight. Enjoyed the better of an engaging duel with Jeremy Cameron, holding the Cat superstar to just 3 scoring shots and 12 largely ineffectual touches, while collecting 16 of his own including a game-high 11 marks. Can hold his head high with six intercepts and two contested marks.
 Daniel McStay – 3
Contributed some strong blocking around the ball in the first half but was unable to influence the game in any meaningful manner, only able to be a part of two scoring links from ten disposals, one in the dying moments as he kicked to Hipwood’s advantage. Only a solitary hit out despite considerable time spent in the ruck, disappointing final game for the Lions.
 Daniel Rich – 5
Unable to generate his usual production as the Cats kept a close check on him throughout, Isaac Smith sacrificing much of his offensive game to limit Rich in the first half. Still had moments where he linked well, or set up attacking thrusts, but his output was about 30% down on average for possessions, and 200m down for metres gained on his season numbers.
 Brandon Starcevich – 4
Began the game well with some assured ball handling and calm decision-making, but this all changed when he unadvisedly took possession with a desperate Stengle on his tail. The ensuing holding the ball sapped Starcevich’s confidence and transferred to his direct opponent.
 Harris Andrews – 6
Battled manfully against insurmountable odds as the floodgates opened after halftime. Spoiled eight times and affected eight one percenters (game-leading), however both well down on his finals series to date, as he did the best anyone could be expected to do on a marauding Hawkins who probably should have kicked 7.
 Keidean Coleman – 5
What he did was typically advantageous to his team, however, like many others he just didn’t impact for long enough. A sublime assist to Ah Chee for a goal in the first term was the best of his 14 possessions, an incomplete end to a fine season.
 Zac Bailey – 7
A real four-quarter effort by Bailey, unable to impact the scoreboard as he has on numerous occasions this season, his 1.2 indicative of the effort without reward from his game. 19 disposals, five tackles showed his work rate, but let himself down with some ill-discipline including a conceded 50m penalty to Selwood after giving away a silly free kick.
 Jarrod Berry – 6
After having the media blowtorch on him for much of the week, Berry was unable to have the same influence on this game although he was still one of his team’s better performers. Tracking at 84% disposal efficiency with his nineteen touches, well above his season average of 72%, Berry never stopped trying.
 Cam Rayner – 6*
Probably the best Lion until his ankle gave way early in the second half, until that point was one of the few Brisbane players to excel under the fierce pressure and speed of a cutthroat final. Whether it was breaking lines, looking inboard and delivering precisely or winning clearances and spotting up teammates, the Lions’ hopes appeared to rest on their former #1 until his unfortunate injury saw him subbed off.
 Dayne Zorko – 3
Unable to exert the type of influence he has delivered in the previous two winning finals for the skipper. Had moments where his skill came to the fore, taking clean possession in congestion and clearing the ball to a better-placed teammate, highlighted by a superb sweeping handball to Rich in space but his subsequent long shot missed which was indicative of their night.
 Eric Hipwood – 3
After two superb performances in the opening two rounds of the 2022 finals series, Hipwood lost his bearings early and dropped an easy chest mark which resulted in a simple goal for Rohan. To his credit fought back and won six marks, kicking two late goals but was unable to find his rhythm.
 Deven Robertson – 7
Repaid his coach’s faith in him late in the season with another promising display, exemplified by a sensational three efforts early in the second term, where he knocked the ball loose, then won possession, before running on to be the next option in the link. Unfortunately, his delivery inside F50 was turned over, but never gave in and his 25 pressure acts led his team, and he also laid an equal game-high ten tackles.
 Jack Payne – 6
Was the winner on points in an engrossing duel with Gary Rohan, despite the latter’s two goals. Won seven of his eleven touches through intercept, which led his team on the night, and his strength in the contest was never questioned.
 Noah Answerth – 1
A summary of the game notes saw the key terms: turnover, slow, mistake. It was a poor outing from the young Lion, who was surprisingly played forward, and couldn’t impact the game at all, with three of his ten touches turned straight over and caught holding the ball on another couple of occasions.
 Charlie Cameron – 3
Soundly beaten by Bews who has a history of locking down the opposition’s most dangerous forward. The Lions’ gameplan of bombing the ball long and high to a waiting pack of highly credentialled intercept markers was never going to suit the electric Charlie, who couldn’t fashion enough looks. Just a single goal from a free kick but contributed 15 pressure acts and three tackles from limited opportunity.
 Oscar McInerney – 6
The best ruckman on the ground with 16 taps to advantage from his 39 hit outs, and led the game with eight clearances, but was not able to influence enough in general play, only taking one mark for the game. Teamed up magnificently with Neale and Rayner in the early parts of the game, and several other knock-ons and clearing punches progressed his team but was never able to break away from Stanley and Blicavs’ grasp.
 Lachie Neale – 5
With seven of his 20 possessions and half of his six clearances coming in the first term, the Brownlow medallist was well held for the rest of the game. Put his body on the line in big contests against Guthrie and Selwood, winning the ball each time, and twenty pressure acts showed his desire, but the weight of numbers overcame him in the wash-up.
 Hugh McCluggage – 3
Four turnovers and a diabolical 52% disposal efficiency will sadly be McCluggage’s lasting memory of this game. A strong physical presence, and a great low pick-up on the run early that led to a McCarthy goal were the good, but repeated miskicks and poor options punctuated his match.
 Callum Ah Chee – 3
Got on the end of a brilliantly executed play to goal in the second term, and took an intercept mark along the wing, but was generally disappointing. Unable to shut down his opponents, win possession, or grasp the ball on multiple occasions.
 Lincoln McCarthy –
Kicked an excellent long goal in the second term after a one-handed mark, but otherwise a night to forget with seven of his 11 disposals ending up as turnovers. Provided run on multiple occasions through the first term, but his panicked long kicks under no pressure were easily picked off.
 Joe Daniher – 3
Was able to get his hands on the ball in reasonable numbers, 14 disposals and six marks – leading to a team-high six score involvements, but two good looks ended up out on the full and another gilt-edged chance to find an open Bailey also drifted over the line. Kept presenting, but his appearance seemed to throw out Hipwood and McStay’s roles and that is something Fagan will need to address.
 Darcy Wilmot – 5
You could see glimpses in this game as to why he is so highly rated internally, and his three career matches in finals to date will accelerate his development. 12 assured touches and while caught holding the ball on a couple of occasions was trying to take the game on and make the play. Impressive signs, some real composure and class shown.
Medi-Sub  – Rhys Mathieson – 5
Collected 13 touches in a quarter and a half, and while the game was already over when he replaced Rayner, did all he could in limited minutes. Won six clearances and Fagan might regret in hindsight not starting a physically imposing player against a team that ultimately harassed his side out of contention.