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Unsung heroes — Round 22

With one round to go, we’re closer to finalising the top eight, but while analysis of which clubs can go the distance continues, have found those who played an underrated hand in Round 22.

Sydney: Jarrad McVeigh

McVeigh continued his strong run of form on Friday night in Adelaide, collecting 21 disposals and kicking an important goal. A call still hasn’t been made on his future, but he has done his chances of playing on in 2018 no harm with his performances in the second half of the year.

Port Adelaide: Sam Powell-Pepper

Port Adelaide’s rookie midfielder has enjoyed a stellar campaign in Year 1, and he was incredibly influential in their Round 22 triumph in Ballarat. He finished with 16 disposals, but it was his 12 tackles in the clinches that provided a spark for the Power.

Geelong: Sam Menegola

With Tom Hawkins still sidelined, the Cats were after many contributors in front of goal. With that in mind, Sam Menegola produced arguably his best performance at senior level, kicking two important goals and collecting 28 disposals to go along with 11 marks.

GWS: Aidan Corr

In a team full of A-grade talent, it can be quite easy to forget just how good some of the players the Giants have on their books are. Aidan Corr is the epitome of that with the key defender often coming up against some of the game’s best forwards every week. He did that once again on Saturday afternoon, but he came away holding his head high while also finding the ball himself, finishing with 14 disposals.

Essendon: Joshua Begley

Essendon fans had been calling out for Josh Begley to make his debut and their patience was well and truly rewarded on Saturday night. Begley produced a scintillating start to his career kicking a goal and providing two others with his first three kicks at the highest level. He finished the night with more than respectable stats of 16 disposals and two goals.

Carlton: Jed Lamb

In what was the upset of the weekend, Jed Lamb aided Carlton’s cause by playing a negating role on one of Hawthorn’s dangerous defenders, James Sicily, who gave away seven free kicks out of frustration. The 24-year-old is out of contract at season’s end, but his ability to perform a strong team role, while collecting 15 disposals and kicking two goals will help.

Melbourne: Cam Pedersen

On a weekly basis, you feel as if Cam Pedersen is playing with nothing to lose and the weekend’s victory over Brisbane was no different. The former Kangaroo once again underlined his importance to the Demons’ structure providing a secondary target inside forward 50 alongside Jesse Hogan — kicking three goals, taking his tally to 15 for the season.

St Kilda: Blake Acres

If St Kilda are to go to the next level next season, it will be developing youngsters like Blake Acres who will play a vital role in helping them to get there. With the opportunity to run rampant in the middle of the ground in the second half on Sunday, the 21-year-old released the shackles to finish with 30 disposals and one goal.

Richmond: Jacob Townsend

In his first game at the top level for the season, Jacob Townsend knew he had to make an impact on the eve of the Tigers’ finals campaign. The former Giant did exactly that during his side’s 104-point demolition of Fremantle kicking six goals while collecting 16 disposals along the way. Townsend also did the little things right laying four tackles.