aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in Round 19. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Fremantle – Michael Frederick
A smother turned out to be worth two premiership points for the Dockers, who were left with a hollow feeling when their clash with the Tigers concluded with no winner on Friday night. As Noah Balta lined up for goal with less than a minute and a half on the clock, it looked as though it would be Richmond who would steal victory. In the ensuing moments, Balta was called to play on as his shot clock expired – and it was Michael Frederick who responded quickest, covering impressive ground to get to Balta’s boot to affect the smother and leave the game in the balance.
Hawthorn – Finn Maginness
Among a young midfield, Finn Maginness is finding his feet as he becomes Hawthorn’s go-to man to restrict the opposition’s finest. This week he had the job on North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin. The Kangaroo, who had 34 touches the previous week and has averaged 26 disposals this season, was limited to just 14 possessions for the game, his lowest tally since 2020. Amidst the shutdown role, Maginness also managed to boot a goal himself.
Sydney – Nick Blakey
While you can’t deny Nick Blakey’s ability to run and carry, it was his tackling pressure which drew the praise of coach John Longmire in the Swans’ win over the Crows at the SCG. Blakey put the clamps on when the Crows wrestled back momentum, laying a couple of huge tackles in key moments to stop Adelaide in their tracks.
Geelong – Brad Close
In a star-studded Geelong midfield, it’s easy to slip under the radar and that’s often what Brad Close does. Playing his role to perfection again, Close quietly racked up 15 disposals and was clean with ball in hand at 87 per cent efficiency. He worked both ways, with seven tackles and 26 pressure acts as well as seven score involvements and a goal of his own.
Brisbane – Jarrod Berry
While Touk Miller claimed the Marcus Ashcroft Medal for best afield, his final quarter grinded to a halt thanks to the work of Brisbane’s Jarrod Berry. Of Miller’s 34 disposals, just six came in the final quarter (two kicks and four handballs) with most to little effect. Berry’s ability to quell Miller’s influence on the contest gave the Lions an important final quarter edge to run out 17-point victors.
Western Bulldogs – Bailey Dale
With five minutes remaining and the Demons holding the lead, it looked certain that the reigning premiers would extend it when the ball sailed into forward fifty toward Alex-Neal Bullen. Enter Bailey Dale. Coming back with the flight, the classy defender not only made it to the contest but managed a clean spoil without taking the body, to save a near-certain Melbourne goal. The individual win kept the contest alive and was just one stellar moment for Dale, who finished with 27 disposals, seven contested possessions, seven intercept possessions and 551 metres gained.
Carlton – Mitch McGovern
Carlton’s backline is beginning to slowly return to it’s preferred form, with Mitch McGovern another welcome return for Blues’ fans. McGovern hadn’t managed a game since Round 2 with a hamstring injury, but loomed large in Carlton’s comfortable win over the Giants, taking seven marks along with his ten disposals.
Collingwood – Josh Carmichael
Mere months ago, Josh Carmichael wasn’t even on an AFL list. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and he was stepping onto the hallowed turf of the MCG to help the Magpies to an iconic after-the-siren win against their old enemy. The 22-year-old demonstrated composure beyond his years, slotting two final-quarter goals as Collingwood’s medical sub – vital in a game that was decided by less than a kick.
St Kilda – Marcus Windhager
A career-high disposal tally whilst holding your opponent to just four of their own? Not a bad day in the office. Young Saint Marcus Windhager had the best game of his short career when he lined up againt West Coast’s Tim Kelly on Sunday afternoon. Windhager performed the shutdown role to great effect on his way to 23 disposals of his own, along with five marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s.