With things beginning to take shape after another enthralling weekend of footy, AFLPlayers.com.au highlights those that played an underrated hand in their side’s victories.
Collingwood: Scott Pendlebury
It might sound strange to describe Scott Pendlebury as an unsung hero, but his important role was pivotal in curtailing one of Carlton’s prime movers. The Pies’ skipper became the hunter rather than the hunted for the first time in his career, working hard to diminish Patrick Cripps’ influence around stoppages. The 30-year-old finished the game with just 21 disposals, but laid 12 tackles and prevented Cripps from running wild in the middle of the ground.
Port Adelaide: Sam Gray
In a tight contest at Adelaide Oval, taking your chances was always going to be crucial, and that’s exactly what Sam Gray did. The pressure forward finished Saturday’s clash with 21 disposals, and three important goals as the Power became the only undefeated team after three rounds, holding off the stubborn Lions by five points.
Melbourne: Dean Kent
Dean Kent proved his value to the side against North Melbourne, collecting the footy 20 times and kicking three goals. They may have started slowly, but Kent was crucial in helping the Demons to turn the game around, laying a crunching tackle in the forward 50 before slotting home Melbourne’s second goal of the game.
Fremantle Ed Langdon
It took the Dockers the best part of three quarters to wrestle the control of the game off the Suns, but once they took over, they steam-rolled home in an ‘away’ game at Optus Stadium. Ed Langdon worked and worked, laying five tackles and collecting the football 27 times in their 28-point triumph.
Sydney: Callum Sinclair
With Lance Franklin on fire to start the season, the question around his reliance has started to spring up. The Swans certainly found the balance against the Giants, relying on just two goals from their spearhead and finding six multiple goal-scorers in the process. One of those was Callum Sinclair, who kicked three majors to help Sydney win the battle of the bridge.
Adelaide: Paul Seedsman
In a scrappy contest at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, Adelaide took their chances to comfortably prevail over St Kilda. Paul Seedsman’s speed and ball use proved to be important, finishing the game with 26 disposals at 80 per cent efficiency, and two goals.
Richmond: Jason Castagna
Jason Castagna just gets the job done for the Tigers. Often unheralded, the 21-year-old runs himself into the ground, lays ferocious tackles, and quite often hits the scoreboard. In Sunday’s 13-point win over the previously undefeated Hawks, Castagna laid six tackles, kicked three goals and was vital as Richmond improved to 2-1.
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Williams
After a week where the Western Bulldogs were beaten from pillar to post, they responded in the best way possible against Essendon. Bailey Williams’ development across half-back appears to be moving steadily, with the 20-year-old taking 12 marks, gathering 26 disposals at 92 per cent efficiency and kicking his first AFL goal.
West Coast: Jack Darling
With the Eagles trailing by 15 points with a little under 10 minutes remaining, the momentum was with the Cats. The Eagles had set up a big lead at half time, but that had been reeled in and it seemed almost a formality that Geelong would complete a remarkable comeback. That was until Jack Darling kicked two goals in quick succession to peg Geelong back within reach. That pivotal stretch helped the Eagles to wrestle back momentum and claim a big victory.