With the second round of the 2018 season completed, AFLPlayers.com.au discovered the players that played an underrated hand from the second weekend of footy.
Adelaide: Cam Ellis-Yolmen
Since returning from a ruptured ACL that derailed his 2017 campaign, Cam Ellis-Yolmen hasn’t missed a beat. The athletic, big-bodied midfielder collected 28 disposals (13 contested) in the Grand Final rematch, to go along with a goal, eight marks and seven tackles as the Crows levelled the ledger at 1-1.
North Melbourne: Ben Jacobs
To say that North Melbourne have missed Ben Jacobs’ grunt work would be an understatement. The negating midfielder spent the best part of two years trying to fix persistent foot problems. In his second game back, Brad Scott and the Kangaroos surprised the Saints by putting Jacobs onto Seb Ross instead of Jack Steven, and it worked a treat with the Saints’ 2017 Trevor Barker Medalist kept to just 23 disposals, while Jacobs laid 10 tackles and collected the ball 18 times.
Gold Coast: Jack Martin
The star of the show was clearly Tom Lynch, but the Suns needed a few others to step up and contribute in the forward line if they were to edge the Blues. Enter: Jack Martin. The fleet-footed half-forward may have gathered just 15 possessions, but he kicked three important goals to complement their dominant spearhead.
GWS: Lachie Whitfield
When things got tight in the fourth quarter, the Giants needed a composed and calm head. In the late stages, there were many pivotal moments, and in those tricky situations it was Lachie Whitfield who proved to be the calmest head out on the MCG. The silky midfielder kicked an important late snap, and collected 26 disposals at 88 per cent efficiency in the Giants’ 16-point win.
Melbourne: Bernie Vince
Bernie Vince set the game up for Melbourne early on Saturday night, but it wasn’t via his traditional method of controlling the pace of the game across half-back. It was the way he stopped Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko that set things up for the Dees. Zorko finished the game with 20 possessions and a goal, but was well held in the first half and was barely influential as the Demons held on by 26 points.
Fremantle: Lachie Neale
Lachie Neale looks back to his best in 2018, and that was highlighted in Fremantle’s Round 2 win over Essendon, where the 24-year-old gathered 28 disposals and was influential in the third quarter when the Dockers looked to pull away from Essendon.
West Coast: Brad Sheppard
The Eagles have defied the footy public in the early stages of 2018 and Brad Sheppard could just about be the most underrated small defender in the competition. The 26-year-old collected 14 disposals at 100 per cent efficiency and five rebounds in the side’s 51-point win against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium and continues to prove he’s as reliable as they come in the back half of the ground.
Port Adelaide: Todd Marshall
Port Adelaide’s second-year forward continues to fly under the radar in 2018. A week after kicking four goals against Fremantle, Marshall drilled three important majors in difficult conditions at the SCG.
Hawthorn: Blake Hardwick
There’s a reason the Hawks gifted Blake Hardwick with the number 15 after Luke Hodge departed at the end of 2017. The young defender is a bit rough around the edges but his hardness at the contest suits the mullet-wearing, 21-year-old. He collected 15 disposals and nine marks as the Hawks held off a fast-finishing Geelong outfit in another Easter Monday classic.