Finals Player Ratings – Collingwood v Melbourne

Each game of the 2023 AFL Finals Series, the Mongrel team rate every player out of ten to compile scores to name the Mongrel Player of the Finals.
Who will join previous winners? Let’s kick it off.




Qualifying Final 1: Collingwood vs Melbourne


Collingwood (Trent Adam Shields)


[28] Nathan Murphy (7)

Nathan Murphy displayed his renowned courage backing back with the flight to take a towering contested intercept mark in the third term, and foiled another certain Melbourne goal when his lunging spoil touched a Pickett snap. Only six disposals, but has just behind his skipper for spoils (seven) and one percenters (nine) as he played an important role in an excellent team defensive effort.


[30] Darcy Moore (8)

The Magpie skipper made a concerted effort early to attack the ball and set the tone, however dropped more marks than he typically would, but fortunately for his team he improved throughout the match. A game high 11 intercepts from his 16 touches, and two invaluable contested marks saw him far too strong for any of McDonald, Van Rooyen and Fritsch when he was matched up to them.


[3] Isaac Quaynor (9)

Quaynor was the designated outlet to move the ball by foot from the backline in the first half, then switched to the match saver in the desperate second half.  Four intercept marks from a total of nine intercepts, with two of those deep in the frenzied final moments backing back into oncoming traffic, superb.


[4] Brayden Maynard (7)

Will definitely be the most talked about player from last night’s game in the aftermath on account of a collision with Brayshaw in the opening moments. His 2023 fate is now in the hands of the MRO Lotto, but as far as his contribution was concerned played a typically combative game, the highlight being a diving intercept spoil to deny a promising Melbourne thrust. His 16 possessions were made up of seven intercepts, eight one percenters, six spoils and 13 pressure acts.


[37] Oleg Markov (6)

Markov wasn’t prominent, but his speed was important at times – laying five tackles, and his 13 disposals were delivered at 93% efficiency which was team-leading. His run and accuracy are integral to the way Collingwood likes to attack and he was a key link in several chains that exposed Melbourne on the break.


[10] Scott Pendlebury (4)

Was typically clean and on several occasions made excellent decisions to set up teammates in the clear, but wasn’t a strong contributor on the night overall. His 15 possessions was 50% down on his season average, but he maintained his clearance rate which helped set his team up during some scoring movements.


[22] Steele Sidebottom (7)

Would rated a nine for his first half as Sidebottom was at his imperious best with 18 disposals, but faded after the long break with only four touches. Had 22 pressure acts which was second for the Magpies and a team leading six tackles, but his 45% disposal efficiency led to only one score involvement.


[13] Taylor Adams (5)

Adams has evolved from a star into a role player, and to his credit continues to put his body on the line for the benefit of the team. 10 of his fifteen disposals were won in the contest, but these conditions should have suited his game more than his impact delivered.


[7] Josh Daicos (3)

Had a few moments of brilliance with his clever touches advancing his team’s attack, but was strangely subdued considering the outrageous form he’d been in the last month. Did not contribute a single score involvement down from an average of 5.3, and his pressure acts and tackles were more than 50% down on his season average. He’ll get another chance in the Prelim to rectify this performance, likely with his brother back in the line up.


[23] Bobby Hill (9)

Arguably the best game of his career, Hill was electric early scoring the first two goals of the game, and unlucky not to score another after bringing Lever down in the defensive goal square. What was particularly impressive was his defensive workrate and a number of his 13 disposals were gathered up the field as Hill used his pace to provide an outlet for his team, which was shown in his 299m gained.


[41] Brody Mihocek (6)

Perhaps marked harshly as he was a fierce competitor all night, the fact his direct opponent May was so influential for the Demons, and only scoring 1.1 from four or five shots on goal contributed to a lower rating. 15 disposals, and an equal team high six marks, along with four tackles was valuable in keeping May honest at least.


[38] Jeremy Howe (3)

Hasn’t returned the same player since that terrible injury in round 1, and was too easily moved off the ball in the air last night, losing two of his three one on one contests. Later he sold De Goey into trouble with a terrible handball when there were better options, but was relatively clean particularly in collecting off the ground in pressure situations deep in D50.


[5] Jamie Elliott (3)

Similar to Mihocek could have finished the game before halftime but for poor conversion. Three shots on goal you would usually mark down for the AFL’s iceman. Did show his last minute heroics though with a wonderful and courageous defensive contested mark with 1.30 remaining on the clock to stymie Melbourne’s last realistic chance.


[11] Daniel McStay (6)

Struggled to get involved offensively early, but lit it up in the third term with two goals created through superior workrate. While his seven disposals won’t be long remembered, he did also contribute five one percenters, 14 pressure acts and three spoils in a selfless display.


[2] Jordan De Goey (5)

Appeared to injure his knee early in the first term and struggled to impact the game from then on in the way we are accustomed. 19 disposals and a long tumbling goal were positives, but too often he wasn’t able to break lines and his kicks were hurried and turned over.


[46] Mason Cox (6)

Competed well in the ruck, and until Cameron was substituted was the premier tap player in the game. Also contributed several desperate ground ball disposals to the benefit of his side. Ultimately was run ragged by a relentless Gawn masterclass, but was important in giving his midfielders some great service as well as leading his team with six clearances.


[31] Beau McCreery (4)

McCreery didn’t get a lot of the ball, only ten touches, but gained 296m which is a significant number per disposal. Hit the ball at pace and was one of the few on the night to break lines and slingshot the ball forward leading to some easy Magpie scores.


[25] Jack Crisp (8)

Ran hard and completed a clever mark, then goaled from outside 50 in a great show of leadership in the first term. This was his consistent theme throughout, 23 touches, and 500m gained, Crisp just put his head down and worked harder than his opponents who preferred some fake tough guy bravado.


[1] Patrick Lipinski (3)

Appeared a step behind the play throughout the first half, but came into his own in the third term with two goals assists courtesy of exquisite delivery to Hill and McStay respectively. Needs to go when it’s his turn, but can hurt on the outside as he proved in those two highlights.


[6] Tom Mitchell (7)

Led his team with 14 contested disposals and the game with 23 pressure acts, was constantly in and under the packs farming the ball out to his runners and his game might’ve been rated higher if those follow up possessions were more impactful. A desperate tackle late in the final term to win a free kick against Petracca was indicative of his intent all night.


[14] Darcy Cameron (4)

Another Magpie who hasn’t replicated his early season form after injury, but started promisingly in the first term, tag teaming Gawn in the ruck effectively, and floating forward to take a towering mark, which he duly converted. Was quiet thereafter and substituted in the final term to allow Ginnivan into the fray.


[32] Will Hoskin-Elliott (8)

Another unsung member of the under siege Collingwood backline, WHE was a strong four quarter performer, with twenty disposals and 468m gained. His complete defensive game was accentuated with five tackles, 15 pressure acts, three spoils, and four intercept marks. Often a scapegoat, but was terrific last night.


Sub – [33] Jack Ginnivan (3)

Can anyone explain to me why Ginnivan is so poorly treated by the umpires? Is it his tight long sleeve crop top? The toussled hair that refuses to be restrained through standard headbands? Or his cheeky smile? Either way, it’s a mystery – but no doubt he cops the rough end. ONly had a few minutes to make an impact and brought down a rampaging Rivers to win a holding the ball decision behind the centre which contributed to the win.


Melbourne (Matt Parnell)


[14] Michael Hibberd (3)

It’s not necessarily his fault, but Hibberd was played out of the game immediately and had one of the worst halves of football you’ll ever see. Left high and dry by the tactics, but you can’t get beaten that badly and that often in a final. Set the tone.


[1] Steven May (7)

Impossible to separate his and Lever’s performances from each other because of how important their relationship is when it comes to shutting down transition opportunities. They seemed to alternate lumping forward in the first three quarters, but much of Collingwood’s goalless final quarter can be attributed to a more settled defence, which can in turn be primarily credited to May and Lever.


[17] Jake Bowey (7.5)

Jake Bowey stopped the bleeding. Their defensive structure needed someone to play last man up, watching Collingwood’s late run that led to Bobby Hill’s big first quarter. Putting Bowey into that role immediately staunched that – 14 kicks, a game high 8 marks, fourth for metres gained. Superb game for a bloke who doesn’t always get his plaudits.


[41] Judd McVee (6.5)

Nothing really good to say, nothing really bad to say. He’s only 20, was marshalled well in defence, didn’t seem to step out and achieve much. That’s cool. Not a role that flies off the page but you also didn’t really see him beaten, either.


[8] Jake Lever (7)

See: Steven May


[10] Angus Brayshaw (N/A)

Can’t really rate a game he only played four minutes of in good conscience.


[36] Kysaiah Pickett (7)

Biggest downside to his game was that there’s only one of him. Melbourne could’ve done with another Kozzie, given that they used him as one of their main targets for the long ball inside 50 but also needed him to crumb. Can’t crumb your own ball, but he did what he could with the role he was given. Ran with the ball for a bit, meaning he seemed stretched a bit thin, but was a real spark.


[7] Jack Viney (7)

When you start looking for Jack Viney, you start seeing Jack Viney. Continued a season of quiet accumulation by quietly racking up the fourth most touches in a game where disposals were at a premium. Almost every third disposal was an inside 50. That paints the picture of a man who’s creating opportunities, and it’s not his fault (entirely) that they weren’t capitalised upon.


[15] Ed Langdon (5)

In the same way Lever and May’s games are inseparable, Langdon and Hunter’s were as well. Operating on both wings, both pushing high up the wings, neither really getting back. It’s a style of play that asks them to produce in attack and be present in defence, but when they’re not producing in attack… can’t give ‘em any more than a 5. Not a great day out when their most memorable contributions were clangers.


[12] Lachie Hunter (5)

See: Langdon


[25] Tom McDonald (6.5)

All the Demons needed all game was for someone to crumb a goal, and Tom McDonald crumbed a goal. Provided a physical presence, but was in a glut of Melbourne players who had average games. Can’t be easy to come back in after such a long time on the sidelines, especially in the face of this Collingwood crowd, and McDonald showed he was willing to stand up and be counted when the game needed him to be.


[30] Alex Neal-Bullen (6.5)

A genuinely indistinguishable game from McDonald’s. More tackles. Still kicked a goal, got more stuck in at the coal face, spent a bit of time down back late in the fourth to try and spring rebounds. One of a few Dee’s playing to the same level where they were neither impressive or not impressive, but he kept popping up when needed.


[32] Tom Sparrow (6.5)

A lot of the game, my notes about Sparrow were more along the line of who is this bloke and what is he doing. His fourth quarter lifts him up from the malaise and into blokes who had a legitimate impact – 1 goal, 5 tackles, a performance that stood off the screen.


[2] Jacob van Rooyen (2)

Very much a game he’d rather forget. Barely acquired his own ball, couldn’t crack the scoresheet, when he finally did take a pack mark he kicked it into the man on the mark. Plus he misses next week after that elbow.


[37] Kade Chandler (6)

In a run of like, what did you really do here hey? Chandler was There. Fine. Didn’t really do anything but didn’t do anything poorly either, so can’t give points nor can you dock them. Sorry Kade. The most 6/10 performance in a team who had a few of ‘em.


[11] Max Gawn (8)

Lost the hit outs by four, but absolutely whipped Cox around the ground. Even when you know about the engine, it’s a surprise to see him cover the ground he does. Only two other players recorded hit outs, had the third most disposals, and was consistently wherever he needed to be.


[13] Clayton Oliver (7.5)

Not his best game, still good enough for third b.o.g. speaks to the inherent quality he brings. Butchered his delivery inside 50 a bit, wasn’t at his best in defense, but so much of their opportunities were created by him doing the things he does that no one else can.


[5] Christian Petracca (8.5)

Barely edges out Gawn for man of the match for mine. Gawn was better for two and a half quarters, but Petracca’s star turn in the last quarter and change nearly won them the game. Could’ve (should’ve?) drilled his set shot, but other than that was unstoppable in the guts when the game was there to be won


[3] Christian Salem (4)

Not a Salem problem, but maybe a system problem. This is a game that showcased none of his upsides – defensive awareness, pace, recovery – and he kept showing up in the forward 50. Didn’t understand it. Didn’t see him do anything good, did see him in a series of confusing spots. If you’re a listed half back, but you’re showing up at centre half forward, you should probably be getting some return for that. He wasn’t, they missed his run going back, can’t say he had a good game.


[24] Trent Rivers (6)

Tried to insert himself into the game late without a lot of effect. The kinda game you could watch comfortably without actually really taking notice of him, which means he didn’t do anything particularly well or poorly.


[29] Joel Smith (7)

The Demon’s game plan required literally anyone to take contested marks inside 50, and Joel Smith was the only tall who seemed capable of holding them. 2 contested marks was good enough for equal second on ground, and bonus points for being forced into a role switch early in the game.


[31] Bayley Fritsch (7)

Could be higher. Could be so much higher. Started to look like Fritsch the inevitable, a la last week or the 2021 Grand Final – those games where all of a sudden he has a bag – but he’ll remember this game for that spray in the fourth quarter with the game in a fundamentally winnable position. That said, not gonna dock him points for it – did well to get himself in that position – but you’ve gotta be doing better than that.


Sub – [16] Bailey Laurie (6.5)

Realistically, what can you say about someone who’s unexpectedly playing their sixth career game in a final? He wouldn’t have expected to play as many minutes as he did, only managing 5 disposals (all contested) but regardless of the minutes he played it feels unfair to lump him with any noteworthy score.