Patrick Cripps celebrating his 2022 Brownlow medal (Image: AFL/ Twitter)

The Inner Sanctum is set to take a look at the top performers of each round and vote weekly for their Best and Fairest of the 2023 season.

Round Two a variety of Power outages, a few teams get exposed, premiership hopefuls flex their muscle, and controversy around the rules once again.

Here are The Inner Sanctum’s Brownlow medal votes for round two of 2023:

Carlton, 13.122 (90) def Geelong 12.10 (82)

The Blues managed to survive a last-quarter charge from the Cats to run out eight-point winners on Thursday night to notch up their first victory of 2023. Geelong fell to 0-2 to start the year for the first time since 2015 but will take confidence out of some strong individual performances.

3 votes – Jeremy Cameron (Geelong) [3]: Arguably the best player in the competition, Cameron kicked six goals and had 25 touches in a clear Best-on-Ground performance. He had three goals in the last quarter and almost single-handedly got the Cats over the line.

He led Geelong with 592 metres gained and had 11 score involvements. Playing 94 per cent of the game, he was clearly sore in the last quarter but was involved in multiple contests late to give the Cats a chance to win.

2 votes – Adam Saad (Carlton) [2]: Saad had an electric start to the game, having 12 of his 29 touches in the first quarter. He had game-highs in both metres gained (608) and intercept possessions (10), putting both together to generate Carlton’s attack from the back half.

He took a key intercept mark in the dying minutes to deny a certain Geelong goal and secure the win for the Blues. He was the most noticeable Carlton player on the ground and worked hard over all four quarters.

1 vote – Charlie Curnow (Carlton) [1]: Finished the game with five goals and was the spearhead of the Carlton attack. He battled in the air and wasn’t out-marked, managing to bring the ball to ground for his small forwards.

Curnow kicked two important goals early in the third to keep the Cats at bay, and pushed hard into defence in the final term to consolidate the lead.

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Brisbane, 14.9 (93) def Melbourne, 13.4 (82)

The Lions were far too strong for the Gawn-less Demons on Friday night before the GABBA lost power and put a stop to the game for almost 40 minutes in the final quarter. Melbourne came back from the break 40 points down and kicked five unanswered goals to scare the hosts but left their comeback too late, going down by 11 points.

3 votes – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) [4]: Oliver was the Demons’ strongest performer all night, but was struggling to turn his influence into scores. Until after the power-break, in the final 12 minutes of game time he had nine disposals, 200 metres gained and a goal to drag Melbourne to the brink of victory.

He finished with game-high tackles (9) and metres gained (774) while also having 36 pressure acts and five clearances.

2 votes – Dayne Zorko (Brisbane) [2]: Despite being substituted out at the break in play, Zorko was the most influential player on the ground for the Lions. He kicked two goals and had two goal assists in his 22 disposals, and his burst from the centre clearance was sorely missed last week against Port Adelaide.

He led the Lions for metres gained (440) and was crucial in transitioning the ball into the forward half, delivering eight inside 50s.

1 vote – Will Ashcroft (Brisbane) [1]: The prodigal son’s first Brownlow vote is likely to come in his first appearance on home soil, the 19-year-old had 15 contested possessions and 31 disposals. He didn’t fumble in the contest and generated a team-high nine clearances.

His disposal efficiency was only 58 per cent, however he received the ball under pressure in the backline on multiple occasions where his only option was to kick long.

Collingwood, 21.9 (135) def Port Adelaide, 9.10 (64)

Collingwood put together a strong four-quarter performance to win by 71 points at the MCG, becoming the first team since the 2016 Swans to kick 125+ points in the opening two rounds. While the Power had a 125-point turnaround on last week’s surprise win over the Lions, being well beaten in all areas on Saturday afternoon.

3 votes – Nick Daicos (Collingwood) [4]: Another breathtaking performance from the younger Daicos, kicking two spectacular goals and leading the game in score involvements with 11. He was tagged early but beat his man to find 32 disposals around the ground.

He led the game with 661 metres gained and worked consistently all day to drive the Pies’ offence.

2 votes – Darcy Cameron (Collingwood) [2]: Cameron started the game on fire, setting up a 23-point margin at quarter time. He led the game with 16 contested possessions and comfortably accounted for Scott Lycett in the ruck.

His dominance in the centre allowed the Pies to win the clearance count by 12 and the contested possession count by 57.

1 vote – Josh Daicos (Collingwood) [1]: Both Daicos brothers have enjoyed tremendous starts to the season, with Josh kicking two goals from 26 disposals. He was instrumental in setting up the Pies’ margin in the first half, with both goals coming before halftime.

Working tirelessly along the wing, Daicos was involved in most of Collingwood’s transition into the forward half, finishing with 574 metres gained.

Adelaide, 10.16 (76) def by Richmond, 17.6 (108)

The Tigers did well to hold off a second-half charge from the Crows, with the game drawing even halfway through the last quarter. Richmond piled on five late goals to ice the game, but will be disappointed they allowed Adelaide to cut down a 45-point halftime lead.

3 votes – Noah Balta (Richmond) [3]: The unsung hero of Saturday afternoon, Balta took a staggering nine intercept marks. He was a constant thorn in the side of Adelaide’s forward movement, and was the most influential player on the ground.

Balta finished with 11 intercepts, eight of those coming in the second half when the Crows were challenging to take back the game.

2 votes – Jacob Hopper (Richmond) [2]: Hopper had a large involvement in setting up the game for the Tigers early, having 15 of his 23 disposals in the first half and kicking a goal to help establish the nine-goal halftime margin,

He had six score involvements, with the majority coming in the final quarter to combat the Crows’ charge.

1 vote – Rory Laird (Adelaide) [1]: Laird was back to his best in Round Two, amassing 39 disposals and eight tackles across the game. He had a game-leading 15 contested possessions, dominating the contest with seven clearances.

He had 11 score involvements and seven inside 50s, putting constant pressure on the Tigers.

Western Bulldogs, 5.11 (41) def by St Kilda, 14.8 (92)

The Bulldogs look to be in serious trouble after round two, their midfield looks to be struggling without Josh Dunkley and their forward line is lacking synergy. The Saints were able to easily move the ball up the field and take advantage of the Dogs’ troubles down back for a 51-point win.

3 votes – Jack Steele (St Kilda) [3]: Before he was taken off in the last quarter, Steele was the most impressive player on the ground. He had his hands in everything, kicking a goal and having six clearances from his 29 disposals.

He had six tackles in his team-high 26 pressure acts, leading the way for his side both offensively and defensively.

2 votes – Rowan Marshall (St Kilda) [2]: Marshall won the battle of the rucks, having 15 contested possessions and a game-high nine clearances. He worked across the ground for his 20 disposals, laying six tackles as well.

Marshall was integral to the Saints winning the clearance count against the Dogs well-regarded midfield and setting the standard for the win.

1 vote – Mason Wood (St Kilda) [3]: Wood continues his excellent level of consistency, putting together a 24-disposal performance that included a goal. He had eight score involvements and 469 metres gained working up and down the wing

Fremantle 10.12 (72) def by North Melbourne, 11.7 (93)

Fremantle’s struggle moving the ball into the forward 50 was on display again, their midfield-forward connection has become an issue that needs fixing if they plan on catching the breakaway pack. North Melbourne survived a late scare to hold on for a thrilling one-point win to start their season undefeated.

3 votes – Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne) [6]: LDU has started the season as the best inside midfielder in the league. In the win over Fremantle, he had a game-high 17 contested possessions and 11 clearances.

He made six tackles on Saturday night and kicked an all-important goal late in the last quarter that proved to be the difference.

2 votes – Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle) [2]: Brayshaw was the best of an average Fremantle midfield that got beaten up around the contest. Though Brayshaw stood tall in the final term. Collecting three clearances and seven of his 29 disposals working to put the Dockers in front at the death.

He had a game-high seven tackles from 31 pressure acts, and his gut-running across the park was hard to ignore.

1 vote – Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne) [3]: Sheezel became just one of two players in V/AFL history to have 30 disposals in their first two games. Last week’s rising star nominee was just as impressive this weekend, providing more defensive pressure to his game in addition to ball movement.

He finished with 30 disposals, nine rebound 50s and an important goal-line clearance in the final minute to help save the game for the Kangaroos.

Sydney, 17.16 (118) def Hawthorn, 4.13 (37)

The Swans were too good on Sunday afternoon, slicing apart the Hawks’ defence with precise kicking and using their tall forwards to their advantage. Hawthorn slumped to another large defeat, and for the second week in a row, struggled to keep up with the opposition after half-time.

3 votes – Callum Mills (Sydney) [3]: One of his best two-way games despite low midfield time, Mills was effective on both sides of the ball against the Hawks. He had 20 pressure act and six intercepts when he was behind the ball, while also kicking two goals and having eight score involvements going forward.

He laid three tackles for the game and worked relentlessly through the wings of the SCG.

2 votes – Errol Gulden (Sydney) [2]: Gulden is stringing together a phenomenal run of games, starting from the pre-season he has consistently been in the Swans’ best. Against the Hawks, he had a game-high 28 pressure acts playing through the midfield.

He had seven score involvements and 487 metres gained from his 28 disposals on the day.

1 vote – Logan McDonald (Sydney) [1]: A breakthrough day for the young key forward, five goals in a variety of ways to boost his confidence into the 2023 season. He provided a strong target in the absence of Lance Franklin, working up the ground to find the ball and send it inside 50.

Essendon, 16.12 (108) def Gold Coast, 11.14 (80)

Essendon willed themselves to a late win over the Gold Coast, wearing the pressure for three quarters and going into the last with scores level. The Suns struggled to handle the Bombers’ pressure and forward movement late in the game, slumping to 0-2 for the season.

3 votes – Will Setterfield (Essendon) [3]: Setterfield backed up his round one performance in a big way, putting up 28 disposals and 13 contested possessions against Gold Coast. He was integral to evening the contest in the midfield and setting up the Bombers’ win.

With the scores level going into the final quarter, Setterfield had 10 disposals and three tackles to help them over the line.

2 votes – Kyle Langford (Essendon) [2]: Langford filled the void of Peter Wright and Jake Stringer up forward, kicking a career-best five goals to help lead the Bombers to a last-quarter win.
He took six marks inside forward 50 and had nine score involvements from his 14 disposals.

1 vote – Matt Rowell (Gold Coast) [1]: Rowell was the best for the Suns, putting everything into his performance until the final siren. He made multiple 100-metre efforts on defence, working himself to a game-high 37 pressure acts.
He was incredibly effective throughout the game, having 10 clearances and seven score involvements from just 22 disposals

West Coast, 14.16 (100) def GWS, 11.15 (81)

The Eagles took advantage of the tired, injury-riddled Giants to chalk up their first win since June last year. GWS put up a good fight despite missing a host of first-team names, and stayed in the contest late.

3 votes – Tim Kelly (West Coast) [3]: Tim Kelly showed why the Eagles paid such a high price, kicking the first goal of the game on his way to 32 disposals with nine score involvements.
He had 12 contested possessions and five clearances through the midfield and generated most of their momentum from stoppages.

2 votes – Jamaine Jones (West Coast) [2]: Jones had a career-best game following the switch to half back. He was comfortable with the ball in hand, weaving in and out of traffic before moving the ball up the field. He finished with a game-high 776 metres gained.
Taking territory and working the ball up the field, Jones had nine score involvements and 11 inside 50s in his new role.

1 vote – Stephen Coniglio (GWS) [4]: Coniglio continued a good run of form to start the season, working tirelessly in the centre he picked up nine clearances to combat the Eagles midfield. He finished with 28 disposals and a game-high 14 contested possessions.

He had nine tackles across the game with 25 pressure acts and was the Giants’ most noticeable player across the park.

The Inner Sanctum’s Brownlow Leaderboard – Round Two

A North Melbourne star takes top pegging after two perfect performances, as a crowd builds on his heels.

1st (6 votes) – Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne)

=2nd (4 votes) – Nick Daicos (Collingwood)

=2nd (4 votes) – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)

=2nd (4 votes) – Stephen Coniglio (GWS

=5th (3 votes) – 15 players (Jordan De Goey, Archie Perkins, Will Setterfield, Luke Ryan, Jeremy Cameron, Kysaiah Pickett*, Harry Sheezel, Jason Horne-Francis, Noah Balta, Tim Taranto, Jack Steele, Mason Wood, Callum Mills, Chad Warner, Tim Kelly)

* ineligible

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