Category - Weekend Wrap-Up (2011)
Hey all, here is part four of the yearly wrap. Apologies, it has been a long time between drinks on this article – hopefully the final part won’t be too far away. I’m looking forward to your feedback below!
Also, if you want to read parts one to three, click below:
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Todd Goldstein had a sensational year, easily stamping himself as one of the premier ruckmen in the competition, despite being just 23 years of age. He has proven to be a versatile tall, capable in the ruck, around the ground and even looks comfortable when dropping forward, managing to boot 13.6 for the year – a decent tally for a ruckman. He averaged 100 DT and 115 SC points for the year, putting him in the elite category and finally making selecting your ruckman a bit more of a skill than just locking away Sandilands and Cox.
- Andrew Swallow had another solid year through the midfield, averaging 26 disposals and 6.6 tackles per game. It was his clearance work that really shone though, getting to double-figure clearances in some games. He is not a flashy player, but does the tough stuff really well, making him a great DT and SC prospect, averaging over 100 points a game in both competitions.
- Drew Petrie may have frustrated many coaches with his fluctuating form, but those who got him for so cheap at the beginning of the year must have been super stoked with what he gave them. Whilst he did have some inconsistency through the season, as a whole, he was extremely valuable with his ability to score (he had 8 games of 100+ points in DT and 9 in SC), as well as that ultra-handy dual-position capability.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Liam Anthony really disappeared from the scene in 2011, averaging just 76 DT and 71 SC points from 13 games, a far cry from his 96 DT and 95 SC average in his debut season. He struggled to cement his spot in the team, often starting the game as the sub and subsequently having little impact. He is a player who had shown some very good DT potential over the past two years, so it was disappointing to see him drop away so rapidly, seemingly no longer trusted by the coach due to his below average disposal.
- Gavin Urquhart was a player I wrote about in the pre-season, expecting him to finally be given more opportunities at senior level. Unfortunately, injuries and form again struck him down, restricting him to just one 3-disposal game (as the sub) in round 19. He has plenty of talent, but has simply never had the chance to show it off – perhaps 2012 will finally be his year, although we have been saying that every year.
- Cam Richardson started the season as the great white hope and finished it as the bane of everyone’s existence. After a ripping pre-season, Richo looked a DT/SC gem for 2011, but as soon as the real stuff started he looked lost and a step below what was required at senior level. After playing the first four games he was dropped, not resurfacing until round 14 and only playing three more games. Despite continually putting in 30+ possession games in the VFL, Richo just couldn’t replicate that at AFL level, managing to average just 11 touches per game across his 8-game career.
- Hamish McIntosh will be one player heavily considered in 2012, coming into the season with a massive discount due to the fact he managed just to play the one game – in round 24 – for a total of 79 DT and 96 SC. He should get a substantial discount, likely pricing him at around $200 – $250k at the start of the year. The issue will be how many games will he play. He missed the majority of 2011 due to an Achilles injury, but also spent nearly 10 games in the VFL towards the end of the year, unable to break into the side due to the form of Petrie and Goldstein. Scott is adamant there is a spot for Big Mac in the best 22, so there will be plenty of coaches watching to see if this eventuates come round one, as we all saw how three ruckmen didn’t work for Essendon this year.
- Todd Goldstein was one of the star ruckmen of the season, averaging 100 DT and 115 SC for the year. He will be one of a number of young rucks jostling for a spot in your starting team, and in my opinion is one of the best. He has the ability to play forward, as well as across the ground, meaning that he won’t have to just sit on the bench whilst McIntosh gets his go through the middle. Will be expensive, but we saw this year that he will be worth every bit of his commanding price.
- Jack Ziebell is definitely worth considering in 2012 – the best players to target can often be those who may have started the year slowly, but showed what they can really do in the latter parts of the year. That way you are paying for a player who has statistically had an average season, but you are banking on gaining the average they finished the year with. In Ziebell’s case, he started the year poorly, struggling to even run out games. But he finished in fine form, averaging 108 DT and 113 from his last six games. He began to prove himself as a big cog in North’s midfield, and if he can replicate that form in the NAB cup next year, he could be one worth considering, especially because he will be priced at an average of 78 DT and 79 SC.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Hamish Hartlett managed 16 games this year, easily his best return in his injury-ravaged career so far. He played the majority of his games running off half-back, using his brilliant ball-use to great effect and playing a huge part in setting up plenty of Port’s forays forward. His body finally broke down late in the year as he acknowledged his shoulder would not see out the year, although the goal seems to be for him to have a full pre-season in 2012.
- Travis Boak was again a solid contributor for Port, although with still a very young team around him he does occasionally struggle to impact a game as much as he could with some more support. That said, he is amazingly consistent, rarely being tagged out of games and still averaged 22 disposals a game.
- Robbie Gray had a pretty decent year, managing to play every game – the first time he has managed to do this throughout his career. Whilst there continues to be plenty of outside demand for Gray to play through the middle, he spent the majority of his time forward of the ball, whilst still roaming through the middle in spurts. He is such a talented player and very dangerous around goal, but I will say the inevitable – I’d still love to see him get more time through the middle next year.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Steven Salopek had another poor year – his second in a row – never managing to cement his spot in the lineup – not a great sign considering he plays for the team that finished 16th. Sal is such a talented player, so it is disappointing seeing it go to waste – he seems to have lost a bit of pace, plus his disposal just isn’t what it once was. He remains on the list, and rightly so, but I’d say he wouldn’t want to have three bad seasons in a row…
- Chad and Kane Cornes both had their careers come to an end in 2011, which was clearly very saddening to the DT and SC community. Chad is ‘retired,’ but will play for GWS next year, but Kane remains on the list despite being told by Primus that he would likely not play many senior games. Unfortunately, two guys who were once some of the first picked in your DT and SC are two players you should now avoid at all cost.
- Cameron Hitchcock showed plenty of promise in his debut 2010 season, but fell right away in 2011, playing 13 games and kicking just 9.12 as a small forward – a less than impressive return. He became a negative focus of Port supporters for his ability to turn the ball over across the half-forward line and felt the wrath of the selection panel for the same issue. Will be interesting to see if he can regain his form in 2012.
- John Butcher didn’t get his first game until round 21, but stuck around for the last few games of the season, kicking a very impressive 11.1 from his four games. His strength was his marking, seemingly able to mark anything that came near him, contested or otherwise. He also had a great record in front of goal, missing his first shot, but then not another from then on – amazing effort for a guy who has been known for his horrid kicking action in front of goal. Port need to play the kids in 2012 and Butcher is a massive part of their spine, so expect him to play every game. He has shown he can score well, although don’t expect him to average massive numbers as a key position player – still, he could be one to earn a bit of coin from.
- Ben Jacobs came into the season as a highly rated junior ball-winner, but injury forced his season to start in round 8. As a top-10 draft pick, there were plenty of expectations on him to perform – unfortunately though, he struggled through many of his games, often making poor decisions or turning the ball over. He improved as the year went on fortunately, and fingers crossed he will continue to improve in 2012. He was a great ball-winner as a junior, so if played in the right role it could definitely translate to AFL level – just keep a close eye on his pre-season role.
- Mitch Banner was another youngster starved of opportunities in 2011, and again it was injuries and form that kept him out of the squad. When he did play, he showed why he could be a DT-stud, averaging 17 disposals a game. He also pulled in two hefty DT tons later in the year – 116 and 122 to suggest his junior ball-winning ways could translate to AFL level. He is not a SuperCoach player though (average foot-skills), but does know how to win it. Check him out in the pre-season as if given the right role and opportunities he could be set for a decent increase in scoring.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Trent Cotchin had a true breakout season in 2011, however it wouldn’t have been too surprising to many. It has been a steady rise for him over his first four seasons, getting noticeably better as the years role on. He has also put to rest the worries about his ability to stay on the park, as he missed many games over his first two seasons due to ongoing injury issues. It was a massively consistent season for him, averaging 24.2 disposals a game, whilst only dropping below 20 touches on five occasions. He also had his best game against Geelong, with 38 disposals and subsequently the highest DT score of his career – 129.
- Brett Deledio was a solid citizen for many DT and SC coaches in 2011, with his consistency off half-back being a real highlight. In a year that saw us unable to trust many of out defenders, Deledio managed to hold the fort with an average of 92 DT and 105 SC, whilst only scoring below 80 points five times in DT and twice in SC. He provided very good run for the Tigers off half-back, whilst also using the ball well. He also had a greater impact on games – something which had for a while been dubbed as his biggest flaw. Should hopefully continue to improve as his Tigers begin their march up the ladder.
- Alex Rance was one who really impressed me in 2011 – whilst he wasn’t in their best every week, he was typically a solid contributor in the backline, often playing on the opposition’s key forward. He won’t ever be one to consider for DT, but in SC he could be a real smokey moving forward. He is very good at one-percenters, and has no issue at shirking a contest (which for a while looked like it could derail his career). This ability to win contested ball and also beat his opponent will make him a very good SC option in years to come – even in 2011 he averaged 85 points a game, which included five games over 100 points. Interestingly too, when he broke 100 points, he generally beat it by quite a bit, averaging 118 points from his five games over the ton.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Daniel Connors – after a great year in 2010 where he averaged 92 DT and 86 SC, Connors just couldn’t get into the side in 2011. He played just three games for zero effect and spent the rest of the year in the VFL or injured. With the season done and dusted, there was even talk in trade week that he was open to finding a new club – and Richmond were happy to shop him around. As it seems, no one was interested, to he will still be in the yellow and black in 2012. He could still be a good pick-up if he can get on the park, but the worry is that his position has been taken by Houli, meaning he will need to re-invent himself elsewhere. Would have to be a risky pick, but conversely could be a very cheap one.
- Mitch Morton was another Tiger to disappoint after a promising 2010. He had fallen out of favour under Terry Wallace and then appeared re-invented as winger under Hardwick, but then couldn’t reprise that role in 2011. He averaged 99 DT and 105 SC whilst playing as a wingman in 2010, so there is certainly potential, as well as fantasy interest, so it was a shame to see him back in the forward line this year. He has now been traded to the Swans, so it will be interesting to see where he is played by them next year.
- Jack Riewoldt just couldn’t get into the season, booting 59 goals this year after his Coleman-winning 78 goals in 2010. He had injury issues mid-way through the year that really slowed him down, and whilst he played through it he just didn’t seem to be his normal high-leaping self. He perhaps tried too hard at times, attempting to do the showy play too often, rather than the team thing. He is still so young, so will bounce back – a pre-season will help too as he didn’t get on this year. Will be good to see if Vickery can continue to develop alongside him next year, allowing him a little less attention than he is used to.
- Trent Cotchin, as I have already mentioned, has shown good improvement between his first four years, so it would be expected that he will take another step in 2012. He has so far shown a great ball-winning ability, as well as a capability to break a tag – two very important factors when choosing an up-and-coming DT/SC jet. He will be a midfielder capable of dominating both DT and SC too, meaning he should be on your radar no matter which game you play. He should come cheapish for what he could offer, so have a good look at him for your third or fourth midfield position.
- Jack Riewoldt – thanks to his below average season this year, he will come into 2012 significantly undervalued. He proved this year that he needs a full pre-season to perform at his best, so keep an eye on how he goes through January and February – if he is participating in most sessions, pencil him in as a good starting option for your forward line. He knows where the goals are and seems capable of a minimum 60-70 points (not too bad from a key forward), but with the dearth of other good forward options in 2012, he could be one player considered by many.
- Dustin Martin is another young Tiger to show he is more than capable in the big-league, averaging 89 DT and 98 SC this year in what was only his second season. The first half of his season was terrific, including a five-game purple patch where he averaged 28.4 disposals, 3 tackles, 2 goals, 113 DT and 119 SC points. So he has proven he is more than capable of being a future DT/SC star. For just a player in his third year, Martin will be pretty expensive next year, so you will need to be confident he can add another 10 – 15 points to his weekly average – at his price you are not buying a cash-cow, you are buying a keeper. So do your research in the pre-season, as he could be one player missed by a lot of other coaches – if you like what you see, lock him in, because he could be destined for a massive season in 2012. Not even Dustin Martin can argue with that.
Its the end of the year, so Toby looks back on the AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach season thats been – who shone, who disappointed and who is in his sites for 2012? Featuring Gold Coast, Hawthorn and Melbourne
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Gary Ablett’s year will undoubtedly go down as a success, despite somewhat of a slow start. We didn’t get to see Gaz in the Sun’s gear until round 2 thanks to a persistent hamstring injury that kept him out of the pre-season – then, after averaging 92 DT and 102 SC points for the first five rounds, Ablett reverted to the form we knew he was capable of producing, averaging a fantastic 128 DT and 146 SC points for the rest of the year. There had been some concern over what sort of scores he could produce without the Geelong midfield around him, so it was hugely impressive to see such a dominant year from him
- Zac Smith has surely been the most impressive first-year ruckman we have seen in the AFL in well over a decade, averaging 13 disposals, 17 hitouts and 4.5 marks a game – very impressive numbers for any first-year player, but simply outstanding for a first-year ruckman, considering young rucks typically don’t start showing great signs a few more years into their career. He proved to be an ever-reliable third ruck option for so many coaches this year, as he was even forced to take the field on many occasions with the likes of Cox and Sandilands having some time of the sidelines.
- Danny Stanley proved to be one of the most reliable and consistent defence options in both DT and SC, despite starting the year as one of the cheapest. He averaged over 20 disposals a game, playing mainly across half-forward and through the midfield. He really improved as the year went on, becoming much more consistent – he also only dropped below 80 points on three occasions from round 8 onwards, proving just how reliable he became.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Daniel Harris actually started the year pretty well, featuring in plenty of teams as he averaged 77 DT and 87 SC points in his first six games before going down with injury. Unfortunately, he only made it back to play five more games for an average of 49 DT and 47 SC points before retiring at the end of the year. Whilst if you cashed him in at the right time he could have been a success, if you held on that little too long he would have burned you pretty bad.
- Nathan Krakouer was definitely the most disappointing of all the mature-aged players that Gold Coast poached, playing just 13 games for an average of 44 DT and 47 SC points. He continually looked disinterested and unwilling to go for the hard ball, causing him to continually find himself dropped from the side. He did play one great game against Brisbane Lions though, when he lead them to a famous victory with 5.1 as an exciting small forward.
- Nathan Ablett was never really expected to have much of a year, considering his poor form in the VFL for Gold Coast in 2011. Still, they gave him a crack at senior level and it’s pretty safe to say it didn’t work. He managed to play just three games at the end of the year and looked pretty lost in all of them. He has since been delisted.
- Dion Prestia took a while to warm into the season, constantly being given the sub vest in his earlier games as he averaged just 54 DT and 54 SC in his first nine games of the year. Fortunately his junior form started to show later in the season as he started to win more of the ball and show some really impressive signs around the clearances. His continual growth as a player this year certainly bodes well for more of the same in 2012. He will likely be at an awkward mid-price, but if you see him continuing his development at a similar rate, then you’d certainly have to consider him.
- Josh Caddy managed to play just the last two games of the year as injuries prevented the top-10 draft pick from making his debut earlier. Some believed he was even rushed back from injury early, just to give him a taste of senior AFL football, yet despite this he still averaged 72 DT and 58 SC across the two games, including a 16 disposal, 6 tackle game against Hawthorn in round 24. He was a great ball winner and super tackler as a junior, and should attract a reasonable discount for 2012, making him an awfully tempting option as a cash-cow in your midfield.
- Brandon Matera had a super start to the year, averaging 60 DT and 67 SC points in his first 7 games before going down with injury. He then spent the majority of the season on sidelines, only playing five more games. His last game of the season was a ripper though, and also the best of his short career as he picked up 26 disposals, 9 marks and kicked 3.1 against the Hawks. He has shown an ability to win the ball, but just need to spend a summer in the gym – monitor his pre-season next year as he could be another set for some substantial improvement.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Sam Mitchell had what was easily the best season of his career, seemingly flicking a switch in round 10, from when he only scored under 100 points once in DT (a 96 in round 23) and twice in SC (a 92 and 91). He was so often the first to the ball in Hawthorn’s midfield, picking up 30 disposals or more on 14 occasions. His consistency and high scoring were massive features to his game in 2012, making him a fantastic acquisition at any time of the year.
- Matt Suckling had a true breakout season, playing 20 games after coming into the season with just 6 games to his name. He played off half-back, with his sublime foot skills a real asset to the Hawks. Their game-style of chipping the ball around the backline also greatly helped his DT and SC scoring, with him averaging 6.5 marks and 24 disposals a game. He is still quite young, so expect this form to continue into 2012.
- Liam Shiels had a highly unheralded season – after showing some good signs in 2010 with an average of 53 DT and 47 SC, Shiels nearly doubled that in 2012, with averages of 103 DT and 92 SC points a game. He won plenty of his own ball, despite his small frame, but also impressed with his ability to spread and make use of himself outside of the contests. He was also a tackling machine, averaging 6 per game.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Cameron Bruce spoke pre-season about the possibility of playing through the midfield at his new club, sucking in plenty of coaches. Many thought back to his hey-day at Melbourne when he was one of the best DT and SC players running around, which included an average of 102 DT points in 2006. Unfortunately, this form, nor a move to the midfield, was ever seen in 2012 – instead he played in a back pocket for just 9 games as he fought with form and injury.
- Xavier Ellis probably doesn’t deserve to be in the ‘disappointing’ section, as to be quite honest, I think it’s now gotten to the stage where very little is expected of him. But still, it can be hard not to think back to his first couple of seasons and the great form he showed, which included a starring role in Hawthorn’s 2008 Grand Final win. Again in 2012 he battled injury and form issues – when he did play he looked OK, but was often criticized for his inability to win a contested ball.
- Clinton Young was a player Hawthorn had been desperate to get back into their lineup after over 12 months of persistent injuries. They finally got him back playing footy each week in 2011, but unfortunately only 10 of those were in the seniors as he battled some pretty bad form. Once a prodigious kick, Young just couldn’t get anywhere near the ball in 2011 and never seemed to use it as well as he once did. Will be interesting to see whether he is still at the club next year or if they see if they can shop him off to the highest bigger – surely he would still have some value on the trade table.
- Shaun Burgoyne had a good year of football, playing mainly out of the backline – unfortunately though, this wasn’t fantastic for either his DT or SC scoring. It will be interesting to see where he plays next year – Hawks are probably a tall defender or two short this year, but with Gilham and Stratton back next year, and they may even look to trade in some height for their backline, Burgoyne may find himself back in the midfield. He is really a SC only pick due to his beautiful ball use, so keep a very close eye on him in the pre-season, as well as Hawthorn’s draft and trade strategy.
- Shane Savage had a real breakout year in 2011, averaging 17.5 disposals a game. Whilst his form was a little up and down at times, his good games were typically very good, including a 33 disposals, 3 goal game against the Suns and a 26 touch game against the Saints that will likely attract him 3 Brownlow votes. Clarkson likes to trust his youngsters, so keep a close eye on him next year – we know he can produce some massive scores, so the trick will be whether he can do it more consistently.
- Isaac Smith had a great debut season for the Hawks, managing just two games before round 13, before then not missing a game for the rest of the year. He has really begun to show some consistency at the back end of the year too, including two very good finals games. He has no trouble finding the ball and is able to run all day, so has the attributes to make him a great Dream Teamer. Of all the mid-priced options, Smith looks one of the most capable of pumping out a 100+ average in 2012.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Jack Trengove was probably Melbourne’s best for the season, developing along nicely from his debut year in 2010. He works so hard through the midfield and manages to drop forward with great effect too, making him a dangerous opponent for opposition teams. He still has a lot of developing to do, but presents himself as a good leader of the club and capable of taking his game to another level.
- Stefan Martin was one of the more maligned players in the competition up til this year, so it was good to see him take an opportunity with both hands when Jamar was injured early in the year. With no other ruckmen in the side, Martin lead Melbourne’s ruck division for the majority of the year. He was a very mobile ruckman, doing well enough in the air, but it was his versatility and athleticism around the ground that proved to be his strength.
- Jack Watts continues to be criticised for his lack of development to date, but he took some really positive steps forward in 2011, as he was given far more latitude by the coach as to where he could play. He wasn’t simply plonked up forward, but played a lot of time behind the ball, acting as a third man up in defence. Whilst he still had the odd quiet game, there were far less of them in 2011 – plus he showed some very positive signs that he may reach the level originally expected of him.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Brad Green had one of the most disappointing years of anyone in the AFL in 2011. Despite being given the captaincy, Green really struggled to lead his side, constantly being dogged by his own form issues. He often looked uninterested or frustrated as he spent most of the year in the goalsquare, spending far less time through the midfield than he has in previous seasons. Perhaps he will perform better under a new coach, but the form shown by him in 2011 would do anything but make you confident for his chances of making your team in 2012.
- Jack Grimes was again put in thousands of teams in round one, as so many coaches were again sucked into his good pre-season form. Unfortunately, he went down with a season-ending injury (again…) in round 7, not only burning coaches with his early exit to the season, but also the fact he left them with just 8 DT points in that final game. Surely no one will be silly enough to choose him again in 2012…
- Cale Morton was a man we had high hopes for in 2012 – a former top-5 draft pick who had shown some good form in 2010 – but unfortunately he had a shocker of a season, managing just 14 games for an average of 16 disposals – a career low. He has plenty of potential, but just needs to work on his inside game – could be very cheap next year, so if the form is there you may have to consider him.
- Jack Watts, as I already noted, was a big improver in 2011, so the expectation is there that he will continue to grow and improve in 2012. He showed us this year that he is capable of winning plenty of ball when played in the right positions, but it will be interesting to see where he is played by Mark Neeld, Melbourne’s new coach – will he be played behind the ball and on a wing again, or will he spend more time up forward? If he continues on a wing he could be a great option, although it doesn’t look nearly as tantalising if he is lining up out of the square.
- Matthew Bate could be a good option, although a very speculative one. It’s fair to say his 2011 season was a poor one – in and out of the side all year as he struggled for form. In fact, his 2010 wasn’t a whole heap better. However, all that said, he can actually play a very good DT/SC game, as shown back in 2008 and 2009 when he averaged around 80 DT and 75 SC points a game. If played across half-forward – his natural position – he can actually win a fair amount of ball and deliver it well. This year Bailey tried to play him as a defensive forward – this just didn’t work, clearly. So again, watch where Neeld plays him – you never know, he could be one of the real smokies of 2012.
- Colin Sylvia had another frustrating year, being dropped and then suspended late in the year for DT/SC finals. He started the year well, but as soon as Scully returned to the side, Sylvia was moved into the forward line, killing his scoring – an eight game run that resulted in an average of 83 DT and 85 SC – a massive drop from the 103 DT and 108 SC he was averaging whist in the midfield up until then. Now with Scully gone and a new coach, you would have to suspect Sylvia will be back running through the midfield in 2012, which should mean he is going to be pretty underpriced. I guess we can also be thankful that all these games in the forward line will likely mean we can pick him as a forward again next year!
Continuing on from last week’s Yearly Wrap, here is part two (Part one). Part three will be up later this week. Enjoy!
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Jobe Watson had a great year – well, at least in the games he played. For those who actually owned him in either DT or SC, it would have been a pretty bumpy ride, considering he missed 6 games throughout the year. But when he did play he was in some of the best form of his career, averaging 100 DT and 106 SC points for the year, which included a run of 117 DT and 120 SC points in his first seven games of the year. He has really stepped up under Hird, so hopefully he can put his hamstring issues behind him next year and have the consistent season he deserves.
- David Zaharakis was one player widely tipped to improve this year, and whilst he was still somewhat inconsistent at times (more-so in the front half of the year), his form and ball-winning ability was a great improvement from 2010. He played a lot more time through the midfield, clearly allowing him more chances to win the ball and has been given much more responsibility under Hird. Was a great ball-winner as a junior, so will likely get even better.
- Dyson Heppell was one of the rookie stories of the year, culminating in him winning the Rising Star. Not only did he average over 80 points a game in each competition, but he also didn’t miss a single game all year, making him a great acquisition to any team. He had five games over 100 points in DT and three in SC and only 3 & 4 under 70 points. And I haven’t even bothered to mention yet about his DPP link…
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Patrick Ryder started the year as a very popular ruck option, but with Essendon’s much-debated three-ruck structure he never really got any sort of form going, as he was constantly being switched between forward and the ruck for the best part of the year. His second half to the year was a bit better when he was given the #1 ruck mantle, Hille spent more time forward and Bellchambers was left in the VFL, but still he didn’t reach the great heights of some of his previous years.
- Andrew Welsh had a shocker of a year, being dogged by form and injuries, which only allowed him to play in six games. When he did get on the park his form was average, mainly due to conditioning, often being given run-with roles that at times looked beyond him. He would be desperately looking forward to pre-season next year with a hope of getting his body fit again.
- Nathan Lovett-Murray was coming off a pretty strong 2010 season, but this year he found himself in and out of the side throughout the year, often being criticised for some decision making and toughness at the contests. He has only ever shown occasional DT ability, so after another average year, a permanent strike would have to be put through his name for coming years.
- David Zaharakis, as I noted above, had a real breakout season in 2011, but still didn’t appear to reach the DT or SC heights that he will be capable of in the next few years. He averaged just under 90 points in DT and just over in SC, meaning his price will be reasonable, although he will not be cheap enough to be a speculative pick – you would want to see a good pre-season. Fortuntately, his form on the run home was encouraging, averaging 102 DT and 99 SC in his last 11 games of the year, including top-scores of 133 DT and 138 SC throughout the year, showing he is capable of pulling out a big score. He has the junior history to suggest he is made for both competitions, so you could do much worse in your forwards next year.
- Michael Hurley continued to build in 2011, looking good without being spectacular through the year as he did spend some time on the sidelines with a calf injury. He looked better as the year wore on and he became more comfortable being played as a permanent forward, rather than continually switching between there and defence throughout games. He looks more capable of being a SC player than DT with his good contested marking and skills, so keep an eye on him in the pre-season next year. May not have enough improvement to make him worthwhile yet, but should still be considered as we know he is brimming with talent.
- Scott Gumbleton didn’t play a single AFL game in 2011 after managing a career-high 17 in 2010, where he averaged 57 DT and 53 SC. Next year he should be dirt-cheap again, so plenty will be tempted if he manages a pre-season. His issue has never been talent, but his body, so if he can string a pre-season together he could be worthwhile considering his price, but there will always be the fear his body will fail him again. Treat carefully, but it could pay off.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Nat Fyfe would probably be one of the best breakout players of the year. After a solid debut season in 2010, Fyfe had an amazing 2011, taking his game to a new level in Freo’s young midfield. His aerial ability is brilliant, so often managing to take a grab despite being out of position. He also has good pace, height and skills, meaning he will be a dangerous player for years to come. His season was amazingly consistent too, only scoring below 90 points on four occasions in DT, and six occasions in SC, whilst managing to miss just one game all year.
- Tendai Mzungu didn’t manage to play his first game of the year until round 9, thanks to a leg injury in the pre-season. We had all predicted he would be a great DT prospect in the pre-season, so it was great to see him come into the lineup and have an impact straight away, playing mainly across half-back and half-forward, before moving to the midfield for run-with roles over the last month of the season – a month that saw him average 97DT and 91 SC points.
- Nick Lower got his second chance at AFL level after being delisted by Port Adelaide in 2009. He did a great job working his way off the rookie list in the pre-season, debuting in round 1 and only missing three games for the rest of the year, whilst averaging 76 DT and 82 SC points – a great effort considering his starting price. He played the majority of the year in the backline, but had occasional stints through the midfield, all of which had great results for his scoring – he had three games over 100 points through the year and all of them were played in the midfield.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Paul Duffield was one of the most disappointing players from any club for the year. After having two great years in a row running off the half-back line in 2009 and 2010, Duffield’s 2011 form was disastrous, often being resigned to defensive roles in the backline and often not allowed to use his run. His disposal efficiency also seemed to drop, causing his teammates to go to him less than they have in the past.
- Greg Broughton may have had his good patch of form from rounds 9-19 where he averaged 120 DT and 110 SC, it was the other 10 rounds of the year that really let him down, where he averaged just 61 DT and 74 SC points. Whilst that middle patch of the season saw him played through the midfield, the other 10 games on either side of it saw him resigned to playing defensive roles in the backline – roles that are adverse to DT and SC scoring. He also appeared to be carrying an injury in the final month, which didn’t help.
- Rhys Palmer has really gone backwards since winning the NAB Rising Star in 2008. He started many games as the sub and there really wasn’t a single game of the year where he appeared to dominate, managing to crack 20 disposals on just four occasions, with 24 being his season-high – this is compared to his debut season where he cracked 20 disposals on 14 occasions and had a season-high of 31 touches. He is now been announced as one of GWS’s first signings, meaning this was his final year in Fremantle colours.
- Michael Barlow was easily the best pick in both DT and SC in 2010 before he broke his leg late in the year and missed nearly 12 months of football. He finally returned to AFL level in round 13 this year, and whilst his nine games were pretty decent for a guy returning from injury, it was nothing close to the standard he set for himself in 2010. Having played under 10 games, he will get a reasonable discount next year, meaning that if he can put together a decent pre-season, he could again be one of the bargains of the year.
- Greg Broughton’s year, as I have already touched on, was terribly inconsistent – 50% of his games were great as he played through the midfield – the other 50% were average as he was stuck deep in defence. A lot of the reasoning behind his defensive role was injuries at Fremantle, so if they appear to have a bit more luck in 2012, Broughton may again be released to play through the guts. Monitor his pre-season, and if he appears to be training with the midfield group again, strongly consider him.
- Anthony Morabito missed the entire year after doing his ACL in the pre-season. He should be back doing full training by the pre-season though, so it is likely that he will be ready to go round one and with a hefty discount thanks to the zero games he played in 2011. He was never an amazing DT prospect, but depending on his price he could still be a good cash-cow. SuperCoach suits him much better, so he is certainly worth considering as a starting player in your squad for next year.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Steve Johnson had one of his most consistent seasons ever, averaging 107 DT and 108 SC points. However, it was the difference between his best and worst that really stood out – in years gone by, Johnson was perennially inconsistent, but in 2011 he had far fewer poor games, only scoring below 70 once in DT and never in SC. He also pulled out some of the biggest scores of his career, including two scores of 171 in DT and a score of 199 in SC. He managed to hit 100 points or more on 10 occasions in DT and 8 in SC – the most of his career.
- Allen Christensen was one of a few young Cats to have breakout seasons in 2011, and whilst he didn’t cement his spot in the side until round 14 (he debuted in round 7), he was probably one of the most consistent young Cats once he had his spot, averaging 75 DT and 72 SC for the year, which included four tons in DT and five in SC. He played as a zippy half-forward, capable of roaming onto a wing and winning his own ball. He was also very dangerous around goal, booting 15.9 for the year.
- James Kelly seemed to be the player to really benefit from the loss of Ablett, with his midfield time increasing, which in turn came partnered with his improved form. He became a tackling machine through the middle of the ground, laying 160 for the year at an average of 7.6 per game – a great number. He provided a lot of grunt work for the Cats and showed he is capable of playing both attacking and defensive football, in turn making him one of their most important players of the year.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Tom Hawkins had a pretty average year, once again falling short of the high expectations many have for him. He found himself in and out of the side later in the year, battling with Mooney and Vardy for a spot in the forward-line, but never really grabbed his opportunity when he was given the chance to prove himself. He finished with 20.13 for the year, but 13.6 of those came in an easy patch later in the season when the Cats played Brisbane, Richmond, Melbourne and Gold Coast. He managed to keep his spot for the first final, in which he played one of the best games of his career – he kicked 2 goals from 15 touches, but took some solid marks, used the ball well and did some very clever things to suggest he may still be the talent Geelong has been craving him to be.
- Travis Varcoe had been tipped pre-season to be one of the competition’s big improvers in 2011, but by midway through the year there were some suggesting he could do with a run in the VFL. Fortunately, he managed to put some good games together in the later parts of the year, looking quite dangerous off half-back. Alas, this was not to help those who had taken a punt on him in 2011 though.
- Shannon Byrnes only managed four games this year through a mixture of form and injury, being the sub in at least a couple of them. He has been a player to show signs of taking another step up from just being a good player, so it was a shame to see another year wasted for him. Needs a good pre-season next year if you were to consider him at his cheap price, but my guess is there will be some far better options.
- Travis Varcoe was a player expected to break out this year, but as I said above, he only showed some encouraging form in the latter parts of the year. His run and carry off half-back has been great for the Cats and it could translate into some decent form next year if the role continues. I imagine it being a very similar role to Yarran at the Blues, meaning he would be exclusively a SC option.
- Mitch Duncan showed a great improvement this year from last, so with natural progression we could hope to see him improve again next year. He has played mainly through the midfield and has looked very good there, winning over 20 disposals on four occasions – three of them in the last month of the season. He will be fairly priced next year, but if he has a good pre-season there is no reason to think he wouldn’t be given greater responsibility, especially considering how much Brad Scott has already proven he loves to give the kids a chance.
- Tom Hawkins has been a real disappointment to date, but his recent game against Hawthorn has given me renewed confidence in his ability. Whilst it wasn’t an amazing game from a DT/SC perspective, his form was solid and he showed some great skills, confirming that he is certainly capable of being successful at the highest level. Next year will be his 6th year in the system, so it is about time he stepped up – certainly another player whose pre-season is worth following closely.
It’s the end of the year, so Toby looks back on the AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach season that’s been – who shone, who disappointed and who is in his sites for 2012?
Ok, so that’s the 2011 Dream Team and SuperCoach season done and dusted. We can all go back to our normal lives and reconvene in 6 months, yeah? Well sorta… For some of us (those ‘Footy Tragics’ amongst us), Dream Team and SuperCoach doesn’t finish at round 24 – in fact, it just means the start of the next season where we plan to come back with a better, stronger team, plan not to blow all our trades before the finals and swear we will never pick Higgins again (although know we will be tempted…). So as we at Footy Tragic fit into the category of Dream Team and SuperCoach obsessed, we will be continuing to post articles on this site all the way through until the start of next season. We will focus on the drafts, trade period, all the clubs lists in great detail and give you weekly training reports, all to ensure you go into season 2012 with the best DT/SC pre-season possible – so make sure you keep coming back to the site over the off-season to keep up to date with everything Dream Team and SuperCoach.
Now, most of you would have been coming onto the site today to read the weekly wrap, but as I have done the past two years, the final round weekly wrap will instead be a yearly wrap (broken up into four articles across the week). I will look back on each club’s year, discussing the DT/SC success stories of the club, those who burnt us, as well as the players you should strongly consider for next year. Look forward to everyone’s feedback on each club – who are the players everyone is already locking in for next year? Also, we will do further club wraps over the next month or so, going in more significant detail, analysing all the lists and picking out the players likely of getting more opportunity moving forward. Enjoy!
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Scott Thompson had a ripper season, averaging a career-high 107.6 DT and 108.8 SC points a game. His consistency was one of his biggest positives this year, only dropping below 80 points in DT four times and SuperCoach twice. He was also a great performer, even when his side was having a stinker, continuing to run hard between contests despite the fact a win may have been out of site.
- Nathan Van Berlo had a pretty indifferent year under Neil Craig, but really stepped it up when Bickley took over in round 19. VB was moved to a much more attacking role through the midfield and has averaged 122 DT and 107 SC since then – a 40 point turnaround in both competitions! Those who noticed the change of role and pounced on him early were well rewarded.
- Jared Petrenko is probably a surprising one to see on this list, but honestly I was quite impressed with his season – especially in the second half of they year when he was moved into the forward line. He has actually really improved his game and ball-winning ability, being used as a link-up player across half-forward and also for creating forward pressure. His averages in both competitions were still reasonably meek, but expect more improvement from him next year.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Chris Knights was one of the more selected players at the start of the year, thanks to his tempting price and known DT and SC ability. Unfortunately, in the first 14 rounds he only cracked the ton once, playing a forward role that really wasn’t conducive to high DT or SC scores. He was then dropped later in the year before returning in round 19 with a good-looking midfield role. This was short lived however, with injuries ruining the remainder of his year.
- Brodie Martin played very well in the pre-season in a half-back role that looked like it could be very DT and SC friendly. Unfortunately though, he didn’t play his first game until round 3 and never really cemented his spot, playing just five games for the year. He has the ball-winning ability to be a good DTer, but unfortunately his disposal often let him down in the SANFL, hence why he struggled to get a consistent game. Worth keeping an eye on for next year though.
- Andy Otten was another popular pick in the pre-season – he was returning from a year off after rupturing his ACL in 2010, hence his price seemed a bargain to many coaches. Unfortunately though, he just couldn’t capture any form before being dropped in round 6 and subsequently injured himself. His second half of the year was better, although he didn’t managed to crack the ton in either competition for the whole year.
- Rory Sloane made some decent improvement again this year from his 2010 debut season, playing the majority of the season from round 7 after breaking his thumb in the first round and missing a month and a half. He is a tough inside midfielder who knows how to find the ball, and with Adelaide bringing in a new coach next year, the likes of Sloane, along with their other young midfielders, will likely be given first crack to lead from the front. He has the potential to score well, as displayed against Geelong in round 21 when he notched up 137 DT and 145 SC as the Crows’ best on ground.
- Bernie Vince had a pretty poor season by the standards he set in his breakout 2009 season when he averaged 100 DT and 98 SC points a game, meaning he was averaging nearly 20 points less this year than he did in 2009. He has shown some good signs of form later this year and having signed a new contract with the Crows only a week back, Vince will be another young midfielder given big responsibilities through the midfield moving forward. Has the potential to average over 100 points in both competitions, so consider him strongly if he manages a decent pre-season.
- Patrick Dangerfield is another young Crows midfielder who has been stuck in the wrong role under Neil Craig, who had him playing predominantly in the forward line – a position that is not very friendly to DT or SC. When Bickley arrived, Dangerfield was stuck in the midfield and did a great job in his first game there, picking up a career-high 27 possessions, which he then bettered a few weeks later with 31 touches – so we know he can find the pill. Could be another good one to watch, especially if he is mid/forward eligible again.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Tom Rockliff had a massive year in just his second season in the AFL, finishing the year as the 6th highest averaging midfielder in Dream Team - a massive achievement! He wins so much ball from his ability to run and find space, very similar to the great Dane Swan, and because of this has only dropped below 25 possessions on four occasions this year, plus had eight games with 30 possessions or more.
- Jack Redden, like his mate Rocky, has had a brilliant season in just his 3rd year, averaging the 8th highest points in Dream Team for the year. Redden wins a lot of his ball inside packs, but also has the ability to spread and win ball outside packs if needed, hence his high number of marks for an inside midfielder (averages 5.5 a game). But it is his tackling that has made him such a prolific dream teamer this year, averaging 7.6 tackles a game – the second most in the whole competition.
- Jed Adcock deserves a mention, despite him burning plenty of coaches with his mid-season form. Jed started the season like a house on fire, averaging over 100 points a game in both competitions for the first two months. Unfortunately, a mixture of injury (he had a finger injury) and a change of role saw his scoring go down the drain, averaging just 51 DT and 60 SC in the next 3 weeks before being checked in for surgery. Fortunately, his run home has been better, albeit not as good as his start to the year, but still I’d say most coaches would have been pretty happy to take an average of 85 DT and 90 SC from him if offered it in the pre-season.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Mitch Clark will continue to disappoint until he has another season like his massive 2009 when he was Brisbane’s sole ruckman. He actually did pretty well this year in some games, but was way too inconsistent for anyone who owned him, missing 7 games throughout the year, whilst also having six games under 60 points and only three tons. He has so much potential and talent, so we will watch him again with intest next year – it will also be interesting to see what club he is playing at in 2012 with speculation he may want to move.
- Rohan Bewick was one of the more popular rookie choices at the start of the year after he averaged 77 DT points in the NAB cup, including a BOG 118 in round 4. Unfortunately though, the pre-season form didn’t continue into the season itself as he averaged 47 DT and 38 SC, which included several games as the sub. His price peaked at just over $180k, meaning his owners could hardly even trade him for anyone worthwhile.
- Jonathan Brown had a season of bad-luck and injuries, being struck down twice with significant facial fractures, allowing him to play just 10 games for the year, with only one ton amongst the mix. The Lions ended up putting him on ice at the end of the year, rather than rushing him back, meaning he could start next year at a very tempting price. Remember though, even when he wasn’t injured, his form hasn’t been nearly as strong as it once was.
- Tom Rockliff, as I said above, improved massively this year and showed not only a high level of scoring power (with 8 scores over 120 in DT and 9 in SC), but also a great consistency, with only four games of under 80 points. He will be expensive, but on this year’s form will be worth it.
- Jack Redden is another who I have already talked about, but I see being another hugely popular option in 2012. Like Rocky, his consistency and ceiling were both great this year, despite him being part of a side that only won a handful of games. Imagine how good these guys will be when the Lions start pushing into the eight again!
- Matthew Leuenberger has been highly rated for a while, but this has been the first year where we have really seen that translate into decent DT and SC form. He has proven though to be a much better SuperCoach option, averaging 122 points from his past two months, taking his yearly average to just 100, meaning he will likely be a bargain for his potential come round one. He also has no real competition for ruck spots at Brisbane (unlike other young ruckmen Goldstein, McEvoy and Kruezer), so you can be assured he will lead Brisbane’s ruck division from round 1.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Bryce Gibbs was one of the most selected players in the pre-season that actually proved to be a good choice, as he managed to average 106 DT and 104 SC throughout the year. He played in a variety of roles for the Blues throughout the year – tagger, forward, rebounding defender – but always managed to do a decent job at racking up plenty of ball for himself. He was also pretty consistent this year, with only three games under 80 DT & SC points.
- Marc Murphy was great this year, really stepping up to be one of the most consistent and dominant midfielders in the competition. He also proved to be somewhat of a unique selection for many coaches despite being so consistent – this was due to many being scared off by his late bye in the finals. Those who selected him were greatly rewarded along the way though as he averaged a career-high 112 DT and 118 SC, which included just three games under 90 DT points and only one game under that margin in SuperCoach.
- Chris Judd’s season was so good that some betting agencies have already paid out on Judd winning this year’s Brownlow medal. Whilst he took some time to get into some games, there were others that he dominated from start to finish, making him an absolute gem in SuperCoach. His run home has been terrific, averaging 131 SC points from his past 8 games – he has also scored over 150 SC points on five times this year, including a season-high 197 against Essendon.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Brock McLean only managed six games in 2010 due to injuries, so got a pretty decent discount coming into this year, which surely tempted some before he missed out on the round one team. He has subsequently managed to play just four games this year, despite it being one of the first in his career where he was not injured. It seems the pace of the game has passed him by and whilst he has attempted to reinvent himself, he doesn’t look like finding a place in the Blues lineup any time soon.
- Paul Bower was one of the major disappointments from 2010 and unfortunately carried that trait into this year, managing just 3 games for an average of 27 DT and 29 SC. He always promised to be a good player (and good in DT and SC too), and a tall defender is exactly what the Blues would love, but his injuries are ruining his career. Will be 50/50 as to whether he is on the list next year, but with a full pre-season may tempt some – but before you are one of those people, have a good look at his horrendous injury history first.
- Jarrad Waite is another key Blue to have suffered from the injury curse in 2011, being in and out of the side with a variety of ailments. Unfortunately, it now even looks like he may miss the Blues’ finals series. He has shown some decent form this year, but nothing consistent – could be worth considering next year, but again, his body is a worry.
- Matthew Kruezer clearly came into this year underdone, coming back from a knee reconstruction in round 12. His second game back, against Sydney, was terrific – he booted 2.1 and was pivotal in their win in his role across half-forward. Unfortunately, despite glimpses here and there, his form this year has otherwise been pretty ordinary, but as it to be expected from a guy coming back from a reco. Therefore, next year will be the time to get him in your team – he should have a full pre-season and will also be a pretty reasonable price. You will need to keep an eye on his role though – he will score better in the ruck, but with a big pre-season may still be ok at full-forward.
- Marc Murphy will be damn expensive next year, but should be worth every cent – especially when he has no byes in the way. He showed this year that he can rack up some huge disposal numbers, but has also managed to break free from some of the best taggers in the game – a great sign. Should be one of the most selected premiums in 2012.
- Kane Lucas will be a bargain basement midfielder in 2012 – after playing 8 games in 2010 (before being struck down with injury), Lucas has managed just two this year, including this week against the Saints. He is clearly part of their plans though as they have done all they can to bring him into the side on the eve of finals – a great endorsement if I’ve ever seen one. For DT, he is a great ball-winner, so if you can pick him up in round one for under $200k he should be worth every cent – if his body is right he should play every game and score very well.
2011 Biggest Superstars and Improvers:
- Dane Swan had another unbelievable season, finishing the year as the highest averaging player in Dream Team, despite his injury issues mid-season (before he headed to Arizona). In fact, taking out these injury-effected games, Swan only scored below 100 once in 2011 (a 96) and has scored over 120 on 10 occasions, including a season high of 171 against Essendon. His SuperCoach year was also prolific, with only nine games under 120 points!
- Scott Pendlebury stepped it up this year, improving in SuperCoach, but more noticeably in Dream Team, becoming the number one scoring player in the league – a massive growth of form for a guy who was traditionally ‘strictly SuperCoach.’ Amazingly, in SuperCoach he scored under 100 just once (94 in round 3) – a brilliant form-line that saw him average nearly 130 points for the year, with 17 of his games being over 120 points – massive.
- Andrew Krakouer was another popular player in the pre-season, and whilst his form ebbed and flowed throughout the year, at the end of the day his season was well and truly a success. His form at the back-end of the season was also very good, averaging 85 DT and 84 SC across his last 2 months – a huge improvement considering that in his last season of AFL football he averaged just 48 DT and 58 SC points.
2011 Biggest Disappointments:
- Alan Didak will probably go down as one of the worst picks for the year due to the fact he burnt his coaches in so many ways – not only was he one of the most expensive forwards to start the year, but his early form was horrible, with only one score over 90 DT points in the first 2 months. He also missed several games of footy late in the season with an unknown injury, plus wore the subs vest three times. Fortunately, he came home with some form through the finals, but it wasn’t enough of a consolation for his angry coaches.
- Darren Jolly really struggled with form this year as he was continually in and out of the side with injuries, missing 11 games for the year in total. Even when in the side his form hasn’t been close to his best, with him often getting beaten in the ruck and around the ground – this week he was significantly beaten by Brad Ottens in one of his worst performances of the year.
- Heath Shaw will forever be remembered for how he burnt so many coaches when suspended for a bet he placed on a Collingwood game mid-way through the year. The Friday evening announcement caught many coaches off-guard who had already done their trades for the week. His form through the year was also patchy – he did have some very good games, but as is typical with Shaw, he was quite inconsistent, managing four games under 65 DT points.
- Scott Pendlebury is still very young and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon, meaning that despite his price he should still be a great addition to your midfield next year in either competition. He has not only proven to have a great consistency, injury record and massive ceiling, he also knows how to break a tag – a massively underrated trait for your premium mids.
- Alan Didak will surely be tempting at his low price next year. Fortunately, there is some reason behind his poor 2011 and that is his lack of a pre-season – he came into round one significantly underdone and it has been painfully obvious all year. Next year, if he manages a decent pre-season, he should be a great pick up – when in form he is a great scorer and knows how to find plenty of the ball – the trick is just whether that form is present or not…
- Steele Sidebottom is surely set to have a further breakout season soon. We have already seen him become an established member of Collingwood’s side, but the next step if for him to step up into their rotation of premium midfielders – with his ability to find space and plenty of the ball he has all the tools to be a great DT and SC star and I reckon 2012 could be his year. Keep a very keen eye on his pre-season.
A review at all eight games from an AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach perspective, running through all the heroes and villains of each game.
Fremantle vs Collingwood:
- Nick Lower came good at the right time of the year, after letting so many coaches down with his sub-par 11 DT points a fortnight ago. He played this game through the middle and showed again how prolific he can be at winning the ball when given the right task. With half of Fremantle’s list currently injured, it allowed Lower to play on ball and subsequently win himself 37 disposals – the highest number on ground. He was also good around the stoppages, winning 11 clearances. Also finished with 3 marks, 4 tackles and a goal.
- Mick Barlow also continued his decent late-season form, with another 30+ disposal game through the midfield. He should get himself a discount for Dream Team next year, so there should be little hesitation in pencilling the great man in for a starting spot in your squad. He is still probably not at peak fitness, but with another pre-season under his belt, he should be good to go. Finished with 32 touches, but only 3 marks and zero tackles, hence his low-ish score.
- Aaron Sandilands had another decent game, probably surprising a few coaches considering the injury he was coming back from. He unsurprisingly dominated the hitouts against a young Cameron Wood and a seemingly underdone Darren Jolly, winning 37 for the game. His disposal numbers were also high for a ruckman with 24 touches, whilst he also snuck forward for a goal. Good to see Harvey didn’t put him out to pasture, despite their finals hopes being done and dusted. He should also be capable of a decent game next week too against a young Bulldogs side.
- Zach Clarke’s game was pretty heavily effected by Sandilands’ form – he has had a great past month, but with Sandi hitting some form and fitness, Clarke found himself spending far less time through the middle and more time up forward, subsequently killing his scoring potential. He looks a real talent, but will likely struggle to blossom to his full potential with Sandilands in the side.
- Dane Swan continued his awesome form, taking his sensational running game to the wide expanses of Pattisons Stadium. Fortunately, his mid-year spell has done wonders for Dane as he appears to be running out games even better than he was at the start of the year. He picked up 35 possessions and used them pretty well – another area of his game that has improved. With his gut-running and massive tank, he is able to find so much space, hence his large disposal numbers – but it also allows him to find space in the forward line, hence his high number of goals this year – finished against the Dockers with 2 to his name.
- Scott Pendlebury was also very good, winning 36 touches and also booting two goals. He stepped up in Luke Ball’s absence to be the Pies’ best clearance winner too, finishing with eight to his name. There was a lot of talk through the week that he may have been rested for this game, so it was great to see him not only take the field, but have a massive influence too. Along with his large disposal numbers, he also finished with 7 marks and 5 tackles.
- Alan Didak looks to be returning to some good form, right at correct time of year. He played predominantly through the midfield, which was great to see, considering his spent a lot of the early parts of the season in the forward line. He also picked up 31 disposals – a season high for him – and it true Didak form, used his boot to dispose of 24 of them. His DT and SC numbers were reduced though thanks to his zero tackles and lack of goals.
- Dale Thomas had a decent game, although was far from the Pies best, picking up just 28 disposals and 4 marks. The issue coming out of this game though is a high bump he made on Ibbotson, which may be looked at by the MRP. Thomas also has some carry-over points from earlier in the season, so I’d say there will be plenty of coaches holding their breath on this one, as even a minor report could see him miss the last game of the season.
Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs:
- Buddy Franklin had a great game for the Hawks, although it must be said that it was expected of him, considering the weakness of the Bulldogs’ backline. Still, he worked hard for his five goals – which put him as a clear #1 on the Coleman medal table – and also worked well up the ground, picking up 20 touches and 7 marks. He plays the Gold Coast next week, so those tempted to get creative with their captain choices may not be looked upon as silly for choosing the great man.
- Paul Puopolo played one of the best games of his short career, giving the Hawks plenty of run and carry from the backline. He picked up 27 disposals and 10 marks and typically used the ball well, buzzing around the backline in a not-too-dissimilar style to Johncock or Harbrow. Again, it was great to see one of our 8th defender options playing a massive game when it counted!
- Luke Hodge was very solid through the middle for the Hawks, clearly over all the injury issues that seemed to have plagued him earlier in the year. He was really solid in the clearances in the absence of Mitchell and as usual won his fair share of hard ball, always using it well. He finished with 30 disposals and 1.1.
- Matt Suckling was a real disappointment – he was responsible for the dangerous Shaun Higgins, so unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to rebound often, being limited to just 18 disposals in the backline. Those coaches who have him would have been furious as he was constantly left out of any kick-to-kick drills in the Hawks backline, finishing with just 6 marks – a low number considering the amount of chip-kicks the Hawks like to do in the backline.
- Matty Boyd was solid as usual for the Dogs, although didn’t continue his massive scoring history against them (has averaged over 120 DT against them in his past five). His struggles came as the Hawks simply dominated the contested ball, with Boyd only managing 11 contested possessions and 4 clearances (both team-highs) from his 35 disposals – both very low numbers for him. Fortunately he managed to win some ball outside the packs too, but it was Hawthorn’s hard-ball dominance that made them the better side on the day… Oh, and Buddy.
- Liam Jones played one of his better games for the Dogs, leading up the ground well and taking some pretty nice grabs – he finished with 7 for the game, 3 of which were contested. There has been a bit of worry where the Bulldogs’ goals will come from post-Barry, so it was good to see Jones step up and contribute, booting 2.1 for the game.
- Robert Murphy was good off half-back, winning his share of the ball and using it very well as usual. He has proven this year that his role can be very lucrative for SuperCoach, but don’t get sucked in for Dream Team – unfortunately he just doesn’t win enough of the ball to score well in DT, but it is his slick ball use that makes him such a good SuperCoach option. Finished with 22 disposals, but only 2 kicks and 2 tackles.
- Pat Veszpremi again came on late in the game as the sub and looked good. But don’t be expecting him to start a game without the green vest on anytime soon. Whilst he is a great impact player, from all reports his fitness is just not up to scratch for AFL level just yet, hence why he is a great impact player as a sub. It would be great to see a full pre-season out of him next year to perhaps build on this weakness, as he definitely has the talent to play the game.
Geelong vs Sydney:
- James Kelly was one of the best for the Cats, attempting to set the scene to start the game, laying an incredible 8 tackles in the first quarter to go with his 6 possessions. He then backed it up in the second term with 10 more disposals – the best of any Cats. He worked hard all game through the middle going head-to-head with Sydney’s workhorse midfielders, picking up a team-high 7 clearances and 25 disposals, as well as his 13 tackles.
- Cameron Ling was also very solid, proving again he can be more than a tagger, but also a big-bodied midfielder with a thumping kick. He really lifted late in the game as Geelong rallied and threatened to win, booting a couple of goals from 7 disposals for the quarter. He finished with 26 touches, 9 tackles and 3 goals.
- Steve Johnson was disappointingly quiet – especially disappointing because Sydney is actually historically his favourite team to play against. He was kept to just 7 disposals to half time by Rhyce Shaw and didn’t even effect the scoreboard til the last quarter with a solitary goal, but unfortunately it was too late from Geelong’s point of view. Shaw has been in very good defensive form this past month, so on reflection, it was no huge surprise that Stevie J was stopped in his tracks.
- Tom Hawkins didn’t do his chances of keeping his spot for the finals much good after a pretty quiet performance, booting just the solitary behind from 13 disposals and 3 marks. I’ve actually quite liked his form over the past month, but with Mooney set to return from suspension next week, the Tomahawk may find himself back out of the squad simply due to the sheer number of Geelong talls.
- Shane Mumford had a brilliant game against his old club, relishing the chance to go back to the Cattery and dominate. He did just that, winning the battle in the ruck against Ottens and West with 39 hitouts, whilst also picking up 22 disposals and 7 tackles around the ground. He is a bullocking, aggressive force in the midfield, and apposed so some ruckman who just focus on the hitouts and the odd handball, Mummy seems to relish the tough stuff, winning plenty of contested ball and laying bone-rattling tackles.
- Adam Goodes, who we all know loves to go up a gear in the final two months of the season, had another ripper game through the midfield, especially in the second half as he helped build the Swans’ momentum to a very important win. His stats sheet was telling – 30 disposals, 9 inside-50s, 7 clearances and 1.3. Simply, he dominated, and it seems that right now there is no one in the competition really capable of running with him.
- Ben McGlynn was great, proving to be one of the match-winners on the day with his ability to find space and cause pressure in the forward half. As is the case with any small forward, his form can be somewhat consistent throughout the year, but when he gets his tail up he can play some brilliant football. Finished with 22 disposals, 9 tackles and a goal.
- Gary Rohan is starting to show some good signs for the Swans in the lead up to the finals. We all saw his potential last year, albeit in bursts, and he has been out of action with injury for most of the year, so it was great to see him come in and provide some good run and spark for the Swans, especially against some pretty good opposition. He could be a beautiful pick-up in Dream Team or SuperCoach next year, so keep him well and truly on your radar. Finished with 12 disposals, 3 tackles and 2 goals.
St.Kilda vs North Melbourne:
- Brendon Goddard was best afield for the Saints, despite a slow start. After the Roos had stacked on five goals in a row and a healthy 20-point lead in the second term, it was Goddard who really stepped up and got the Saints back into the game with some brilliant forward entries and some important 50/50 contests won through the middle. He played predominantly through the midfield, but also played across half-forward in bursts, which is something we have seen work well over the past fortnight or so. He’s not a huge clearance winner, but uses the ball well and is very good at beating his opponents one-on-one. Finished with 31 disposals, 7 marks and 5 tackles.
- Nick Riewoldt showed off some very good form, despite coming into the game with a lot of queries on his fitness. He was also concussed in the third term, so it was great to see him bounce back from that pretty quickly too. Whilst he missed his first shot at goal, all set shots from then on went through the sticks and he seemed to take a lot of confidence from it, booting 5.2 for the night. His marking also seems to have improved, with some of that also to do with better delivery – he had 10 marks for the evening, 4 of which were contested. It was great to see him have some signs of his mojo coming back.
- Justin Koschitzke played a very solid game, booting 3.1, but also set up several others. He is definitely appearing to benefit from his improved fitness, and whilst his awareness may still not be 100%, he at least appears to be making better and faster decisions when the ball is in hand. He has only managed to play half the games this year, so it would be great to see him get some form before finals as the Saints appear to be the side no one else wants to be playing come September.
- Sam Gilbert looked to have some confidence back, taking several very good runs from defence. This year he has been prone to getting caught or turning the ball over, so it was really promising to see his runs result in a positive outcome for the Saints. His ball-winning is still not as high as Dream Teamers may want it to be, I reckon the form is there to suggest he could still be worth considering for next year.
- Jack Ziebell was the best for the Roos, although he has certainly played his last game for the year, due to the fact he will almost certainly cop the wrath of the MRP for his high hit on Riewoldt in the third term. Other than this unfortunate blight on his game, he was great, winning 28 disposals and a game-high 7 clearances. He has come a long way from where he started the year, being subbed off numerous times with many saying he didn’t have the tank for the game. It’s been great seeing him answer those critics recently and already seems to show the maturity that suggests he will skipper the club one day.
- Scott Thompson was good in the backline with his ball use and want to take the game on through the corridor, however he did struggle to contain his opponent, Milne, who was able to continually outdo him for pace. But despite conceding 4.2 to a match-winner in Milne, I actually liked Thompson’s game and he seems to have progressed a long way from where he was a couple of years ago – a stopper whose main motive seemed just to be niggling and pinching his opponents.
- Drew Petrie started the game very well, booting the first goal for the Roos and then another only a little later. He was clearly too strong one-on-one for Dawson, but unfortunately he didn’t get too many opportunities to prove this, with terrible delivery into the forward line allowing the likes of Gilbert and Fisher to drop back and spoil. He didn’t score after half time and only touched the ball once in the last quarter, finishing with 13 disposals, 6 marks and 2.2.
- Brent Harvey had a shocker, as he typically seems to do against the Saints. He was tagged by Dempster who gave him absolutely no room to move or run, causing Harvey to simply crack the sads and complain and sook to the umpires for the entire second half. His temper is one thing that needs to improve – as the captain of the club he should be leading by example, not trying to win each contest by drawing a free kick. Whilst this is not how he goes about it every week, it does seem to be the case when he is given a tag that he simply cannot break.
Brisbane vs West Coast:
- Tom Rockliff played a ripping game through the midfield, continuing to audition to be one of the most selected midfield options in 2012. Not only is he a prolific ball-winner, but he is also a prolific tackler – he won 30 possessions for the game, whilst also laying a game-high 13 tackles. He also notched up 10 clearances. As I have said several times this year, Rocky is Dane Swan II – his ability to work hard and find space is phenomenal, hence why is has become such a Dream Team jet.
- Daniel Rich played easily his best game for the year, which included a phenomenal 12 disposal first-term as he helped set up the Lions’ early lead. He worked very hard through the middle, with his inside-50 work a highlight, putting it in there a team-high 6 times. He has been a much maligned player since winning the Rising Star award in 2009, so hopefully this strong form can continue into next year.
- Luke Power announced to the players pre-game that he would be hanging up the boots at the end of the season, so it was unsurprising how much they lifted for him. He was very good himself, winning 20 disposals, laying 9 tackles and booting a goal, which he celebrated like it was the match-winner in September. He has had a great career, so hopefully they can send him out on a high next week against the Swans (says the Saints fan who wants a home final…).
- Jed Adcock owners would have celebrated when he opened the game with a goal, but unfortunately the performance was probably not as dominating as hoped in that moment. He still played well, minding LeCras when he was both up forward and running through the middle, and probably won on the day, keeping LeCras to just 1.1. Jed picked up 16 disposals and 7 marks of his own.
- Chris Masten played easily one of his better games of his career, winning 31 disposals across a half-forward flank and through the midfield. If there is one thing West Coast have a surplus of, it’s inside midfielders, so it was important for Masten to really prove his credentials in the lead-up to finals, and he did just that. He was involved in many of West Coast’s scores and really helped drive their attacks, also booting 3.1 of his own.
- Matt Priddis was also solid, but what was the most amazing stat of his game was the fact he had 24 kicks and just one handball! Which is especially amazing considering he won 50% of his ball from a contested situation, meaning he would prefer to just slap it on the boot than feed it out to a teammate. He was his usual hard-working self and also laid 6 tackles and booted a goal for the game.
- Josh Kennedy was kept very quiet, which was a real feat for Brisbane, who have been leaking goals to tall forwards over the past number of weeks. He wasn’t helped by a wet track, but still he managed just the 8 disposals, 5 marks and a score-flattering 7 tackles. He was kept to just 1.1 for the game.
- Dean Cox made the journey to Brisbane (it had been suggested mid-week that he may have been rested), but it was clear that Worsfold didn’t want to put too much reliance on his key ruckman. He spent his time rotating between ruck and forward, and whilst he did manage 8 disposals and 16 hitouts, he never really got into the game. He was eventually subbed off in the third term – not through injury, but instead because West Coast wanted to give him the rest. Personally I will take 50-odd points over a zero any day of the week!
Adelaide vs Richmond:
- Bernie Vince was very good for the home side, showing the sort of form we had expected him to take into round one of this year. After signing a contract with the Crows through the week, it was good to see him up and about and leading the Crows midfield brigade, although to no avail. We saw in 2009 how good he can be, and he showed it again today, so hopefully he can take it into next year with him as he could be a great selection from round one in either DT or SC. Finished with 35 possessions, 9 marks and 2.1.
- Nathan Van Berlo continued his awesome recent run of form under the new coach. Since Bickley has taken over, VB’s form has been terrific, averaging 126 DT and 113 SC points over his past five games. He seems to have been given a much more attacking role through the midfield under Bickley and is clearly relishing in the challenge – personally, if I had to trade in one midfielder next week, VB would be my man. Finished the game with 36 disposals, 6 marks, 6 tackles and 2.1.
- Jack Gunston showed some good form up forward, booting 5 goals. His form this year has been up and down, especially with his goal kicking, so it was good to see a bit of a change for the better from him. He is a very bouncy forward who seems to have a lot of athleticism for his height (he is around 195cm), so there is plenty of potential there. Would need a solid pre-season in the gym before you would consider him for your DT or SC though.
- Shaun McKernan had a bit of a shocker, conceding 4.2 to Vickery before being subbed off. He has played up forward in his time under Neil Craig, but has looked good most weeks as a defender since Bickley came to charge. Unfortunately though, he seemed to keep getting lost against the Tigers, conceding a couple of easy goals to Vickery, including the first two Tigers goals of the game when Vickery seemed to have been loose in the forward line – McKernan had just lost him in traffic. To give him some grace though, he is still learning and this has really been the first week where he has been significantly beaten by his opponent.
- Dustin Martin was terrific for Tigers, skulking through the midfield and across half-forward, winning plenty of contested ball and typically using it well. I love the way he goes about it – already he is a big bullocking midfielder, despite being hardly into his 20’s, and is showing plenty of signs that he will be a superstar of the game in the not-too-distant future. He finished with 19 disposals, 9 tackles and 2 goals.
- Robin Nahas was very good, but really turned it on late in the game to help the Tigers run away with the win. He was pivotal across half-forward, with his zip and creativity really troubling Adelaide’s young defenders. He hasn’t been scoring nearly as highly as he did earlier in the year, but his recent form has been just as good, winning enough ball for an influence and generally converting his opportunities. He finished with 3.2 from 16 disposals and 6 tackles.
- Tyrone Vickery was very important up forward, as he has been for much of the year. But for once it was him that was the focal point, rather than Riewoldt. He really got the better of McKernan and repeatedly found space in the forward line, and importantly taking his chances with 4.2. He is a good grab and seems to be developing well as a forward – now Richmond just need to trade for a ruckman so they can keep him there.
- Alex Rance was great again in defence, this time keeping Taylor Walker to just one goal. I have really enjoyed his consistency this year, playing a very key defensive role for the young Tigers and flourishing. He still has the odd brain fade (such as that ‘intentional’ rushed behind in the first quarter, although, that is debatable), but has been really solid in containing some of the best forwards this year, whilst also using the ball well enough himself. Could be one to watch for SuperCoach 2012.
Melbourne vs Gold Coast:
- Brad Green deserves a mention for standing up when he clearly needed to – not just for himself, but also for his club. He wasn’t the most dominant player on the ground, but he certainly asserted himself on the contest with four goals straight – two of which came at very crucial times within the match (start of the third term and halfway through the last once the Suns had mounted a comeback). He clearly had a point to prove after last week’s subbing, so it was great to see him respond, also picking up 18 touches and 9 marks.
- Brent Moloney was very good through the middle, enjoying being pitted against some inexperienced opponents. He won plenty of contested ball and clearances, but also ducked forward for three goals – definitely his best tally for some time. Whilst, like Green, it was against opposition he was expected to stand up against, it was still good to see him leading from the front.
- Sam Blease put some extra pressure on the Rising Star selection panel (who have only two weeks to squeeze in about 10 players) with a breakout game off the half-back line where he won himself 28 disposals and used the ball very well. We have known for some time that this kid is talented, but due to injuries we have never had the opportunity to see much of him, so it was great to see him play such a pivotal role in their first win in a month and a half.
- Cale Morton continued his terribly inconsistent season with a real down match. Last week he was one of Melbourne’s best, but against the Suns he barely had any influence on the outcome, which was disappointing to see considering he is such a talented player. Won himself just 10 disposals from floating around on a wing.
- Michael Rischitelli was his usual workman-like self through the middle, going head-to-head with a series of Melbourne midfielders through the game and often coming out on top. He won 30 disposals – the most of the game – and did his best to give his younger teammates first use. He also laid 6 tackles and booted 2 goals.
- Gary Ablett was solid through the middle, but not as spectacular as hoped against an out-of-form Melbourne outfit. He still managed a very good 28 disposals and 6 tackles, but didn’t have any effect on the scoreboard – one of the areas of his game that has been a real strength this year. Still, he was great to watch, despite not managing to crack the ton in DT.
- Zac Smith was left to be the sole ruckman for the Suns, but got completely smashed in the air, managing just 12 hitouts for the entire game, compared to Jamar’s 39. He did manage to drift forward and boot two goals though, which was good, but his effect around the ground was otherwise nil. His season has been awesome for a first year ruckman, but I bet he’s looking forward to resting up over summer.
- Nathan Ablett was largely ineffective, being gifted a goal from his older brother, but otherwise doing very little else. In his post-match conference, McKenna stated that Nathan has one more chance to prove he should be on the list for 2012 – we know he has plenty of talent, but unfortunately we have just never seen enough of it consistently enough.
Essendon vs Port Adelaide:
- David Zaharakis was great for the Bombers, but especially in the final term when he helped drag them back from despair with a massive quarter when he seemed to pump the ball inside 50 on about a dozen occasions. He has had a great second half to the year and has now well and truly proven his credentials as both a great Dream Team and SuperCoach option. Fingers crossed he is still forward eligible next year, and if so, lock him in!
- Dyson Heppell was great for the Bombers off half-back, setting them up well for each attack with his piercingly accurate boot. I’ll say it again – why the hell do teams not tag him? It seems amazing considering how important he has become to their structure in just his first year. He finished with 26 disposals, 6 marks and one goal, which he worked very hard for, in what proved to be a brilliant farewell game for all his DT and SC owners (as Essendon have the bye next week.).
- Michael Hurley played forward and was very important, booting 4.2 from 7 grabs. For a while it looked like Hird may have to switch him back to defence because of the dominance of Port’s talls, but fortunately they persisted with him up forward and were rewarded. Forward certainly looks like his best position, so hopefully they can continue playing him here.
- Travis Colyer could almost be the first sub to get a Brownlow vote after this performance (although he won’t…) – he came on in the third term and provided the run and dash that seemed to be lacking from Essendon’s game early and really helped turn the contest in their favour. As the Dons then smashed on 7 goals, Colyer worked hard to set up many of them, or at least have some involvement, making him one of the most crucial subs of the year. Finished with 12 disposals 4 marks and 1.1.
- Robbie Gray is the man who will get the votes with his brilliant work across half-forward, booting 6.1 from 20 disposals, 5 marks and 7 tackles. This game reeked of a breakout game, despite the fact Gray has seemingly had a dozen ‘breakout’ games – but although he has had some very good games in the past, this was a game that really showed the sort of dominance he is capable of if he works hard enough. I say it every year, but if he can get his body right, he could be a super pick-up… It’s a big ‘if’ though…
- John Butcher AGAIN had a brilliant game up forward, likely making every Victorian list manager get a little excited… And Port’s start looking up their bank balance. His marking skills are fantastic, and whilst it’s a big call, he already looks capable of having the best set of hands in the AFL, pretty much clunking anything that comes his way (which suits Port’s ‘kick it high and long’ game-plan). He finished with another 4 goals straight (which included one that nearly came off his knee) from 12 touches, 5 marks and 6 tackles.
- David Rodan was very important for Port in the middle after what has been a pretty inconsistent season. His run was very important, and was exactly what Essendon seemed to be lacking until Colyer came on, allowing him to have a very big influence on the contest. He finished with 27 disposals and 5 marks.
- Domenic Cassisi was kept very quiet, going head-to-head with Watson in what was a great battle. As it seems, Watson is the better ball-winner, stealing everything that Dom went near. He still won some outside ball, but really seemed to be struggling in close, managing just 14 disposals for the game – his lowest in some time. However, he still laid his customary 7 tackles.
A review at all eight games from an AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach perspective, running through all the heroes and villains of each game.
Carlton vs Hawthorn:
- Kade Simpson was best on ground for the Blues, with his pace and ability to break the lines troubling the Hawks at times, especially in the second half when the Blues fought back. He has put together a very consistent past month and looms as a very important player for Carlton’s finals hopes. He has also stood out recently for his great courage, backing into packs on several occasions as he drops back to play loose man. Finished with 27 touches, 9 marks and 2.2.
- Chris Yarran is another Blue to be experiencing a bit of a purple patch of form, with his run and delivery off half-back getting better week by week. The Hawks tried to quieten him by playing Whitecross as a defensive forward, but Yarran still managed to get off the chain and get himself 20 disposals (16 of which were kicks) and 5 marks.
- Michael Jamison played a different role up forward, and whilst he looked a little lost at times, he actually managed to get himself a few shots on goal. However, his conversion let him down, kicking 1.3, which included two posters. Don’t expect this sort of role every week – he was thrown there to exploit the Hawks’ short backline – his best role is still down back, and expect that to be where he is played through the remaining rounds and finals this year.
- Matthew Kruezer was pretty disappointing and is looking like he is still in need of a bit of touch after spending a year on the sidelines. He had the fumbles early and missed a few easy marks too, and never really got into any sort of form through the game. He again played predominantly forward with stints in the ruck, picking up 13 touches and just one behind for the game.
- Jordan Lewis played one of his best games that I can remember, throwing himself at the ball as if he were playing in a Grand Final. He worked hard through the middle all game, winning plenty of important hard-ball, but one of his highlights included throwing himself onto the ball in front of goal as about five Blues pounced on him – he managed to get out and clear the ball, despite it looking like a certain Blues goal.
- Lance Franklin had another solid game, booting 4.1 for the game in a good battle with Henderson. He helped set up the game early with some good goals, but also provided a highlight late in the game when he tore away from Thornton on the wing, running all the way to the goalsquare to kick the goal. Is in some great form at the moment, so fingers crossed it can continue over the next fortnight.
- Cyril Rioli had one of those great games that just wasn’t able to be reflected on the stats sheet. He only managed a few disposals in the first quarter, but helped set up a healthy lead for the Hawks with his dogged determination to run and pressure his opponents. He is playing predominantly forward, with stints in the middle, but I think this is where he is looking most dangerous. No matter where the ball lands in the Hawks forward line, he always seems to be nearby to create pressure or a contest. Finished with 15 disposals and 9 tackles, but had much more effect on the outcome than that suggests.
- Josh Gibson was insanely good in defence for the Hawks, mopping up everything that came his way with a cool head and great disposal. In fact, I had never really realised how good he could be by foot, but some of his disposals off half-back in this game were fantastic – pin-pointing a teammate in traffic from over 50 metres away. Didn’t win a stack of the ball, but his SuperCoach score of 119 is proof of how effective he was.
Gold Coast vs Adelaide:
- Gary Ablett turned on some magic form again after having a few quiet weeks in a row, thanks to his few minor hamstring issues. He was a prolific ball-winner through the middle and as usual, used it well. And in credit to him, he battled on despite copping a huge accidental kick to the head from Dangerfield. Finished with a whopping 39 disposals (But amazingly, this was FAR from the most on the ground) and 9 tackles. Personally I am excited about his prospects next week against Melbourne.
- Danny Stanley was good again for the Suns, working hard across the half-forward flank and through the midfield. Of all the off-cast mature players the Suns recruited in the drafts, Stanley has by far been the pick of the bunch, putting together a stellar season, which will surely see him place top-5 in their inaugural B&F. He didn’t kick a goal, but managed a career high 33 disposals and 10 marks.
- Dion Prestia continues to be a favourite of mine with his great work at the clearances. He has a lot of pace around the contests, but doesn’t mind going in to win his own ball either – often managing to grad the ball from the stoppage and then dash of with it under his arm. He reminds me a little bit of Leigh Montagna. It was also a great bonus to get a decent score from him in a week plagued by missing forwards. Finished with 24 touches and 8 tackles.
- Nathan Ablett had his first run in Suns colours and looked OK, without really blowing us away. He was never a ball-winning forward, even in Geelong’s dominant 2007, so it would be unfair to expect that of him in his debut game for the Suns. Fortunately, he at least gave a contest, highlighted by a strong tackle on the wing in the last quarter. The Suns want to see if he has what it takes, so expect to see him play out the year in the seniors.
- Scott Thompson was sensational, dominating though the midfield and coming up just 2 disposals short of the all-time AFL disposal record. He had 51 touches, 9 clearances, 4 marks and 4 tackles – an incredible effort, regardless of the opposition. He simply busted his arse to run between the contests all day, setting up and linking up plenty of attacks to ensure the Crows the win.
- Sam Jacobs was dominant in the ruck against an undermanned Gold Coast ruck-department. Not only did he dominate in the air though, but he dominated around the ground too, picking up 24 disposals and 7 marks to go with his 47 hitouts. His form has been building lately, so he could definitely be a reasonable option as a 2nd ruck (if in need) for the last two games. Should do pretty well against Richmond next week too, you’d think.
- Kurt Tippett pulled out the party tricks on his way to booting 4 goals, including a couple of spectacular bananas from the boundary line. He has suffered a bit from form and injury this year, so it was great to see him lively and confident in himself again. We know what this guy can do, so it would be great to see some consistent form from him before the year is out.
- Taylor Walker was impressive again, adding to his decent series of games under Mark Bickley with 4.1, 20 disposals and 10 marks. It has been theorised for a while that Walker and Tippett struggle to both fire in the same forward line, so it was good to see them both having great games, without getting in each others ways. For those tempted at all by Walker as a finals smokey, be warned that he is under an injury cloud for next week after hurting his shoulder.
West Coast vs Essendon:
- Josh Kennedy came back into the side from his tennis ball injury looking refreshed and ready to continue on from where he left off. He booted 4.3 and looked way to dangerous for the undersized Bombers backline. The Eagles subsequently went to him a lot, and half the time his marks didn’t even look at all challenging for him as he plucked 9 for the game. Could be the ultimate unique for the last two weeks of finals… plays Brisbane and Adelaide the next two weeks, so could be in line for some decent scores!
- Daniel Kerr played another blinder before he was eventually shut-down in the forth quarter with an abdominal injury of sorts. His was great as usual under the packs, but his zip and ferocity at the ball seemed to trouble the Bombers at times and they simply had no one who could go with him. Finished with 26 disposals, 7 clearances and 2 goals.
- Luke Shuey did his Rising Star chances no harm with another brilliant display through the middle, winning a game-high 11 clearances and 23 disposals. Also, as has been a feature of his game all year, his work delivering the ball inside-50 was great, constantly kicking to advantage or onto the chests of his leading teammates.
- Beau Waters started the game strongly, rebounding well from defence, but really quietened off in the second half, suggesting he was not the ultimate backline unique I had proclaimed he was a fortnight ago. To cap off his average game, he was reported in the third quarter for a massive hip and shoulder to Jobe Watson’s head, which may see him rubbed out for the rest of the home and away season. Managed just the 12 touches for the game.
- Paddy Ryder looked good again, starting the game up forward and troubling Darren Glass with his bounce and athleticism on his way to 3 goals. He moved further up field for patches of the game for occasional influence, finishing with 16 touches and 5 tackles. Unfortunately though for his owners, just as he is starting to hit form you will have to trade him out, thanks to Essendon’s round 24 bye.
- Dyson Heppell was good again, but as has been the case with him this year, he seems to be somewhat of a downhill skier – he wins plenty of ball when the Bombers are up and about, but when the contest gets close, or the opposition begins to dominate, he has a tendency to fade. This shouldn’t be taken as a slight on him though, as it is more of an observation. He was still one of their better players, using the ball well off half-back. But it amazes me how there is still no teams prepared to play a tagger on him – surely opposition coaches realise how damaging he can be!?
- David Myers started the game in defence, but moved forward for the last quarter and actually looked good on the lead, although he wasn’t able to capitalise on his chances, booting just 0.2. He is still prone to the odd wrong decision, but I quite like the way he is coming along – he is worth persisting with in the side as he clearly has the skills to allow him to be a good attacking backman.
- Stewart Crameri was having a decent game, booting 2.2 from 19 possession, but looked to badly hurt his shoulder late in the game. Already there is talk that he may miss the remainder of the season, and perhaps even finals. If you still have him, this means you should be offloading him now if possible.
North Melbourne vs Fremantle:
- Cam Pederson’s awesome 2011 continued with another strong display up forward, booting 3 goals from 19 disposals. He has become a strong, consistent target up forward for the Roos – a forward line that has recently looked capable of being one of the most potent in the AFL. He has seemingly come from nowhere this year as a mature-aged recruit, pushing out #3 pick Lachie Hansen to the backline.
- Andrew Swallow was consistent all game through the middle and was a strong influence behind one of their best and most promising wins of the season. He simply works so hard both inside and outside the packs, but also has a decent boot on him too – a trait not often seen in inside midfielders. Finished with another solid 30 touches, as well as 7 inside 50s, 7 tackles and 7 clearances.
- Lindsay Thomas again had his kicking yips for the majority of the game. Despite plenty of the ball coming his way early, he looked to pass it off at every opportunity. When he did take his shots, he missed them all. Fortunately, he managed to slot one through in the last quarter and looked so relieved – he then also managed to stick a second one through. It will be interesting to see how his goal kicking now goes for the rest of the year.
- Drew Petrie had a very quiet game – especially disappointing because of the amount of ball that was going into North’s forward-50. So many other forwards managed to contribute to their highest score of the year, but Petrie didn’t even register a single point, being well held by McPharlin. He plays the Saints next week, who kept him very quiet last time, so it will be interesting to see whether he manages to bounce back.
- Zac Clarke’s form over the past month, despite the return of Sandilands, has been fantastic. He seems to have found a whole heap of confidence in himself and is attacking the ball and going for marks like we haven’t seen him do before. He is a great pack mark, so Freo are happy to kick it long to him on every occasion and he rarely lets them down, clunking 12 for this game to go with his 24 disposals and 13 hitouts.
- Chris Mayne played through the midfield again for the third week in a row, managing to pick up 14 touches and 7 tackles, although his overall influence on the game was not high. It’s a strange choice having Mayne play through the middle, especially considering his form this year has been average.
- Greg Broughton would be continuing to disappoint his owners as he hasn’t managed to carry his good late-season form into the DT/SC finals period. The reason for this is that he has been moved back into defence – clearly not a beneficial one for winning plenty of the ball. Not only is he playing in defence, but he seems to be getting shut-down roles, being given the responsibility to stop dangerous small forwards, rather than rebound off them.
- Matthew Pavlich suffered a bad looking calf/Achilles injury early in the game and was subbed off. Unfortunately, he actually carried this injury into the game, and has since apologised for letting the team down (he said Fremantle, but I believe he meant all the DTs and SCs that own him). There is some talk that this injury will see him sit out at least this week and perhaps even the rest of the year. We will know more this week, but I’m sure plenty of coaches will be waiting with bated breath for an answer.
Collingwood vs Brisbane:
- Travis Cloke looked to be enjoying himself in a significantly undermanned Brisbane backline, beating up on McKeever, his much more inexperienced opponent. He booted 5.3 from a very impressive 14 marks and 22 possessions and was definitely the best Pie on the ground, in a game that saw many of their stars looking pretty flat.
- Dane Swan was very good too, picking up 33 disposals and booting 2.2 of his own. I feel like I say the same thing about Swan every week – he ran hard between contests, and as usual got involved in some big plays that often saw 15-20 points added to his tally in a matter of minutes – gotta love that! His DT score was a little down on his past weeks, but statistically that wasn’t a huge surprise, as Brisbane is actually the side Swan averages the least points against over his career.
- Alan Didak would have had many coaches cheering as his put in his first decent game of the year, picking up 30 touches and 7 marks. He wasn’t amazing, but he won plenty of ball, cracked the ton and didn’t start as the sub – what more could his frustrated coaches have hoped for. Now, at only a little over $200k in DT, he appears a steal for the remaining two rounds – the only concern would have to be his challenging next couple of weeks.
- Tom Young played his first game for the Pies and already looks a keeper. Opposition supporters must look at their list and just wonder how the hell they manage to keep uncovering talented youngster after talented youngster – it really is ridiculous. But that’s besides the point. Young looked good, playing across the HFF and booting a couple of nice goals to go with his 23 disposals and 4 marks – should keep his spot and at this rate would need some pushing to get him out.
- Matthew Leuenberger was really solid for the Lions, playing a massive part in them getting so close, with his dominance in the air and clever tap-work. He thoroughly beat Jolly and is looking like another young ruckman capable of standing up and leading his team for the next decade. With the likes of Leuey, Goldstein, McEvoy, Jacobs and Kruezer all running around in the AFL, we are going to be spoilt for choice in years to come. Leuey finished the game with 24 possessions, 7 marks and 33 hitouts.
- Tom Rockliff had another solid game through the middle, picking up disposals at will, proving that he can mix it with the best. I cannot wait to have him in my team next year. He finished with 30 touches, 7 marks and booted 2 goals for good measure too. Whilst Brisbane are still floating around the bottom of the ladder, they actually look capable of taking a decent step next year, so imagine Rocky in a winning team… Mmmm.
- Josh Drummond seems to be playing a much more defensive role than we have been used to seeing, often being made to take one of Collingwood’s tall or medium forwards. He is a big no-no for dream team or supercoach anyway because of his injuries, but for those considering him because of his tempting price, even if his hamstring managed to stack attached over the next fortnight, it doesn’t look like he will be scoring well anyway.
- Patrick Karnezis was a bit of a disappointment – he has been one of my favourite rookies this year, with his flair and bounce in the forward line, but he was simply nowhere to be seen against the Pies, being subbed out of the game with just 2 disposals to his name. Knowing Voss and his rotation policy, Karnezis may find himself back in the reserves next week, unfortunately.
** The Sunday games will likely be up late-ish on Monday… Apologies…
A review at all eight games from an AFL Dream Team and SuperCoach perspective, running through all the heroes and villains of each game.
St.Kilda vs Collingwood:
- Leigh Montagna was very good for the Saints, which was great to see after he has had a pretty quiet past month. He started the game forward and did what he could to break away from any opponents sent his way, utilising his great running skills to get plenty of the ball. When allowed the space, Joey is great at finding space, meaning the Saints use him as much as possible when on the attack. Finished with 24 touches, 7 marks, 6 tackles and a very impressive 3.1 – all kicked from outside the 50.
- Nick Dal Santo’s good form continued as Collingwood chose to send Dale Thomas to him head-to-head. Unfortunately, Thomas smashed him when the Pies had the ball, continually finding space with no one anywhere near him. Dal was still good, working well through the midfield and picking up 28 disposals of his own.
- Clint Jones was the best Saint on the ground, especially in the first quarter, with his clearance work and burst of speed from the contests a real highlight. He looked to be given a run-with role on Swan, but seemed to have much more freedom to run and create than he typically would (which was great for Swan’s stats too!). His kicking, which still very average, has improved remarkably after a few years in the system and he appears to be having his best year yet for the Saints.
- Nick Riewoldt started the game very well, kicking the first goal of the game and also slotting through his only other shot on goal in the second quarter. So his kicking radar seemed to be working, which is generally a great sign for Nick, but he really faded out of the game in the second half, only picking up a few more disposals. He appeared to be playing much more time up forward rather than leading up the ground as he typically would, suggesting that he may have been carrying an injury (it has since been suggested he had a big of a knee niggle). Hopefully he can bounce back against the Swans next week.
- Leon Davis was great for the Pies, with the Saints unable to contain his explosive run from defence. He appeared to have very little defensive responsibilities, running very well in tandem with Ben Johnson and picking up 36 disposals and 8 marks of his own, whilst also dropping forward to kick 2 goals. It was definitely one of his best games of the year as he appeared to make amends for missing the second final against the Saints last year.
- Dale Thomas’ run and creativity was again a big reason for their win. He won plenty of his ball uncontested, but that’s not hugely relevant, as it was his ability to find space on the wings that really opened the game up for the Pies. The Saints gave him very little attention, meaning he didn’t struggle to find plenty of the ball, finishing with 31 disposals and 10 marks.
- Dane Swan, the uber-captain, had another brilliant Dream Team game, finding plenty of ball alongside the packs and up on the wing to make his selection as captain in so many teams a great one. He just continues to run so hard to find the ball, more than anyone else in the AFL, which is why he is so good at finding the ball and subsequently a DT jet. His current form is arguably better than it has ever been – lock him in as captain for the rest of the finals series – I highly doubt you’ll regret it!
- Travis Cloke was another forward to have a very quiet game, being kept very quiet by Zac Dawson. The Saints are still a very good defensive side, pushing numbers back to ensure that strong marking forwards, such as Cloke, see as little ball as possible. They know that Dawson isn’t great one-on-one, so provide him enough support with other defenders so that he is rarely left one-out in the square with his opponent. Cloke finished with just 10 disposals, 6 marks and 2 goals for the game.
Hawthorn vs Port Adelaide:
- Cyril Rioli was electric, especially in the first term when he booted four goals and looked simply unstoppably. He played forward all game and buzzed across the half-forward line, racking up plenty of forward-50 entries, as well as finishing with 6 of his own goals. He was also massive in creating great forward pressure, laying a fantastic 12 tackles for the game. It still seems he won’t be playing through the midfield for a little while, but if he can continue to produce games like this, who cares?
- Buddy Franklin had a day out against Port, a side that historically has the wood over him. He booted an incredibly accurate 8 goals straight and walked all over Carlile, who struggled to keep up with the amount of ball that was being sent Buddy’s way. He also managed 17 disposals, 8 marks and 5 tackles.
- Sam Mitchell had a brilliant first-half through the middle, although did quieten down a bit in the second half, picking up just three disposals in the third term. Fortunately it didn’t stop him from being the most dominant midfielder on the ground, finishing with a game-high 33 disposals and 5 marks. His form this year has been brilliant, and like Buddy, it was great to see him have a massive game against a side that he averages poor disposal numbers against.
- Grant Birchall was one player who struggled to win much ball in the first half as the ball was just never down his end, but fortunately for all those who own him in DT or SC, the junk stats started pretty early and he managed to pick up 20 disposals in the second half (after having just 7 touches to half time). His first half does probably raise some concerns though, as his recent form has been well down on what he came to expect from him until up to a month ago.
- Dom Cassisi was, as usual, Port’s best, playing a pretty decent game through the midfield with 24 disposals and 13 tackles. Unfortunately, he had such little support from his teammates who continually let each other down with terrible disposal, fumbles and a lack of defensive running. Dom is such a good DTer, but you would have to be way too scared to touch him considering he plays for Port, who can hardly put one quarter of football together at the moment, let along four.
- John Butcher got his debut for Port and was actually very impressive, displaying his fantastic set of hands by marking just about anything that came near him. His kicking actually wasn’t too bad either, a part of his game which has been highly criticised. He should play out the season, and honestly, if you are in need of some fast cash at this time of year, then Butcher could be your man.
- Steven Salopek looks just about done at Port, again having such little effect on the game with just 10 touches and 3 tackles. He showed so many good signs in his first few years, but his form over the last two has been horrible, struggling to get a game and then struggling to have any effect when he is actually named. Could be worth looking at next year though if he does find another club.
Fremantle vs Carlton:
- Michael Barlow’s form continues to improve with every game he plays, picking up 32 disposals and 5 tackles as clearly the best Docker on the field. It has clearly taken him very little time to get back to AFL pace, with some of his work by hands a class above many others out there who have been doing it for years. He works hard through the midfield, but also seems to like dropping forward to create a target down there and knows how to kick a goal. Hopefully he doesn’t make his price too high for DT/SC 2012…
- Tendai Mzungu played through the midfield again and looked solid, suggesting he may even be able to average 100-odd points through the finals – something that would be a massive bonus for his coaches who may have otherwise seen him as nothing more than an emergency option. Mark Harvey has praised his work through the middle, and just like he did a good run-with role on Dal Santo last week, he did a decent job at restricting Marc Murphy’s output this week. He also finished with 17 disposals and 11 tackles of his own.
- Aaron Sandilands played his first game for over a month and actually competed much better than expected, considering his poor comeback from the same injury in round 14. He didn’t do too much around the ground, with 15 disposals (11 of which were handballs), but still competed well in the ruck and dropped forward later in the game to stretch the Blues’ defence, taking his opportunities and booting 2 goals.
- Nick Lower had a shocker, playing the majority of the game down forward before being subbed off. He has played a few weeks in a row through the middle, which has helped his scoring greatly, but he simply killed his DT/SC coaches against the Blues by picking up just 4 disposals and 2 frees against in an ineffective display in the forward line. Fingers crossed he manages to not only stay in the team, but also claim his midfield role back from Mayne (who is the man to have moved into the forward line).
- Bryce Gibbs was great again, playing his usual gap-filler position for the Blues. He plays the majority of the game through the midfield, but manages to read the play very well and hence charges forward whenever the Blues get the ball, resulting in him regularly featuring on the goal-kicking list. He booted 2 goals in this game, whilst also picking up 29 touches and 11 marks. His recent form has been great, making many coaches fearful of benching him in their round 23 bye.
- Eddie Betts was the game-winner for Carlton, booting 6 goals straight. He’s in great touch at the moment, which is great to see considering his terrible first half to the year, where plenty had suggested he could have been dropped. He finished with 12 disposals for the game, with all 12 of them being disposed of with the boot – a great stat. Unfortunately though, as good as Eddie can be, he’s not the type of player you want in your Dream Team.
- Chris Judd was again great, and whilst there are plenty who look to pick faults in his game at every opportunity, there was again very little to fault him on against the Dockers, picking up a game-high 34 disposals, 8 clearances and 1.1. He simply runs so hard between contests to not only get the hard ball, but also provide a good link-up option for his teammates when on attack. He has said himself that he is in the best form of his career, and I’d find it very hard to argue with him on current form – he has been brilliant every week for at least a couple of months now.
- Heath Scotland has been copping a tag most weeks for the past month or so and really struggled to get away from Ryan Crowley in this game, picking up just 17 touches and 7 marks – well down on his season average. He continued to work hard all game, but just couldn’t find as much space as usual, with Crowley constantly breathing down his neck.
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon:
- Luke Dahlhaus was the man that allowed Dogs supporters to go home at least somewhat happy. He gave them some great spark, especially in the third term when he, along with a couple of more seasoned Dogs, turned their intensity up and created a bit more of an even contest with the Dons. He kicked two very clever, exciting goals of his own, whilst also setting up a couple of others. He is one of three very impressive youngsters of the weekend who will be pushing a case for a Rising Star nomination. My guess is that Dahlhaus will be the man to get the nod though.
- Matthew Boyd was good for the Dogs, but as has been the case with him over the past month, he just hasn’t been displaying his form consistently enough, picking up 22 of his 36 disposals in the second half, when he took it upon himself to drag the Dogs back into the game. Unfortunately, he, nor his Dogs, were good enough to get close to the Dons, putting the final nail in the Doggies’ coffin for season 2011.
- Barry Hall was very good in the forward line for the Dogs, doing his best to keep them in the contest with 6.3 – but unfortunately, a couple of those misses were pretty gettable. He finishes up at the end of the year, posing plenty of worries for the Dogs, whose young forward line doesn’t look nearly as promising as it did at this time last year.
- Dale Morris is the second player in as many weeks to go down with a significant leg break, snapping both the bones in his leg late in the final term. His injury will put him out for the rest of the year, cruelling the Doggies’ key defensive stocks, as they are already without Lake and Williams for the rest of the year. It could make Buddy Franklin a tempting Captain option against the Dogs in round 23 though…
- Brent Stanton had a great game through the middle, running amok to the tune of 39 disposals, 11 marks, 5 clearances and 2.1. The Bulldogs had no answers to him, with Cross instead going head-to-head with Watson. He won the majority of his disposals in space, although wasn’t afraid to go in for the hard ball when it was his turn. He works hard on the wings all day and played one of his best games of the year. We know he has suffered from a few injuries this year, so it is great to see him back in some form.
- Jobe Watson was the clearance king, as usual, working hard under the packs all game to deliver quality ball to his teammates, finishing with a total of 12 clearances – 7 more than his next best teammate. He is now two games back from his persistent hamstring injuries and hitting some form, but unfortunately, with Essendon having a bye in round 24, it makes trading in any Essendon player a big no-no.
- Michael Hurley was moved back to the forward line and had a great impact, kicking 4 goals against the undermanned and undersized Bulldogs defence. He is very strong on the lead and a trustworthy set of hands, so works very well as a CHF. The trick with Hurls is where he is played, with Hird constantly rotating him between forward and back. Hopefully next year we will get a better grasp on where he will play, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will consider him depending on his pre-season form.
- Tayte Pears went down with another injury in the third term, which was disappointing to see, although he was getting pretty well beaten by Hall. Fortunately though, it was a knock to the knee which saw him taken from the ground, not a reoccurrence of his persistent foot injury. Essendon also didn’t name him on their post-game injury list, so hopefully he will be right to go next week.
Brisbane vs Gold Coast:
- Matthew Leuenberger had a sensational game, beating up on a slow-looking Josh Fraser and a tired Zac Smith. He just beat them both around the ground, but also in the air, palming down a brilliant 42 hitouts. I’d say there will be plenty of coaches considering Leuey on the run home as a decent 2nd ruck option, but take this game with a grain of salt – he was great, but you must remember the quality and inexperience of his opposition. He has Collingwood, West Coast and Sydney over the next 3 weeks, which should all prove to be much harder matches. Along with his hitouts, he picked up 19 touches and 8 marks around the ground, as well as booting 2 goals.
- Simon Black had another great game, using his experience to dominate the clearances against a much younger Gold Coast midfield. He had 31 disposals and 9 clearances and would have taught his opposition a lesson or two in slick handballing. It’s great that he is going around again next year as he is great to watch, but at his age you shouldn’t be considering him for your Dream Team.
- Tom Rockliff was very solid through the middle, which was great to see considering he was pretty poor last time the Lions played Gold Coast. He was the games leading disposal winner with 34 touches, with many of them won through his gut running along the wings. He has so much Dane Swan about him in the way he plays, and already looks to be catching up to him in DT expertise too.
- Jed Adcock started the game really well as the designated rebounder from defence, picking up 14 touches and a goal in the first half. Unfortunately though he really faded out of the game in the second half, adding only another 4 disposals to his tally after the long break. His form has been looking OK, although he hasn’t threatened to pull out any more massive scores since his good start to the season.
- Gary Ablett was solid through the middle, but after his hamstring setback last week he still doesn’t seem to be playing at full-pace. He also won a lot of his possessions in contests, which is good for SuperCoach, but not amazing for DT as he continued to handball more than kick. It is good to see Gold Coast playing him every week though, rather than just wrapping him in cotton wool. He has a pretty good looking next fortnight too (Adelaide and Melbourne), so it would be good to see him come home with a bang after a great first year at the club.
- Nathan Bock’s form continues to be solid in the backline and for about the forth week in a row now I will recommend him as a solid, reliable option for SuperCoach. His numbers have been great and he could be a real smokey for those looking for a point of difference through the finals. With the ball in his backline a lot he wins plenty of ball, but his defensive skills have been very good this past month too, with plenty of spoils and contested marks adding to his scores.
- Zac Smith, as I already have touched on, is looking a shadow of his former self, and quite honestly looks like he needs to be put out to pasture for the remaining rounds. What he has accomplished so far this year has been amazing – better form than I can remember seeing from a first year ruckman for a very long time – but playing in the seniors for 8 touches and a dozen possessions is hardly worth it anymore.
Melbourne vs West Coast:
- Jeremy Howe was the star for Melbourne, with his amazing aerial ability on display with 10 marks, including a couple of spectacular hangers. He played across half-forward and worked as a strong linkup target to the forward line, marking everything that came his way and typically using it well. What is also a bonus is his ability to convert his opportunities in front of goal – not only did he take the big grabs, but he made them count by kicking 3.1 for the game. He’s gonna be an excitement machine for years to come.
- Colin Sylvia was disappointing, taking his time to work into the game, mainly playing up forward. Honestly, he does enough to play every week, but with the knowledge that his spot is under pressure, he may not have had the sort of game to get him another next week. He did some good things, but the worry is that Viney will not be impressed with some selfish football early in the game when he went for goal instead of passing off to a man on his own in the square. Finished with 15 touches and 5 tackles and it will be interesting to see where he is playing next week.
- Cale Morton was another disappointment, playing a really loose role across half-back and along the wings. Prior to this year, Morton was a great ball-winner, but it’s not a skill we have seen much of this year as he has constantly moved between seniors and the VFL. He was another to display some ‘stupid’ football with a silly kick along the ground at goal early in the game when he should have actually kicked at goal. Obviously, the kick was cut off and rebounded pretty quickly.
- Sam Blease played his second game and showed some good signs, winning 20 disposals off half-back and through the midfield. It’s probably a little too late in the year for cash cows, but if you are in need, Blease could be your man. He used the ball pretty well and managed to win his own ball when needed, suggesting he could be good at either DT or SC.
- Matt Priddis, our nominated ‘DTer of the finals series,’ had a great game through the middle, picking up 26 disposals and 11 tackles with no clear Melbourne match-up. If you are in need of a midfielder between now and the end of the year, Priddis could be your man – West Coast have a great run home, with Essendon, Brisbane and Adelaide their next three opponents – all very winnable matches. He is a proven DT and SC star and could be a great point of difference to perhaps get you over the lines in some of your games.
- Andrew Gaff, who spent the first half of the year as West Coast’s super-sub, has had a brilliant past month of football, averaging 94 DT and 86 SC since returning to the team in round 17. Fortunately though, thanks to the amount of games he played as a sub this year, he could be dirt-cheap for his potential at the start of next year. He had 33 disposals and 6 marks in this game and looks an absolute jet.
- Dean Cox came into the game under a significant injury cloud, but still did an admirable job of leading our rucks with 17 touches, 21 hitouts and 2 goals, including the sealer. He actually moved OK considering he was carrying an injury, and despite taking his time to get into the game, ended up putting together a decent score. He was also forced off the ground for a while after copping one of the biggest ‘falcons’ (ball to the face) you will see in the 4th quarter. Fortunately, he came back on to kick his goals and put up his decent score.
- Ash Smith is one player I have been a little disappointed by this year, considering how much I talked him up in the pre-season. I do still like the look of him though, as he is one of West Coast’s main rebounding options in defence. Monitor him over the pre-season next year as I reckon he could be a good chance to be a big 2012 improver.
Richmond vs Sydney:
- Bachar Houli was great for the Tigers, setting up so many of their attacks from the backline. He has never been a player regarded for his disposal efficiency, but I think over this year we have watched it gradually get better as he clearly has much more faith in himself. This was his best game for the club though, with his rebounds being a big factor in the win – in fact, he became so damaging that Sydney sent McVeigh to him in the third term as a way of shutting him down. He finished with 32 touches, 5 marks and a goal.
- Trent Cotchin was also very good through the middle – amazingly he has actually been one of the in-form players of the competition over the past 5 weeks, averaging 114 points in Dream Team over that time. He is very good at winning contested ball and clearances, but also at finding space and winning plenty of ball on the wing – a very important skill to have in today’s footy. He uses the ball well too, making him a very damaging package.
- Jack Riewoldt looks to be coming into a little bit of form, after spending most of the year well down on his 2010 form. He has looked like he is carrying an injury, but looked much more dangerous against Sydney, seemingly back at his high-leaping best with 17 disposals, 7 marks and 2.1. We all know he can play, but he needs much more consistency in his game before we can really consider him in DT or SC.
- Jayden Post was pretty ineffective on the game, picking up just 12 disposals and 3 marks. His form has been solid for Coburg though and has actually shown some good signs at times. He needs to be given an extended run in the seniors, so hopefully gets another gig next week, despite his quiet game.
- Ryan O’Keefe actually started very slowly for the Swans, with Daniel Jackson running with him for the majority of the game. Fortunately though, he stepped up in the third quarter and was one of the few Swans who looked like he wanted to win the game. His price is actually pretty tempting in DT at the moment, so if you need a forward for the last few rounds, he could be your man. Picked up 20 disposals, 6 tackles and 2.2.
- Josh Kennedy was solid through the midfield for the Swans, although it’s fair to say that he has had a pretty disappointing year considering the form he showed through the pre-season. He has had some good games, but doesn’t really seem to have stepped up since the end of last year. This game was a good sign that he is improving though, as he attempted to lead his team from the midfield. Unfortunately though, they didn’t come along for the ride.
- Adam Goodes started very well before drifting out of the game in the second half. He did some good things up the ground, including one spectacular mark, but like last week, he did some pretty poor things too. He typically finishes off seasons with a massive bang, so after two massive games over the past fortnight we can only hope that this one was an anomaly. Big game against the Saints next week, so hopefully he can step it up.
- Sam Reid has been one of my favourite rookies this year, but he was really ineffective against the Tigers, booting just the one behind. He just didn’t get into the game and seemed not to be working hard enough when the ball was in his area. I never like beating up on younger players, but Reid has impressed me heaps this year, so I am simply expecting more from him. Will have a big challenge next week against the defensively-minded Saints.
Adelaide vs Geelong:
- Rory Sloane was great for Adelaide, working hard in the clearances and providing plenty of run. Adelaide’s new game plan sees a lot of short kicks and marking, which is going to significantly boost their DT scoring for the remaining few rounds. Sloane was a big beneficiary from this – he spread well from packs to pick up 10 marks along with his 36 disposals. He has always looked capable of being a great DTer, so it was good to see him put in a big game like this – he could even be a good option as soon as next year.
- Matthew Wright was very good across half-forward, booting 2 goals of his own, but also setting up a number of others. He is a buzzy small-forward, but knows how to win the ball and isn’t afraid to venture up the ground to do it. He provided a lot of spark and X-factor for the Crows up forward and was one of their many four-quarter performers. He finished with 25 disposals and 11 marks.
- Chris Knights had another good game up on the wing and linked the ball up well as the Crows worked the ball through the guts using plenty of handballing. He showed no signs of the injury he sustained last week, which was good, and again showed to Neil Craig why he should have been playing through the middle all year. If there was something to be disappointed by though, it would be the fact he had 24 handballs from his 33 disposals! That’s way to high Chris! Haven’t you played Dream Team before?? Kick it!
- Daniel Talia played a brilliant game in defence, standing Mooney and keeping him to just one goal. He hardly made a mistake, getting a fist on anything that came his way, but also looking really solid with the ball when the Crows worked it from their defence. For a club who has lost Nathan Bock and Phil Davis in two years, they can be very happy they’ve found Talia – five games in and he already looks great. Another in line for a Rising Star nomination this week.
- Steve Johnson was good for the Cats, although all the tricks he seems to have had creep into his game over the past fortnight still seem to be there, and it didn’t help him against a better opposition. He kept trying ‘clever’ handballs and taps, but so often they didn’t help. Also, his attempted goal from lying on the ground was just silly considering he had a free kick… He was lucky they ump decided to bring the kick back. Finished with 19 touches, 8 marks and 2.1.
- Jimmy Bartel was solid in his 200th game, picking up 20 touches and 11 marks through the midfield. He was actually pretty quiet for most of the game, but moved behind the ball late in the final quarter to the tune of 39 DT points – potentially enough to get a few teams across the line. Like many of his teammates, he was good, without being spectacular. Honestly, they were lucky to get away with the win, in my opinion.
- Paul Chapman had a solid, but not spectacular game through the midfield. It was rare that he won many contested possessions, instead preferring to wait to the handball out of the packs from his teammates. He just doesn’t seem to be moving across the ground as well as he once did, not running between contests as hard or as often as you would see him in years gone by. I wonder if he is carrying an injury. Finished with 15 touches, 6 marks and a goal.
- Travis Varcoe continued on his new role from half-back and looked really good again, although didn’t win a stack of ball. He could be a very good SC option for next year – his ball use is great, so doesn’t need to win a stack of the ball, but like Yarran this year, he is speedy and clever and could be another major asset to Geelong’s plans moving forward.
St.Kilda vs Fremantle:
- Justin Koschitzke played one of his best games for the Saints in nearly two years, roaming all over the ground as a ruckman-cum-forward. He commented in an interview a fortnight ago that he has lost a fair bit of weight this year to allow him to improve his mobility around the ground, and it was certainly on display tonight. He worked hard up the ground to create contests, picking up 17 touches and 9 marks and was actually the Saints’ most effective tall when he dropped forward, booting 2 goals. It’s great to see the big guy hitting some form at this end of the season, but I should note, this does not make him a great DT or SC option, as we all know how inconsistent he has been over his career.
- Sam Fisher started the game in the midfield on Pavlich and followed him around for all four quarters, doing a very good job at beating Pav one-on-one. Pavlich really struggled to know where to play as Fisher is equally bullocking in the midfield, was clearly strong in the backline when Pavlich went forward and even managed to kick a goal of his own when Pav tried playing around the backline. He finished the game with 24 touches and 8 marks. Fisher is still awfully cheap for the scoring he can produce and plays a number of teams he averages high numbers against in the run home. If you still need another defender, he could be your man.
- Jason Gram is another Saint starting to hit some good form – his past few weeks has seen him get a much more productive role off half-back, often playing on a dangerous small forward and rebounding hard – similar to the role which Gilbert has played over the past couple of years. He played on Nat Fyfe and did a real number on him, keeping him to 20 touches whilst picking up 24 touches and 5 marks of his own – he also kicked a very nice goal on the run from outside-50 – a clear sign he has his confidence back, as this is a feature of his game we haven’t seen for a couple of months. He could be a decent unique option for the run home if you aren’t already loaded up on Saints.
- Brendon Goddard had a pretty quiet game as Fremantle played him very well. Goddard went head-to-head with Mayne for the first half of the game, so Freo spent significant time trying to tighten BJ up by continually playing through Mayne whenever they went forward, and it proved very effective, significantly limiting Goddard’s influence on the game. Fortunately Ross Lyon moved Goddard into the guts and even up forward for stints in the second half, but he still wasn’t only at his dominant best, picking up just 18 touches, 2 marks and 3 tackles for the game.
- Tendai Mzungu played some sort of game, going head-to-head with Dan Santo and really troubled him with his height, leap and speed. He was Freo’s most consistent four-quarter performer and will likely get his first couple of Brownlow votes from this game. He followed Dal everywhere – typically through the middle – and worked off him really well, winning plenty of his own ball and always using it very well. It looked like a real ‘making of’ game for him and is hopefully a sign of form to come for the remaining four games of the year. He finished with 30 touches, 5 marks and 5 tackles.
- Zach Clarke was another young Docker to impress me – he went into the game as the club’s sole ruckman, with both Sandilands and Griffin both out injured. He competed very well against Kosi and McEvoy, and whilst he probably didn’t come out on top, his work around the ground was still very good, picking up 15 touches, 5 marks and 5 tackles. He still has a pretty slight build, but doesn’t struggle to pull down a contested mark – something which caused concern for the Saints, who typically like to use McEvoy when coming out of defence. After a few years in the system it is great to see him showing some real promise – it will now be interesting to see what they decide to do with him once Sandi and Griffin return.
- Chris Mayne, as I touched on earlier, was used frequently as a hit-up target in the forward line, as a way of making Goddard accountable. He was very prevalent in the first half, in fact, we saw so much of him that my girlfriend queried, “Do they just have one guy with the stupid blonde hair in their team, or is he just getting a lot of it?” Sums it up nicely I think. He really was everywhere, but when Goddard shifted into the midfield in the second half (and Mayne attempted to follow him, to no avail), Mayne went pretty quiet as he had a true defender playing on him. He finished with 16 possessions and 2.1 for the game.
- Greg Broughton had one of his quieter games for a while, going head-to-head with Armitage on a half-back flank. Clearly, this is not the position that his coaches want him to play, but judging from this game it seems it is a match-up thing. All of Mayne, Lower and Mzungu spent significant time in the midfield, causing Broughton to be the man pushed out. He had a very limited effect on the game and subsequently had his lowest score in a month and half of football, subsequently driving his price down for those in need of a defensive upgrade through DT and SC finals. Fingers would have to be crossed though that he continues his role through the midfield in coming weeks.
Geelong vs Gold Coast:
- Steve Johnson unsurprisingly had a day out as Gold Coast rotated a number of inexperienced defenders on him throughout the game. He finished with 6 goals, but seemed to be attempting to surpass his 11 score assists which he managed last week against the Dees, flicking the ball around the forward line to try and find someone in a better position. Unfortunately though, he did get a bit sloppy and a bit showy at times with his disposal, sometimes leading to unnecessary turnovers later in the game. It didn’t stop him getting the ball though as he worked pretty hard up the ground and through the forward line to get his disposals, finishing with 31 touches and 7 marks for the game.
- Paul Chapman was really good for the Cats, and was the one who showed the best leadership in the third term as they begun to play some sloppy footy, too busy trying to show off rather than stay to their structures. He was a strong worker through the middle through all four-quarters and finally got his own reward on the scoreboard with two late goals – deserved after he’d set up so many throughout the game. He finished with 30 touches, 6 marks and 6 tackles and was definitely one of their best couple.
- Joel Selwood was another Cats’ midfielder to work hard all day and reap the benefits, finishing the game with 33 touches, 6 marks and 3 goals. Both his inside and outside games were on show, and it continues to amaze me how he continues to go so hard for the ball, despite his side being up by well over 100 points. This game clearly marks another day-out at the Cattery for Selwood, a venue where he averages around 130 DT points a game, which quiet frankly, is ridiculous.
- Tom Hawkins impressed me today, albeit against some reasonably inexperienced players, with Rory Thompson playing on him for the majority of the game. His contested marking is a real feature, as is his ability to find space both in the forward-50 or around the flanks. Unfortunately, whilst he appears to have a football brain capable of knowing where to run, he still seems to struggle with choosing the best option to kick to – or perhaps his disposal is just awful. Anyway, he has shown some good form over the past month, and is starting to show signs that suggest he could be a very good player after all.
- Nathan Bock again had a very solid game, doing his best to steady the young Gold Coast defence in a game that saw an AFL record number of inside-50s. He spent the majority of the game playing on Podsiadly, although was given Johnson for a while in the second quarter. He doesn’t do as much rebounding work for the Suns as he used to do for Adelaide, although as the mature head, they do give him as much of the ball as possible, hence his high number of disposals and marks – 27 touches and 7 marks. The next four weeks see a slightly easier run for the Suns (barring Hawthorn in round 24), so players like Bock mightn’t be such a bad option for your defence – especially in SuperCoach – if you are after someone a bit more unique.
- Danny Stanley started very well, booting a great goal on the run in the first quarter, then the Suns’ first in the third term. He played predominantly across a forward flank, with time through the middle, and was used frequently by his teammates thanks to his high workrate and mature body. Unfortunately, when Scarlett was subbed off and Lonergan on, it caused a restructure in the Cats defence, which in turn matched Stanley up on the much taller Lonergan. Due to the fact 90% of the Suns’ forward entries were high bombs, Stanley just couldn’t get near it before Lonergan spoiled the ball away. This lead to just one disposal for Stanley in the final term – a disappointment considering his great start.
- Jeremy Taylor played his second game and was again pretty impressive, giving a little more than just a spoil – he runs and chases and tries to provide a decent option off half-back. He started the game of Johnson, but was quickly moved onto Mooney after Johnson kicked two very quick goals on him to start the match. Fortunately, he didn’t let that get him down and he worked pretty hard to keep Moons 3 goals – a reasonable effort considering the Cats kicked 29 goals in total. He is on the bubble this week and looks one of the better defence options if you are in need of some cash.
- Zac Smith continues to look more and more tired every week, hardly featuring in this game at all as Fraser spent the majority of time on the ball. He did some nice things in the ruck, getting 17 hitouts, but struggled to impact around the ground or up forward, only managing 8 disposals, zero marks and 1 tackle. Those counting on him as their second ruck may want to think again – perhaps it is worth taking Dan’s advice and bringing in the in-form Shane Mumford.
Carlton vs Melbourne:
- Chris Judd was again best on ground for the Blues, significantly lifting in a mammoth 2nd term to pull his side along for a massive lead going into half time. His match was highlighted by an awesome forward-50 tackle on Trengove – as Trengove attempted to sidestep around Judd when running out of defence, Judd grabbed him like a bear to drag him to ground and subsequently win the free and kick the goal. The Blues lifted their own intensity and Melbourne didn’t have a chance from then on. He finished with 31 disposals, 18 of which were contested (a game high), 8 clearances and 11 inside-50s – both also game highs. Those doubting him for the Brownlow are simply kidding themselves.
- Bryce Gibbs had another great game, roving around the ground in a plethora of positions. He went head to head with Moloney for a while, dropped forward for 2.1 and was even seen streaking out of defence on occasions. His form over the past month has been terrific, with Rattan now happy and willing to play him in ball-winning positions – something that hasn’t always been the case across his short career. He finished off the game with 27 touches and 6 marks, although disappointingly didn’t lay a tackle.
- Heath Scotland is another Blue whose past month has been fantastic. He was the only man on the ground to rack up more touches than his skipper, disposing of the ball 32 times, whilst also racking up 12 marks and 2 goals. He plays the role of outside receiver for the Blues, continually waiting outside the packs to be fed the ball before throwing it onto his deadly accurate boot. He is clearly a player the Blues want to have the ball, giving it to him on every possible occasion – he also works hard across the ground to get to each contest, also spending time in the defensive 50 to help them rebound. His only foreseeable issue is that pesky round 23 bye.
- Robbie Warnock was solid for the Blues, coming up against a Jamar-less Melbourne ruck division. We have talked recently (on this week’s TV show) about in-form ruckmen and Warnock is a great example, averaging 86 DT and 98 SC points from his past five games. He seems to have taken a while to find his feet at Carlton, thanks to a mixture of injuries and form issues, but they certainly look to be getting the best out of him this year as he has led their ruck division since round one. He is great in the air, winning plenty of hitouts thanks to his size (208cm), but also solid around the ground, making him both a decent DT and SC option. He finished this game with 11 touches, 2 tackles, 36 hitouts and a goal.
- Jack Watts was Melbourne’s best, still being swung between forward and back, although in a post-game interview, Viney stated that he will look to play Watts forward more often, as this is where he seems most comfortable. Unfortunately, this isn’t where he looks best for Dream Team or SuperCoach – he has been winning a lot of ball from half-back lately, so a permanent move forward should see his scoring decrease – beware! He finished off the game with 21 disposals, 9 marks and 2.1.
- Lynden Dunn has always been a played I’ve liked, although he has never been the type to consider for DT or SC, unfortunately. He played a negating forward role (as he has for most of his games this year), sitting on Yarran until he was subbed off in the third term. From there he had a mixture of opponents, but wasn’t nearly as effective, with his own form fading late in the game too. He finished off with 13 touches, 7 tackles and 2.2.
- Brad Green again had a disappointing game – he is in an awful form slump at the moment and it is being inflated due to the fact he is the skipper. Again, he played out of the square, only venturing into the midfield for bursts, despite Melbourne’s obvious need for a bigger body in the clearances. Without meaning to foray into the politics of football, surely, after sacking Bailey last week, Melbourne needs to have a good look at whether Green is the best Captain option for the club – he has shown very little on-field leadership throughout this terrible period for the club. I bet they wish they hadn’t sacked Junior McDonald now… Green finished with just 9 disposals, 3 marks and 1.2.
- Injuries were a massive worry for Melbourne too, although they didn’t play a massive factor in the loss. Tragically (and graphically), Jamie Strauss broke both the tibia and fibula in his leg, right above the ankle, in a car-crash like injury. Luke Tapscott was another to be carted off to hospital when he copped Martin’s hip to his head in the last quarter – he was carried off complaining of neck pain and tingling in his arm and will now likely miss a chunk of football. Both terrible looking injuries and we hope both make speedy recoveries!
Essendon vs Sydney:
- Paddy Ryder played one of his best games for the year and looks to have finally gotten some confidence back into his game. He was Essendon’s main ruckman for the night, whilst David Hille was kept up forward for the majority of the game. He did a pretty decent job against Mumford in the ruck, winning the hitouts – although it was his hitouts to advantage that was most impressive – whilst he also competed very well around the ground, picking up 20 touches and 8 marks, along with his 31 hitouts. He took some huge marks in the final term too, which really showed he finally had some confidence in himself again.
- Jobe Watson was as solid as usual through the middle, competing hard against Sydney’s plethora of in-and-under midfielders. He had 31 disposals, 20 of which were contested, as well as a game-high 12 clearances. As is expected of Jobe, he worked hard through the middle without doing anything too flashy – he was definitely one of their hardest workers, setting up so many of his teammates to run and carry the ball down the wing. He also laid 8 tackles and had 5 inside-50s for the game.
- Dyson Heppell was great again, switching between a number of Sydney’s forwards, including O’Keefe and Jetta. He rebounds really well and Essendon use him as much as possible when coming out of defence, thanks to his sure hands and accurate boot. He also showed some courage later in the game when he went back with the flight of the ball in the forward line, getting crunched by an opponent. Unfortunately he missed the goal, but it was still a great mark. My only query on him is his fitness, as for the second week in a row he has managed just one disposal in the last quarter.
- Kyle Hardingham impressed me in bursts – he’s not really any sort of DT or SC player, but showed some good attacking flair in the backline on occasions. In one passage he dodged and weaved around about five Swans, amazingly not getting caught and managing to hit his target with the kick. The Dons have a pretty exciting young backline emerging, with any of them seemingly happy to rebound from defence. David Myers had one of his better games too, whilst Dustin Fletcher moved like he was still only 21 years old – geez he was good!
- Adam Goodes played one of the most polarising games in recent memory, where he managed to be both the hero and villain for the Swans on many occasions – not just with the last kick of the day. He seemed unstoppable around the ground, seeming to play about 50% in the forward line and 50% through the midfield. He beat all of his opponents and took a number of great marks across the ground, also working hard to win the contested ball and clearances. What let him down was his goal-kicking and some brain-fades – on two separate occasions he missed the goals when running into the forward line with no one around him – he could have run another 20 metres, but both times decided to shoot from 40m out instead, scoring just a point on both occasions. And then later in the game he punched a ball over the goal-line from a bounce, gifting Essendon a free kick and a goal. The missed shot at goal from after the siren was the least of his worries – it was all these other instances that let him down most. He still finished with 29 touches, 6 marks, 5 tackles and 3.4, but will unfortunately be remembered for all the blunders.
- Daniel Hannebery was great through all four quarters, but would have been in for a gruelling recovery session on Sunday, thanks to the beating his body caused through the game. He came off second-best in a couple of clashes, including one where he was cleaned up by Hurley, doing a full summersault in the air before landing on his head. Despite this he battled on, picking up 24 touches, 7 marks and 4 tackles, as well as being part of some very important plays in the forward-line, sending the ball inside-50 on 6 occasions.
- Sam Reid was damn impressive up forward, with his strong marking a highlight, clunking 5 big grabs for the game. He started the game really well for the Swans, booting their first goal and continually providing a strong option for them at CHF. He is still just developing, but it is already easy to tell that he is full of talent. He faded a little in the second and third terms, but came back to life when the game was on the edge, booting 2 more goals in quick succession to get the Swans back in front.
- Ben McGlynn is a real favourite of mine, but is just too wildly inconsistent now to consider him for Dream Team or SuperCoach. There was a time when he looked like he could be a DT/SC gem, except that injuries were preventing him from any sort of consistency, but this year he has managed to string a number of games together, only to show he is like any other small forward – inconsistent. He still finds space well and kicks the odd goal (kicked one of the best goals of the year in this game, IMO), but just doesn’t rack up the disposals as we would hope. Finished with 11 touches, 3 tackles and 1.1.
Port Adelaide vs Collingwood:
- Travis Boak was the best for Port, picking up 31 disposals and 4 tackles for the night. Understandably, despite him being Port’s best, Collingwood didn’t bother to send a man to him to slow him down – why would they? As well as being the disposal leader for Port, he also led them in many other categories too, with 8 clearances and 8 inside-50s. He also shared an team-high ONE score-assist…
- Mitch Banner made a case to the coach for a permanent spot in the team, after having spent so much of the year dominating in the SANFL. He kicked 2 of their 3 goals and won 21 disposals, albeit the majority of them were uncontested. Since being drafted, we have known Banner to be a great ball-winner, so it would be good to see him get a chance to show his wares at senior level, although the knock on him has always been his disposal efficiency, which in honest, wasn’t any better or worse than any of his teammates tonight. At least he shows endeavour.
- Matthew Lobbe competed well in the ruck, despite being up against both Darren Jolly and Cameron Wood – it was also unfavourable conditions for a big man, with the game being played in the wet. I noted last week that he was appearing to slow down, so it was good to see him run out this game OK, picking up 14 touches and 27 hitouts for the game.
- Chad Cornes played his final game for Port, amazingly fighting off the temptation to box on with any Collingwood player that got near him. Chadly, you will be missed as a Dream Teamer – you were my first picked for so many years, and despite our tumultuous relationship (I take back all the names I called you when injured or suspended), I will always have a place for you in my Dream Team – consider yourself welcome back at the club any time. You will be missed, dear friend.
- Dane Swan (my #1 captain option for the week), enjoyed a lazy day out down at AAMI stadium, picking up 37 possessions, 5 marks, 6 tackles and 3.1. He managed to escape any resemblance of an opponent from Port Adelaide, despite the fact it looked like Kane Cornes was lining up on him at the first bounce (fortunately he moved on to Pendlebury). This obviously meant that Dane was able to do as he pleased, and he did, working hard in the clearances (winning a game-high 9), as well as providing some great run and carry down the wings, as he does so well. His current form is brilliant, so fingers crossed he can be the perma-captain we wish for on the run home through finals.
- Dayne Beams played one of his best games for the club, kicking a goal and setting up 2 more within the first 3 minutes of the game. As it became apparent that Collingwood were going to steamroll Port, Malthouse handed more responsibility to his younger players, allowing them more responsibilities through general play. Beams was the one who really stepped up, winning 32 possessions, 9 marks, kicking 3.1 and also sending the ball inside-50 on a game-high 9 times.
- Jarryd Blair was another Pies youngster to step up, and was brilliant at the stoppages, winning a whopping 17 contested possessions from his 25 touches. He has played the majority of games up forward this year, so it was great to see him thrown on the ball for stints and be able to dominate, adding another dangerous element to Collingwood’s plans for finals domination. His role was mainly across half-forward (with the already-noted time on ball), going head to head with the dangerous Hartlett, and unsurprisingly carving him up, kicking 4.1 to go with his possession tally, making him the most effective forward on the ground.
- Alan Didak was unsurprisingly given the sub vest, thanks to the fact he’s missed over a month of football. He didn’t come on until late in the third term, but still managed to run amok for a quarter, still picking up 14 possessions and 4 tackles, certainly looking a bit fitter than he has for a while. Hopefully this time off can see him come back a lot fitter and more able to have an effect on games, potentially making him a dangerous weapon for DT and SC finals.
Brisbane vs Adelaide:
- Tom Rockliff was the best for the Lions, working hard through the middle of the ground for all four quarters. He continues his great ball-winning form of late, picking up a fantastic 34 disposals (23 of which were kicks), as well as 7 marks, 5 tackles and a pretty nice goal in the first term. It’s quite simply his workrate that allows him to rack up such disposal numbers – not unlike Dane Swan, Rocky runs all day along with wings as a link-up man, setting up countless attacks, whilst also running with his teammates for many others. Should be a must have for season 2012.
- Jed Adcock looked to be returning to some decent form, picking up 20 disposals and 10 marks across half-back. Joel Patful went down with injury only five minutes into the game, so it looked for a while like Adcock may be forced to assume a much more defensive role, but fortunately this wasn’t the case as he was the Lions’ #1 go-to man across half-back. After two scores over 90 in a row, it looks like Adcock may be coming good at the right end of the season.
- Mitch Clark was good up forward, battling on admirably through a calf issue he sustained early in the game. After the knock, he was moved deep forward, but continued to present and mark well, booting 2 goals from 16 touches and 9 marks. Clark’s season has mainly been spent up forward, thanks to both the form of Leuenberger and the injuries to Brown, and whilst he started the year pretty slowly, his form over the last couple of months has been pretty solid, as he becomes more comfortable with the forward caper. There is a lot of talk around him switching clubs at the end of the year – if he goes to a club likely to play finals he could be worth considering for DT and SC 2012.
- Ash McGrath created quite a spark for the Lions, both up forward and through the midfield. He has moved away from his regular position of back pocket and has been putting some good games together as a small forward – the position where he started his career. He booted Brisbane’s first goal of the game and worked hard throughout the game to finish with 15 touches, 7 tackles and 3 goals.
- Scott Thompson was Adelaide’s best, roaming around the midfield, winning plenty of contested and uncontested ball. He continues to have his knockers, but his solid has been nothing short of solid as he has done his best to carry Adelaide throughout the season, despite the poor form of those around him. Brisbane tried throwing a few opponents at him, but none to any effect, with him finishing the game with 38 disposals, 4 marks and 8 tackles.
- Nathan Van Berlo had his second great game under Bickley, with 26 possessions, 6 marks, 9 tackles and 2 goals. I noted last week that he was playing with a much higher intensity since Craig’s sacking, clearly stepping up as the Skipper to lead the players through a clearly tough time for the football club. His work under packs is fantastic and he is the sort of player who will continually will himself between contests, hence his ability to find so much of the ball.
- Graham Johncock had a great game, and will go down as the man who won the game for the Crows. He played the majority of the game down back, but dropped forward when the game was there to be won, booting the last two goals of the game to edge the Crows to the win. His form this year has been great between his various injuries – he isn’t the greatest ball-winner, but knows how to use it creatively, making him a very decent SuperCoach option for the run home.
- Chris Knights was one player we got very excited about last week when he picked up 30-odd disposals on a wing – unfortunately though, that excitement looks to have been short lived. He did line up on the wing again, but failed to have much influence, picking up just 8 disposals until he hurt himself in the third term and was subsequently subbed off. There’s no news yet on the severity of the injury, but the fact it was his quad could mean he is possibly facing 2-3 weeks on the sidelines.
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne:
- Sam Mitchell had another solid, best on ground performance for the Hawks, despite coming into the game with some concern over his ankle. He simply continued his great form which he has carried for most of the year, picking up 31 disposals and 9 tackles, most of which were in the first three quarters (he did fade a bit later in the game). This is now his 10th ton in a row for Dream Team and 7th in a row for SuperCoach, which is an amazing stat – those at all in need for a new midfielder should look no further than Mitchell – especially with his great run home through the finals.
- Lance Franklin actually had a really quiet game – at three quarter time it looked like he may go goalless for the second week in a row, having nursed a sore hamstring through the game and just not getting into the contest. Fortunately, in the last quarter he broke free from Scott Thompson and booted 3 really crucial goals (whilst also giving away two 50-metre penalties to gift North Melbourne another). He also picked up 13 disposals and 6 tackles for the game, but it was his last quarter heroics we must thank for his respectable score.
- Shaun Burgoyne was another Hawk to start slowly, manning Aaron Edwards in the backline for the first three quarters, having his hand in a few good rebounds, but still not really influencing heaving on the game. Fortunately he was switched to the midfield in the final term and turned it on, winning several vital centre clearances and pumping the ball inside the 50 with great precision, setting up the majority of the Hawks’ final quarter goals, as well as kicking one of his own. With a little luck, we may be able to pick him as a defender in 2012!
- Grant Birchall was relatively quiet again, getting the job done without winning a stack of ball. I’m sure there have been plenty watch his price fall over the past month with an eye to trading him in, but the fact is that he is simply not in the point-scoring form of earlier in the year, averaging just 75 DT and 79 SC points from his past 5 games.
- Scott McMahon played one of his best games in a while, especially from a DT sense, playing the entire game as the loose man in defence and doing a very good job of it. He provided a great rebounding option from defence for the Roos, as well as intercepting plenty of Hawthorn forward entries, whilst spending half the game standing 10-metres in front of Buddy. Finished the game with 29 disposals, 8 marks and 6 tackles.
- Matt Campbell, was another player to suddenly turn it on in the last quarter, nearly single-handedly getting the Roos across the line with 4 goals in the final term. He had been kept to just one goal to ¾ time, but managed to get free from his opponent, Puopolo, and became the spark that North needed, with 3 of his goals coming in very quick succession at the start of the quarter. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t enough to allow his side to hang on for the win.
- Todd Goldstein bounced back into some great form after having looked to tire over the past fortnight. He was a significant player in the match, doing a solid job to beat both Hale and Bailey in the ruck, winning 37 hitouts – the most of anyone on the ground. He was also good across the ground, winning 14 disposals, 5 tackles and kicking a goal. He now has a week off, so his owners will need to debate whether or not to keep him around – honestly, if you have a reasonable fill-in (Smith, Bailey or Lobbe), I’d hold onto him for the week as he could be a great point of difference in your run home to finals glory.
- Cam Richardson was again the sub, causing many to wonder why he even occupies a spot on their benches. However, he had one of his better games, despite starting the game donning the green vest – he didn’t come on until the third term, but won some key one-on-ones in the backline and up forward, and looked easily the most confident at senior level as he has all year. Perhaps he will come home strong as a finals specialist?
West Coast vs Richmond:
- Luke Shuey was in everything for the Eagles, dominating another game to prove that there is more than just Dyson Heppell in the hunt for the Rising Star award. He seemed to go right under Richmond’s radar as they instead chose to target LeCras and Priddis, but unfortunately for the Tigers, it was Shuey doing all the damage with his great work setting the ball up inside-50. He finished with 30 disposals, 7 marks and 1.2.
- Mark Nicoski kicked a personal best 6 goals straight, as Richmond failed to contain any of the Eagles’ small forwards, bar LeCras. He worked in tandem with Brad Ebert, who had 4.1 of his own, as the Eagles mids seemed happy to bomb the ball high and long – either the tall forwards would take a grad, or it would fall to the ground for the smaller blokes. Unfortunately, the Richmond defenders had their hands way to full with Naitanui to even think about Nicoski, meaning he found it pretty easy to get off the leash and kick a bag.
- Nic Naitanui showed that he is one of the main reasons the Eagles are going to be a scary prospect come September – when in form, he seems almost unstoppable, with a great leap and a great set of hands, if he doesn’t mark the ball he almost always draws the free kick, as defenders have no idea how to contain him. He had an amazing second quarter where he helped set up the Eagles lead with 2 insanely good marks and goals, surrounded by a stack of other highlight-reel material. Along with his goals he picked up 4 touches and 5 marks, but looked to struggle with soreness and fatigue as the game wore on.
- Dean Cox almost looked set to be subbed out of the game just five minutes in when he went down to the rooms with a groin injury. Fortunately he battled on, but he just couldn’t compete as he typically would. He was played mainly up forward and even down back, but Worsfold clearly made an effort to keep him out of the ruck. It looked like the match took a toll on him though, as he put out some of his worst numbers for the year – fingers crossed he’ll be good to go next week.
- Brett Deledio was good off half-back, seeming to have a hand in the majority of Richmond’s rebounds. It was actually not a bad game for the Tigers, despite what the scoreline suggests, and I think it actually had a lot to do with their improved disposal efficiency – something that has been lacking from their game for a while. Deledio was one of their best with the ball, often making the right decisions off half-back and always happy to take the ball on – it’s great that he had developed to be more than just an outside midfielder, now winning his own ball and taking on tacklers. He finished with 31 touches, 5 marks and a goal.
- Jack Riewoldt actually had a really poor start to the game, being taught a lesson by Darren Glass. Again he looked off his game and almost like he was carrying an injury. Fortunately he helped open the game up a bit in the third term, booting 3 goals in pretty quick succession to breathe some life into the Tigers. He still didn’t look at his best, but it was good to see some fighting spirit from him – something I don’t reckon we’ve seen in at least a month. He eventually finished with 4.1, along with 15 disposals and 7 marks.
- Tyrone Vickery had some good cameo moments, playing mainly up forward. He booted two goals, but worked hard and took some good grabs up the ground to suggest that he will be the player Richmond are hoping for over the next year or two. Clearly his body is still developing, but there is certainly some raw talent in him. Finished with 12 touches and 5 marks, booting 2 goals, including one ripper off the deck in the first term.
- Angus Graham looks just about cooked at senior level, putting in a sub-par performance against the West Coast trio of Cox, Naitanui and Lynch. He was clearly run off his feat, so only managed enough puff to win a few hitouts, only managing the 8 disposals around the ground. He showed some great signs last year, so it is disappointing to see such a fall from grace, although considering Richmond have no other ruckman to give the reigns to, he should at least be given the chance to prove himself over the remaining rounds.
North Melbourne vs Carlton:
- Andrew Swallow was sublime for North Melbourne, despite seeming to concuss himself on about three separate occasions. It was a typical game from Swallow, hard and tough in and under, interestingly going head-to-head with Judd for most of the match and actually coming out on top in the first half. He finished the game with 33 touches and 9 tackles and made a significant contribution to North getting so close.
- Todd Goldstein threatened to break the world record for hitouts when he had already notched up 20 by quarter time. Unfortunately, with only 2 more the next quarter and a total of 36 for the game, he finished far from the number he would have needed. He continues to play very well for North and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down towards the end of the year – also in positive news for his owners (although not really good news), McIntosh was a late withdrawal from the VFL on Sunday, so perhaps he is a little further away than expected. Goldy finished with 13 touches and 5 tackles alongside his hitout tally.
- Daniel Wells copped a tag from Armfield for the majority of the game and failed to have a massive influence on the game. However, to his credit, he continued to work very hard all day to get into dangerous spots, and despite only notching 13 touches he managed to make the majority of them pretty effective. He also worked hard the other way, laying 5 tackles for the game.
- Brady Rawlings owners continue to suffer thanks to his terrible past month from a dreamteam perspective. He has proven a good dreamteamer this past couple of years with his attacking role off half-back, but the past month has seen him play more shut-down role, limiting the amount of ball he gets. The number of Blues small forwards didn’t help him either, forcing him to play in his defensive-50 all game as he tried to shut down the dangerous Garlett, finishing with just 13 disposals of his own. His price has dropped so rapidly, there is no one really worthwhile to bring in in his place – perhaps it is time to consider keeping him as your 8th defender only.
- Bryce Gibbs was brilliant for the Blues, playing the majority of the game in the front half. His ability to get in front of the ball was a real strength of his game, helping him get his four very crucial goals. There was just no-one in the Roos back half capable of running with him as he ran through the middle in spurts before dashing forward as soon as Carlton won the ball. It is a highly lucrative role for Dreamteam and SuperCoach if he can continue to play it well, which is great news for all his owners.
- Kade Simpson had a great night, playing across the wings all night and setting up some really important Blues attacks. He was a really important member of the team, working hard all night and using the ball very well – it would have been a game to score pretty well in the coach’s votes. He finished with 24 touches and 9 marks for the game.
- Chris Yarran worked well off half-back, with North Melbourne amazingly allowing him to roam free behind the ball, which eventually was one of the big contributors to their loss. Yarran isn’t a player to typically win stacks of the ball, but he uses it beautifully, so doesn’t need to rack them up to have an influence. That said, he had 27 touches against North, 20 of them kicks, so there is little wonder why he carved them up.
- Lachie Henderson made a big step to securing his spot in Carlton’s backline with a really strong game on Drew Petrie. His pace really troubled Petrie and he wasn’t afraid to play in front, meaning he was able to cut off so many attacks. He finished with only 14 touches and 5 marks of his own, but crucially kept the in-form Petrie to just 2.3 for the night.
Western Bulldogs vs West Coast:
- Matthew Boyd played a real Captains game for the Doggies, being the one man who was prepared to commit to the contest early in the game with 21 touches and 6 inside-50s in the first half alone. Fortunately, the troops rallied after the main break and Boyd continued to try and drag his team across the line, finishing with 40 disposals, 11 clearances and 7 inside-50s. This was one of his best games for a while – a game where as skipper of the club, he really had to lift and did.
- Robert Murphy was very good off half-back, coming straight back into the side from an injury layoff without skipping a beat. He was strong and confident coming out of the backline, using the ball for precision and seemed to be involved in all of their successful attacks. They want the ball in his hands so badly as it seems that if anyone else gets the ball in the backline, they just turn it over.
- Daniel Giansiracusa was very good up forward, especially in the third term where he was a crucial part of the Dogs’ fight back. He finished with 4.1 and picked up 22 touches and worked really hard through the forward-50 and across the forward flank. He has been one of the in-form forwards over the past couple of months, so could be worth considering after the Dogs’ bye this week if you are after someone a little more unique.
- Andrew Hooper had a shocker, only managing to touch the ball twice before being subbed off in the 3rd quarter. I have been critical of him so far this year, due to the fact he only bobs up in games for cameo performances, such as this one. Unfortunately, in this case he was subbed off before being able to have any sort of effect on the contest. At the moment he looks like an ideal sub candidate, or perhaps just needs a run in the VFL.
- Dean Cox was insanely good, making Dreamteam and SuperCoach coaches wishing that perhaps Naitanui was rested more often. Cox rucked on his own all game and thoroughly destroyed Hudson, not only winning the hitouts 37 – 20, but also having a massive influence around the ground, picking up 27 touches and 13 marks. He also played a big part in West Coast holding on in the final minutes, taking a game-saving mark before then kicking the game-winning goal – both acts which saw his SuperCoach score rocket over the 200-mark.
- Matt Priddis played a typically tough game through the middle, picking up 31 touches, 9 clearances and a fantastic 14 tackles. No one from the Dogs really tried to go with him, preferring instead to throw their own inside-mids head-to-head with him. His owners would have been damn pleased with this as it simply allowed him to do as he pleased around the ground – and now with much improved foot-skills from where he was a few years ago, Priddis is one man that can’t simply be left to roam free.
- Andrew Gaff has shaken off the sub-vest he was perennially given earlier in the year to now be a ball-winning star in the West Coast midfield. He got them back into the game against the Saints a fortnight ago and did it again from the first bounce against the Dogs, picking up 16 touches and kicking 2 goals by half time to help set the Eagles up – expect his name to be announced on Tuesday as this week’s Rising Star nomination. He is a classy user of the ball too and has great pace, showing he will be a star of our game for many years to come.
- Beau Waters came into the game on the back of news that he may not even be passed fit to play, after he had knocked his troublesome elbow at training the day before. Fortunately he got up to play, but really had very little effect on the game, bar one good inside-50 to set up LeCras for an important goal. He was subsequently subbed off at three-quarter time, but with his name not appearing on the club’s injury list, it would be hoped that he will get up to play next week.
Geelong vs Melbourne:
- Steve Johnson was the absolute-hero of the day, in a game that appeared very hard to find a villain… at least a villain in a Geelong jumper that is. It was a Stevie-J master class down at Skilled Stadium, with Johnson putting his full bag of tricks on display on his way to kicking 7.1 from 34 possessions and 9 marks – an incredible display from a forward. As the game wore on and it became undoubtedly clear that Geelong could do as they pleased, the likes of Johnson began to show off in the forward line, yet still didn’t miss or get caught from a pathetic Melbourne outfit – he was a joy to watch, and an especially nice way to apologise for his late withdrawal last week.
- Joel Selwood was also great, with 43 disposals, 6 tackles, 7 inside-50s and 11 clearances – all brilliant numbers. His form since returning from suspension has not been amazing, but it was great to see him blow out the cobwebs with this display, simply running amok against a Melbourne midfield that chose not to give a yelp. Those who decided not to trade him out a month and a half ago will now been thanking their wise decision.
- Corey Enright was the most pivotal player early in the contest, before it became clear that the Geelong players could do as they pleased. He was fantastic off half-back, mopping up every half-arsed forward-50 entry that Melbourne attempted and rebounded them all greatly, using the ball well to set up Geelong’s own attacks. He had 20 disposals to half time, but fortunately continued on with it, finishing with 36 touches for the match, amazingly with 27 of them uncontested.
- Cameron Ling deserves plaudits for his brilliant tagging job on Brent Moloney – I assure you I will mention him again in a moment – not only did Ling keep Moloney completely statless, but he found a bit of it himself, picking up 22 touches and delivering the ball inside 50 on six occasions – something that has been a great feature of his game in 2011. Whilst he didn’t kick a bag of goals, nor top 40 touches, he should still feature highly on the coaches votes for one of the best tagging displays seen in a very long time.
- Brent Moloney was quite easily worst on ground – it has been a while since we have seen a player have his colours lowered as much as Moloney did against the Cats. As Melbourne’s Vice-Captain, it should have been expected that he would be one player to really set the standard, despite the score-line – a real feature of his game so far this year – but he just could not get near the pill, thanks to the incredible tagging job done on him by Ling – he didn’t touch the ball once – not once – all game. He was subsequently subbed off in the third quarter, such was his waste of space on Skilled Stadium.
- Brad Green, the Captain of the Melbourne Football Club, was not much better. He at least managed to touch the ball 12 times (although only one of those touches came in the first half), but played the majority of the game up forward and was kept scoreless. The delivery to him was unsurprisingly awful, but I was surprised that as the Skipper he didn’t come up the ground and start spending time at the centre bounces.
- Jordie McKenzie was one of the only Demons who had a reasonable game – not amazing, but OK. He finished with 25 touches, 8 tackles and 10 clearances – one third of his team’s total for the day! He battled on through the middle, but is not traditionally an influential player, other than the hard-ball he gets, so it was unfair to leave him to be the one hard-worker all game, which is exactly what Melbourne did.
Gold Coast vs St.Kilda:
- Gary Ablett was at his best, despite the little space allowed to him by Clint Jones. Jones did a reasonable job of keeping up with Ablett, but Gaz was just too classy for him at times, dodging and weaving through traffic and pin-pointing passes to teammates like he had all the time in the world. There was even one passage late in the game where Gary tried to work the ball from his own defence, without a ounce of help from his teammates – he ducked, weaved, and bounced the ball around about three Saints before dishing off the ball – he was clearly stuffed after it, but it showed both how damn hard he works, but also how damn classy he is. Finished with 34 touches, 7 clearances and 1.3.
- Nathan Bock had a great game, standing Ryan Gamble for the majority of the game and clearly had his measure. He cut off so many attacks from the Saints as they continued to forget that Riewoldt was not out there. He rebounded really well and appears to be coming into some of the form we used to expect from him at Adelaide, now combining really well with Jarrod Harbrow and Rory Thompson in defence (both of whom, as a side-note, are also hitting some good form too). Interestingly he was also swung forward late in the game, but missed his only shot on goal. He finished with 28 touches and 10 marks for the game.
- Jeremy Taylor played his debut game for the Suns and it once again appears as though they have unearthed a gem. He was really composed in the backline, often being matched up on Armitage or Peake, and made several good decisions under pressure. Coming into this game, we knew Taylor as a player who is more dour and happy to just get the fist in and leave the rest to his teammates, rather than chase and provide an option in the backline. So it was good to see this prior knowledge proved wrong, which now means he could be a reasonable downgrade option for those in need of some cash.
- Dion Prestia, after initially frustrating many coaches for his lack of game time and scoring ability, has come along in leaps and bounds this past month and had another great game against the Saints. He is really strong for a guy of his size and appears to be really good in the clearances and around stoppages, knowing either where to run or how to win his own ball. He picked up 22 touches for the game, proving himself to be a great emergency option for many coaches for the rest of the year.
- Nick Dal Santo continues on his fantastic form, making him currently the most in-form Dreamteamer, averaging 129.8 points from his last five games. He is doing a great job both inside and outside the packs, in this game picking up 8 clearances and laying 6 tackles, whilst also picking up 39 disposals and using the ball beautifully. It is his ball use that makes his teammates want it in his hands, but also his workrate allows him to get to each contest and win his own ball too. He’s getting damn expensive, but in his current form he is becoming hard to ignore.
- Brendon Goddard started the game like a house on fire, picking up 14 disposals in the first quarter across the half-back line. As predicted, he was allowed to float around behind the ball and pick up stacks of easy possessions, but his great ball use is what makes him so dangerous. Gold Coast played their forwards a lot deeper after the first break, which meant Goddard had to be more accountable, so he was thrown into the middle for the second half, which helped him continue his dominance. He finished with 37 touches and 13 marks for the game.
- Jack Steven had another great game for the Saints – in a game that saw very little amounts of aggression or intensity, Steven’s tenacity to the contest really stood out. He won plenty of his own ball, but his pace and engine allow him to find plenty of uncontested ball on the wing too, and he typically uses it well. Was good enough to get in the votes for this game too, finishing with 29 touches and 6 marks.
- Sam Gilbert continues to be an uninspiring dreamteam or SuperCoach option this year, again only just picking up 16 possessions. His form actually hasn’t been too bad, but he is simply not winning as much ball as what we have seen from him these past two years. His role is seeing him play much deeper and more one-on-one with his opponent (perhaps Lyon wants him to concentrate on his defence before his attack, presumably from a confidence point of view). Even with Gwilt done for the year, it seems that Raph Clarke is more taking over his rebounding role, which is a shame. I’d still keep him, but I wouldn’t be expecting too many massive scores between now and the end of the year.
Fremantle vs Hawthorn:
- Alex Silvagni wasn’t the most amazing Dream Teamer on the ground, bu he was definitely the best of the Dockers, keeping the in-form Buddy Franklin Goalless for the first time in over a year. There was plenty of chatter in the build-up to this game that Buddy would dominate with no McPharlin in the side, however this proved to be far from true with SNOS (Second nephew of Silvagni) stepping up and doing a great job on Franklin, playing easily the best game of his career.
- Nathan Fyfe had an interesting game – he actually took a little while to get into the contest, picking up just 3 touches in the first quarter, but ended the game as one of their best players. The game was very slippery and wet, so his high marking skills were not as on display as what we have seen over the rest of the year, clunking just the 2 marks across the game. He also picked up 27 touches and 4 tackles.
- Greg Broughton had another run through the midfield, continuing on his great recent ball-winning form. There had been worry that Broughts may be forced to play in defence due to the absence of many Fremantle defenders, but fortunately Mark Harvey has seen the light and is continuing to play him in the guts. He is a great hard-ball winner, picking up 20 contested possessions from his total 29 touches, plus 3 clearances and 5 tackles, proving he is an effective member of the midfield, not just another number.
- Adam McPhee was terrible in his 150th game, making numerous mistakes with the ball, whilst also conceding 3 goals to David Hale. It was a day where simply nothing went right for him and everything he attempted to do seemed to result in a turnover. I was also equally unimpressed with Chris Mayne, who seems to just want to crash packs rather than mark a ball – took 2 marks and had just 10 disposals, often using it poorly.
- Sam Mitchell had another great game for the Hawks, with his low centre of gravity seemingly helping him in the wet conditions. Thanks to the wet conditions, the Hawks were forced to go much more direct with their ball use, rather than chipping it around their backline and midfield as they have done for much of the year – subsequently, this led to Mitchell being the only Hawk to make it to the magical 100-DT point pass-mark. He was the leading clearance winner on the day with 9, whilst also picking up 24 touches and laying 9 tackles. In some concerning news though, he appeared to hurt his ankle late in the game and has been put on the Hawks’ injury list after the game. Hopefully he will come up for next week’s game, but watch this space through the week.
- Paul Puopolo, another vertically challenged Hawk, played one of his best games for the club, stationed back in the backline after having played the past month up forward. He played on the typically tenacious Ballantyne, keeping him to just the one goal, whilst also providing some good run of his own, picking up 21 touches for the game, 13 of which were contested – the equal most of anyone at Hawthorn.
- Grant Birchall was good again off half-back – his scores of late have been a little less than appealing, making those considering bringing him think twice. He seems to be back to his 2009/2010 form of only needing 20-odd disposals to have an effect on the contest. For what it’s worth though, his form is actually quite good – he is using the ball well and his teammates are certainly giving it to him whenever they can. This game is hard to judge on considering the conditions, but I still believe he would be a good target for any team, considering he managed to rack up 24 touches – it was his lack of marks (3), that really didn’t help, but I’ve already explained why that is.
- Lance Franklin was kept very quiet, as I explained before. He was simply outworked and out positioned by Silvagni, who played out of his skin for the entire game. It’s not to say Buddy was bad – he still worked well up the ground, but just didn’t get his opportunities in the forward-50. It also must be remembered that these weren’t conditions for a tall-forward and the majority of goals came through the midfield anyway. So don’t be despondent Buddy owners – He’ll bounce back.
Collingwood vs Essendon:
- Dane Swan was a possession monster through the middle, picking up 45 disposals, 10 marks and 1.2 through the middle, finishing off the game with his highest Dream Team score ever – 171 points! As much as the stats imply he had one of the greatest games ever, it really wasn’t a 3-vote getting game as he spent a fair chunk of the first half butchering the ball. Fortunately, he did come back in the second half and use the ball much better, combing really well with Pendles and Ball through the middle. He didn’t cop any tag either, which certainly helped him, although I don’t feel we need to be as worried about Swanny copping a tag as some seem to think – with the likes of Pendles and Thomas in the team, he is not going to get nearly as much attention as he is not as much a match-winner as the other two.
- Scott Pendlebury was great, despite starting worryingly slow, sitting on just the one DT point until late in the first quarter. Fortunately, he kicked into gear pretty quickly, increasing his influence around the stoppages and was one of the major players in Collingwood’s resurgence back into the game. Very few negatives can be said about Pendlebury’s game – he wins his own ball, uses it well and has the engine to run hard and continue to present options for his teammates across the ground. Finished with 32 touches, 10 tackles and 3 goals.
- Alex Fasolo, playing just his 5th game, booted five very important goals throughout the game and was a major contributor to Collingwood’s eventual victory. All five of the goals were on the run or around the corner from a distance out – so all had a real element of skill involved in kicking them – they weren’t just ‘gimmes.’ Once again, another young player appears to have solidified his spot in the Collingwood lineup, increasing their ever-enviable depth. He also had 18 touches and 3 tackles for the game.
- Travis Cloke had a really quiet game, which was a surprise considering Essendon went into the game with no true tall backman. He was stood by Paddy Ryder all game, who played one of his best games for the year, keeping Cloke goalless until the last quarter when he booted 3 cheapies. Cloke was also the last Pies player to take a mark for the game, which was an amazing stat considering marking has been such a strength of his this year. Fortunately he managed to bounce back in the last quarter to finish on a respectable score, but it was in no reflection of the game he actually had.
- Brent Stanton was great through the middle for the Dons, picking up 28 possessions, 11 marks and laying a brilliant 14 tackles – some epic numbers! It is fair to say that Stants has really improved his game from where it was in the early parts of the year, where at times he was being booed at by his own supporters. His ball use has improved, which surely is a confidence thing, and he is running out games much better now – something he also appeared to be struggling with earlier in the year. He took a lot of responsibility on his shoulders this game and it really paid off, being a big contributor for all four quarters.
- Jobe Watson, welcome back, you were missed. It was great to see the Essendon skipper back in the side and able to play out the game after he had suffered a reoccurrence of his hamstring injury last time he had come back. He was very influential in the first half, but it was unfair to expect his influence to carry over all four quarters, considering the Bombers’ injury toll and the fact he was returning from a one-month layoff. Unfortunately, as what has happened a couple of times this year, he just didn’t have the cavalry around him to get the job done in the end. Finished with 27 touches and 8 marks of his own.
- Paddy Ryder was given the unenviable task of standing Cloke for the game and actually did a great job, holding him goalless until the Pies’ massive last quarter, which saw Cloke get three cheapies. It will be interesting to see where Ryder is now played moving forward, and it will depend a lot on match-ups, as well as the form of Hurley and Pears – but it was good to see him add another string to his bow. It was interesting watch him as a defender though (and I do know that this is where he used to play a few years ago), as he continued to play the game as if he was a forward, going for the marks instead of spoils, as well as playing in front – neither of which were bad things, but definitely interesting to watch the habits of his attacking game sneaking into his defensive side.
- Brent Prismall was the sad story of the night, going down with an injury to his left knee, which has been all but confirmed to be an ACL injury, which will require a full reconstruction. This is the second time in his career than he has done his ACL – last time it was on his right knee though. With him already on the outer at Essendon, the query will now be on whether he stays on their list for next year.
Adelaide vs Port Adelaide:
- Nathan Van Berlo was the deserved winner of the Showdown medal with his 30 touches and 8 marks. Quite often, after a coach is sacked, it is the Skipper that really makes a point the following week and Van Berlo did just that, going harder at the contest than anyone else and doing anything and everything he could to get the Crows over the line. He is not a classy player or a game-winner by any means, but has an amazing work-rate and ethic that really encourages his teammates to get involved too.
- Chris Knights came back to play his first game in nearly a month after being dropped by Neil Craig. Craig has played Knights on a half-forward flank for the past two years and personally, I believe this has been a real waste of his talent through the midfield. Fortunately Bickley seems to agree, playing Knights through the midfield for the entirety of the game. As is seems, Knights was great through the middle, picking up 30 disposals and 10 marks playing across the wings. He pushed the ball inside-50 on numerous occasions and was a big factor in their win. If you still have him, it seems you might finally get some decent scores out of him!
- Taylor Walker was another Crow to come back into the side after a bit of a layoff and he was impressive in the forward line, taking some good grabs and doing a good job at setting up his teammates. He has some good aggression and arrogance – both of which really seemed to suit the Crows’ forward line. He had a bit of a masterclass on all the ball-grips you can use to kick a ball at goal (although most of them didn’t work…), but he managed to still finish with 4.1 – enough to make Adelaide officials very keen to keep him out of GWS’s reach.
- Scott Thompson was a bit of a disappointment to a high-scoring weekend – despite sitting on 49 DT points at half time, his quiet second half saw him net just another 22 points for the game. He went head-to-head with Cassisi for most of the match and wasn’t really allowed to get into the game. Many of his possessions were in close and quick – although he managed 27 touches for the game, 16 were handballs – whilst also only managing 2 marks and 3 tackles. Cassisi put good pressure on him whenever he had the ball, never really allowing him the chance to spread and use it by foot.
- Cam Hitchcock was actually pretty decent for the Port, continuing on the trend of small forwards getting under Adelaide’s radar by booting 3.2. Johncock simply loves to zone off from his opponents and despite sometimes getting mauled on the scoreboard the coaching staff seem to allow it, thanks to his run from defence being so good. Hitchcock managed to find space on his own well, often moving up field to get touches, before finding space in the forward line. His teammates used him well too, knowing he would often be left alone.
- Travis Boak was decent for Port, especially early when the score line was a bit closer. He has no trouble finding his own ball, nor using it, but the slight on him in this game was his defensive ability, not laying a single tackle for the game, despite playing around the stoppages for four quarters. He finished with 29 touches (with 17 by hand) and 5 marks.
- Chad Cornes is great to watch in a derby as his white-line fever seems to be multiplied by 10. He played forward all game on Talia and did a good job with his forward pressure, chasing his opponents and shirt-fronting anyone that got in his way. He has already been told that his last game will be against Collingwood next week, but surely he plays out the year with his current form. He may not kick a bag every week, but he plays his role, has good leadership and will always provide a contest.
- Matthew Lobbe appears to be starting to struggle – he has been the lone ruckman for several weeks now and it is clearly starting to tire him out. He managed 10 touches and 17 hitouts, but gave away a very high 6 frees against as he struggled in the ruck. Huge credit to the kid for coming in and doing what he’s done, but for those who are toying with leaving him as their second ruck, I would be recommending strongly against it.
St.Kilda vs Adelaide:
- Nick Dal Santo continued his great recent form, this week being somewhat free from any tag thanks to Adelaide’s choice to shut down Montagna instead. He has really stepped up around the clearances and is spreading really well, making him a great target for his teammates every time they win the ball. He uses is beautifully too, meaning he is a gem for SuperCoach, but with another 30+ disposal game, his Dream Team form has been great too. Racked up 31 touches, 9 marks and 6 tackles through this game.
- Nick Riewoldt bounced back into some form, starting the game very deep in the forward line before leading out around the arc, taking a season-high 14 marks for the game. His kicking started poorly, with his first set-shot ending up in the man on the mark, although he got better from there, finishing with a respectable 3.2. The signs have been there over the past month that good form wasn’t far away, and fortunately those signs continue to present themselves. Riewoldt is one of the most popular picks in both competitions this year, but if you are one of the coaches without him, his current price seems great value if you need another player for your forward line.
- Steven Milne deserves a mention for his 8.2. He completely smash Johncock in his milestone game, taking advantage of every loose ball that came into the Saints’ forward line. He isn’t a fantastic Dream Team or SuperCoach option though, thanks to his inconsistency – whilst his great games are great, his bad games can sometimes be terrible.
- Sam Fisher would have frustrated many coaches when subbed off half-way through the third term, despite playing a good game. He wasn’t injured, but rather rested after he had carried a corked leg into the game. The game was completely over, so there was no risk in Lyon resting one of his stars, and unfortunately I believe that this could be a bit of a trend over the next month or so for many of the top teams.
- Scott Thompson was one of only a few decent Crows, with his own turnovers got lost amongst the chaos that was his team. He was a strong ball-winner for the Crows all night, winning a number of clearances and doing his best to get his teammates first use of the ball – he was also one of a few that didn’t simply give up half-way through the match. In extra credit to him, he did all this whilst copping the tag from Clint Jones, who has taken a number of significant scalps over the past month. He finished with 26 touches, 10 marks and 6 tackles. He also kicked a third of their goals – one.
- Sam Jacobs was also decent, being pitted against the in-form Ben McEvoy. Jacobs was very solid in the ruck, showing how dominant he can be in the hitouts, thrashing St.Kilda’s ruck division with his own 36 hitouts to their 18. He did get beaten around the ground though – whilst still taking some solid marks of his own, McEvoy pulled down more and also had a sizeable hand in many of his side’s attacks. Jacobs has found some decent form lately though and presents himself as a reasonable option for the rest of the year for those bargain-seekers out there – whilst he won’t be one of the higher scoring big men, he has a good track record for consistency.
- Kurt Tippett was terrible, despite him being one player who typically troubles the Saints. Admittedly, the delivery given to him was woeful, but he shanked all of his early opportunities in front of goal. Tippett is a very good player – we all know that – but Adelaide’s bomb-it-long technique is not going to help him put together many great games. Hopefully a new game plan in 2012 could see him finally flourish.
- Brad Moran continued on his consistent form of the past month – rubbish. Just like last week against the Dons, he shanked all his opportunities in front of goal and subsequently kept passing the ball off to teammates in a much worse position than him. He actually looked capable of being dangerous early, being a 200cm man playing on 186cm Raph Clarke, but they just didn’t want to exploit the match-up at all, and as I already stated, every time he did manage to get the ball inside the forward 50, he tried his hardest to avoid scoring.
North Melbourne vs Brisbane:
- Ryan Bastinac was great all day for the Roos and has all the traits to make him a fantastic Dream Team or SuperCoach option of the future; He is a great ball-winner, winning 29 touches in this game (a team high), uses the ball beautifully and also knows how to win contested ball, finishing with 10 contested possessions and 4 clearances for the game. He is also doing all this after having no pre-season, so if he manages a full summer this year, he could certainly be worth a look at for season 2012.
- Drew Petrie was again great up forward, although he did finish with a frustratingly inaccurate 3.5. The strength of his game continues to be his marking and he looks likely of either taking a grab or at least creating a good contest every time the ball comes his way. The worry for Petrie owners (if they are in fact worried), would be some of his upcoming opponents – he has played undermanned Western Bulldogs and Brisbane defences this past fortnight, but his next month sees him playing Carlton, Hawthorn, BYE and Fremantle, with perhaps a few lower scores to be expected.
- Jack Ziebell played his second tough, high quality game in a row, winning 21 touches, 5 clearances and laying 10 tackles. His form this year has been well down on what his debut season suggested he was capable of, so it’s great to see him hitting some good form. A lot of North’s recent draftees have been accused of being too one-paced and lacking any real outside class, so it’s great to see Ziebell proving that he is more than just a one trick pony, playing his games as a tagger, capable of winning his own ball and hurting the opposition the other way.
- Cameron Pederson had another great game, switching from back to forward, but again having the most effect in front of the sticks, booting 3.1 from 12 touches. He took so long to secure his spot in this team, despite his great early form, so it is great to see he continues to justify his selection from week to week. In fact, his good form will likely put significant doubt on Lachie Hansen’s spot in the team, who has been well down on his own form this year.
- Simon Black would have been close to being best on ground, despite the fact he was in the losing side. His inside work is all class, but his inside-50 work was simply amazing, kicking the ball inside the forward arc a whopping 14 times! Not only was he going in there a lot, but he continued to kick to the advantage of his forwards, giving his inexperienced forward line a good chance against the Roos. He was easily the highest ball-winner of the game, picking up 37 touches and laying 8 tackles.
- Tom Rockliff gets his name in this article again – I feel that his name seems to feature here every week, but there is no doubting he needs mentioning every week thanks to his great form. Again he cracked the ton for the 6th game in a row, picking up 29 touches, 5 marks, 7 clearances and 5 tackles. As the Lions progress out of the bottom eight in coming years, the likes of Rockliff will be an ultra exciting DT prospect, not that he isn’t already.
- Jed Adcock played one of his best games in well over a month, picking up 27 touches and 7 marks in a good rebounding display for the Lions. He seemed to be playing a much higher role than he has for a while, leaving him to pick up a lot more ball from half-back. Unfortunately though, the Lions have the bye next week, so any hope of continuing the form is lost – so instead we must wait until the following week against Adelaide to see if the form is legitimate.
- Aaron Cornelius played his first game for the club since round 5 and played one of his better games for the club, booting 2.3. He has obviously come in for the injury Jonathon Brown and did a good enough job to encourage Vossy to play him in the seniors for the rest of the year – he works hard enough in the forward line and is a decent mark, and whilst he doesn’t look the type to burst a game apart, it will be good to see some games given to the Lions young talent for the rest of the year.
Sydney vs Western Bulldogs:
- Adam Goodes has a fantastic history against the Doggies, so it was great to see him prove history correct with a brilliant best on ground performance, playing between the midfield and up forward. His form in recent weeks has been average, but as is always the case with Goodes, he looked much better playing on the ball – hopefully Longmire can continue to play him here, as clearly this is where his best footy is played. He racked up a career-high 34 touches, 5 clearances, 10 marks and 6 tackles for the game – all great numbers. If you don’t have him though, I wouldn’t pounce just yet – his recent form has been so average that is may just be worth waiting for him to back it up first.
- Kieren Jack was also great through the middle for the Swans – he has had an injury interrupted year, so it is great to see him getting back into some form. Winning 10 clearances and 50% of his disposals being contested, Jack was one of Sydney’s most influential midfielders – I love watching his crash and bash style football – it’s uncompromising, but it can certainly help win you games. With a low DT average in 2011, he could be a great option for next year.
- Craig Bird played one of his best games for the year, with his run and spread from the centre clearances being a massive factor in Sydney’s win. He dobbed four very important goals for the Swans, actually finishing as the highest goal kicker for the game, despite playing predominantly through the middle. Again, he is not a 2011 prospect, but another showing signs that a breakout season is only around the corner.
- Nick Malceski was a surprising choice as the sub, not coming into the game until late in the third quarter. The assumption would be that Sydney are protecting him in his comeback from his knee reconstruction, not wanting to overload him, so I wouldn’t read into this that he is out of favour. When he did come on, his only real contribution was a goal, but other than that he had just 3 disposals and 2 marks to his name. Thanks to this score, his price will be driven way down, making him a reasonable option in the coming weeks for those with the trades – perhaps as a decent 8th defender option.
- Barry Hall was the best for the Dogs, a team that had very few four-quarter performers on the day. It was his last ever game on the SCG, a ground that was his home for many seasons, so there was no surprise he managed to switch on some vintage form, booting 5.3 for the game. His past two games have been great – he looks to have some of his speed back and his hands are as good as they’ve ever been. It’s a pity the Doggies now seem unlikely to make finals as he could prove a massive weapon come September.
- Matthew Boyd was good, but despite managing 29 disposals (26 of which were kicks!) and 8 clearances, his overall ball use wasn’t fantastic. That said, Dream Teamers will still certainly take his score and run, as will SuperCoaches, as his recent history at the SCG has been woeful, to be polite, averaging only 70-odd points a game at the ground – so it is a much better score than what was to be expected.
- Daniel Cross started the game on fire, picking up 10 disposals, 5 marks and 9 tackles in just over a quarter of footy (he was on 69 DT points at quarter time!), but unfortunately broke his nose when he cleaned himself up on Craig Bird’s elbow only a few minutes into the second quarter. His coaches should be ecstatic at the score he produced before going down injured, but at the same time will be furious when they think about the score he may have posted had he finished the game.
- Jarrad Grant was poor, being held to just one goal by Sydney youngster Alex Johnson. Along with his solitary goal, he picked up only 4 touches and 3 tackles, including absolutely no stats in the second half. His form has been really up and down all year – firstly, the delivery to him hasn’t been amazing, but he also hasn’t been working nearly as hard for it as he did in his breakout 2010 season.
Gold Coast vs Collingwood:
- Gary Ablett, the little maestro, put on another brilliant display through the midfield, playing a very big part in the final margin being within 10 goals – not bad considering the blow-out that was expected. He picked up 36 disposals and had 11 clearances (both stats were game-highs), but didn’t lay a single tackle, which has actually been one of his real strengths this year, so it was a shame to see it missing from his game. That said, we’ll take a near-ton from Gary vs Collingwood any day of the week!
- Trent McKenzie was damn impressive too, and whilst he did pick himself up 17 disposals and a couple of tackles, it were his two goals that was a feature of his game – his first goal was a 60m bomb, kicked on the run and went sailing through the sticks. His second goal was kicked from the centre square and managed to have enough momentum to bounce it’s way through. They were both damn exciting and these sorts of goals are become trademark for this youngster as he seems to be doing them each week.
- Danny Stanley had been a rumoured late withdrawal from this game, thanks to a tweet sent out by Gold Coast themselves on Friday afternoon. They warned that he didn’t complete training due to a sore back and therefore was in doubt for the game against Collingwood. Understandably, many people heeded the warning and stuck Stanley on their bench, only for him to post his first ton of the year. Just goes to show, you can’t trust anyone with rumours nowadays.
- Zac Smith was again very quiet – many were pretty pleased that Jolly was not playing for Collingwood, in the hope that it would increase Smith scoring potential, only having to go head-to-head with Wood. Despite still spending 85% of time on the field, Josh Fraser is taking away a significant amount of his time in the ruck, which is causing this points decrease. In fact, if it weren’t for a 39 point last quarter, it would have been a pretty disappointing game from him.
- Luke Ball was great for the Pies, bucking the trend for BOG honours going to classy outside midfielders when playing the Suns. He was stacks of ball all day, winning stacks of ball for his teammates against the much smaller-bodies Suns. Another trait he has impressed with this year has been his ability to drop forward and kick goals, booting 2 goals in this game. It was never something he was known for at St.Kilda, so it’s been great that he has been able to come to Collingwood and actually improve. He also had 27 touches and 7 tackles for the game.
- Scott Pendlebury was another player going into the game with late-withdrawal rumours circulating around him – it had been suggested through the week that he was carrying a sore shoulder and may not be deemed fit to play. Fortunately he got up and had a great game, winning 34 touches, 5 tackles and booting 2 goals – good to see that Malthouse isn’t willing to flirt with their form.
- Ben Johnson, in only his second game back from injury, was great for the Pies off half-back. He teamed well with Leon Davis, streaking out of the backline and setting up plenty of Collingwood attacks with a game-high 10 inside-50s. He has now scored over 100 points in his past two games, assuming the role as Collingwood’s #1 rebounder in Heath Shaw’s absence – he hasn’t shown amazing Dream Team abilities for a few years now, but if you trust him to keep backing up these scores (and he could whilst Heath is gone), then he has the ability to be a real masterstroke selection for the run home.
- Dale Thomas was the sad/frustrating story of the evening – he was actually the Pies’ best player in the first quarter before he went down with a pretty big knock to the thigh in the second term and was subsequently subbed off. Right now the Pies are treating it as a corkie, however there are some fears it could prove to be a little worse than that when he has scans on Monday. We should all feel especially sorry for Dan this week as not only did he trade Thomas in this week, but made him captain too… Very sorry Dan – we hope you feel better soon!
Essendon vs Carlton:
- David Zaharakis was the Bombers’ best player on the night, continuing on his own great recent form through the midfield (although lets pretend he is still also playing forward so we can still pick him there next year!). He adds a great amount of run to Essendon’s side, often waiting outside the packs for the handball before streaking off down the wing. He probably does need to learn to win his own ball more often to be a great player, but for now we are happy enough with his outside game, picking up 25 touches and laying 6 tackles.
- Michael Hurley looked dangerous again up forward for Essendon, booting 3.2 from 17 disposals and 7 marks on Henderson. He looks good up forward, but really needs another true forward (other than Hille and Ryder) to help him – perhaps Gumbleton, who is due back soon. Hopefully his role can actually stay settled for a while too – with the injury to Pears, Hurls may be thrown back to defence every now and then to help out, but his game is going to progress much better being played in one position, so fingers crossed Hird can give him an extended run at CHF.
- Paddy Ryder actually started the game looking quite dangerous, but couldn’t quite continue the form all through the game, finishing with just 2.1 from 11 touches and 5 marks. Even with Hird cutting back to two ruckmen, Ryder’s form has just not been consistent or of high quality this year. The Bombers have a tough run home, including a bye in the DT/SC Grand Final, so if you are still holding onto him, perhaps it is about time to cut your losses and find someone else.
- Angus Monfries, after his career-best game last week, was back to his usual tricks, spending most of his time in the forward line and finished up scoreless and with just 15 disposals (13 of which were handballs). I warned last week that his midfield role may not be consistent and it has proven to be just that – I sincerely hope that no one fell for that one!
- Chris Judd was the star of the show again, putting in another 3-vote performance. He actually has a rather poor history against Essendon, mainly because of the great tagging job usually done by Heath Hocking, who was fortunately not playing (or unfortunately if you are a Bombers fan), so it was great to see him put in such a classy performance, top-scoring for the round in SuperCoach. It was a very complete game with 33 touches, 7 clearance, 9 inside-50s, 12 tackles and a goal – his workrate continues to be of first class and his decision making (especially by hand) is also great. The only issue is that he makes watching the Brownlow count each year somewhat predictable…
- Eddie Betts would be the only man capable of showing up Juddy after such a great performance, booting 8 goals straight, including one which will be a strong contender for goal of the year. With the lack of any strong tall target in Carlton’s forward line, Eddie really stepped up and made his presence felt, buzzing around the base of every pack and also leading up to mark the ball inside-50 – a trait shared with very few small forwards. He also managed 14 disposals and 8 marks for the night.
- Andrew Walker gets a mention simply so I can confirm (or at least put in my own point of view), that yes, this WAS the mark of the year – he leapt, with both knees planted onto the shoulders of Jake Carlisle, and seemed to stay there forever. It was certainly better than either Krakouer or Naitanui’s marks – those that disagree have simply overblown or romanticised the others in their head. More importantly, he went back and slotted the goal – one of four for the night in another very good performance from the high-leaping half-forward.
- Ed Curnow had another quiet game – he simply hasn’t recaptured the form he had from the start of the year, now making him nothing more than bench fodder for those who still have him. He is being given run-with roles through the midfield, and whilst completing them pretty well he is not winning much of the ball himself.
Geelong vs Richmond:
- Allen Christensen put in another brilliant performance for the Cats, surely securing himself the NAB Rising Star nomination for this week – in fact, if he doesn’t win it this week, I’d say the Geelong team will go on strike. Geelong seemingly have an abundance of small and medium forwards, all auditioning for only a few roles in the team, so it is great to see some of the youth, like Christensen, stepping up and grabbing one of those roles with both hands. He has been fantastically consistent in his past number of games too, averaging 94.2 DT points from his past five games. He is dangerous around goals, kicking both his goals on the run from deep in the pocket, whilst also winning his 26 touches between half-forward and in the midfield.
- Joel Selwood bounced back to his old scoring ways after a sub-par score last week on his return from suspension. His game wasn’t brilliant though, and he really only got into some good scoring form later in the game once it was all over. In fact, there were not many four-quarter performers for the Cats, which does sound a little strange considering their huge winning margin. Selwood eventually finished with 27 touches and 8 tackles.
- Paul Chapman was the best Cat of the first half, but really failed to have any effect through the second half. He played virtually the whole first half in the middle, and whilst he spent parts of the third and fourth quarters through the middle, the majority of his time was spent in the forward line, presumably resting. He was actually involved in a lot of plays, but often without actually touching the ball (shepparding, etc), which was frustrating, but with the game more than over at half time, you can understand why he was rested.
- Tom Hawkins continues to show some really good signs that he may actually become a solid forward option for the Cats. Whilst his kicking can still be a little wayward, his contested marking is getting better and better, as is his game sense, with where to lead and where to position his body. He ended up being their highest goal-kicker for the game with 3.2, as well as collecting 15 touches and 6 marks.
- Trent Cotchin was the best for Richmond, being one of the few players willing to take the game on. He worked hard through the middle all day, winning 38 disposals and laying 5 tackles. He is a very classy player and is clearly maturing with each game, after he spent the majority of his first couple of years at the club injured. There were a couple of instances through the game where he gave Geelong a bit of a wake-up call, in the sense that Geelong started going to sleep, as was the ease they were beating Richmond and Cotch was the only player attempting to take it up to them.
- Brett Deledio was good off half-back, although he did manage to gift Geelong some easy shots on goal early for either his unaccountability on his opponent, or through lazy disposal. He did improve after quarter time though and provided a good link-up player for them as they moved through the middle – there weren’t stacks of cheap disposals for him through this game, so he legitimately had to work hard up the ground to win the ball. He was one of the few Tigers who continued to present himself as a go-to option for the full game, which was very good to see for his owners. He finished with 34 disposals and 6 marks.
- Alex Rance was superb for Richmond, although isn’t really a great Dream Team option (SuperCoach maybe). Despite giving away height and weight to Podsiadly, he took him to the cleaners, thrashing him in one-on-ones all day and keeping him scoreless, which is no mean feat when he is the full-forward for a side that had 28 shots on goal! He will be a great player of the future and seems to have finally found his spot on the field.
- Chris Newman started the game really, picking up 5 touches and 4 marks within 15 minutes of the first bounce. Unfortunately though he went down not long after with a knock to the leg and was subbed off. There has been no timeline set yet for the injury, but with his recent form, it’s a real shame to see him out – especially considering there were a number of coaches to have traded him in this week.