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.
Geelong – Luke Dahlhaus
Dahlhaus returned to his tenacious best in the Cats’ thumping 69-point win over Fremantle in Perth on Thursday night. The small forward, brought back into the side with Gary Rohan out injured, set the tone for his side as the Cats thoroughly out-pressured the Dockers in wet conditions in Perth. Dahlhaus laid eight tackles (the second most on the ground) and finished with an equal-game high 24 pressure acts. He also coupled that with 17 disposals and one goal to be one of Geelong’s best players.
Richmond – Mabior Chol
A 200-centimetre ruckman is not supposed to run around an opposition midfielder and boot a goal on the run from 50 metres out. But with Richmond’s season on the line midway through the final term of its clash with Brisbane on Friday night, Mabior Chol did exactly that. Armed with a 17-point lead, Chol received a handball from Shai Bolton, ran around the zippy Dayne Zorko and booted the ball home to seal what could be a season-defining win. It was the best of his four goals for the night in a performance that also included two contested marks, 12 hitouts and 10 touches at 90 per cent efficiency.
Port Adelaide – Ryan Burton
Burton was no stranger to headlines in the early stages of his career after bursting onto the scene as a dashing half-back at Hawthorn before crossing to Port Adelaide as part of the high-profile Chad Wingard trade, but in recent seasons has eluded the limelight and flown under the radar. That could be about to change. The 24-year-old was a key contributor in the Power’s win over St Kilda on Saturday afternoon, with 20 kicks from 25 disposals at a damaging 88 per cent efficiency. Burton had a significant 663 metres gained, rebounded the defensive 50 on seven occasions and sent the ball inside 50 on five occasions.
Western Bulldogs – Alex Keath
Keath continues to piece together a career-best season as the Dogs’ main man down back and was huge again in Saturday’s win over a gallant Gold Coast. Keath had 10 intercept possessions and seven marks, while he hardly wasted a touch, as 15 of his 16 disposals proved effective.
Hawthorn – Liam Shiels
Shiels just keeps on keeping on, and was one of Hawthorn’s best in a shock draw with the ladder-leading Melbourne on Saturday night. Shiels had 18 kicks and won 10 contested possessions, but up against a menacing midfield had an all-important 32 pressure acts and laid six tackles. The 30-year-old also won four stoppage clearances and sent the ball inside 50 eight times.
Melbourne – Harrison Petty
With top spot on the line and a one-point deficit to contend with midway through the last quarter, Petty found himself in an isolated one-on-one contest with Emerson Jeka in the Dees’ defensive 50. But the composed defender seemed unfazed by the critical nature of the moment, pushing off the young Hawk to take a crucial intercept mark. Then, only minutes later, the pair duelled in a second one-on-one contest about 50 metres from home after another high ball was sent towards Hawthorn’s goal. But Petty was too strong again, outmuscling Jeka to take another game-saving grab.
Essendon – Will Snelling
The 2019 mid-season recruit continues to show he belongs in the AFL and did so again with 23 touches and five marks in a win that sent the Bombers into the top eight. Twenty of those touches were effective, while he was involved in nine separate scoring chains and had a notable 17 pressure acts.
Carlton – Liam Stocker
Stocker is gradually finding his feet at AFL level and displayed his talent with a long-bomb goal from 50 metres out midway through the second quarter of the Blues’ do-or-die clash with Collingwood on Sunday afternoon. The goal trimmed the deficit back to 17 points and kept Carlton within touching distance, after it had surrendered five of the first six goals of the game. Stocker’s performance also included 17 touches at 82 per cent efficiency and six rebound 50s.
West Coast – Jack Petruccelle
The fleet-footed Eagle put in a career-best performance against Adelaide on Sunday night and demands recognition for his role in a win that kept the Eagles in the eight. Petruccelle booted two goals from 20 disposals, took eight marks and had 362 metres gained. Catch him if you can.
Sydney Swans – Nick Blakey
Blakey’s transformation from rising key forward to hard-running half-back might prove career-defining. The athletic Swan had a significant third quarter against the Giants, playing a key role in Sydney’s remarkable turnaround win. Blakey had seven disposals, four marks and three inside 50s in the third term alone, and overall, finished with 18 touches at 83 per cent efficiency along with a damaging 390 metres gained.