aflplayers.com.au has discovered the players that played an underrated hand for their side in round 20. Whether it be a big moment in a close game, or an important role, these are the Unsung Heroes.
Carlton – Jack Silvagni
Silvagni has finally found continuity in his footy after a wretched injury run and its shows. The son of SOS gathered 25 disposals and kicked a goal, spending time up forward and in the ruck as Tom De Koning spent a fair chunk of time on the sidelines with injury. Silvagni is brave in the air and nimble on the ground and looms as a key player for the Blues over the coming years.
Western Bulldogs – Jason Johannisen
Early in the season there were a few doubts as to where the 2016 Norm Smith medallist fit into the Bulldogs’ side after moving to the forward line. Johannisen had struggled to find his groove, but was dynamic and tenacious in his team’s 49-point victory over the Crows in Ballarat. Stationed as a defensive forward, Johannisen booted two goals from 15 disposals.
Geelong – Zach Guthrie
Came in as the replacement for Tom Atkins (a late withdrawal with a back complaint) and played the best game of his career in a best afield display. Guthrie amassed a career-high 28 disposals, one shy of his brother Cam who had 29, and hauled in six intercept marks which all came in the first half. The younger Guthrie had 13 marks in total as part of Geelong’s vaunted defensive unit as he put up his hand for a spot in Geelong’s finals side.
Collingwood – Oliver Henry
The Collingwood youngster is starting to find his feet at AFL level and although he didn’t hit the scoreboard this week, he still found a way to impact the game. Henry’s athleticism is one of his major attributes, but he also has good footy nous as well with his vision to find teammates on display. The younger brother of Geelong’s Jack had six score involvements to be influential in the Pies’ 45-point win.
Melbourne – Luke Jackson
One of the leading contenders for this year’s Rising Star award did his hopes little harm with a standout game in Melbourne’s 98-point thumping of Gold Coast. Jackson booted a career-high four goals, to go with 17 disposals. The young big man underlined his importance to the Demons’ side with 13 hit-outs as the foil for Max Gawn in the ruck.
Hawthorn – Conor Nash
Nash was superb in the midfield in Hawthorn’s upset 12-point win over Brisbane, racking up a career-high 23 disposals and seven clearances. The Irishman has been tried up forward and down back during his 24-game career, but may have found his niche as an onballer. Blessed with outstanding athleticism, Nash may have found his spot in Alastair Clarkson’s line-up this year and Sam Mitchell’s team next year.
Sydney – Jordan Dawson
Dawson is one of the best kicks in the competition – but he is more than just a good kick. The young Swan continues to go from strength to strength, collecting 24 disposals and 11 marks against Essendon to be instrumental in Sydney’s victory. Dawson represents another important piece of Sydney’s future as the club’s young players continue to empshaise their talent.
Fremantle – Connor Blakely
Blakely, the starting medical sub, made the most of his chance when he replaced Bayley Banfield in the second term who was concussed in a tackle. The midfielder came onto the game and worked his way to 17 disposals to be an important cog in Fremantle’s four-point victory.
Port Adelaide – Peter Ladhams
The make-up of the talls in Port Adelaide’s best forward line has been up in the air over the last few weeks, although Ladhams has given Ken Hinkley and his coaching staff plenty to think about it. Charlie Dixon, Mitch Georgiades and Todd Marshall are the mainstays, but the athletic Ladhams is a nice complementary piece. The forward/ruckman kicked three goals and helped Scott Lycett in the ruck with 13 total hit-outs.