Each week, aflplayers.com.au looks at the players who flew under the radar in their team’s victory. Whether it was a moment of impact or a four-quarter performance, these are the Round 4 Unsung Heroes.
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel
While the Bulldogs’ midfield brigade were receiving all of their plaudits for their dominant win over the Swans, defender Caleb Daniel was quietly going about his work. Off half-back, the 168cm defender collected 17 disposals at 88 per cent efficiency, including five intercept possessions, laid four tackles and had four rebound 50s. Shaking off their slow start to the season, Daniel and the Bulldogs didn’t let up on Thursday night.
GWS Giants: Matt de Boer
Another week, another scalp for Giants tagger Matt de Boer. Lining up against Steele Sidebottom on Friday night, de Boer kept the Pies midfielder to 12 touches while collecting 11 of his own. It might not have been his best night on the stats sheet, but it was a critical performance that helped take one of Collingwood’s best players out of the game.
Port Adelaide: Todd Marshall
He’s only played 24 games across four seasons at the elite level, but Todd Marshall is starting to develop exactly how the Power would have hoped. Supported in the forward line by Port Adelaide veterans Charlie Dixon, Brad Ebert and Justin Westhoff, Marshall continued his strong start to the season on Saturday afternoon with his impressive marking. The 21-year-old took five marks, laid five tackles and kicked a goal to go with his eight touches.
St Kilda: Jack Lonie
Against last year’s premiers, Richmond, the Saints looked dangerous in attack on Saturday afternoon. While the plaudits were going to Dan Butler against his old side, Lonie was critical in the Saints’ second win of the season. To go with his 16 disposals, Lonie had five score involvements, three inside 50s, three rebound 50s and kicked two goals, including one early in the third quarter to give the Saints some breathing room with a 16-point lead.
Carlton: Michael Gibbons
One of the feel good stories from the 2019 Supplemental Selection Period (SSP), Michael Gibbons is beginning to find his feet in Carlton’s engine room. Playing in every game this season, Gibbons has found himself in the midfield under David Teague and is relishing the opportunity. Against the Bombers, Gibbons collected 25 touches, took eight marks, laid five tackles and gained 507 metres.
Gold Coast: Brandon Ellis
Joining the Suns during last year’s Free Agency period, the former-Richmond midfielder has added much-needed experience to the Suns’ young side. Against the Dockers on Saturday night the two-time Premiership player collected 20 touches, including six intercept possessions, took seven marks, and had three inside 50s. Ellis might not set the stat sheet alight, but he has shown why he was so high on the Suns’ radar.
Brisbane: Ryan Lester
After managing just nine games through 2019, a rejuvenated Lester is playing the best football of his career in this truncated season. His ability to win defensive contests as a third tall in the Lions’ backline has underlined his importance to the side, while his ability to keep the morale in the group up was reportedly just as important over the season shutdown period.
Geelong: Mark Blicavs
In a dour struggle from start to finish, defence reigned supreme and the versatile Blicavs was an important part in the Cats’ victory. With Melbourne threatening to break through Geelong’s defences on several occasions, Blicavs halved a number of contests – even when he was well out of position – to thwart Melbourne’s attacking forays. The athletic big man finished with a game-high 10 intercept possessions (four more than the next best player).
Hawthorn: Ben McEvoy
Kept North Melbourne dangerman Ben Brown to just three disposals and zero marks playing as a tall defender. Brown kicked a late goal, but his influence was well down on his usual output. McEvoy had just two disposals himself, but he’s playing an important role for Hawthorn while Jon Ceglar continues as the main ruckman.