He may only be 19 years old and in his first season of AFL, but there’s plenty of praise coming for WA young gun Trent Rivers.
Rivers, a Bullcreek Leeming junior taken by Melbourne with pick 32, kicked the penultimate goal for the Dees to keep the club’s finals hopes alive in 2020.
He finished the match with 16 disposals, three tackles, two clearances and two goals in his best showing since making his debut in round two.
Demons defender Steven May said Rivers had shown incredible improvement in his game since he was taken in the draft.
“I’ve been riding Trent pretty hard about his defensive stuff because we know his offense is really good, but we need him to be a strong defensive player,” May said.
“Both of his goals came from closing down his man and winning the ball back… I told him that’s what happens when you work hard and play your role.
“I’m super proud of him and that should give him a lot of confidence.”
Rivers was dropped after round five but has cemented his place in the Demons defence since round 14.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said Rivers and his young teammate Kysaiah Pickett were shining lights in a tough season.
“They’re two quality kids,” Goodwin said.
“They’ve had outstanding first seasons of AFL footy.
“They’re young. They execute their role incredibly well and they’re continuing to grow and understand what AFL footy’s like.
“To be in a game like that – it’s great for their growth as individuals to be a part of the team and also a club that was under that type of pressure, but they’ve got another opportunity next week.”
Melbourne face Essendon in a must-win round 18 clash on Saturday.
A win will see the Dees play finals for the first time since their 2018 preliminary final loss to West Coast.