The 2019 AFL season came to a close for both Geelong and Collingwood after they fell short in the preliminary finals on the weekend.
Some great performances in the forward half are highlighted in Round 16’s Team of the Week.
Back Pocket – James Sicily (Hawthorn)
Had a really good night in the backline for the Hawks, picking off Collingwood’s forward entries with 14 grabs while amassing 28 disposals at 92 per cent efficiency.
Full Back – Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide)
Put the clamp on Adelaide co-captain Taylor Walker in Showdown 47, keeping him to two majors while collecting 18 possessions himself. Hauled in 12 marks, six of them intercept grabs, while he had seven spoils.
Back Pocket – Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
Posed the question about whether Sheppard was among the top 20 players in the league after his superb Saturday night performance in the Western Derby.
Had 25 touches, with 11 rebounds from defensive 50, seven marks, seven spoils and 513 metres gained, which was crucial on a wet night in Perth. Deservedly won his first Glendinning-Allan Medal, and should also be ever closer to his first All Australian berth.
Half Back – Dane Rampe (Sydney)
The Swans’ co-captain had a dirty night the last time Sydney played the Bombers, but he atoned for that in the rematch on Saturday at the MCG. Collected 23 possessions, took eight marks, had six spoils and surprisingly had a team-high eight running bounces, which helped him gain an impressive 569 metres.
Centre Half Back – Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
The general down back for the Lions was a key part of a Brisbane defence that kept Greater Western Sydney to their lowest score at Giants Stadium in 2019. Had 11 touches, took seven contested marks and got his fist to the ball 15 times.
Half Back – Jarman Impey (Hawthorn)
Another Hawk who excelled in defence on Friday night against Collingwood, Impey had 25 disposals, took six grabs, laid three tackles and got six inside 50s. Is having a very underrated year.
Wing – Jack Billings (St Kilda)
Was close to best on the field in his 100th match on Sunday afternoon against North Melbourne, which is not a bad feat considering his side went down by over six goals. Billings was everywhere at Bellerive Oval, winning a career-high 35 disposals, taking five grabs, winning four clearances, laying six tackles, getting nine inside 50s and racking up a huge 792 metres gained.
Centre – Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
Not sure there’s a bloke who has enjoyed South Australian Showdowns more than this guy. Gray was pivotal to Port Adelaide’s second largest win ever against Adelaide, amassing 35 possessions, 16 of them contested, winning 10 clearances and kicking it inside 50 six times. Was awarded his fifth Showdown Medal, which is an incredible feat.
Wing – Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
Is putting together an enormous season and it continued on Saturday night, with Bontempelli racking up 27 touches, 17 of them contested at 74 per cent efficiency, taking six grabs, laying six tackles, winning five clearances, gaining 652 metres gained and kicking a goal among his eight score involvements.
In Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley and Jackson Macrae, the Bulldogs have arguably three of the best midfielders in the league.
Half Forward – Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)
The impressive young Roo was a force to be reckoned with down in Hobart on Sunday against St Kilda, amassing 16 disposals, taking eight grabs, with five of them inside 50, laying three tackles and, for the second time this season, booting five majors.
In total, he had eight shots at goal for the day, which is not bad for a kid with less than 25 games to his name.
Centre Half Forward – Tom McDonald (Melbourne)
Hasn’t this guy returned to form after a poor start to the year? McDonald was obliterating Carlton early at the MCG on Sunday, kicking three first-term goals.
Finished the game with 20 disposals, nine marks, five of them inside 50, and 6.2, which is very impressive considering he didn’t play the last quarter due to a knee injury that is likely to sideline him for a little while.
Half Forward – Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane)
Enjoyed the best game of his career on Sunday evening at Giants Stadium, playing more up the ground than normal which allowed him to collect a career-high 22 possessions, 13 of them contested, while he won seven clearances, took six marks and booted three goals.
Forward Pocket – Jamie Cripps (West Coast)
The tireless West Coast forward is having a very good year, averaging a career-high 1.8 goals per game at the moment. Added another four majors to his season tally on Saturday night against Fremantle to go with 14 touches and four tackles.
Full Forward – Josh Bruce (St Kilda)
After a couple of promising weeks leading up to Sunday’s match against North Melbourne, Bruce put in an unreal performance in a losing side. The often-maligned forward had 17 disposals, took seven marks, all of them contested grabs, laid four tackles and slotted six majors without a miss.
It is just the second time in Bruce’s career that he has kicked six goals in a game, and the first time since Round 2, 2015.
Forward Pocket – Jason Castagna (Richmond)
Was the main beneficiary of the Tigers’ dominant display against the Gold Coast Suns, piling on three goals in a barnstorming opening quarter. The premiership forward finished with five majors among 12 score involvements while he hauled in 10 grabs.
Ruckman – Nic Naitanui (West Coast)
In just two weeks, we have seen the influence Naitanui has had on West Coast since his return from another serious knee injury. Despite playing just 52 per cent game time on the weekend, he was mesmerising with 14 possessions, six clearances, three goal assists and 23 hitouts. His tap to Luke Shuey who scored is one of the plays of the year. Imagine when he starts playing 65 per cent of the match.
Ruck Rover – Dylan Shiel (Essendon)
Essendon’s prime mover in the middle helped himself to 29 disposals against the Swans on Saturday, while he also took three marks, laid nine tackles, had 557 metres gained and delivered inside 50 six times.
Rover – Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)
Fresh from a breakout performance last Saturday night, Simpkin took it to another level on Sunday with a sublime showing against St Kilda.
Danced his way in and out of stoppages to record 36 possessions, 21 of them contested, while he won nine clearances, had six inside 50s, laid three tackles and kicked a superb goal.
Interchange – Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs)
With just four goals from his last six games, there was a considerable amount of pressure on Naughton’s shoulders to perform on Saturday night against the ladder-leading Geelong Cats.
Critics were quickly silenced with a commanding display up forward from the teenager, who hauled in nine grabs, two of those contested and five inside 50, while collecting 14 touches and booting four goals. Needs to bridge the gap between his best and his worst, however. In four games in season 2019, Naughton has kicked bags of five, four, three and three. In every other match, he’s been held to just one goal or none.
Interchange – David Zaharakis (Essendon)
Turned back the clock with a sensational game on Saturday against the Swans at the MCG, collecting 22 disposals at 72 per cent efficiency, taking seven marks and booting three goals, which was crucial in a ten point victory.
Interchange – Harry Himmelberg (Greater Western Sydney)
Was the Giants’ most effective forward on a disappointing afternoon against the Brisbane Lions. With Jeremy Cameron and Jeremy Finlayson quiet, Himmelberg stood up with 14 possessions, four grabs, an impressive seven tackles inside 50 and four majors.
Interchange – Luke Shuey (West Coast)
Another standout performance from the reigning Norm Smith Medallist, with some West Coast supporters suggesting that he was stiff to not receive the Glendinning-Allan Medal for his 28 touches, eight tackles, nine clearances and one goal.
Emergency – Jack Silvagni (Carlton)
Since returning to the side last week against Fremantle, Silvagni has played the best two weeks of his career to date, with a very solid performance against Melbourne on Sunday at the MCG. Had 18 possessions, took ten marks, laid three tackles and booted three majors in a promising game.
Emergency – Nick Larkey (North Melbourne)
One of the many young guns at Arden Street, Larkey is really starting to show the qualities that saw him win the Frosty Miller goalkicking award in the VFL last season. Enjoyed the best game of his 12-match career on Sunday afternoon against St Kilda, winning 11 touches, taking five marks and kicking five goals.
Since coming into the line-up in Round 6, Larkey has kicked at least one goal in nine of his ten games.
Emergency – Isaac Heeney (Sydney)
The gun Swan tried very hard in the middle against Essendon, amassing 33 disposals and taking ten marks. Finished with two behinds, which would have seen him make the starting 22 had he of converted his chances.
Emergency – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
In game 150, Neale enjoyed a strong performance with 31 possessions, 16 of them contested, seven clearances, six marks, six tackles and a goal.
FB: James Sicily (Hawthorn), Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide), Brad Sheppard (West Coast)
HB: Dane Rampe (Sydney), Harris Andrews (Brisbane), Jarman Impey (Hawthorn)
C: Jack Billings (St Kilda), Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
HF: Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne), Tom McDonald (Melbourne), Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane)
FF: Jamie Cripps (West Coast), Josh Bruce (St Kilda), Jason Castagna (Richmond)
R: Nic Naitanui (West Coast), Dylan Shiel (Essendon), Jy Simpkin (North Melbourne)
I/C: Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs), David Zaharakis (Essendon), Harry Himmelberg (Greater Western Sydney), Luke Shuey (West Coast)
EMG: Jack Silvagni (Carlton), Nick Larkey (North Melbourne), Isaac Heeney (Sydney), Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
Adelaide: Nil (0)
Brisbane: Andrews, McCarthy (2)
Carlton: Nil (0)
Collingwood: Nil (0)
Essendon: Shiel, Zaharakis (2)
Fremantle: Nil (0)
Geelong: Nil (0)
Gold Coast: Nil (0)
Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg (1)
Hawthorn: Sicily, Impey (2)
Melbourne: T.McDonald (1)
North Melbourne: Zurhaar, Simpkin (2)
Port Adelaide: Clurey, R.Gray (2)
Richmond: Castagna (1)
St Kilda: Billings, Bruce (2)
Sydney: Rampe (1)
West Coast: Sheppard, Cripps, Naitanui, Shuey (4)
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Naughton (2)