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Unsung Heroes – Round 5

Each week, looks at the players who flew under the radar in their team’s victory. Whether it was a moment of impact or a four-quarter performance, these are the Round 5 Unsung Heroes.  

St Kilda: Nick Coffield

Nick Coffield has slowly been chipping away at his development since joining the Saints with pick No. 8 in the 2017 Draft, but this year the defender has come on in leaps and bounds. Against the Blues on Thursday night, Coffield had 20 touches at 90 per cent efficiency, a team-high nine marks, six score involvements, four rebound 50s, three inside 50s and a game-high 461 metres gained. It was well-rounded performance from the 20-year-old in one of the Saints’ first prime time games in a while.

Essendon: Jordan Ridley

He’s a little known defender outside of Essendon circles, but on Friday night Ridley became a household name. Wet weather footy isn’t made for tall players, even less so when you’re playing your 13th game of AFL, but Ridley didn’t let it bother him. Ridley collected 18 touches at 83 per cent effieciency, 16 pressure acts, eight one-percenters, seven marks and five rebound 50s as he drew high praise from Essendon champion Dustin Fletcher.

West Coast: Oscar Allen

The Eagles youngster has been in and out of the side over the last few years, however Allen is starting to find greater consistency in his game and it’s leading to improved performance. The 21-year-old booted a match-high three goals in an influential performance against the Swans. One of Allen’s great strengths is his mobility for a big man and the versatility in his game makes him an important player as West Coast looks to resurrect its season.

Geelong: Esava Ratugolea

It wasn’t his highest rating game, but when the Suns threatened to spoil the Cats’ milestone celebrations with their second quarter comeback, Ratugolea stood up. The 197cm ruckman collected 11 touches, including nine contested possessions, five marks (four contested) and three inside 50s, impressing with his ability to out muscle the opposition and launch at the footy in the air.

Western Bulldogs: Tim English

After a disappointing start to his season against Brodie Grundy in Round 1, Tim English has impressed in every game since. In a solid battle against North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein on Saturday night, English held his own gathering 22 touches, 15 hitouts (five to advantage), eight marks and seven score involvements.

Brisbane: Hugh McCluggage

As senior Brisbane midfielders Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons led the Lions’ second quarter charge against top-of-the-table Port Adelaide on Saturday night, Hugh McCluggage was quietly working away in the engine room. The 22-year-old’s impressive work rate was on show collecting 19 touches, three inside 50s and taking three marks. But, it was his defensive work that deserves the accolades, with McCluggage laying a game-high seven tackles as the Lions stormed home to a 37-point win.

Fremantle: Darcy Tucker

When Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe was ruled out with a low-grade hamstring injury, questions were asked about who would fill the void for the Dockers. Enter, Darcy Tucker. Continuing his strong form, Tucker was pivotal in Fremantle’s first win of the season gathering 16 touches, six score involvements, taking six marks, four inside 50s, two goals and 489 metres gained.

Richmond: Noah Balta

Coming into the side for an injured David Astbury, the frenetic pace Noah Balta plays with was clear to see. Sometimes it led to a turnover or two, but more often than not it led to something productive for the Tigers. The key backman was resolute in his match-up with Demons forward Tom McDonald, playing the best game of his young AFL career finishing with 20 disposals and a game-high 10 intercept possessions.

GWS Giants: Harry Perryman 

Harry Perryman is having the best season of his short career and Sunday was no different. After leading the Coleman Medal in the early rounds of the season, Perryman spent more time down back and in the middle on Sunday and was crucial in the Giants’ ability to control the flow of the game. Perryman collected 28 touches, an impressive 11 uncontested marks, seven intercept possessions and five rebound 50s. At only 21, Perryman is giving Giants fans plenty to look forward to.