aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in round 15. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Brisbane Lions — Marcus Adams
Adams’ performance on Thursday night was monumental. ‘The Specimen’ was tasked with curtailing the influence of Coleman Medallist Tom Hawkins, and managed to restrict the big Cat to a single major and three marks. Adams took five marks and laid three tackles himself in a display of his importance to the Lions’ flag hunt. The win had extra significance for the key defender, who has been sidelined by injury for large parts of his career. It marked his 50th overall match and his 12th game for the season, the most he has ever played in a single year.
St Kilda — Paddy Ryder
The catalyst for the Saints’ shock win over Richmond came in the form of veteran big man, Paddy Ryder. The 33-year-old had a match-leading 33 hitouts — Richmond had a combined total of 21 — and he made the wet ball look dry with seven marks around the ground. Ryder’s ruck craft provided St Kilda’s midfielders with prime usage, which resulted in clearance dominance (42-23) and outscoring their opponents 33-8 from stoppages.
Fremantle — Brett Bewley
When Brodie Grundy’s goal at the 19-minute mark of the final term gave Collingwood the lead, the momentum-powered Pies threatened to put a line through Fremantle’s finals hopes. But Brett Bewley, who was a late inclusion for superstar Nat Fyfe, had other ideas. A minute after Grundy’s goal, Bewley received a handball deep in the forward pocket, and under considerable pressure, hurried the ball onto his boot and sent it through for a goal. Then, with the game still in the balance at the 27-minute mark, Bewley kicked another to extend the Dockers’ lead to 12 points and ultimately seal a nail-biting win.
North Melbourne — Nick Larkey
Larkey has played as North Melbourne’s only recognised tall forward for most of the year, and the 23-year-old’s progression has been challenged by taking on the opposition’s best defender every week. But Larkey has hit a rich vein of form, and on Saturday booted three goals from a season-high 16 disposals and claimed eight marks, three of which were contested.
Port Adelaide — Willem Drew
The old-fashioned, blue-collar style midfielder continues to fly under the radar. Drew again played an underrated hand on Saturday, but his work at the coalface in the Power’s close win over Sydney should be recognised. Drew, still only 22 years old, laid eight tackles, had eight clearances, and won 11 contested possessions.
Melbourne — James Jordon
Jordon continues to show he belongs in the ladder-leading Melbourne’s best 22, and put in a top-shelf performance against the Bombers on Saturday night. Jordon kicked two goals in a low-scoring affair, complementing his 21 disposals (at 80 per cent efficiency), five marks and three tackles.
Hawthorn — Dylan Moore
Hawks fans were given a glimpse of the future on Sunday afternoon, as Hawthorn’s young brigade stepped up to produce a come-from-behind win over the finals-contending Giants. Dylan Moore was immense at the game’s climax. At the 24-minute mark of the last quarter, the 21-year-old kicked truly to give the Hawks a 12-point gap. Two minutes later, Moore snapped on the run to kick another — his fourth for the day — bringing Hawthorn fans to their feet, and sealing a stirring victory.
Western Bulldogs — Ed Richards
Richards burst onto the scene in his debut year back in 2018, announcing himself as a future star. Injury has interrupted his development in recent seasons, but his first game of 2021 was a reminder of his talent. In the Bulldogs’ assertive win over the Eagles in the west, Richards had 16 disposals at 87 per cent efficiency, four score involvements and five marks.
Carlton — Matthew Kennedy
Kennedy has recaptured form since returning to the Blues’ line-up in round 14, and again staked his claim as a best-22 midfielder in Carlton’s exciting win over Adelaide. Kennedy had 24 disposals, took seven marks, laid three tackles and sent the ball inside 50 on four occasions.