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Unsung Heroes — Round 12

Passing the halfway point of the season, the competition continued to even up in Round 12 while found those who played an underrated hand in your club’s win.

Sydney: Tom Papley

With Sydney bucketing down with rain prior to Thursday night’s contest, it was clear that the Swans and Bulldogs clash was going to be a scrap. Enter: Tom Papley, who finished with 21 disposals, eight tackles and two goals in what was a dominant Sydney win against the premiers.

Adelaide: Rory Laird

Is there a better small defender in the competition? Adelaide’s consistent stopper Rory Laird goes from strength to strength in 2017. In their comfortable Friday night win over St Kilda, Laird collected 34 disposals and repelled many attacks from the Saints.

Gold Coast: Jesse Lonergan

A late inclusion into the team against Hawthorn, Rodney Eade would have been delighted with Lonergan’s output. The burly midfielder amassed 22 disposals and was a brute force in the middle of the ground, aiding Gary Ablett and the rest of the Suns’ midfield group.

Brisbane: Tom Cutler

When the game was there to be won in the first half, Tom Cutler found a way of bobbing up at the opportune moments. Kicking back-to-back goals in the first quarter when the Lions jumped out of the blocks and booting another in the second term to put the margin beyond six goals, the 22-year-old also collected 19 touches at 89.5 percent efficiency and 10 marks.

Essendon: Conor McKenna

Conor McKenna is fast establishing himself as one of the most exciting players in the Essendon line-up and his excellent form continued over the weekend in the victory over Port Adelaide. The Irishman collected 22 disposals – an equal career high – with 19 of those kicks, going at 77.8 per cent disposal efficiency. McKenna continuously broke the lines for the Bombers, highlighting Essendon’s quick ball movement.

Carlton: Liam Jones

Sunday’s victory against GWS was Carlton’s biggest win of the season, but it was arguably the biggest individual win of Liam Jones’ career. The former Western Bulldog returned to the Blues’ line-up as a key defender after transitioning down back in the VFL and he didn’t let his teammates or supporters down. Jones followed Jonathan Patton like a bad smell at every contest and the 26-year-old registered 14 spoils along with 14 disposals and eight marks.

Melbourne: Oscar McDonald

With brother Tom moving forward in recent weeks in order to accommodate for key absences, Sam Frost and Oscar McDonald have assumed greater defensive responsibilities. During the second half when the game’s pressure went to another level, Oscar stood tall for the Demons crashing a number of packs and making crucial defensive spoils. The 21-year-old was just as vital with the ball as one of the Demons’ cleanest ball users with 83.3 percent disposal efficiency.