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Unsung heroes — Round 23

Essendon: Kyle Langford

Essendon’s second half renaissance continued on Friday night, with a comfortable 22-point win over Port Adelaide. The hierarchy will be thrilled with how Kyle Langford finished the season, with his form indicative of the team. In the final game of 2018, the improving 21-year-old kicked three majors, had 15 disposals, laid 11 tackles, six score involves and five inside 50s.

Geelong: Sam Menegola

The Cats took no time putting the Suns to the sword and Sam Menegola was a key factor to building a strong lead before the first break. Menegola kicked the opening goal of the match before nailing another before the end of the first term, while also ending up with 23 disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s as Geelong cruised into another finals series.


Richmond: Dylan Grimes

The Richmond defence was under siege in the last term of their Round 23 clash against the Bulldogs but their ever-reliable defender stood up when it mattered most. In the last play of the game, Grimes flew across a small pack and marked just outside defensive 50 to ensure a three-point Tigers victory, with the ball ending in his hands as the siren sounded.

Collingwood: Brody Mihocek

With the time winding down on Saturday afternoon, Collingwood’s top four fate was unknown. Fremantle were putting in a spirited performance coming off a 100-point loss, and there was a distinct possibility the Pies were going to let this one slip. That was until Brody Mihocek proved to be the match-winner, stepping up with two goals in two minutes to wrestle back the lead. The mature-aged first-year Pie then laid a crunching tackle on Nathan Wilson to keep the ball in the Pies’ half with the margin at just four points.

Adelaide: Andy Otten

He only managed eight games in 2018 but Andy Otten ended his year with his best performance against the Blues on Saturday night. The tall utility played a role in defence, collecting 21 disposals at 95 per cent efficiency, 10 marks (two of which were contested) and six rebounds as the Crows put a positive end to a disappointing season.

Hawthorn: Conor Nash

With three minutes to go and the ball sailing towards centre half-forward, it took a three-gamer to force a turnover and ultimately led to the sealer. Sydney defender Jake Lloyd collected a loose Hawthorn clearance at centre half-back before Irishman Conor Nash laid a bone crunching tackle, forcing him to handball to the advantage of Jarryd Roughead and the Hawks securing their seventh top four berth in eight years.

West Coast: Chris Masten

With a top two spot up for grabs, travelling to the Gabba could’ve been seen as a danger game for the Eagles. But Adam Simpson’s men were resolute and the young Lions weren’t able to get back into the contest after half-time. One Eagle who played an underrated hand was Chris Masten, the 29-year-old recording 23 touches and six rebounds.

Melbourne: Aaron vandenBerg

If there’s a player who Melbourne needed more going into their first finals series since 2006, it’s Aaron vandenBerg and he showed why in Round 23. The injury-riddled Demon is as hard-at-it as they come and he collected some impressive numbers against the Giants, recording 21 disposals, six tackles and six inside 50s.

North Melbourne: Ryan Clarke

Ryan Clarke has shown signs in 2018, and the youngster would have been impressed with his finished to the season on Sunday. The 21-year-old collected the footy 28 times, had nine score involvements and five rebound 50s as the Kangaroos sent Jarrad Waite off victorious.