As the Crows made it back to the winners list and the Giants broke Richmond hearts, Aflplayers.com.au found the players that flew under the radar for your club in Round 9.
Geelong: Zac Smith
After being part of a side that got smashed for playing bruise-free footy, Zac Smith put in his best display in a Geelong jumper. Collecting career-high numbers in touches (25), hitouts (48) and tackles (10), Smith dominated without the presence of a genuine rucking opponent.
Sydney: Tom Papley
In what was a must-win game for the Swans to keep their finals hopes alive, we saw a return of the Sydney of old at Etihad Stadium against the Saints. Their trademark relentless pressure and contested ball-winning ability was exemplary. One man who played a vital role up forward with his pressuring was Tom Papley, who finished with 20 disposals and two goals. St Kilda struggled to get it out of their forward half for most of the day, and he was a key contributor.
GWS: Harry Perryman
In a game of inches, Giants debutant Harry Perryman provided two efforts late that would prove to be match-winners. With a minute to go, Perryman smothered Jack Riewoldt’s snap at goal before also touching Shai Bolton’s kick off the boot that stopped the Tigers from furthering their lead. Sure enough, GWS would to go to other end and claim the victory.
Adelaide: Hugh Greenwood
Breaking into what was already a formidable forward-line, Hugh Greenwood would’ve been forgiven for just being happy to be out on the field on Saturday night. But 15 disposals and three goals later, the basketball convert put in a dream debut performance. Also collecting nine tackles, the 25-year-old showed a willingness to work and was duly rewarded for his efforts.
Collingwood: Daniel Wells
He had 34 less disposals than the leading ball-getter on the night, but Daniel Wells’ influence on the contest – particularly in the second half – might’ve been greater. Wells only touched the Sherrin 16 times and laid seven tackles but his intensity and cleanliness around the contest after half-time went a long way to helping Collingwood overrun a lackluster Hawthorn.
Essendon: Connor McKenna
Having had his place in the side questioned by fans, Connor McKenna responded in the perfect way with his best game of the season and possibly of his career. The Irishman looked a player full of confidence during the Bombers’ victory over the Eagles, as he looked to break the lines on every possible occasion for his side. McKenna kept things simple throughout the match, collecting 17 disposals while going at 88.2 per cent disposal efficiency.
North Melbourne: Luke McDonald
If there’s a bloke who gives their all in the North Melbourne side — and they’ve got a few of them — it’s Luke McDonald. Collecting 16 disposals and five inside 50s, the Kangaroos half-back stuck nine tackles and kicked a last ditch goal to seal the win for Brad Scott’s men, but it’s his effort around the ground that makes McDonald so valuable.
Fremantle: Michael Walters
With the game hanging in the balance after half-time, Michael Walters came to the party for Fremantle with a team inspiring third term. The 26-year-old turned the match in his side’s favour with three goals and a chase down tackle turned goal on Lachie Plowman the highlight of the premiership quarter. Walters continued to relish in his new role as a regular in the Dockers’ midfield, finishing with 27 disposals and providing two goal assists.