The Winners and Losers of Round 17

That time of the week again – the column where your old pal, HB, looks at five losers and five winners from the weekend’s games.

Let’s jump in.

Oh, and on reflection, I am going 6-4 this week, instead of 5-5. Just too many winners to fit in.





He’s been whacked a bit over the course of the season – “oh, he’s too defensive”… “oh, his system doesn’t work in the modern game.”

Armchair critics yapping away, trying to talk their opinions into existence.

The fact remains, Ross Lyon has forgotten more about footy than most of us will ever know. He is putting together a squad that CAN play his style, and he is teaching this group how to play within it. I don’t think there’ll be a small turnover after this season, but with wins like this, several of his players are putting their hand up, attacking the contest hard, and making statements that they want to be part of what he is building.

Yes, he has his detractors – I am not one of them.

I believe.



So, he played on Nick Daicos, and the wonderkid had 31 touches.

A failure, right?

Nup – the pressure Durham (and all the Essendon mids, in fairness) placed on Daicos caused him to have an atrocious game in terms of distributing the footy. Travelling at just 42% efficiency (and I think Champion Data are very lenient in terms of what constitutes an effective disposal), Daicos was consistently under the pump.

And going the other way, Durham was able to wreak some havoc of his own.

He had 26 touches and seven inside 50s, as he closed down on Nick, and ran off him at opportune moments. Fast becoming my favourite Bomber to watch, he is one of the several success stories coming out of Tullamarine over the last couple of season.



There have been times when Harry Sheezel has picked up cheap possessions. Playing across half-back for the whole first season of his career, he was able to ease into the game at the highest level.

But those days are looooong gone, and now Harry is right at the forefront.

This may have been his most complete game to date. Working through the midfield, as he has done for a while now, he gathered 35 touches, with ten clearances, and displayed the cleanest hands on the park. Seriously, go back and watch him gather the footy – the bloke must have shares in grippo or something.

Just a star, growing with his team.



I had a choice, here. Either go with Buckley as the winner, or go with Charlie Curnow as the loser.

I opted to go with Buckley as the winner, as having Curnow as the loser would intimate that he had a bad day and that it was his own fault.

It wasn’t.

It was Jack Buckley’s fault!

Buckley has had much asked of him, this season. And the answer he provided in this game was emphatic. Curnow got a late goal – a crumbing goal off the hands of the pack, but in every aspect through the first three quarters, this contest belonged to Buckley. And not many defenders have been able to say they beat Charlie, hands down.



Oh yeah… my favourite forward to watch at the moment – attacks the footy like a man possessed, takes no backwards step, and is rarely, if ever outmarked.

Before the 2024 season, all the talk was about Jye Amiss, but Josh Treacy has grown into a powerhouse, old-school key position weapon, and continues to pile the goals on.

With 14 goals in his last five games, he is looking more and more like a genuine star of the game, and if you opt to stand in his way and fill the hole in front of him, say your prayers – you’re in trouble.



Not only did he claim a front row seat against the Swans, desperately lunging for a Justin McInerney shot at goal as the Swans looked to put the Saints away, but Howard did so coming back from feeling his hamstring go “ping” and if anything is going to test out the hammies, it’s a flat out run with a lunge at the last second.

Howard touching that footy on the line was worth more than the five points it saved for the Saints – it gave them hope. It was the action of a player that had not given up and implored his teammates to follow his lead.

And they did.

Justin McInerney would love to have that kick over, and put a little more juice on it. He’d love to punch that footy through a little harder and take Howard out of the equation.

But he didn’t, and Dougal made the huge play.

Speaking of taking people out of the equation, Howard’s tackle on Chad Warner moments later was a crunching one, and even though The Chad smiled after being taken down, he was smiling because he knew he’d been tackled well.

Nice to see you back and playing well, Dougal.





Is it just me noticing this, or when the Gold Coast Suns need someone to play well in a big game, is Jack Lukosius just going completely missing?

Part of it may be that he has been thrown all over the park his whole career – half-back, half-forward, wing, key forward… but part of it could also be that he cannot cement himself as one type of player.

Versatility is great. Coaches love it. But when you have a player with the skill set of Lukosius, and the chances to perform in a big game, to return just six disposals and have your backside handed to you by Jackson Archer in just game number 16… I reckon Lukosius needs to become the Mirror Man, and have a good look at himself.



I’ve never seen a player live inside his head as much as Noah Cumberland does.

He has the potential to be a star of the game – the talent is undeniable, but you often hear of the little man on someone’s shoulder, whispering into his ear and creating doubts.

That little man is screaming in the ear of Cumberland.

This should be the time the young forward steps up and makes a name for himself, but with five touches for the game, it seems like he is stepping aside more often.



This is a bit of an obscure one, given Thommo has been out of the AFL loop for a while, but he makes the grade this week based on this tweet.


Yep, two Brownlows, a dominant 36-disposals, three goal game from the midfield… apparently Grant doesn’t rate him.

Not sure what else Lachie could do in this game, but whenever the Lions needed someone, it was Neale being that someone. He is a star of the highest order, whether Grant Thomas rates him or not.



This is the lowest of the low-hanging fruit, I know.

Last week, I didn’t have him as part of this list, but two weeks in a row… yeah, you get the nod.

It will be interesting to see how Logan responds from this fortnight. Is it a bump on the road to stardom, or is it a roadblock that will send him careening into a ditch.

There are many reasons Sydney lost that game – their inability to put the Saints away in the third quarter is the man one – but McDonald’s miss, given the circumstances, is what most will remember, rightly or wrongly.


Got any of your own? Think mine are wrong? Add them below. I don’t pretend to know everything or be right all the time.


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