Each week, aflplayers.com.au 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 6 Unsung Heroes.
Geelong: Sam Simpson
It was 700 days between games for Geelong’s Sam Simpson and he made the most of his return. Outdone by the Lions in the first half, the Cats and Simpson dominated after half-time with the seventh-gamer collecting 11 of his game-high 27 disposals in the final term. Simpson was an important cog in the Cats’ midfield, collecting six intercept possessions, taking six uncontested marks and laying five tackles as Geelong stormed home to a 27-point victory.
Collingwood: Isaac Quaynor
Friday night’s game was well and truly over when Isaac Quaynor sprinted to the goal line to punch through and save what would have been a certain Paul Puopolo goal. It was a moment that, in just his fifth game of footy, showed why he was so highly regarded in the 2018 AFL Draft. Quaynor was prolific off half-back collecting 15 disposals at 93 per cent efficiency, six intercept possessions, five inside 50s and taking three marks as Collingwood secured a 32-point victory.
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Fremantle: Lachie Schultz
It was almost as if history was repeating itself on Saturday afternoon when Lachie Schultz converted the match-winning goal in the dying minutes against St Kilda, similar to what Fremantle player-turned-coach Justin Longmuir did back against the Saints in 2005. The goal secured Fremantle’s second win of the season, but also showed Schultz’ impressive composure in just his 12th game. Schultz is quickly becoming an important part of Fremantle’s side and although he only collected nine touches on the weekend his five score involvements and two goals is what makes him such an important player.
West Coast: Jeremy McGovern
McGovern has had an up and down season, with injury and suspension affecting his continuity and ability to be at his best. But the master interceptor was back doing what he does best against the Crows – patrolling the defensive 50 and not allowing the ball to get past him. The defender finished the game with 12 marks (four contested), 17 disposals and nine intercepts in one of his best individual performances of the season.
Melbourne: Harley Bennell
It’s hard to go past the feel good moment of the weekend when former Sun and Docker Harley Bennell kicked his first AFL goal since 2017. After a career decimated by injuries, Bennell is starting to get a run at it. Returning to the field against his former side for his second game of the season on the weekend, Bennell missed his first shot at goal with a score review confirming Suns defender Charlie Ballard touched the ball, but was awarded another chance with a shot after the final siren. It was the perfect way to cap off the Demons’ 17-point win and second of the season.
Essendon: David Zaharakis
After facing media scrutiny in recent weeks for under-performing, Zaharakis returned to form on the weekend. Playing in a new role this season and with Essendon missing spearhead Jake Stringer, Zaharakis stepped up kicking three goals to go with his 20 touches and eight score involvements.
Port Adelaide: Kane Farrell
It was arguably the best game of his short career, but there was one moment that stood out from Port Adelaide’s Kane Farrell. Holding a tight three-point lead and just over nine minutes remaining on the clock, the Power were surging the ball towards their forward-50. Zak Butters was searching for options inside when he quickly passed off to Farrell. The youngster then unleashed a monster kick from 55m out, which sailed through the big sticks. The goal put Port Adelaide nine points up and gave them enough breathing room to hold off the Giants.
Richmond: Liam Baker
In the second lowest-scoring game of the AFL-era and a defensive slog, it’s no surprise a defender is one of this weekend’s Unsung Heroes. Liam Baker has become a key figure in the Tigers’ team and in a game lacking highlights, Baker was a shining light. The 22-year-old struggled to impact the contest in the first half collecting just six touches, but after half-time he found a way to bounce back. Baker finished with 17 touches, took eight marks, three inside 50s, three rebound 50s and laid three tackles as the Tigers secured a much-needed eight-point win.
Carlton: Matt Kennedy
Recalled to the senior side for his first game this season, Kennedy stood up when Cripps went down injured. Although the Blues co-captain returned to the field later on, he was at less than full capacity after a knock to his shoulder. Kennedy was critical through the middle of the ground collecting 20 touches, five rebound 50s, four score involvements and four inside 50s and the Blues put away the Dogs by 52 points to enter the top eight for the first time since 2013.