Round 15 saw tight contests, come-from-behind victories and upset wins. AFLPlayers.com.au highlights the players who played an understated role in their side’s win, whether it be a pivotal moment or a four-quarter performance.
Essendon: Cale Hooker
It has to be Cale Hooker, doesn’t it? In the dying seconds of Thursday night’s clash against the Giants, Hooker slotted the game-winner after an outstanding follow-up effort at half-forward saw him bolt back toward goal and mark in front of a lunging Giants opponent. Although Hooker was the hero, it was his efforts throughout the night that made him such an important player to Essendon. With Tom Bellchambers’ injury, Hooker had to assist Shaun McKernan in the ruck and around-the-ground, finishing the game with 15 disposals, four marks and four score involvements.
Geelong: Cameron Guthrie
Tim Kelly was again outstanding and Mark Blicavs turned the game in Geelong’s favour when he went into the ruck. But despite spending just 63 per cent time on ground, Guthrie’s role in the midfield was important against the Crows. The on-baller finished with 22 disposals, six clearances and two vital goals in Geelong’s victory.
West Coast: Brad Sheppard
The Eagles defender often flies under the radar, but his consistent performances won’t go unnoticed much longer. Sheppard was as dependable as any West Coast player on the ground in a hard-fought win over the Hawks at the MCG. A behind he kicked late in the game gave the Eagles the necessary momentum, which was then capped off by a Jamie Cripps match-winner at the death.
Sydney: George Hewett
Hewett has put together an outstanding season for the Swans and he continued to get the rewards against the Suns. The midfielder had 22 disposals and laid 12 tackles in another strong performance in Sydney’s engine room against a plucky Gold Coast team who at one stage were threatening a big upset.
North Melbourne: Sam Durdin
Playing on Mason Cox for the majority of the match, the North Melbourne defender held his own. Although Cox kicked two goals, Durdin’s defensive work restricted Cox to just two disposals with the Collingwood forward unable to assert himself on the game. Durdin finished the game with 18 disposals and four marks as North Melbourne kept Collingwood to its lowest score in more than 23 years.
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith
In torrential rain at Adelaide Oval, the Western Bulldogs’ midfield group consisting of Josh Dunkley, Marcus Bontempelli and Jackson Macrae went to work, but it was first-year Bulldog Bailey Smith who played one of the most important roles. In a high pressure game 18-year-old Smith laid a game-high 14 tackles to go with his 23 disposals and five clearances in one of the Bulldogs’ best wins for 2019.
Richmond: Mabior Chol
As Richmond trailed a determined St Kilda outfit in ‘Maddie’s Match’, young Richmond ruckman Mabior Chol worked relentlessly around the ground to stamp his authority on the game. Chol’s aerial work was crucial to the Tigers’ comeback, with the third-gamer taking nine marks and kicking three goals.
Brisbane: Hugh McCluggage
While midfielders Lachie Neale and Dayne Zorko and forward Eric Hipwood were receiving all the plaudits for their hardwork against Melbourne, Hugh McCluggage was quietly working away in the Lions’ engine room. The 21-year-old Lion gathered 23 disposals, to go with eight score involvements and six clearances as Brisbane improved to a 9-5 win-loss record for the year. But, it was two of his six tackles that resulted in holding the ball calls against the Demons late in the game that was most impressive.
Carlton: Sam Petrevski-Seton
After a slow start against Fremantle, and missing Patrick Cripps, Carlton needed someone to step up. Enter Sam Petrevski-Seton. In the second quarter, Petrevski-Seton collected seven disposals, laid three tackles, took two marks and kicked one goal to help Carlton get within 10 points at the main break.