aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in week three of the finals. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Melbourne – Harrison Petty
When star Demons defender Steven May appeared to injure his hamstring in a marking contest during the first quarter, it became clear Harrison Petty would need to step up. Petty started on the athletic Esava Ratugolea and spent time on Jeremy Cameron to release the intercepting beast in Jake Lever, but also took on Tom Hawkins in May’s absence in a team-first performance. The 21-year-old only had nine disposals, but in a display of his defensive prowess, seven of those were intercept possessions. Petty also combined three one percenters with a trio of rebound 50s.
Melbourne – Ben Brown
Ben Brown is back. From being kept out of the cellar-dwelling North Melbourne side to becoming the Demons’ focal point up forward, the big man appears to have returned to the same form that delivered 60-plus goals in three consecutive seasons from 2017-19. Brown’s confidence in flying for the ball has long proved a key indicator of his form, and with a game-high four contested marks on Friday night, Bulldogs defenders are sure to have their hands full in next week’s Grand Final. Brown booted two goals from six score involvements, took seven marks in total and sent the ball inside 50 on four occasions.
Western Bulldogs – Josh Schache
Schache was tasked with perhaps the most pivotal role of all — keeping All-Australian defender Aliir Aliir accountable. Schache needed to pose a presence up forward and with six marks — five of those inside 50 — he ensured Aliir’s prime focus was on defending. Inaccuracy in front of goal restricted Schache to 1.3, but he also influenced the game with a goal assist, laid four tackles and added four one percenters.
Western Bulldogs – Mitch Hannan
Hannan was a handful for Port Adelaide’s defence, booting three goals, taking five marks (two contested), laying three tackles and applying the heat through 16 pressure acts. Hannan was not drafted until he was 22 years old and had to prove himself again this season after arriving at the Bulldogs from Melbourne, but he has demonstrated his worth this finals series with six goals in three games. The high-flying forward shapes as a tough Grand Final matchup for the Demons’ miserly defence.