From postponed matches to upsets and some finals chances going down the drain, Round 20 provided some highs, lows and everything in-between but as per usual, fantastic performances slipped by the experts.
Adelaide – Andrew McPherson
Lots of footy mans wouldn’t know McPherson if he was a random date at a wedding but he showed a lot of composure under a lot of fire against the Dogs.
He had 15 kicks among his 21 disposals and went at a beautiful 85 per cent efficiency. He had a fantastic seven rebound 50s and even went up the ground to have a couple of inside 50s. He also took three marks and is looking more comfortable at the level weekly.
Brisbane – Dan McStay
Brisbane have cost themselves more than any other time this season when they went down to the Hawks but this underrated is a smack to the commentators who refused to see McStay’s impact before he took a screamer.
He was the only and I mean only forward threat across the whole game for the Lions. He kicked four from 16 disposals, took six contested marks among eight grabs and his field kicking was spot on, going at 93 per cent. Shoutout to Jack Payne too who was very good.
Carlton – Lochie O’Brien
Lochie and Patty Dow have been locked in an enthralling battle for most maligned player at Carlton for the last three or so years and while Dow’s last month has been extremely encouraging, allow me to join in the praise for other man in the fight.
O’Brien was excellent with his 21 disposals but his delivery inside 50 and ability to cover the ground was seriously A grade class. 80 per cent disposal efficiency, six score involvements, six inside 50s, five marks and 389 metres gained (third for the Blues) was his night and it was an unreal one for the Blues.
Collingwood – John Noble
Really difficult to pick an underrated player in a performance that was so entirely dominant. The Pies had zero pressure on them, noted by the lowest disposal efficiency by a player who had 15+ disposals, was Will Hoskin-Elliott’s 73 per cent!
So why Noble? Sometimes the favourites can shine and he did. He had 22 disposals, ten marks, seven score involvements, 317 metres gained and got himself a goal. Lovely stuff extracted from a very good performance.
Essendon – Sam Draper
It was cult figure versus cult figure in the ruck as journeyman Tom Hickey took on Draper and it was a highly entertaining battle. Draper’s ability to cover the ground was as good as it’s been across the whole of 2021.
He had ten contested possessions, 23 hit-outs, five clearances, four score involvements, four marks (two contested), three inside 50s and even had a couple of rebounds. The Dons have got a good one and he can improve his tank over the off season and contend as one of the better rucks in the league soon enough.
Fremantle – Hayden Young
There’s something about left footed defenders that’s just beautiful to watch and the 2019 No.7 pick is next among the competition’s best kicks and composed individuals.
You can almost forget the 23 disposals at 91 per cent in horrid conditions, the eleven pressure acts, nine intercept possessions, the six score involvements, three marks, a couple of inside 50s and 310 metres gained, it was his kick wide to Nathan Wilson when the Tigers were pressing late that slowed the clock down which was almost worth every inch of being a Pick 7.
Editor’s note: Name not provided by author
Would’ve loved to give it to Zach Guthrie as Underrated HQ loves a breakout man but the two time best and fairest winner (who’s an underrated player overall too by the way) did a lot of everything which needs to be appreciated.
15 disposals doesn’t sound like the biggest of outputs but when you have 14 hit-outs, go at 93 per cent efficiency, take eight marks (two contested), five score involvements, three inside 50s and kick a wonderful goal from the wrong pocket, you get your rightful kudos.
Gold Coast – Charlie Ballard
Really hard to find an underrated performance in that impression of witches hats but the up and coming defender in Ballard showed some pride.
He took ten grabs (with two of them contested) and had six contested possessions among 18 disposals and used the ball well, at 83 per cent. Touk Miller is a star and the Suns are a mess.
GWS – Harry Perryman
A favourite here, a genuine utility but unlike the old 2009 footy cards, he actually is a utility. Perryman can play all over the ground and do it with precision and class.
90 per cent efficiency with 20 disposals is unreal, eight marks, six score involvements, four rebound 50s and a point, Perryman was chased heavily by Port Adelaide and it’s not hard to see why.
Hawthorn – Jack Scrimshaw
Just a matter of hours after media slammed Hawthorn’s lack of youth, a 22 year old young star decided to announce himself to those less in the know, given Hawks fans and solid footy fans know how good he is.
The former Suns No.7 pick had 25 disposals (17 kicks), had a dozen (yes, twelve) intercept possessions, took eight marks (three contested), four rebounds, three score involvements, a couple of inside 50s and 339 metres gained.
Melbourne – James Harmes
On a day where Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca were superhuman almost and the forward line had a day out, ‘Chompers’ was terrific but couldn’t quite finish his work, kicking three points.
What else he did though was fantastic, with 24 disposals, eight tackles, five marks, five score involvements, four inside 50s and was a cog in an almost perfect machine. Demons are back in form and it’s now onto them to continue that momentum.
North Melbourne – Luke McDonald
The reigning best and fairest winner has been a touch rusty since he’s come back and he did have some rusty moments but we are a praise industry leader here at Underrated HQ.
North have done a lot right and McDonald did plenty right with his 14 kicks (17 touches), nine marks, five rebound 50s and four tackles. Love what North are doing and their fans should be excited for the future.
Port Adelaide – Zak Butters
Daz is an enigmatic figure but a fun fact about your favourite Underrated HQ board member is Zak Butters is my favourite player who doesn’t play for my club. I’ve been struggling to include him but this was the right time.
22 disposals, 86 per cent efficiency, seven score involvements, six marks, three clearances, a couple of inside and rebound 50s, a nice snag from a tight angle and an ability to help bring Port Adelaide back to a contender, possibly.
Richmond – Matthew Parker
He’s a former Saint, looks like Dustin Martin from Wish and is silky smooth, Matty Parker is adjusting to life as a Tiger nicely. Richmond’s season has ended and we will have a new champion of the AFL.
He had a dozen disposals, six score involvements, four tackles, two clearances, a couple of marks and kicked 2.2. His teammates flunked but he stood strong.
St Kilda – Seb Ross
Saints fans must be genuinely livid and rightly so. Unless your name is Jack Steele, Rowan Marshall or Zak Jones, have a good hard look at yourself. Max King started unbelievably but was beaten in the last three quarters but Seb Ross was a tireless worker all night.
Had 24 disposals at 79 per cent (ten contested), four tackles, three inside 50s, three rebounds and three marks. Worked his butt off but this was a horrid performance from the boys of Moorabbin.
Sydney – Isaac Heeney
How does a teasing talent come back from a potential best on ground performance? Most teases would fade into obscurity the next week but that wasn’t
West Coast Eagles – Jake Waterman
Speaking of disgraceful performances, will the real West Coast Eagles, please stand up? At some stage you’d think this club want to be taken seriously but they decided to kick 2.7 against the third worst team in the competition is pitiful and that takes nothing from Collingwood.
Waterman has been pretty good this season but had a very good day. 22 disposals at 81 per cent, nine marks, four score involvements, a couple of inside 50s, a couple of tackles and applied his trade well. His teammates for the most part, did not.
Western Bulldogs – Riley Garcia
I’ve written about this man before as showing the kind of heart that Luke Beveridge loves and on yet another day the Dogs’ stars (barring the Bont who was quieter but by no means bad) were unreal, that dog hungry heart (pun intended) was on display.
In trying conditions at Ballarat, Garcia had 18 disposals (seven contested), six score involvements, four marks, four inside 50s, three tackles and a goal. The 72 per cent efficiency was really pleasing as well in the conditions presented.