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Opinion

Six players who caught the eye in Round 2

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Roar Rookie
16th June, 2020
7

This list is not the top performers of the round, instead players who caught the eye of footy fans upon the return to play last weekend.

Matt Rowell
Last year’s number one draft pick proved his worth on Saturday night, leading his Suns to a 44-point victory over West Coast.

With an impressive 26 disposals, seven tackles and two goals, Rowell earnt himself the Rising Star nomination, and all but certainly the first three-vote game of his career.

It was clear Rowell was going to impress in his first year, but not even his biggest supporters could have predicted he’d have a performance like this in just his second match.

Gary Ablett 
It was vintage Gary Ablett on Friday night, when the little master turned back the clock in a whopping 61-point Geelong demolition job on their arch rivals Hawthorn.

Ablett’s 21 disposals, two goals and seven score involvements put him among Geelong’s best two players on the night.

With many doubting whether Ablett had another year left in him prior to the season, it was truly a joy to watch him dominate in the manner he did.

This performance probably leaves us with more questions than answers. Can he go on another year? I think so, playing full-time forward, I could see him having a 40-goal season next year.

Gary Ablett

(Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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Steven Motlop 
Motlop’s performance in the Showdown on Saturday night was a sight to behold, finishing with 24 disposals and two goals.

Since crossing to the Power in 2018, Motlop has struggled to cement a regular position in Port’s best 22, failing to capture the form that made him so beloved at the Cattery.

Port Adelaide supporters will be hoping Motlop’s Showdown Medal-worthy performance is a sign of things to come, and not just a flash in the pan from what has otherwise been a disappointing two years at the club.

Bailey Smith 
It is clear to see why the man they call ‘Baz’ is so highly rated down at Whitten Oval.

Smith has slipped into the Bulldogs’ midfield seamlessly over the first two rounds of the season. Transitioning from a winger to an inside ball-winner, he racked up a game-high 29 disposals in the Dogs’ star-studded midfield.

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Smith’s midfield minutes have increased as a result of Luke Beveridge moving Jack Macrae to a more outside role in 2020. Macrae attended nine centre bounces in the weekend, as opposed to Smith’s 19.

With increased midfield minutes the Bulldogs’ 2018 first-round pick could be well on the way to his first best and fairest, shining in what has otherwise been a dismal start to the year for Dogs.

Zak Jones 
Jones’ first two games as a Saint have been nothing short of phenomenal.

In Round 1 Jones tallied a team-high 22 disposals, which he followed up on the weekend with a game-high 29 disposals, to lead St Kilda to a 39-point win over the Bulldogs.

Jones’ amplified impact since crossing from Sydney can be put down to his increased midfield minutes, where he was starved for years behind other players.

Given his form over the first two rounds, it is clear the Saints have definitely found a player who given the opportunity has finally stepped out of the shadow of his brother, Nathan Jones.

Zak Jones

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Clayton Oliver 
It feels like years since Clayton Oliver entered the league as a chubby, red-headed hard nut, yet the 22-year-old Melbourne midfielder is only getting started.

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On Saturday afternoon, footy fans across the country sat and watched as Oliver went head to head with who many believe is the best young player in the league, Patrick Cripps. Centre bounce after centre bounce, the two bulls went head to head, and what a thrill it was.

Oliver got the better of Cripps, notching up 28 disposals and five tackles, in what was a coming-of-age performance.

With the noticeable improvement of Christian Petracca over the off-season and the increased impact of Jack Viney through the Demons’ midfield, Oliver is relishing the decreased load in the middle of ground.

All signs point towards another fantastic season for the Dees’ young gun, and with his scalp of Patty Cripps, it is about time Oliver receives the recognition he deserves as one of the league’s best midfielders.