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AFL grand final player ratings: Melbourne

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Expert
25th September, 2021
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Melbourne won their 13th premiership and broke a 57-year drought with a thumping 74-point win over the Bulldogs.

It was a comprehensive win, on the back of a 16.5 to 3.1 second half.

But, who stood out?

Ben Brown: 8/10 It was arguably his best game of the finals series. He stepped up with timely goals at crucial stages. Kicked 3.2 with ten touches. His most important goal came at the start of the last quarter which gave the Demons momentum.

Angus Brayshaw: 7.5/10
Although he butchered the ball (60 per cent efficiency), he kicked a critical goal in third and his pressure around the stoppages was also impressive: ten tackles, 11 contested touches, ten pressure acts.

Alex Neal-Bullen: 7.5/10
Another one of Melbourne’s players that covered the ground with gut running. Bullen ran 16.5 kilometres, the most of any player on the ground. He also finished with 1.1, 24 touches, 25 pressure acts, and ten score involvements. A a sneaky good behind the scenes performance.

Jake Bowey: 7/10
Played his half-back running role and was just a cog in the machine. He had 17 touches with four marks at 88 per cent efficiency. Made good decisions when he touched the ball. He kept Weightman very quiet.

Bayley Fritsch: 9/10
He was unlucky not to get a Norm Smith for his 6.2 grand final haul. He was beaten by a bloke who gathered a record-breaking 39 touches.

Max Gawn: 7.5/10
It wasn’t a beast mode Max Gawn, like what we saw against Geelong, but he still had impact around the contests with 30 hit outs, 21 touches and five marks.

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James Harmes: 7/10
Had a quiet day with 14 touches — seven of those were contested. Finished with 23 pressure acts and four inside 50s and was always attacking the contest. He nullified Bailey Dale’s run.

Michael Hibberd: 5/10
Missed a lot of football but to his credit he earned his spot back in the team. And now he’s a premiership player.

Luke Jackson: 7/10
Looked good when he took over the ruck duties and gathered 16 hit outs with 13 touches. Showed his versatility by kicking a goal and taking three strong contested grabs. He’s going to be a game-changing elite player.

Ed Langdon: 8/10
Covered the ground like he was running a marathon. Clocked up 16.2 kilometres and 400 metres gained. Finished with 1.1 and had 17 touches at 88 per cent efficiency.

Jake Lever: 8/10
He blanketed Hannan who went goalless with seven touches. Lever grabbed 17 disposals and had six intercepts. He went missing in the second quarter, much like most of Melbourne’s backline, but had a very solid game.

Steven May: 7/10
It wasn’t his usual dominant display and maybe he was still carrying an injury, but he was very effective and efficient with his 14 touches, going at 93 per cent. He had six rebounds and 363 metres gained.

Tom McDonald: 5/10
Didn’t impact the game at all but didn’t have to. Just had the four marks, eight disposals.

Clayton Oliver: 9/10
His 33-disposal game was outstanding. Oliver was at his brute best and at times had to shake off two defenders. He finished with 19 handballs,ten tackles, 34 pressure acts, five inside 50s, kicked 1.1 and 13 contested touches. Pretty impressive day out.

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Christian Petracca: 9.5/10
Won a Norm Smith medal for his 40-touches. It was Dustin Martin-like. He stood up when the Demons needed him to do it. That dribble-goal in the third will be replayed over and over again for years to come. Petracca’s game touched a lot of key areas: 2.1, 11 inside 50s, 896 metres gained, 15 score involvements, eight intercepts and nine clearances.

Harrison Petty: 8/10
Petty played a critical lockdown role. He kept Bulldogs spearhead Aaron Naughton to one goal and nine disposals. It’s match-winning when you think about it.

Kysaiah Pickett: 4/10
Couldn’t find the ball at ground level and wasn’t able to hit the scoreboard. Finished the game with four disposals and 23 pressure acts.

Trent Rivers: 6.5/10
Started on the bench and played 85 per cent of the game in a defensive role. He finished with 11 touches. He’s still only 20 years old and now a premiership player. Big future ahead for Rivers.

Christian Salem: 8.5/10
Was hot early and gave the Demons plenty of run off half-back and penetrated inside 50s. Finished with 27 touches, seven marks, seven tackles, 639 metres gained and kicked a late, last quarter goal. Arguably fourth best on the the ground behind Petracca, Fritsch, Oliver.

Charlie Spargo: 6/10
He kicked 1.1 from seven touches at 85 per cent efficiency in a classic small forward role. With the goals raining from the midfield centre clearances and Bailey Fritsch, Spargo wasn’t getting his supply of chaos ball gets. But he was still an effective contributor.

Tom Sparrow: 7/10
The 21-year will always remember his grand final goal just as the Demons started to take control of the game. Sparrow had six score involvements, 14 touches, and three goal-assists.

Jack Viney: 8.5/10
The grand final capped off a consistent finals series for Viney. The in-and-under midfielder spent more time helping out in the back half, winning 12 clearances, 24 pressure acts, six tackles, and having seven score involvements on top of his 25 touches.

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