1. Jack Viney
Melbourne came out and hit Fremantle between the eyes with their best football in the first quarter on Friday night. Viney led the charge. His 12 first-quarter disposals, hardness at the ball and hard running into the space at Optus Stadium set a standard that other teammates matched and Freo couldn’t. Flies under the radar because of the quality around him but having a very strong season and one of the keys to the Dees’ premiership defence.
2. James Aish
One of few Dockers players who could have walked off Optus Stadium on Friday night believing he was a clear winner in his position. Went to Clayton Oliver and kept the Dees star to 21 disposals while gathering 28 himself. He won eight in contests had seven inside-50s and six clearances. Other Dockers Will Brodie, Dave Mundy and Andrew Brayshaw had more of the ball but Aish was Freo’s best by a margin. Having a very good season, plays a number of roles and adapts well.
3. Collingwood goes mental
They keep winning the close ones, Craig McRae is probably Coach of the Year, and Nick Daicos is a star. But they should be called out for the noise around ducker Jack Ginnivan. The mental health card got played on Saturday after another close win over Port Adelaide. Umpires have every right to assume that Ginnivan is trying to milk free kicks for high contact because he is and still was on Saturday. Milking frees is not a legitimate skill of the game and should not be encouraged. Ginnivan continues to draw attention to it and himself. If you want to protect mental health, make sure your ducking is for cover, not ducking back into the spotlight.
4. The other Daicos
There’s rightly plenty of hype around Nick, but Josh kicked one of the goals of the year against Essendon last week and was prolific and prominent again against Port. Has grown into his wing role beautifully and is such a great user of the ball that he has become an important weapon for the Magpies. The game is called football for a reason. Great kicks are great assets and the Daicos brothers plus Steele Sidebottom give the Pies a number of elite ball users going forward.
5. Dan Hannebery
Saturday afternoon’s match against Hawthorn was just his 16th in four seasons for the Saints after crossing from Sydney. He arrived as a 28-year-old and he is 31 now. It is easy to forget he was a star for the Swans and a key to their 2012 flag. Gave us all a reminder that he can still play with 27 disposals against the Hawks as the Saints clawed out a vital win and kept themselves in the frame for a finals berth.
6. The Giants
You can draw a line through Mark McVeigh as their next coach. The Giants don’t have a perfect list but they don’t have the right to be as bad as they were against Sydney in the Battle of the Bridge. McVeigh gave Josh Kelly, Lachie Whitfield, Sam Taylor, Callan Ward, Harry Perryman, Jesse Hogan, Toby Greene and Adam Kennedy a tick for effort and by exclusion questioned the rest of his team after the 73-point belting. The mail is Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto are leaving and McVeigh feels several have “checked out”.
7. Brodie Smith
Carlton slipped on a banana peel in the City of Churches on Saturday evening and one of the main reasons was that they didn’t take care of Smith. He had 37 disposals, 13 inside-50s and gained an incredible 1000 metres for his team in a boilover 29-point win. Smith’s creativity and three goals from the very worthy Ben Keays were keys to the victory which leaves Carlton in elimination final territory just three weeks out from the finals.
8. Paddy Dangerfield
Not a bad time to remind the competition that you are still around. The Bulldogs jumped the Cats on Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium, but once Geelong got rolling they were unstoppable. Paddy had 26 disposals including eight in Geelong’s eight-goal third-quarter surge that put this game to bed. The trademark line-breaking run and power out of traffic were there to see. He had seven clearances, six inside-50s and kicked a goal. Ominous.
9. Jack Darling
Who says he needs Josh Kennedy riding shotgun to thrive? He got the Eagles off to a great start against Gold Coast and kept them coming at the Suns until the end of the match. He booted six goals for the game, gave the Eagles a constant target ahead of the ball and kicked very straight. Has turned a problematic start to the season because of vaccination issues into a solid finish.
10. Mabior Chol
After the untimely loss of Ben King to a serious knee injury at the start of the season, Chol and Levi Casboult have been two of the most unlikely gun recruits of this season. Chol was vibrant and dangerous again against the Eagles. He took a screamer to settle the shaky Suns on the three quarter siren, finished with five and like Darling, kicked straight when it mattered.
11. Tom’s Tigers get it done
Richmond are still alive in the 2022 season thanks to Tom Lynch’s four goals and an extraordinary comeback against Brisbane. The Tigers were seven goals down just before half time but powered back into the game with Lynch giving them a focal point. The Lions haven’t won at the MCG in 11 visits there since 2014. Question for Lions coach Chris Fagan after they were overrun: Why on earth would you have ruckman Darcy Fort as your medi-sub?
12. Shai Bolton
It was hard to tell who was on him, such was the space he had so often in the final term as the Tigers were coming. He had a big day and a big say in the final outcome with 24 disposals and four clearances. He could have had a huge day given he kicked 2.5. Rebounder Keidean Coleman appeared to be the player accountable for him and while Coleman gave the Lions plenty with 30 disposals, he had to pay Bolton more respect than he gave him.