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The players who stood out and those who must improve from Round 12


The footy frenzy is now over following the conclusion of Round 12.

As always there is plenty to dissect. See below who stood out and who must improve from the weekend's footy.

Adelaide club banner

Stood out: Reilly O’Brien

The ruckman was one of only a few Crows who played his role well in the weekend’s heavy loss to the Western Bulldogs. Up against the developing Tim English, O’Brien got the chocolates with an accomplished display. He had 38 hit-outs (to English’s 16, before he went off with an injured ankle) while picking up 17 possessions, taking six marks, three of which were contested, and laying four tackles. He’s been a model of consistency in trying conditions in 2020 and the weekend’s game was up there with his top few performances of the season (even if he did lose hit-outs to Josh Dunkley and Jack Macrae).

Must improve: Daniel Talia

It’s been tough for Talia this year having to toil away in a poor side but he certainly had his colours lowered on Sunday. Of Aaron Naughton’s bag of six goals, four of those were kicked directly on Talia who was seemingly brushed aside by his much less experienced opponent. The 28-year-old two-time All-Australian also struggled to get his hands on the ball, finishing with just one kick and one handball - his lowest return since 2017. He also failed to take a mark or lay a tackle. Talia’s key defensive colleague Kyle Hartigan was also fairly well beaten when he spent time on Naughton.

Andrew Slevison

Brisbane club banner

Stood out: Oscar McInerney

Oscar McInerney gets better with each passing week. He has stepped up in Stefan Martin’s absence and was excellent on the weekend up against arguably the All-Australian ruckman in Todd Goldstein. McInerney won 24 hit-outs (one more than Goldstein) and kicked two big goals. It’s unclear just how high the ceiling is on him, but the 26-year-old is improving fast.

Must improve: Hugh McCluggage

McCluggage had an usually sloppy afternoon against the Kangaroos, though it was indicative of Brisbane’s performance as a whole. The Lions rocked up expecting to win and very nearly had the rug pulled out from under them. McCluggage epitomised this, finishing with 14 disposals at 41 per cent disposal efficiency, three behinds and was well below his usual best.

Nic Negrepontis

Carlton club banner

Stood out: Sam Walsh

When it mattered most for Carlton, Sam Walsh was one of the players who stood up in the thrilling win over Fremantle. Whether it was working hard back into defence to provide an option or winning the ball through the middle, Walsh had one of his best games for the club. He also kicked a clutch goal in the third term on a night where neither team took their chances (until Jack Newnes late of course). The 20-year-old picked up 24 disposals, seven clearances, five inside 50s and four rebound 50s – highlighting what was a complete performance.

Must improve: Eddie Betts

Betts has had a quiet patch for the Blues, having not kicked a goal since Round 7. He remains an important piece for Carlton in terms of putting defensive pressure on and he laid six tackles in the win over Fremantle, but the Blues need him to hit the scoreboard. Carlton’s forward line tends to have its ups and downs overall and needs to fire as a group more regularly. The conditions made it hard for everyone on Saturday night, but this has been a sustained run for Betts who is due for a big game.

Nic Negrepontis

Collingwood club banner

Stood out: Steele Sidebottom

Since his return to the side the vice-captain has had a few quiet outings but looked back to his prolific ball-winning self in one of the few good performances by a Magpie in their heavy defeat to Melbourne. There's still plenty of improvement to come with Sidebottom only going at 58% disposal efficiency, but you'd still prefer the ball in his hands over most other Collingwood players at the moment. He would finish the game wirh 29 touches, six marks, four tackles and three clearances.

Must improve: Josh Thomas

The small forward who was an essential part of Collingwood's 2018 Grand Final run has kicked one goal from seven matches this season. That's the same amount as Will Kelly who played half a game against GWS before dislocating his elbow. To say Thomas needs to improve is an understatement but with the club's injury troubles, the 28-year old may be spared the axe by default. His effort and pressure was evident with four tackles, two of those inside 50, but Thomas needs to hit the scoreboard more frequently than he does right now.

Sam Mills

Essendon club banner

Stood out: Darcy Parish

Essendon fans have been calling out for Darcy Parish to be unleashed in the midfield for years and he is flourishing in a more prominent on-ball role. Parish picked up 29 disposals, five clearances and four inside 50s in the loss to St Kilda and can hold his head high despite the poor team performance. Essendon has been hit hard by injuries, but even at full strength should persist with Parish as a midfielder, rather than as a half-forward.

Must improve: The key forwards

Both Shaun McKernan and James Stewart have been around for a while and the former in particular has been given all the chances in the world. Occasionally he looks like a dominant player, but when he’s off he struggles to get near the footy. Yes, Essendon’s ball movement makes life hard for any key forwards, but McKernan and Stewart combined for nine disposals, three marks and one behind. If Joe Daniher really is only a few weeks away, the Bombers have never needed him more.

Nic Negrepontis

Fremantle club banner

Stood out: Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan

Carlton dominated the second half, with the game being played almost exclusively on their half-forward flank, which put Fremantle’s back six under enormous pressure. Despite that, Luke Ryan and Brennan Cox held up brilliantly and were key in the Dockers holding the lead until the final siren. If not for them and Fremantle’s intense midfield pressure, Carlton likely would have run out comfortable winners. Ryan in particular is in All-Australian form and has emerged as one of the best intercept marking defenders in the competition.

Must improve: Michael Walters

Michael Walters had absolutely no impact on this game, which would leave one to think he came back a week early from his hamstring injury. Despite being one of the most damaging midfielders in the game, Walters spent the entire match deep forward and finished with 10 disposals and two score involvements. On a night where scoring opportunities were few and far between, the Dockers needed Walters to have an impact up forward or help stem Carlton’s midfield control in the second half.

Nic Negrepontis

Geelong club banner

Stood out: Tom Hawkins

Tom Hawkins monstered Port Adelaide in one of the best individual displays of the season. The undersized Power defence were hapless to stop the power and class of Hawkins who surged ahead in the Coleman Medal race with a season-best six goals, making it 11 majors in two weeks. Hawkins is hitting the scoreboard with regularity and is also creating opportunities for teammates contributing to another 10 score involvements in Geelong’s statement win.

Must improve: No one

While Geelong’s stars are firing on all cylinders, it’s the evenness of their two convincing wins over St Kilda and Port Adelaide that would delight coach Chris Scott. The Cats have been criticised for leaving it to too few come the business end of recent seasons but they are getting an even spread across the board at the present time that should hold them in good stead. It could be the difference in making a first Grand Final since 2011.

Alex Zaia

Gold Coast club banner

Stood out: Jack Lukosius and Noah Anderson

The promising pair were by far Gold Coast’s best players in Monday night’s loss to Richmond. Jack Lukosius did as he pleased across half-back, finishing the night with a game-high 27 disposals which is the best return of his career by some six possessions. In the process, the no.2 draft pick amassed an enormous 836 metres gained with 10 rebound 50s, nine intercept possessions, seven marks and four inside 50s. His powerful kicking was a highlight of his game. Similarly impressive was Noah Anderson who in just his 12th AFL outing picked up a career-high 26 touches. He starred on the wing, contributing six score involvements and five inside 50s. It was the best game of his debut season which is fast heading towards a possible Rising Star award.

Wil Powell must also be mentioned for his strong showing in defence. He took a handful of intercept marks, constantly cutting off any forward action from the Tigers.

Must improve: Connor Budarick

The small defender has played a key role in Gold Coast’s improvement this year but was below his best against the Tigers. Budarick had just two kicks in his quietest outing of the season. His intent was ok evidenced by five tackles but Stuart Dew would perhaps want a little bit more than a pair of possessions from 83% game time.

Andrew Slevison

GWS Giants club banner

Stood out: Josh Kelly

While many of his Giants teammates were somewhat inactive in the lethargic loss to Sydney, Kelly was the one player who did all he could to spark something. He had a game-high 31 possessions and although he only went at 45% efficiency, he was tireless all night. The GWS prime mover also produced nine clearances - the most of any player on the ground by three - had seven inside 50s, put on five tackles and contributed a game-best 576 metres gained. It wasn’t his classiest outing but it sure didn’t lack effort, which is what some of his teammates were accused of.

Must improve: Jeremy Cameron

It was a fairly listless showing by the star forward on Friday night. Cameron provided little attacking power for his side in what was one of his most disappointing performances in recent memory. He kicked one goal from his five possessions and failed to take a mark while giving away four free kicks. It was his least prolific outing since the 2016 Preliminary Final. When Cameron is up and running his game is a thing of beauty and no doubt he will put that one behind him quickly and be back in premium form very soon.

Andrew Slevison

Hawthorn club banner

Stood out: Jack Scrimshaw

This column put the heat on Scrimshaw just two weeks ago so we were pleased to see him play well in Sunday night’s loss to West Coast. Scrimshaw picked up 18 possessions and took six marks across half-back in one of his top few performances of the season to date. He went at an improved 67% disposal efficiency while producing seven rebound 50s as well as two inside 50s and gathering six intercept possessions. With James Sicily now out for the season, there is an opportunity for Scrimshaw to really take his game to the next level and his showing on the weekend is a good foundation for that.

Must improve: Luke Breust

He may have played just 73% of game time, but Breust was very quiet and ineffective against the Eagles. The ball was inside Hawthorn’s forward 50 more frequently than it was West Coast’s yet Breust had almost zero impact. He is harshly judged because he is a quality player, but six touches, zero marks and no score is not enough for a man of his experience. His disposal return of six was his worst since 2015.

Andrew Slevison

Melbourne club banner

Stood out: Angus Brayshaw

Since suggestions that the Demons should trade Brayshaw arose, the 24-year old has strung together two performances straight out of 2018 (adjusted for reduced match length). His 23 disposals and a goal against the Pies followed up the 29 and one he recorded against the Roos in Round 11. Brayshaw may well be the Dees' barometer and Simon Goodwin will be hoping for another strong outing against the Bulldogs on Saturday as they look to continue powering into the top eight.

Must improve: Jake Lever

At present, Lever doesn't look anything like the player that came across from the Crows on big money. The 24-year old was directly responsible for two of Collingwood's six goals and seems to be unsure of himself, even looking lost at times. If the Dees are to be serious contenders come finals, Lever needs to be fit and firing and regain the confidence he has previously played so well with.

Sam Mills

North Melbourne club banner

Stood out: Jed Anderson

Jed Anderson can hold his head high as a player that has not stopped trying regardless of North Melbourne’s circumstances. On a day where the Lions’ heart wasn’t fully in the contest, Anderson took full advantage, winning eight clearances, seven inside 50s and six tackles to go with 29 disposals. His ball-use is average but as an inside bull, he has developed nicely with greater responsibility in the absence of Ben Cunnington.

Must improve: Mason Wood

Mason Wood has played four games this year, averaging eight disposals per game and is yet to hit the scoreboard. The forward had two big opportunities to swing the game with the margin close and time running out in the loss to Brisbane. The first time he dropped a mark at half-forward that would have led to a deep inside 50 and the second he was caught holding the ball during one of their last foray’s forward. If he had played his part in either chain of possession, the result might have flipped.

Nic Negrepontis

Port Adelaide club banner

Stood out: Travis Boak

Port Adelaide’s 60-point hiding to Geelong was a major reality check following the stirring win against reigning premiers Richmond a week prior. The ladder leaders were well beaten across every line with no one playing anywhere near their best – apart from Travis Boak. The former skipper battled hard against a red-hot Cats outfit with 24 touches and seven clearances.

Must improve: Charlie Dixon

Geelong's sound defensive base successfully nullified Charlie Dixon’s influence. Dixon has had an excellent season to date but he lowered his colours to veteran Cats defender Harry Taylor who restricted the Power big man to just three disposals, two marks and no goals. Dixon’s imposing presence and contested marking ability has been a factor behind Port Adelaide’s surge up the ladder but he has been well held in all three of their losses, highlighting his importance to their premiership hopes.

Alex Zaia

Richmond club banner

Stood out: Trent Cotchin

Richmond’s captain played a pivotal role in his side’s grinding win over the Suns on Monday night. Returning to the line-up after sitting out last weekend’s loss to Port Adelaide, Cotchin was a combative force against a Gold Coast side that is extremely fierce on their attack around the contest. The skipper had a game-high nine clearances - including five out of the centre - while 15 of his 26 possessions were contested. He also produced eight inside 50s and laid six tackles. His disposal efficiency of 57% was certainly not his best but he was the one putting his head over the ball when the Tigers needed it most. A true captain’s performance.

Must improve: Mabior Chol

Despite a lovely check-side goal early, it wasn’t the greatest night for Chol. He has slotted into the Richmond side nicely over the last few months but he was found wanting a few times against the Suns. He had only three disposals, took just one mark and had two hit-outs. He was monstered by Jarrod Witts whenever he was in the ruck and too easily gave up contests. That all has to do with his frame which does not stack up in comparison to a seasoned performer like Witts. Chol had a couple of moments and it’s always exciting when he’s near the ball but there just needs to be a bit more substance. Toby Nankervis should be fit soon so it will be interesting to see what Damien Hardwick does as Chol has been key in a number of games he’s played in 2020.

Andrew Slevison

St Kilda club banner

Stood out: Zak Jones

Zak Jones celebrated his 100th AFL game in style as St Kilda took another big step towards finals football. Jones, who was managed for the Round 11 loss to Geelong, made an immediate impact upon his return in the win over the Bombers with his speed, grunt and clearance work giving the Saints a major boost through the midfield. Jones starred in a best-on-ground performance with 26 disposals, four clearances, four score involvements, a goal assist and 429 metres gained.

Must improve: Jack Sinclair

It was difficult to highlight a single player given St Kilda's even team performance. Jack Sinclair is one who could definitely lift his output with the Saints midfielder registering a season-low nine disposals in Sunday’s match. Sinclair has been a steady performer over the years but he’s a player who can take his game to another level that would give his side added midfield depth, especially with key man Jade Gresham to miss an extended period with a back injury.

Alex Zaia

Sydney club banner

Stood out: Dane Rampe

Dane Rampe’s masterful defensive display was the architect behind Sydney’s shut out of GWS. Rampe did a number on Jeremy Cameron restricting the reigning Coleman Medallist to just one goal as the Swans held the Giants to 25 points- their equal-lowest ever score. Nothing was getting past Sydney’s co-captain who recorded 10 intercepts and provided plenty from an offensive perspective with 22 disposals and 401 metres gained. In a major blow, Rampe will miss the rest of the season after re-injuring his broken hand.

Must improve: Tom McCartin

The Swans forward has been quiet since his three-goal haul in the Round 9 loss to St Kilda. While McCartin did compete hard and provide a contest he was held goalless for a second straight week in the big win over their cross-city rivals. Nick Blakey rediscovered some form with two goals against the Giants and if McCartin can follow suit it bodes well for Sydney’s chances of kicking a winning score more often.

Alex Zaia

West Coast club banner

Stood out: Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern

The Eagles defenders were near impenetrable in Sunday night’s win over Hawthorn. Their opponents had eight more inside 50s but plenty of their attacking forays were thwarted by Barrass and McGovern. The former finished the night with a season-high 19 disposals (his best return for just over two years), nine marks, eight intercepts and five rebound 50s. In his first game since Round 7, McGovern picked up where he left off with 16 touches, eight marks and 11 intercept possessions in a customarily assured display. They had 19 intercept possessions, 17 marks total and six contested marks between them as they enjoyed an evening of aerial dominance.

Must improve: Midfield depth/injuries

The Eagles had Elliot Yeo withdraw late with groin soreness which could see him sidelined for at least three or four weeks. Then during the game, Jack Redden suffered an adductor issue which coach Adam Simpson described as “not major”. Nonetheless, the Eagles have a few injury concerns with Nathan Vardy also sidelined after spending Sunday night in hospital after the corkie he received in the scratch match prior to the Hawks game bled. West Coast had just six players available for that scratch match on Sunday. Mark Hutchings and Liam Duggan could return for the weekend’s clash with the Giants which will be West Coast’s final home game of the season (barring finals). With five games between August 23 and September over the course of 19 days, the Eagles will need to rely on their full squad to continue on their winning ways. It’s now time for some other players to step up through the middle in the absence of two key on-ballers in Yeo and Redden.

Andrew Slevison

Western Bulldogs banner

Stood out: Aaron Naughton

Aaron Naughton had eight disposals on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Queensland and booted six goals, one behind and had eight score involvements. Yes, every single one of his touches impacted the scoreboard in one way or another. It’s fair to say Bulldogs fans have missed him. Of course, this was only against Adelaide, but Naughton needed a confidence booster in his second game back from a six-week absence due to an ankle injury and he certainly got it.

Must improve: Percentage boosting

So, the Bulldogs beat Adelaide by 57 points, the game was over before it began and honestly they only really hit the accelerator for 10 minutes in the second half so trying to point out where they need to improve feels ultimately pretty futile. If there is something the Bulldogs have never been particularly great at, it’s turning a 55-point kill into 70 or 80. Yes, they demolished Essendon in that incredible game where they booted 21 in a row, but the Dogs had a chance to really crush Adelaide on Sunday and conceded three final quarter goals. It’s just something the Dogs have never really had in their arsenal under Luke Beveridge. It’s hard to criticise a team after a 10-goal win, though.

Nic Negrepontis

Adelaide Brisbane Lions Carlton Collingwood Essendon Geelong Gold Coast Hawthorn Melbourne North Melbourne Port Adelaide Richmond St Kilda Sydney Swans West Coast Eagles Western Bulldogs Fremantle Greater Western Sydney

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