With the ladder beginning to take shape after another enthralling weekend of footy, AFLPlayers.com.au highlights those that played an underrated hand in their side’s victories.
Melbourne: Nathan Jones
With the Demons 0-3, the club and their co-captain Nathan Jones were under pressure. After Sydney took control of the game early, a late run from Melbourne, started by Jones, kept the Demons in the game. Jones’ intent and will for the contest sparked a revival for the rest of their midfield brigade with Viney, Petracca and co. lifting as a result. Jones finished the game with three goals and 21 touches to silence the naysayers for another week.
Collingwood: Tom Phillips
In a star-studded midfield, Tom Phillips has often flown under the radar. In his fourth season at Collingwood, Phillips has made the wing his own and cemented himself as a best-22 player. In a best-on-ground performance on Friday night, Phillips finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and two goals in a low-scoring affair.
GWS Giants: Lachie Whitfield
The GWS Giants were up against it traveling down the highway seeking their first win at the Cattery against a previously undefeated Geelong. With a 21-point half-time deficit, the Giants clawed their way back into the game led by Whitfield. Continuing his dominant start to the season, staking his claim as one of the best players in the AFL, Whitfield finished the match with 31 disposals, 10 marks, eight score involvements, five inside 40s and four rebounds as the Giants pinched a four-point victory.
Essendon: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
After a quiet start to the season McDonald-Tipungwuti has found his niche again in Essendon’s forward-line. In a dominant team display on the weekend, McDonald-Tipungwuti was everywhere gathering 20 disposals, 12 score involvements and 10 marks. But it was his seven goals that stole the show with his last being the most exciting of the day. He dropped the mark but recovered to kick his seventh goal just before the final siren sounded. The cheer from the one-sided Essendon crowd was so loud it was hard to know the game had actually finished.
Richmond: Tom Lynch
Before Saturday’s game, Tom Lynch had kicked three goals in five games against the Power. With no Rance, Riewoldt, Cotchin or Martin, the Tigers needed a hero. Enter Tom Lynch. Their off-season recruit kicked a game-high six goals, including the sealer, to give Richmond the unlikeliest of victories.
North Melbourne: Jed Anderson
In his first game back for the season, Jed Anderson put his body on the line. For a team that was under pressure for lacking intent, Anderson used his body as a battering ram. Although he didn’t rack up huge numbers, he had a game-high 13 contested possessions from 19 disposals and six tackles.
West Coast: Shannon Hurn
It’s hard to look past the Glendinning-Allan Medallist in this game. The Eagles premiership captain continues to go about his business and lead by example. In a close game Hurn gathered 32 disposals, at 84 per cent efficiency, eight marks and six rebound 50s to claim his third medal in the Derby.
Gold Coast Suns: Jack Bowes
It has to be Jack Bowes, doesn’t it? With under two minutes remaining on the clock, Bowes marked inside 50 for the Suns but a free kick paid to Carlton looked to seal Gold Coast’s fate. As the ball surged frantically back into the Suns forward 50 and players scrambled for possession, Peter Wright quickly scooped up the ball and passed it to Bowes who calmly snapped the goal with 12 seconds left.
St Kilda: Callum Wilkie
If there was a player who typified the Saints desperation on Sunday, it was Callum Wilkie. The mature-age rookie had his best output in Round 4, with 21 disposals, but it was the little things that mattered most. As the Saints trailed by two points with 13 minutes left to play, Wilkie, facing a two-on-one situation inside defensive 50, left his man and flew over the top of the open Jack Gunston to spoil a certain Hawthorn scoring opportunity. Add to that a couple of important moments late in the contest where the the 23-year-old held his nerve and forced a stoppage and it was a pivotal performance from the North Adelaide product.