aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in Round 12. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Geelong – Zach Guthrie
When Tom Stewart went down with concussion in the second quarter of Geelong’s clash with the Dogs, a 40-point Cats’ advantage looked like it may be on shaky ground. It was next man up for the Cats, with Zach Guthrie filling the superstar-shaped hole left by Stewart, as the emerging defender finished with 19 touches and 11 marks, including a game-high nine intercepts. Alongside fellow young defender, Sam De Koning, Guthrie stepped up to stem the flow when the Dogs claimed momentum in the second half, helping his side to a gutsy 13-point victory.
Adelaide – Shane McAdam
While the form of Taylor Walker has rightfully caught the eye of Crows’ fans, small forward Shane McAdam has quietly played a supporting role that has been crucial in Adelaide’s forward line. McAdam’s scoring prowess has been clear, with another three goals this week against the Eagles, but his defensive efforts have also been on the rise, averaging career-best numbers in pressure acts and tackles inside 50.
Gold Coast – Connor Budarick
After a promising 2020 season, an ACL-injury derailed Connor Budarick’s 2021 campaign, forcing the promising defender to claw his way back into the senior side via the VFL this year. In the Suns’ victory over the Kangaroos, he showed just what he’s capable of with 25 disposals, 15 intercept possessions and 422 metres gained – career-best tallies across all fields.
Sydney – Sam Reid
Few players can have the impact of Buddy Franklin, but in the superstars’ absence on Saturday night, the Swans’ forward line stood up. Sam Reid was prolific in his best performance of recent times, booting three goals as the Swans turned a 26-point first-quarter deficit into a stirring 12-point win over the reigning premiers. He accompanied his tally of goals with season-best numbers – 16 disposals and five marks – as well as a career-best ten tackles.
Collingwood – Ollie Henry
After losing his place in the side earlier in the year, second-year Magpie Ollie Henry has returned with a vengeance. The 19-year-old backed up a career-best month with another stellar performance, booting two goals against the Hawks at the MCG. His contribution was particularly important given the late omission of Jamie Elliott, helping his side shift the momentum to claim the premiership points in a four-point nail-biter.
Fremantle – Bailey Banfield
Bailey Banfield chose the big stage to put on his career-best performance, booting four goals – all coming in the second half – from 12 disposals. His contribution was vital in the absence of small forwards Michael Walters and Sam Switkoswki, as the Dockers made a statement against the Lions with a 14-point triumph at Optus Stadium.