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Unsung Heroes — Round 16

With Round 16 complete, highlights the players who played an understated role in their side’s victory, whether it be a pivotal moment or a four-quarter performance. 

Hawthorn: Mitchell Lewis 

After playing two games in his debut season, Hawthorn forward Mitchell Lewis is starting to hit his straps. Taken with pick No.76 in the 2016 AFL draft, the 20-year-old is considered a long-term project player but in his ninth game of AFL on Friday night he showed his value. The 198cm forward proved a handful for Collingwood’s defenders, kicking two goals and taking seven marks.

Essendon: Jake Stringer 

In a must-win match for Essendon against Sydney, Jake Stringer stood up. During two pivotal moments in the game, Stringer set up crucial goals and gave the Bombers some breathing room against a determined Swans’ outfit. The first moment came in the third quarter when Stringer ran down Jordan Dawson and then Dane Rampe to set up a Zaharakis goal to give Essendon a three-point lead. Stringer’s second crucial moment came in the final quarter when a long ball was sent into the Bombers’ forward 50. Failing to take the mark, Stringer’s second-effort resulted in a goal after he soccered the ball through. With less than half a quarter to play, Stringer’s goal gave Essendon a game-high margin of 16 points.

Richmond: Shai Bolton 

When a team is as dominant as Richmond was against the Gold Coast Suns, it’s difficult to select just one Unsung Hero but Shai Bolton was at the top of the list. His work around the ground and pressure was elite, collecting his 26 disposals evenly across Richmond’s offensive and defensive halves. Bolton finished the game with nine marks, six inside 50s and two goals, to go with his career-high disposal tally.

Port Adelaide: Scott Lycett

After injuring his knee midway through the first quarter and sitting out the rest of the term, Scott Lycett looked done for the evening. With his knee strapped, Lycett returned to the field at the start of the second quarter and played out the remainder of the game. Despite visibly looking sore, he gallantly won the ruck contest against Reilly O’Brien, collecting 32 hit-outs and 19 disposals.

Western Bulldogs: Sam Lloyd

Since arriving at the Bulldogs in last year’s trade period, Sam Lloyd has flown under the radar. On Saturday night against the top-of-the-table Cats, Lloyd continued his solid run of form. An important goal after the half-time siren cut the margin back to nine points to the Dogs a chance at victory. Lloyd finished with three goals, including the sealer deep in the final term, and 13 disposals as the Dogs upset the Cats by 16 points.

West Coast: Jarrod Cameron

A forward in the same mould of his brother, Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron, Jarrod has looked at home in the Eagles’ forward line since making his AFL debut three weeks ago. Against Fremantle, the younger Cameron brother kicked an equal game-high four goals and collected seven disposals, at 100 per cent efficiency, as the Eagles moved in to the top two on the ladder.

Melbourne: Braydon Preuss

Earning a late call-up after Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn failed to pass his final fitness test, Braydon Preuss came in and made the most of his opportunity. Preuss collected 44 hit-outs and 14 disposals, giving his side first use off the ball and likely earning himself a spot in next week’s side to take on the Western Bulldogs.

North Melbourne: Nick Larkey

With Mason Wood hobbled by a quad injury, North Melbourne’s young forward line stepped up. Nick Larkey, still only 21, was clean in front of goal, kicking five goals straight as the Kangaroos improved to seven wins for the season. Supported by housemate Cameron Zurhaar, who also kicked five goals, Larkey finished the day with 11 touches and five marks in one of the most dominant performances of his short career.

Brisbane: Lincoln McCarthy 

Claiming one of their biggest scalps of the season, the Brisbane Lions cemented themselves as a finals contender. McCarthy made his presence known to the Giants’ defenders early on, kicking the second goal of the game within five minutes of play. The crafty small forward finished the day with 22 touches, nine score involvements, seven clearances and three goals in his most impressive game since moving north.