The penultimate round of the 2019 AFL season saw thrilling finishes, upset wins and 100-point victories. AFLPlayers.com.au highlights the players who played an understated role in their side’s Round 22 victory, whether it be a pivotal moment or a four-quarter performance.
Sydney: Tom McCartin
In bleak conditions on Friday night at the MCG, young Swan Tom McCartin was a shining light. The younger brother of St Kilda’s Paddy is having a breakout year in his second season and is starting to find his feet in Sydney’s forward line. Against a dismal Demons outfit, McCartin gathered 10 disposals, took four marks and kicked two goals, providing a glimpse of his future potential.
Carlton: Levi Casboult
Similar to Carlton’s resurgence since David Teague took the senior coaching reins, Levi Casboult’s career looks to be reinvigorated. In Carlton’s come-from-behind victory on the weekend, Casboult collected 20 touches and 10 marks in his best game for the year.
Brisbane: Lincoln McCarthy
It was fitting that in his 50th senior match and against his former side, Lincoln McCarthy would be the unlikely Brisbane hero. With 84 seconds remaining and the Lions trailing by four-points, Brisbane frantically moved the ball forward of centre, hoping for a match-winning moment. Enter, McCarthy. Flying over Jack Henry, McCarthy took a contender for mark of the year before calmly going back and slotting the goal to put the Lions two points up. The victory saw Brisbane move to top spot on the ladder for the first time in 12 years.
Collingwood: Josh Thomas
After struggling to regain his 2018 form, Josh Thomas performed strongly against Adelaide on Saturday, showing what an important cog he will be in Collingwood’s forward line come finals. With Jamie Elliott taking the accolades for his five-goal haul, Thomas played his role bagging three majors of his own. In an early slog where goals were hard to come by, his 11-disposal and six-score involvement performance was critical to the Pies’ 66-point victory.
North Melbourne: Nick Larkey
It’s hard to pick an unsung hero in a side that won by 86-points and were dominant from siren-to-siren, but North Melbourne’s Nick Larkey showed he is the type of player the Kangaroos can build a forward-line around. Supporting Ben Brown and his 10-goal performance, Larkey kicked five straight of his own to equal his career-best performance. Larkey finished the game with 11 touches, eight score involvements and seven marks.
Essendon: Mason Redman
Essendon supporters have been spruiking the young defender’s performances for a while now, but the competition is starting to catch on to how important Redman has become to the Bombers’ line-up. Against the Dockers, Redman gathered 18 disposals at 83.8 per cent efficiency and also laid seven tackles as the Bombers booked their 2019 finals spot.
Richmond: Bachar Houli
Dustin Martin was best afield, but Bachar Houli wasn’t far behind. 2017 Grand Final anyone? Houli racked up 34 disposals and drove the ball inside 50 on six occasions, providing great drive from the back half. Houli’s composure in the last few minutes of a tight game and his ability to be clean with the footy in slippery conditions when the game was on the line speaks volumes for the player he has become.
Western Bulldogs: Jackson Trengove
With ruckman Tim English a late out, Bulldogs big-man Jackson Trengove was forced into the ruck role. Contending against retiring Giant Dawson Simpson, Trengove held his own. Despite losing the hit-outs, Trengove performed admirably and finished with six clearances in the Dogs’ 61-point upset.
Hawthorn: Blake Hardwick
Despite coming second in last year’s Hawthorn best-and-fairest, Blake Hardwick continues to fly under the radar. The 181cm defender is enjoying a career-best season and on Sunday against the Gold Coast Suns, Hardwick collected 23 disposals and eight intercept possessions, providing an important role across half-back. At only 22-years-old, Hardwick is building nicely into a rebound defender.