While the footy world talks up the Crows dominance, Geelong’s 3-0 start and Dustin Martin’s brilliance, Aflplayers.com.au are looking to highlight those who may have slipped under the radar for your club over the weekend.
Unsung Heroes for Round 3:
Sydney vs. Collingwood: Callum Mills
The Swans academy product has already built a reputation as one of the tougher players in the game after only a season and three matches, but the 20-year-old backed into oncoming traffic in the middle of the ground in the third quarter of Friday’s night’s epic encounter and was collected by Darcy Moore and still managed to grasp enough of the footy to be paid a mark. Sure enough last year’s Rising Star winner did the exact same thing moments later on the wing.
North Melbourne vs. GWS Giants: Braydon Preuss
The Kangaroos have snared one here. The 21-year-old converted from Rugby League in his late teens and eventually found his way to the Gold Coast academy but was snatched by North Melbourne in the rookie draft a year later. Still learning the game but growing each week, Preuss stands at 206cm and weighs 109kg and can play. Taking on one of the more feared players in the league in Shane Mumford, Preuss more than held his own collecting 16 disposals, nine marks and kicking two goals — one a massive bomb from behind the 50m arc.
Richmond vs. West Coast: Kane Lambert
With Sam Mitchell running riot, Damien Hardwick was in desperate need of a solution to quell the ball magnet who had collected 12 first-quarter possessions. Former Williamstown star Kane Lambert would rise to the occasion, limiting Mitchell to just 13 more disposals, including a total of just seven across the second and third quarters. The performance was a well-rounded one for the 25-year-old who finished with an equal team-high of six tackles, also making an impact with the ball with 19 disposals and one goal.
Geelong vs. Melbourne: Jack Watts
Watts was forced to ruck after the injury to Max Gawn before half-time. The key forward had two goals to his name at that point but was thrown into the deep end despite being 10cm shorter than his opposing ruckman Zac Smith. Even though Watts was unable to stem the bleeding around stoppages, he ended up with 24 disposals, 10 contested possessions and six marks to be one of Melbourne’s best.
Port Adelaide vs. Adelaide: Andy Otten
Before the 2017 season, Otten’s last game came in Round 20, 2014 but the 27-year-old is growing in confidence each week. On Saturday night against cross-town rivals Port Adelaide, Otten collected 16 disposals and kicked two second-quarter goals — the second putting the Crows in front before half time. Otten spent time in the ruck as Sam Jacobs’ back up and collected three clearances of his own on the night.
Fremantle vs. Western Bulldogs: Hayden Crozier
In his first game of the season, Crozier, now in his sixth year at the Dockers, produced one of his better performances. Collecting 20 disposals, six inside 50s and two goals — one of which was an incredible snap from the pocket and gave the Dockers the lead with 13 minutes to go in the last quarter. While the performances of senior players such as Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill and David Mundy went a long way to helping Fremantle secure their first win of the year, Crozier’s game might just be the one sees him cement his place in the club’s best 22.
St Kilda vs. Brisbane: Maverick Weller
While St Kilda veterans Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna captured the bulk of the praise following their gritty 31-point win over Brisbane, it was Maverick Weller who willed himself to a number of contests and also played a pivotal role in the Saints’ first win of the season. It’s easy for a performance like Weller’s — 15 disposals, six marks and two goals — to go unnoticed, but his 10 score involvements and tireless running assisted St Kilda when they needed him the most. He finished with three marks inside 50 and 11 of his 15 touches were effective.
Carlton vs. Essendon: Ed Curnow
With just four points separating the two sides at the final change, Ed Curnow stood tall with 11 final quarter disposals to will the Blues over the line for their first victory of 2017. Curnow kicked a vital goal at the seven minute mark of the final term, snapping truly after many of Essendon’s defenders flew, leaving Curnow unmanned at ground level to put his side ahead by 10 points. The goal, a reward for all his hard work on a day in which he finished with the second most clearances and contested possessions for his side.
Gold Coast vs. Hawthorn: David Swallow
After a reasonable return game last week, Swallow put in a performance against the Hawks that forced the footy world to remember why he was taken with the first pick in the 2010 draft. While he gathered 34 disposals, 17 contested possessions, nine clearances and six tackles, it was a goal-saving, diving smother in the goal square early in the game which set the tone for the match.