30/05/2024
Club MVP: Round Eight

Jake Soligo (Pictured against Gold Coast) was one of the many players that was best on ground in round eight. Picture: Daniel Cohen/The Inner Sanctum

A much deserving Showdown Medal winner, Soligo has been among the most improved players in the comp, and continued a great season to date with a team-high 10 tackles and 27 disposals to boot. 

Rivalry Round saw some tempers flaring, while some preferred to let the footy do the talking, as a new contender rose above the pack.

The Inner Sanctum makes their picks for the Best On Ground in Club MVP each week, to highlight the best-performing players each round of the 2024 AFL Season.

Adelaide Vs Port Adelaide

Adelaide 

3. Jake Soligo: A much deserving Showdown Medal winner, Soligo has been among the most improved players in the comp, and continued a great season to date with a team-high 10 tackles and 27 disposals to boot.

2. Mitchell Hinge: Hinge was part of the Crows defence that was relentlessly under siege from the wayward Port, and performed well, with seven intercept possessions and 460 meters gained. 

1. Josh Worrell: Another member of the Crows defence, Worrell is fast cementing his place in the back six, with seven marks and eight intercept possessions in defence cutting off numerous forays by the Power. 

Port Adelaide

3. Jason Horne-Francis: Don’t let the low disposal numbers fool you, Horne-Francis was one of the most damaging players for Port Adelaide, with 10 of his 14 disposals contested, and seven clearances on top of that.

2. Ollie Wines: Another pressure beast around the contest, Wines laid 11 tackles, the most on the ground, to be one of Port’s most prevalent mids.

1. Zak Butters: When the game was on the line and Port was pressing late, Butters was providing plenty of pressure with four tackles in the final quarter, to go with a game-high 33 disposals, 16 of which were contested. 

Carlton Vs Collingwood

Carlton

3. Nic Newman: Newman is one of Carlton’s most consistent players, and was one of four Blues over 30 disposals, as well as a team-high 10 intercept possessions. 

2. Harry McKay: While his partner in crime Charlie Curnow kicked two, it was McKay who did the heavy lifting for Carlton with a game-high four goals. 

1. Blake Acres: Acres was perhaps Carlton’s most complete midfielder in the narrow loss, leading the Blues in disposals (32) and tackles (six) and providing plenty of pressure all night. 

Collingwood 

3. Nick Daicos: Just another 30+ disposals for Daicos, however his finishing was the most crucial for Collingwood, with his second goal securing victory for the Pies.

2. Scott Pendlebury: Even at 36, Pendlebury can still lift his team when they need it, and his equal team-high seven tackles were critical in the contest, as was an early last-quarter goal to give the Pies the lead. 

1. John Noble: Noble’s redemption story is one of the most interesting of 2024, and with a team-high seven marks, as well as running at 91 per cent efficiency, he has re-cemented his spot. 

Sydney Vs GWS

Sydney 

3. Will Hayward: Hayward was impressive by always marking the ball and running with a good pace in a wet Sydney Derby at the SCG, finishing with four goals from five marks and was good defensively as well, laying seven tackles.

2. Errol Gulden: Gulden always helped move the ball down the field with ease despite the wet conditions at the SCG, wrapping up the game with an impressive 29 disposals, and a goal winning the Brett Kirk Medal in the process.

1. Chad Warner: Just like Gulden, Chad Warner was impressive as well with his run and carry and good pace, wrapping up a wet Sydney Derby with 28 disposals, and one goal.

GWS

3. Josh Kelly: Kelly was impressive, in a wet Sydney Derby at the SCG moving the ball forward with a good run and carry, finishing the disappointing game with 24 disposals and four marks.

2. Aaron Cadman: The key forward was impressive in a wet Sydney Derby, always keeping his eyes where the footy was, kicking two goals from six disposals and two marks.

1. Sam Taylor: In his first game back from injury, Taylor was impressive, helping guard the Swans forward 50 in wet conditions finishing up a disappointing game for the Giants with 14 disposals and six marks.

St Kilda Vs North Melbourne

St Kilda

3. Jack Sinclair: Sinclair was one of the Saints’ best with a stirring performance in the midfield. The ball-magnet was unstoppable, with his 33 disposals, eight clearances and two goals helping the side cruise to their third win of the season. 

2. Darcy Wilson: The young gun’s impact in the 38-point win was felt early on with his opening goal, then followed it up with another two and had plenty more involvement throughout the evening with 21 disposals and eight marks.

1. Marcus Windhager: Windhager shone in a dominant performance of 21 touches and four marks and he was also crucial to the Saints defence, registering a career-best eight tackles.

North Melbourne

3. Colby McKercher: One of only two Roos to record 30 disposals, McKercher was a shining light in the brutal loss. His 90 per cent disposal efficiency saw him make every opportunity count, with his presence being felt right up until the very end.

2. George Wardlaw: A decadent performance of 22 touches sees the young gun continuing his scorching form in his second AFL campaign. Wardlaw was a threat in the midfield, ending his evening with a goal as well.

1. Zac Fisher: Fisher provided some classy highlights and made 30 touches by the end of the game. He also provided some energy on the field with his healthy contributions of six marks and two tackles. 

Melbourne Vs Geelong 

Melbourne 

3. Clayton Oliver: Is he back? Oliver dominated the centre square against the previously unbeaten Geelong, seemingly always part of the chain of handballs that allowed Melbourne to break free from the centre and gain territory in their forward line. His 31 disposals were a game-high.

2. Bayley Fritsch: When others couldn’t kick straight to save themselves, Fritsch was accurate, kicking 3.1, including one amazing dribble goal from the boundary that sealed victory for the Dees. 

1. Steven May: Kept Tom Hawkins goalless, but more than that, often left his man to impact other contests, and 13 marks and 25 disposals was a great return for the defensive stalwart.

Geelong

3. Max Holmes: The best of an off night for the league leaders, Holmes was electric from defence, becoming the first Cat in 2024 to amass 30+ disposals in a game (he had 31). His disposal efficiency let him down at times, however, tidy that up, and his game would have been something special.

2. Zach Guthrie: Guthrie continues to beat his man, take large numbers of intercept marks and be dangerous on the rebound and it was 24 disposals, a goal and nine marks for one of the most improved in the competition on this night.

1. Tom Atkins: Atkins tried hard all day in a hotly contested affair, and his tackling was a standout (11 tackles), leaving him as one of the few winners the Cats had in the middle of the ground.

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West Coast Vs Essendon

West Coast

3. Tim Kelly: Kelly lifted in a big way in the second half to almost win the game for the Eagles, and with Elliot Yeo’s night finishing early, his 13 last-quarter disposals were influential in the narrow loss. 

2. Jake Waterman: Waterman just keeps presenting, and has become one of the faces of the West Coast revival with another three goals, and several strong marks.

1. Tom Barrass: The best defender on the night, Barrass’s eight marks were the equal highest for West Coast, and his intercept game was on point with 11 intercept possessions. 

Essendon

3. Nic Martin: Yet again Martin asks how he wasn’t picked in the draft proper with another 32 disposals and another 613 metres gained, providing plenty of drive for Essendon once again. 

2. Zach Merrett: The captain’s class just always manages to shine through, and three goals, including two in the third quarter to help keep West Coast at bay proved their importance in the narrow result. 

1. Sam Durham: Merrett’s class always shines through, but the likes of Durham help in that regard, with the fast-rising Essendon midfielder amassing 12 contested possessions and seven clearances, the most for the Bombers. 

Richmond Vs Fremantle 

Richmond

3. Nick Vlastuin: Under siege yet again down back, the class and composure of Vlastuin continues to rise to the fore, with a game-high nine intercept possessions helping to stem the bleeding for Richmond.

2. Jayden Short: The Tigers certainly missed this guy, as Short made an immediate impact on return with a team-high 28 disposals off half-back, the driving force of Richmond’s forward forays. 

1. Mykelti Lefau: Lefau’s stocks continue to rise at Richmond, with him not looking outmatched against the might of Alex Pearce, and even managing two goals, the best return for the Tigers.

Fremantle

3. Luke Ryan: It was a defensive master-class for Ryan, who cut off just about everything for Fremantle, with a career-best 39 disposals, and a massive 15 marks in defence. 

2. Caleb Serong: A sensational game for Serong who is in rare air presently, with another 38 disposals and an equal team-high 11 score involvements to lead Fremantle to a big win. 

1. Hayden Young: Young put the icing on the cake for Fremantle with two late goals in a row, but his work in the contest helped set up the win with a game-high eight clearances.

Western Bulldogs Vs Hawthorn

Western Bulldogs

3. Bailey Dale: In a game in which way too much was left to too few for the Dogs, Dale stood out like a beacon.  He was in everything for the Sons of the West, especially in the first half when the heat was really on. 29 disposals for the match, but the fact that he gained 284 more metres than any other Dog tells its own story. 

2. Marcus Bontempelli: Bontempelli did everything that he could to lift his team, standing strong in the midfield and stepping up whenever they needed him most, and never stopped working, with 26 disposals and two goals. 

1. Tim English: English broke even in a stirring ruck battle with Lloyd Meek which was the highlight of this match. and two vital goals put the exclamation mark on a strong display.

Hawthorn

3. James Sicily: Not even a dislocated shoulder nor a rolled ankle could stop the Hawthorn captain.  He stood strong and formed a stirring example to his young, undermanned side through sheer will and a clutch goal from a rare foray into the forward line late in the game gave his side more energy than a gallon of Gatorade ever could.

2. Lloyd Meek: Meek’s reputation grows by the week, and his efforts here did that reputation no harm at all with him probably taking the points in a classic ruck battle with Tim English. Goaling early to advance the Hawk resistance after a poor start, and was a presence for 120 minutes.

1. Connor McDonald: While not massive numbers in terms of possessions, three goals at vital times earn McDonald the vote here. He looked dangerous whenever he had the ball and his energy was infectious.

Gold Coast Vs Brisbane 

Gold Coast 

3. Noah Anderson: Anderson was perhaps the best player for the Suns in the QClash, leading them in tackles with eight, and clearances, also with eight, to provide some fight in the middle for the Suns in the disappointing loss. 

2. Sam Flanders: Flanders was moved on ball to try and spark the Suns midfield, and with five clearances for Gold Coast, second behind Noah Anderson, Flanders at least provided some strength in the contest. 

1. Touk Miller: One of the few players to fire a shot for Gold Coast in the first half, Miller finished with 11 contested possessions out of his 25 disposals to provide some resistance in the face of the dominant Lions. 

Brisbane 

3. Dayne Zorko: In perhaps the best game of his career, at 35, Zorko dominated the hapless Suns off half-back, with a whopping 40 disposals, and a massive 16 marks. The 858 metres gained showed how much drive his disposals delivered for the Lions. 

2. Josh Dunkley: Sitting on the Suns coalface king Matt Rowell, Dunkley brought the heat towards the Suns midfield, with an equal game-high eight tackles, and also clunked 11 marks, getting on the end of numerous chains for the Lions. 

1. Lachie Neale: By half-time, such was Neale’s impact, that well-beaten Rowell was sent to curb the captain’s influence, as he had come out breathing fire. While he may have faded slightly in the second half, he still had an equal game-high eight tackles, equal with three others.

Leaderboard after Round Eight:

1st: Zach Merrett (Ess) 16

2nd: Isaac Heeney (Syd) 15

3rd: Matt Rowell (GCS) 14

Eq. 4th: Harry Sheezel (NM) Shai Bolton (Rich) Noah Anderson (GCS) 13

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