As the 2018 AFL season got underway over the weekend, AFLPlayers.com.au discovered the players that played an underrated hand from the first weekend of footy.
Richmond: Kamdyn McIntosh
Often forgotten about due to Richmond’s myriad of strong defenders, Kamdyn McIntosh’s ability to stand tall under pressure across half-back proved pivotal as the reigning champions held off the fast-starting Blues on Thursday night. The wiry 24-year-old finished the game with 19 disposals and was involved in seven scores.
Essendon: Cale Hooker
In a game that appeared to be slipping away from the Bombers, Cale Hooker did his best to keep them alive on Friday night. The former defender kicked three second half goals to keep Essendon close, before the home side overran last year’s grand finalists.
St Kilda: Koby Stevens
Dayne Zorko took all before him in 2017, elevating himself to the upper echelon, but the explosive, goal-kicking midfielder struggled to get to those levels against the Saints on Saturday. The reason? Koby Stevens’ shut-down role which led to Zorko gathering just 14 disposals and kicking two behinds. Stevens also collected 23 possessions himself.
Port Adelaide: Justin Westhoff
In such a dominant display, it was difficult to select just one unsung hero for the Power. Justin Westhoff was everywhere in their 50-point triumph, collecting 25 disposals, nine marks and laying nine tackles against the Dockers.
Gold Coast: Nick Holman
In some of the toughest conditions witnessed in recent memory, Gold Coast’s Nick Holman was willing to get stuck in and do the dirty work. The 22-year-old former Blue played his first game for the Suns, and laid 13 tackles as the home side recorded a gritty 16-point win over North Melbourne.
Hawthorn: Cyril Rioli
It’s hard to believe only one Melbourne publication had Cyril Rioli in their best after Saturday night’s clash at the MCG. He only registered the 14 touches but the 28-year-old has never needed much of the ball to impact the contest. It was vintage Rioli — pressure, smothers, tackles, knock-ons and little deflections that kept forcing the ball to his teammate’s advantage. After missing most of last year to injury, Rioli still makes a huge difference to this Hawthorn line-up.
GWS Giants: Tim Taranto
Playing a lot of time in the middle of the ground, the Giants’ Tim Taranto collected a career-high 32 disposals in their thumping 81-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The second overall selection in 2016 put in one of his best performances to alleviate the workload in their engine room. He had previously collected 20 disposals on just one occassion.
Geelong: Brandan Parfitt
In the match of the round, Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt took another step in the right direction of his development, kicking two important goals in the second quarter, to go along with 22 disposals. After Clayton Oliver kicked the first goal of the second term to extend Melbourne’s lead to 10 points, Parfitt stepped up with the next two goals in a row to wrestle back momentum at a pivotal time.
Sydney: Jarrad McVeigh
McVeigh’s numbers won’t jump off the page — just 14 disposals and one tackle — but his efficiency and calm nature across half-back was incredibly important to their fortunes. With the Eagles storming home late in the third quarter, the Swans called on some of their senior players to thwart the home side in the last quarter.