Unsung Heroes — Round 23

Unsung Heroes — Round 23

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The final round of the 2019 home and away season saw fitting farewells, upset victories and thrilling finishes. With the top eight set and another stellar finals series awaiting us, AFLPlayers.com.au highlights the players who played an understated role in their side’s Round 23 victory, whether it be a pivotal moment or a four-quarter performance.

Collingwood: Chris Mayne 

With a top-four spot on the line, Collingwood stood up to Essendon’s challenge, running home 11-point victors. In a midfield led by Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams and Adam Treloar, Chris Mayne flew under the radar to continue his best season in the black and white. Mayne collected 31 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency, eight marks and six rebound 50s in a well-rounded performance ahead of Collingwood’s finals campaign.

Sydney: Kieren Jack

It was a fitting end to an incredible career for Sydney veteran Kieren Jack. Playing his final game of AFL following a career spanning 13 seasons, Jack collected 11 disposals and four score involvements, but it was his final goal that was the most touching moment. Jack gathered the ball from outside 50 as his Sydney teammates directed him to the goals. Jack was embraced by his teammates in what was an SCG moment reminiscent of the atmosphere experienced in the 1990s.

North Melbourne: Taylor Garner

With Ben Brown well held and Nick Larkey booting just one major, North needed someone to step up and hit the scoreboard. Garner was that man for the Roos, with the talented forward booting two goals in the third term to keep the Roos in the contest.

Geelong: Quinton Narkle

Geelong was looking for a bit of sparkle before the finals series and young midfielder Quinton Narkle provided it in spades. ‘Sparkle’ Narkle was superb against the Blues, particularly around the contest with his series of ‘stiff arms’ and elusiveness. Narkle gathered a career-high 27 disposals to stamp himself as a genuine finals x-factor for the Cats.

GWS Giants: Tim Taranto

It’s hard to pick an unsung hero in a team that won by 72 points and had a player kick nine goals to take out the Coleman Medal, but Giants midfielder Tim Taranto continues to do so. The 21-year-old midfielder collected 31 disposals, eight score involvements, five clearances and laid five tackles as the Giants secured a home final.

Hawthorn: Jack Scrimshaw

Statistically it wasn’t his greatest output, but Jack Scrimshaw’s impact in his first game since Round 10 could not be understated. The former Gold Coast Sun had 14 touches, including seven intercept possessions, and three score involvements in the Hawks’ upset win over the reigning premiers. With another pre-season under his belt, the former No. 7 draft pick will become an asset to Alastair Clarkson’s side.

Western Bulldogs: Pat Lipinski

The Western Bulldogs’ late run of form to finals has coincided with young midfielder Pat Lipinski’s rise. While Sunday’s performance wasn’t his greatest, it typified the Bulldogs hunger and want for the football. In the first quarter, Lipinski laid a crunching tackle on Adelaide’s Jake Kelly, burying him to win the free kick and deliver the Dogs’ sixth goal. Lipinski finished the game with 15 touches, eight tackles, four score involvements and two goals.

Richmond: Liam Baker

Second-year Tiger Liam Baker has played everywhere this season and against Brisbane, the 19-year-old was a key member of Richmond’s back six. Roaming across half-back, Baker gathered 20 touches, seven marks and laid four tackles as the Tigers ran home 27-point winners and secured a double chance in the finals.

Port Adelaide: Charlie Dixon

It has been a frustrating season for Charlie Dixon, managing just nine games due to a combination of injury and form issues. But the Power spearhead booted three goals in the final game of the premiership season and he’ll be hoping he can build on that performance going into a crucial 2020 season.

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