aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in Round 18. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Western Bulldogs – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
In the absence of spearhead Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan stepped up to the plate and demonstrated a glimpse of the future. Ugle-Hagan finished with a game-high and equal personal best three goals, with his class around the big sticks a vital component to the Dogs’ Friday night win over the Saints.
Collingwood – Patrick Lipinski
The Magpies made it eight straight with another team performance against the Crows, celebrating skipper Scott Pendlebury’s 350th match in style. Plenty of Pies stood out, however Patrick Lipinski continued to quietly stake his claim as one of the top recruits of the season. In a match where pressure was through the roof, Lipinski led the tackle count for Collingwood, with a career-high 13, as well as accumulating 28 disposals (nine contested), six clearances and eight score involvements.
Brisbane – Rhys Mathieson
Rhys Mathieson didn’t miss a beat in his first senior opportunity of the season, spending the bulk of his time in the trenches and bringing his customary physicality and attack on the footy in spades. He finished with 23 disposals – an impressive 17 of those contested – along with ten clearances (a career-best) and six tackles.
North Melbourne – Cam Zurhaar
Cam Zurhaar didn’t exactly fly under the radar in the Kangaroo’s clash with the Tigers but it’s hard to look past his heroic six-goal haul to get his side over the line for just the second time this year. Zuhaar had five goals from five kicks by half-time and made his sixth count – sealing the match to the dismay of the Tiger Army. The performance was the best of his career and provided the Kangaroos with their highest score of the season.
Geelong – Sam De Koning
In the battle of the De Koning brothers, Sam came up trumps as the Cats kept their eight-game winning streak alive when they took care of the Blues. Sam held reigning Coleman Medallist, Harry McKay, not only goalless but to just nine touches – most of which were earned up the ground. He tallied 11 disposals of his own, as well as five marks and seven intercept possessions as he continues to piece together a stellar season.
Sydney – Errol Gulden
Second-year Swan Errol Gulden is putting together a handy season in his own right and was again influential as Sydney kept their top-four chance alive with a vital win over the Dockers. Gulden put together a 23-disposal performance, accompanied by eight marks and most importantly, two goals. Both came at crucial moments in the game with his second coming from the boundary with less than ten minutes on the clock, allowing the Swans to pull away and ultimately seal victory.
Hawthorn – Josh Ward
In his first year at the elite level, Josh Ward put together the best performance of his nine-game career in the Hawks’ win over the Eagles. The 18-year-old finished with 34 disposals – a game-high and career-best – along with six clearances, eight score involvements and five tackles.
Melbourne – Tom Sparrow
It’s not often that Melbourne line up without Clayton Oliver, but it was the situation the Demons found themselves in against Port Adelaide at Traeger Park on Sunday. The Demons’ midfield stepped up in the absence of their dual All-Australian, with Tom Sparrow spending more time in the middle on his way to 18 disposals, six tackles and four score involvements.
Essendon – Mason Redman
Rebounding defender Mason Redman continued his career-best season, aiding his side to a convincing win over the Suns. Redman finished with a colossal 34 disposals, 11 intercept possessions, ten marks and 643 metres gained. While his stat line is certainly impressive, his ability to read the play, help his teammates and put his body on the line in defence saved a number of goals for the Bombers.