Fans Players

Unsung heroes — Round 17

Each week, looks at the players who flew under the radar in their team’s victory.

Adelaide: Sam Jacobs

For the Crows to win on Thursday night, they needed a big game from Sam Jacobs and he delivered. The Adelaide ruckman recorded 16 disposals and 39 hit outs but it was his own clearance work that did the damage against the Cats, collecting six clearances, four from the centre of the ground.

St Kilda: Jack Newnes

Jack Newnes’ move forward in 2018 has delivered inconsistent results so far for Alan Richardson, but he delivered a positive display on Friday night. He set the tone by intercepting a dangerous switch from Ed Curnow, marking and goalling in the first quarter, and finished the game with three majors, 16 disposals and five tackles.

Brisbane: Alex Witherden

While pundits are keen to push the names of certain Rising Star contenders, Alex Witherden should be well and truly in the conversation. The smooth-moving defender collected 29 disposals at 85 per cent efficiency, six marks and eight rebounds as the Lions continue to surprise the competition with three wins in a row.

Melbourne: Alex Neal-Bullen

As the Demons continued their march towards September action for the first time since 2006, Alex Neal-Bullen played an underrated hand. The 22-year-old was as efficient as possible with his 17 disposals while also collecting five marks, five tackles and kicking two important goals against the Bulldogs.

Essendon: Darcy Parish

It’s been a strange year from the Bombers and Darcy Parish’s season has been indicative of his club’s form. In Round 17, though, Parish had his arguably his best output for the year, collecting 26 disposals, eight clearances, four inside 50s and kicking a goal as Essendon kept their season alive.

GWS Giants: Tim Taranto

How Tim Taranto keeps flying under the radar is simply astounding. A high draft pick two years ago, Taranto recorded 23 disposals and was involved until the very end of the close encounter with the reigning premiers. The 20-year-old had a hand in getting the ball to the Giants end of the ground late in the contest and also flew in for a timely spoil on Kane Lambert in defensive 50, helping to remove crucial seconds off the clock and securing a Giants victory.

West Coast: Lewis Jetta

Lewis Jetta is mounting a serious case as the best ball-user by foot in the competition. The West Coast speedster collected 17 disposals at 94 per cent efficiency and 10 marks against Collingwood on Sunday, with only Nic Naitanui (six disposals) and Will Schofield (seven touches) using the ball better on the day.

Sydney: Colin O’Riordan

Few come in an impact their first AFL game like Colin O’Riordan. In a tough, tight contest, the Irish 22-year-old was everywhere in defence, recording 10 intercept possessions to go with his 19 touches, seven marks, five rebounds and five tackles as the Swans edged ahead of the Kangaroos in one of the game’s of the season.

Fremantle: Bailey Banfield

To beat the finals-bound Port Adelaide outfit, the Dockers needed their young crew to be relentless in their pressure and Bailey Banfield led the way. The 20-year-old collected 18 touches and five clearances but really stamped his impact on the match with a game-high nine tackles.