The Western Bulldogs have made two brutal calls at the selection table ahead of the 2021 grand final clash with Melbourne.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost halfway through the year.
Too many very good performances went too unnoticed over the weekend, so let’s right those wrongs.
Adelaide: Luke Brown
The Crows own perhaps the two biggest upsets of the season and once again, the back half stood up well, not giving away much to the forwards, with the midfield getting beaten.
Brown was instrumental down back for the Crows, with a fantastic 480 metres gained. He took six grabs, had a handful of intercept touches and half a dozen rebound 50s. Big tick.
Brisbane: Devon Robertson
Fingers are crossed the Brisbane fans love this kid. He’s not the type to be involved in every moment but every moment he’s in is a good one.
His resume read 16 disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s but it was the touch here (the deft one late to Kaidean Coleman was sensational), a bump there, a shepherd, all the little things were wonderful.
What else the fans should love is when Marlion Pickett decked Brandon Starcevich, he and other young gun Jaxon Prior were first in to remonstrate, which is fantastic.
Carlton: Patrick Cripps
Yes, somehow the Carlton skipper has ended up in an underrated article, but alas, here we are. Jordan Lewis said he didn’t have a huge influence but he really did.
After James Cousins slowed down Sam Walsh’s influence in the second half, Cripps was the No.1 rated pressure player at the MCG, along with 25 disposals and five clearances. Still isn’t at his best but was very good on Saturday.
Collingwood: Caleb Poulter
As every commentator says whenever a young kid goes well, geez, they’ve found one. The Pies certainly have found one and one of the finer mullets is attached to a tough, hungry kid who should make the Pies’ fans happy.
The young fella had 22 touches on Saturday afternoon, took 12 marks on the outside (his overhead marking is a feature), had four inside 50s and was second for the Pies for metres gained with 456.
Essendon: David Zaharakis
My man Mason Redman put his hand up for another mention, but alas, it was the old boy Zaharakis who gets the nod. In probably his last year, these performances are symbolic of a very solid career.
On Sunday, he had 22 disposals, kicked a goal, went at 86 per cent efficiency under the roof at Marvel, had nine score involvements and took six marks.
The Dons put it all together for a big win and everyone played their role.
Fremantle: Michael Walters
Nat Fyfe was probably best on, Rory Lobb was dominant aerially but the return to form from Sonny was the most pleasing thing watching this game as a neutral.
Sonny had 17 kicks out of 23 touches, went at 82 per cent, took eight marks, had five inside 50s, five score involvements, four clearances and a classy goal. Hope it continues – he oozes class.
Geelong – Brandon Parfitt
On a day where Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs, Quinton Narkle, Lachie Henderson and many other Cats dominated, Parfitt’s ability to use the ball, defend his space and separate from the contest earns his spot here.
Haven’t gone back to check but I think Patrick Dangerfield being in the stands was mentioned more than Parfitt’s 21-disposal (at 85 per cent, mind you), ten-tackle and seven-clearance performance, which doesn’t sit right here at Underrated HQ.
Gold Coast: Wil Powell
The Suns and Cats played in what seemed to be the most predictable result of the round and although they were gallant at times, the Suns were exposed yet again. However, they had some winners and Powell was good without the credit.
Twenty touches at 75 per cent, 11 intercept possessions and pressure acts, ten contested possessions, eight one-percenters and six marks (three contested) was the day for Powell.
GWS: Sam Taylor
Some respect on the key backs, please!
The Giants had their most mature performance of the year when they lowered the Eagles’ premiership chances significantly and Taylor was a big reason why.
Continuously leaving his opponent and impacting the contest, Taylor had 21 touches at 80 per cent, took nine marks, had four score involvements and laid four tackles.
If you haven’t figured out this man is a star, get on board.
Hawthorn: Jarman Impey
The former Power player led Hawthorn in the 2019 Peter Crimmins Medal for votes per game average before doing his ACL against Geelong and after getting some touch back late last year, has been simply awesome in 2021.
Played his role and then some in a disappointing loss with 24 disposals, six tackles, five marks, four rebound 50s, three inside 50s, two clearances and a partridge in a pear tree.
Melbourne: Angus Brayshaw
Max Gawn is the All Australian ruckman, Clayton Oliver is leading the Brownlow, Ed Langdon has one wing covered in the All Australian team, Steven May should be in the squad, as well as Bayley Fritsch, but while they fell to the Crows, 2018 Brownlow bronze medallist Angus Brayshaw was very good.
Started the game dominantly and finished with 22 touches (ten contested), seven score involvements, six clearances, four marks and three tackles. Has been maligned in the last three years but credit’s due here.
North Melbourne: Tarryn Thomas
The top ten pick from the 2018 draft has been criticised in the past for not coming on as strong as he should have been but his last month has been very good, particularly two weeks ago against Hawthorn, and he backed it up.
He had 21 disposals on Sunday (eight contested) and went at a brilliant 90 per cent efficiency. Thomas had a team-high nine inside 50s, took five marks, had five clearances and ripped the snorkel out of the game, when his teammates didn’t.
Not only that, he can hit the scoreboard and did so twice.
Port Adelaide: Kane Farrell
Poor Channel Seven didn’t get a break with this game. It was a lacklustre affair that lacked class.
A man who didn’t lack class was the speedy wingman.
Farrell and Karl Amon are combining as outside players magnificently. Farrell had 23 disposals at 86per cent per cent efficiency, took six marks on the outside and had five inside 50s. Some discount this stat but you can’t argue with 550 metres gained.
Richmond: Jake Aarts
The hard luck story of last season’s premiership campaign, Aarts missed out on the glory but is firmly in Richmond’s best 22 as we speak. If any youngster wants to understand the term ‘front and centre’, watch him.
Kicked 2.1, had 17 at 82 per cent efficiency, took eight marks, had four inside 50s and five score involvements. Also loved that he’s willing to come up when the Tigers are struggling to clear the ball and fight at half back or a wing.
St Kilda: Ryan Byrnes
The Saints were every bad adjective under the sun – that’s it, conversation over. So much so, I almost went with Luke Dunstan for his 28 touches and three goals in the damn VFL!
However, Byrnes was tough and hungry whereas some teammates weren’t. He gets a huge tick, with 24 touches (nine contested), a dozen marks, three tackles, three clearances and 79 per cent efficiency.
Some goal-kicking practice through the week is required, however.
Sydney: Josh Kennedy
The Swans gave everything in poor conditions and almost stole it and in a hotly contested game, and the veteran star had another rip snorter of a performance.
How good? Twenty-eight touches (11 contested), six tackles, five clearances, five inside 50s, four marks, four score involvements and a reminder to the league on just how good he is.
West Coast: Jack Redden
You don’t need to kick first to impact a contest and Redden proved that with a very solid performance.
Sixteen handballs among 22 disposals, 11 contested possessions, getting his snout over the footy, six score involvements, five clearances all over the ground and laid four tackles.
His team, though? Not good.
Western Bulldogs: Jason Johannisen
The Norm Smith Medallist has had an interesting time of it since his performance in the 2016 grand final but on Saturday night, the Dogs hunted and “JJ” had some bark.
Nineteen disposals at 74 per cent efficiency but it was his defensive actions that were the most pleasing.
Terrorised the St Kilda defence with 24 pressure acts and four tackles, he also had a brilliant 11 score involvements.