Some great games and some not so memorable matches took place in Round 6.
How did we assess some of the key individual performances?
See below who stood out and who must improve from each of the 18 clubs.
Stand out: Brodie Smith
Smith was easily Adelaide’s best in their loss to West Coast. He amassed 31 possessions while gaining a game-high 662 metres with his run and gun off the wing. He broke the lines out of defence with four rebound 50s before providing attack with three inside 50s and a lovely long bomb goal. Smith continually knocked up getting the ball for his most prolific performance since Round 18 last year.
Kudos must also go to ruckman Reilly O’Brien who walked the walk following his Twitter gaffe. He battled competitively against Nic Naitanui, winning 19 disposals, taking nine marks and leading the Crows in pressure stats while laying seven tackles - the most of any player on the ground. He got a new phone for his efforts to!
Must improve: Tyson Stengle
The small forward was given his first chance at senior level since his drink-driving mishap which came after an ok Round 1 performance back in March. But Stengle just didn’t get busy enough for the Crows. He finished with five disposals (at 20% efficiency) and missed two shots on goal in what was an underwhelming performance. He has plenty of natural ability and could be a solid AFL player but just needs to apply himself more so he can positively impact his club who are in desperate need of an exciting spark.
Stand out: Cam Rayner
When Brisbane was on top in the first half, Cam Rayner was flying and looked every bit the player he was drafted to be. He kicked two goals and impressed further up the ground with a few stints through the midfield. Even in the second half, he remained one of the Lions who put pressure on and did the little things needed to get them back in the game. He picked up 12 disposals, took six marks, laid five tackles as well as kicking two goals.
Must improve: Daniel McStay
A week after making the stand out column, Dan McStay finds himself back in the must improve section. Unfortunately, the key forward is still inconsistent and struggles to stand up when it matters most. He was well held by Geelong’s defence, finishing with just seven disposals, two marks, one score involvement and no goals. If Brisbane is to be a premiership contender, they can’t solely rely on Charlie Cameron and midfield goals, they’re going to need more from their key forwards and McStay must find greater consistency because he has the talent to be a regular contributor.
Stand out: Matthew Kennedy
Brendon Bolton seemingly decided that he could not play Matthew Kennedy and Patrick Cripps in the same midfield out of fear they would be too slow. Kennedy was redeployed as a key forward and had some success, but it wasn’t the role the Blues spent a second round pick on. Under David Teague he has found new confidence and new faith in the administration and got himself in the best shape of his life. Kennedy spent the vast majority of the game in the centre square and stood up when Cripps was off the ground injured or resting forward. He finished with 20 disposals, six score involvements and three clearances and will take much-needed confidence out of the performance.
Must improve: David Cuningham
It was one of those nights for David Cuningham. Everyone else was having a big night and unfortunately that didn’t leave much for him to do playing mostly as a small forward. Carlton’s selection left minimal midfield work for him to do and whenever Cuningham found himself over the back or in space, the kicks in his direction were poor. His spot in the side is safe and his impact early in the season showed what he could do, but this was just a night that didn’t go his way as he finished with just the eight disposals – though he still had five score involvements from them.
Stand out: Isaac Quaynor
It was immediately clear Isaac Quaynor belonged at AFL level. His run and carry off half-back gave Collingwood an attacking element they have not had this year, especially early on against the Hawks while they were still trying to hit the scoreboard. Quaynor had 15 disposals at 93 per cent efficiency and put the ball inside 50 on five occasions. He was one of many Collingwood players who stood out on Friday night. Jamie Elliott was spectacular early as an on-baller, Will Kelly looked a player of the future, Atu Bosenavulagi impressed across half-forward, Travis Varcoe was effective off half-back and more. It was a great night overall for the black and white.
Must improve: Callum Brown
It was a night where not much went wrong for the Magpies and picking out someone who underperformed is difficult. Brown wasn’t bad and found enough of the footy, but his ball use was poor compared to the teammates around him. He finished with 13 disposals at 46 per cent efficiency and his touches had minimal impact on the game itself. There will be a selection squeeze at Collingwood with Jordan de Goey set to return and while the injured Will Kelly will likely make way for him, Brown might be next on the list.
Stand out: Andrew McGrath
McGrath continued his impressive season in Essendon’s clash against North Melbourne on Saturday night, collecting 25 touches and was once again one of his side’s best players. As players struggled with the slipperiness of the conditions at Metricon Stadium, McGrath’s clean disposal through traffic stood out even more than usual. The Bombers’ fourth win of the season came despite fielding a patched-up forward line and with both Zac Merrett and Dylan Shiel well down on their regular output. When the Bombers needed someone to step up, it was the talented 22-year-old who was there to guide Essendon through what promised to be a tricky clash against an old foe.
Needs to improve: Essendon’s goal kicking
The Bombers started Saturday night’s clash with intent but didn’t make the most of early dominance, only wrapping up the game midway through the final quarter. Peppering the goal in the first term, Essendon kicked four behinds before David Zaharakis score his side’s first goal of the night. It was fortunate in the end that it didn’t make a difference to the overall result but against better sides, the Bombers could’ve been left to rue an opening quarter which saw them squander plenty of opportunities. Where Essendon stands this year is still up for debate but there’s no doubt percentage in a shortened season will be crucial so they’d want to make more of forward 50 dominance in future rounds.
Stand out: Andrew Brayshaw
It’s hard to single out a single Fremantle player this week in what was one of the great wins in club history but Andrew Brayshaw is quickly becoming one of his side’s most important players and was dominant throughout Saturday’s clash. If last week’s performance against Adelaide was good, Brayshaw’s role in their comeback win against St Kilda was even better. 20 touches was impressive enough but it was the five tackles which stood out, especially as Fremantle fought their way back from a 37-point deficit in the second half. Cam Rayner, Jaidyn Stephenson and Hunter Clark were all taken in the top 10 of the 2017 draft but Brayshaw may just land up being the pick of the bench.
Needs to improve: Travis Colyer
Small forward Travis Colyer has a role to play in Fremantle’s side this year but after a subpar performance against St Kilda, he stands on the cusp of being dropped for the first time this season. The former Bomber returned to the Dockers side this week after missing their clash against Adelaide due to illness but he didn’t make an impact, winning the ball on just nine occasions and failing to kick a goal. He’s only kicked two goals from five games in his second season at the club. On the back of two wins in a row, competition for spots is only going to heat up and if Colyer wants to keep his place in the side, he’ll have to start hitting the scoreboard more often.
Stood out: Sam Simpson
No one expected Sam Simpson to make such an impact in his first senior game in over 700 days. With Mitch Duncan and Quinton Narkle picking up early injuries, the 22-year-old grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Simpson got better as the game went on and finished with a game-high (and easily career-best) 27 disposals with 13 contested, five tackles, six intercepts and two clearances against a very good Brisbane midfield.
Must improve: Luke Dahlhaus
Luke Dahlhaus is having a quiet season thus far. The former Bulldog competed hard laying six tackles but contributed a modest 12 disposals – three of them clangers – at 50 per cent efficiency. Deployed forward of centre, the 27-year-old was unable to hit the scoreboard meaning he has kicked just one goal in three weeks.
Stand out: Hugh Greenwood
It would be easy to single out debutant Izak Rankine as Gold Coast’s standout this round but we’ve chosen to name Hugh Greenwood as one of the club’s best in their loss to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon. The 28-year-old has been a revelation since moving from Adelaide and was pivotal again in Round 6. A game-high 12 touches and 18 touches was a fantastic return for a footballer that while unheralded, is now a crucial cog in the Suns side.
Must improve: Alex Sexton
Sexton gets another mention here after just nine touches and two marks in a losing side. Playing in a high half-forward role, he still remains a big part of the Suns side but needs to get involved more as one of the more senior members of the Gold Coast forward line.
Stand out: Jacob Hopper
While the Giants were beaten by Port Adelaide, it wasn’t for the efforts of Jacob Hopper who was colossal in midfield. He had 22 touches (five kicks, 17 handballs), 16 of which were contested, and gave his on-ball colleagues around him freedom to move by winning the hard ball in close. He had team-highs for clearances (8) and tackles (6), was his side’s best pressure player while helping out in attack with five score involvements.
Lachie Whitfield was also in fine form, amassing 25 touches with his customary dash and efficient use in another sublime showing.
Must improve: Shane Mumford
Much is said about ‘Mummy’ and his value to the Giants. Some weeks he is in and under, getting dirty and doing everything he can to help his team. Other weeks he leaves a lot to be desired. Against Scott Lycett he won 16 hit outs and had just one kick (although he did lay five tackles). He’s never been a big accumulator of the ball but when your ruckman has just five touches and your team is smacked in clearances (25-41) and centre clearances (4-12), then questions must be asked. Where does Sam Jacobs fit in?
Stand out: Will Day
On debut, Will Day was impressive in Hawthorn’s disappointing defeat to Collingwood. The skinny 19-year-old, who was drafted with pick 13 last year, picked up 16 possessions in defence highlighted by his lovely kicking skills and toughness at the contest. Coach Alastair Clarkson was pretty pleased with the first-gamer: “Will Day put in a solid performance tonight. For him to have debuted this early shows what the club thinks of him. We’re pretty confident he’ll be a good player for us for a long period of time.” Day’s display was certainly a major positive for the Hawks.
Must improve: Paul Puopolo
The Hawks forwards didn’t get a lot service for the majority but regardless, Puopolo had almost zero impact. The veteran small forward had just two kicks for seven total touches and no score impact. His effort is still there, evidenced by another four tackles, but he appears to have lost his sharpness around the contest and his goal kicking nous has somewhat departed him. Surely it’s time for Clarkson to blood some more youth and play somebody else in that position as ‘Poppy’s’ best is certainly behind him.
Stand out: Christian Petracca
Melbourne finally got the circuit-breaker win they were craving and once again, it was on the back of another starring role from Petracca, who kicked the pivotal goal in the final term against Gold Coast. Another 25 touches and six marks for Petracca this week, who is surely leading Melbourne’s best and fairest count by a considerable margin as it stands. He’s been a clear standout in what’s so far been an underwhelming season for the Dees.
Must improve: Angus Brayshaw
A season-low 12 touches for Brayshaw was a performance that he’ll be intent on improving as Melbourne look to build on Saturday’s win. The 24-year-old prides himself on his inside ball use and with just 14 pressure acts and a relatively low 278 metres gained, there’s a bit to work on ahead of next week’s clash against Hawthorn.
Stand out: Cam Zurhaar
Cam Zurhaar is still an inconsistent player, but when he’s on, he’s tough to stop. He’s spent a lot of time deep forward this year as the Kangaroos try desperately to work out a mix that gets the job done. On Saturday night he was on, finishing with 19 disposals, two goals, five score involvements and three tackles. Zurhaar has fluctuated between match-winning performances and quiet games all season, but he’s as good as anyone North Melbourne has forward of centre when he is on.
Must improve: Marley Williams
North Melbourne cannot seem to get any run off half-back. Jamie Macmillan has struggled this year and bringing in Marley Williams has not changed their fortunes. He only had the five disposals and nine metres gained for the night in a game where the Bombers’ rebounding defenders were dominant up the other end. How the Roos solve this problem is unclear, but they need more attack from their backline if they’re to compete with good teams.
Stand out: Kane Farrell
Kane Farrell delivered a career-best performance in Port Adelaide’s hard-fought win over GWS. The classy left-footer showcased his exquisite skills with long-range goal from inside the centre square to help Port gain the ascendancy midway through the final quarter. Farrell drove his side forward with 400 metres gained while contributing 19 disposals, six tackles and eight score involvements.
Must improve: Brad Ebert
It was a dirty afternoon for Brad Ebert. The Power veteran was reported early for a high bump on GWS youngster Harry Perryman that saw him offered a one-match suspension. Ebert had a season-low 11 disposals at just 36.4 per cent efficiency in the 17-point victory. Four of Ebert’s 11 touches against the Giants were clangers.
Stand out: Kamdyn McIntosh
Kamdyn McIntosh was impressive in the low-scoring win over Sydney. He performed a busy role on the wing which saw him collect 24 possessions and provide a link between defence and attack. He gave plenty of drive with 540 metres gained (only Jayden Short with 542 gained more territory) while also assisting the back six, chiming in with seven intercepts. The Tigers look more settled with his two-way running up and down one side of the ground.
It was a day for the backmen at the Gabba given the wet conditions and the defensive game style. One of Richmond’s best was Nathan Broad who picked up 16 touches (at 81% efficiency) and took six marks in an assured showing.
Must improve: Daniel Rioli
He’s been in the gun in this category a couple of times now this season. Rioli is ridiculously talented but is also extremely selective in the way he attacks the footy. He has concentration lapses evidence by his one-step kick inside 50 which gave the intended target no chance and his choice to wait for a chest mark rather than lead into the ball. Not a great day for forwards but the Tigers would want more than six touches, zero tackles and zero goals from a dual premiership player. He is so important to the Richmond way and must get better.
Stand out: Jack Steele
Jack Steele was one of the few Saints who was up for the fight after quarter-time. With several of his teammates unsighted for three quarters, Steele did his best to stop the Fremantle onslaught. After keeping Carlton star Patrick Cripps quiet last week, the midfielder finished with 22 disposals, four clearances, six score involvements, six inside 50s and 375 metres gained in the disappointing defeat.
Must improve: Brad Hill
Brad Hill started brightly against his former club but faded badly after the first break. The boom recruit had just five touches after quarter-time and was largely anonymous as the Dockers reeled in the 37-point deficit. The Saints made a big financial sacrifice to land the star wingman and for a player of his quality and experience, his last fortnight has been well below expectation.
Stand out: Callum Mils
Callum Mills was outstanding down back for the Swans. Mills stood tall with nine marks and 15 intercepts and was able to repel several Richmond attacks off half back. The former Rising Star winner was the leading disposal winner on the ground with 29, contributed to three score involvements and had 535 metres gained in the low-scoring scrap.
Must improve: Luke Parker
The ultra-consistent Swan had a rare off day in the loss to Richmond. Parker had just 10 touches and one clearance in wet and greasy conditions usually tailor-made for the midfield bull. The Swans co-captain was unable to pick up the slack after star duo Josh Kennedy and Isaac Heeney both succumbed to injury during the match.
Stand out: Tim Kelly
The midfielder has been the subject of criticism so far in 2020 (including yours truly), but he played his best game for the club on the weekend. Kelly had 24 touches at a much nicer 79% efficiency and put on display the quality that saw the Eagles revere him so much during his time with the Cats. The mature age third-year player was crafty forward of centre with seven score involvements plus a goal assist while putting on a dominant display around the ball with a game-high eight clearances, including two out of the centre. That’s the Kelly that West Coast want to see!
Must improve: Liam Ryan
He was one of West Coast’s shining lights earlier in the season but Ryan has strung together two mediocre games on the trot. The excitement machine had just two kicks, five possessions total, laid one tackle and kicked a goal. It’s likely to happen to small forwards along the journey but he’d be keen to fire up after two quiet outings in a row, especially with the Derby this Sunday.
Stand out: Lachie Hunter
In his first game back from suspension, Lachie Hunter did everything to keep the Bulldogs in the game. He won plenty of the ball and got them going in the second quarter while Marcus Bontempelli was shut down by Ed Curnow. Whether it was a kick off the ground that gained territory in the wet or run through the corridor, Hunter provided exactly what the Bulldogs needed all night and deserves credit for not missing a beat. He finished with a game-high 27 disposals, eight score involvements, five tackles, five inside 50s and four marks playing mostly on the wing.
Must improve: Josh Schache
Unfortunately for Josh Schache, he was blanketed by Jacob Weitering to the point where Luke Beveridge pulled him from the ground for most of the second half. Weitering has haunted Schache since before the pair were drafted and nothing changed on Sunday night. He ended up only playing 57 per cent of game time as the Dogs desperately tried to work out how to convert their inside 50 control into goals. He had two disposals, no marks and no influence on the game whatsoever. With Aaron Naughton injured, the former number two draft pick needs to make the most of this current opportunity.