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 7 Unsung Heroes.
Collingwood: Jack Crisp
Collingwood had a number of strong performers in wet conditions against the Cats, but Crisp was one of its most efficient and his influence was telling. The defender with the bleached-blond hair collected 20 disposals (15 uncontested) at 95 per cent efficiency. Crisp’s all-important clearance, in a cameo at the centre bounce, late in the game, that led to De Goey’s fourth goal, put the game to bed.
Western Bulldogs: Mitch Wallis
The Bulldogs were moving the ball quicker on Friday night than in their previous games this season and it helped their dynamic forward line succeed. Supported by debutant Cody Weightman and Matt Suckling, Mitch Wallis was a key figure in the Dogs’ 42-point victory, kicking a game-high three goals to go with his 10 disposals and five score involvements.
Brisbane: Zac Bailey
Saturday’s clash with the Giants was arguably one of the best and most influential games of Zac Bailey’s short career. Supported by a star-studded line-up, the Lions and Bailey returned to their match-winning best against the Giants. Bailey collected 18 disposals, a game-high 10 marks, three inside 50s, laid three tackles and kicked two goals – equaling his career-best haul.
Gold Coast: Jack Bowes
Jack Bowes is coming on in leaps and bounds for Gold Coast and is becoming an integral part of the team’s progress. After a quiet start to the game, Bowes injected himself into the match through half-back and the midfield as the Suns began to take hold from quarter time. The home-grown Sun took an equal game-high six marks on Saturday against the Swans, to go with his 17 touches, nine intercept possessions, four rebound 50s and four score involvements.
Richmond: Shai Bolton
Facing pressure and media scrutiny this season, the Tigers came out firing on Saturday night and Shai Bolton was leading the charge. In the first quarter Bolton gained 339 metres, collected eight disposals, including seven kicks, four clearances, four inside 50s and four contested possessions. Dropped for the Tigers’ Round 5 clash and returning to support the injury-depleted side, Bolton proved how imposing he can be, finishing with 19 touches, seven score involvements, seven inside 50s and five clearances.
Port Adelaide: Zak Butters
It was one of the most thrilling games of 2020 and rightly so everyone is talking about Robbie Gray’s clutch goal. But it was a game-saving moment from minutes earlier that just as crucial to the win. Carlton’s David Cunningham had an opportunity to win the game, booting the ball forward towards the sticks when Butters arrived on the scene to save a certain goal on the line. The mark kept the game within reach and allowed Port Adelaide to continue to move the ball inside their forward 50. Butters was one of the Power’s best and his desperation in that moment showed why the Power faithful love him so much.
Melbourne: Sam Weideman
With forward target Tom McDonald on the sidelines, the Demons needed someone to step up. Enter, Sam Weideman. With shades of his 2018 finals campaign, Weideman was a key target for Melbourne on Sunday, kicking three goals (and two behinds), gathering 10 touches, nine score involvements and taking six marks. It was a solid day out for the forward, still finding his confidence, as the Dees charged home to a 43-point win.
West Coast: Jackson Nelson
West Coast’s backline was back in sync against the Dockers and defender Jackson Nelson was a critical part of the Eagles’ 10th Derby win in a row over Fremantle. In his 60th AFL game, Nelson took five intercept marks and collected a career-high 23 disposals as he looks to continue to cement himself in the Eagles’ best line-up.
St Kilda: Dougal Howard
A lot has been spoken about the impact of key recruits Dan Butler, Zak Jones and Bradley Hill at the Saints. But one of the club’s other main recruits, Dougal Howard, has underlined why the club was so keen to pry him away from the Power. Howard finished the game with seven intecept possessions and 16 disposals, as well as booting his first goal for his new club, to be one of the Saints’ most influential players on the night.