25/04/2024
Jesse Hogan was just one of the people who were best on ground in Round One: Picture: Joshua Davis/The Inner Sanctum

Jesse Hogan was just one of the people who were best on ground in Round One: Picture: Joshua Davis/The Inner Sanctum

At 29, Jesse Hogan may be in the form of his life. Hogan terrorised the North defence from start to finish on his way to six goals for the match. 

Footy was back in full this week, and while some teams are showing strength early, others may have fallen behind the eightball.

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.

Carlton Vs Richmond

Carlton

3. Patrick Cripps: Rarely will Patrick Cripps not step up when needed for Carlton, and with a plucky Tigers outfit pressing hard late, Cripps fought hard to ensure a Carlton victory with a whopping 22 contested possessions. 

2. Harry McKay: The hero the week before, McKay was at his dangerous best once again, terrorising the Richmond defence early, and remaining a constant presence in the air throughout the match. 

1. Nic Newman: A tough choice between Newman and Mitch McGovern, but Newman gets the points for his defensive pressure as well as his run out of D50, with an equal team-high seven tackles for Carlton. 

Richmond

3. Nick Vlastuin: Vlastuin was kept busy all night with not only constant forward pressure from Carlton but the damaging twin towers of McKay and Curnow. 11 intercept possessions (the most on the ground) show how strong he was in his efforts.

2. Noah Balta: When the Richmond defence went a man down towards the end of the half, Noah Balta, already with three goals to his name, stood up in defence for the Tigers as well.

1. Toby Nankervis: Badly smashed in clearances the week before, Richmond was sorely needing its captain back in the ruck, and Nankervis did what he does best, giving them the clearances they were missing against Gold Coast. 

Collingwood Vs Sydney

Collingwood

3. Nick Daicos: There are no surprises with Nick Daicos topping the votes for Collingwood with the 21-year-old being a shining light on what was a disappointing game for the Pies. Daicos finished with 37 disposals and a goal. 

2. Scott Pendlebury: At the age of 36, Pendlebury continues to be a key cog in the Collingwood lineup. He was everywhere on Friday night trying to will his team over the line.

1. Darcy Cameron: It was a tough task for Cameron going head to head with All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy but Cameron was up to the challenge, being influential around the ground as well as at centre bounces. 

Sydney 

3. Isaac Heeney: Continuing his dominance since coach John Longmire moved him into the midfield in 2024, Heeney had the ball on a string and was strong in and around the contest, finishing with 29 disposals, two goals and four clearances. 

2. Errol Gulden: Errol Gulden is bringing his form from last season into 2024, having another solid performance, this time against the reigning premiers. With 30 disposals, he is helping the Swans midfield group push their case as one of the best in the competition.

1. Logan McDonald: Often able to find the space out the back without a Collingwood defender in sight, McDonald finished with four goals for the night, a welcome return after a quiet opening round.

Essendon Vs Hawthorn

Essendon

3. Jake Stringer: Four goals in a tight match says it all – Stringer was the gamebreaker.  Two goals in the first quarter established the early lead from the Bombers and another in the second term helped keep his team on the front foot. 

2. Archie Perkins: 24 possessions and 12 tackles in a dominant defensive midfield display, playing a big part in both establishing and maintaining a strong territorial position for his team. 

1. Ben McKay: McKay showed from the first bounce exactly why Essendon were so keen to recruit him over the off-season, keeping Mitch Lewis to one solitary goal, whilst taking three contested and seven intercept marks in a solid defensive display.

Hawthorn 

3. Massimo D’Ambrosio: In a first-round encounter with his former teammates, D’Ambrosio proved that he conforms to the proven Hawthorn tactic of recruiting excellent ball users. 15 kicks, the majority delivered with pinpoint accuracy, rebounded Hawthorn into attack with elite efficiency.

2. Jack Ginnivan: Ginnivan remained a danger with his speed, agility and ability to get to the right positions in attack, and gave a glimpse of what could be possible in the 2024 small forward group.

1. Josh Weddle: Weddle was part of much that was good about the Hawks’ performance, finishing with 20 possessions and six marks, one of which in the last quarter will be a contender for Mark of the Round.

GWS Vs North Melbourne

GWS 

3. Jesse Hogan: At 29, Jesse Hogan may be in the form of his life. Hogan terrorised the North defence from start to finish on his way to six goals for the match. 

2. Tom Green: Green picked up from where he left off last week, with the Giants ball magnet once again the focal point of their midfield, and driving the possession chains across the field. 

1. Jake Riccardi: After a quiet Opening Round, Riccardi joined the party with Hogan up forward, and though he didn’t score a major after quarter time, he was a constant threat up forward to the undermanned North defence. 

North Melbourne

3. Luke Davies-Uniacke: When North pulled to within a goal of the Giants towards half-time, it was on the back of contested work from Uniacke, with eight clearances for the match helping provide North with their opportunities up forward. 

2. Tristan Xerri: Xerri showed his skills in the ruck and around the ground for North Melbourne, with his follow-up work seeing him end with nine tackles, the most of anyone on the field. 

1. Harry Sheezel: The reigning Best and Fairest for North picked up where he left off last season, providing plenty of run across the field, and accumulating possessions from the backline to the midfield.  

Geelong Vs St Kilda

Geelong

3. Patrick Dangerfield: Dangerfield’s kicking has often been a criticism, but he kicked the match-winner. Enough said. He was a bull at the stoppages and led from the front in a best-on-ground display. 

2. Max Holmes: Holmes’ move to half-back looks like a masterstroke from Chris Scott. His pace, line-breaking ability and kicking prowess contributed to many Geelong scores.

1. Ollie Dempsey: The young forward cemented his spot in the Cat’s lineup, looking the most likely forward in an often stagnant forward line. 3.1 could easily have been five or six goals and seven marks to boot made for an electric opening game for the young gun.

St Kilda

3. Jack Steele: Steele is fit and back to his best. 25 touches and six tackles, along with nine clearances, meant his side was always in the contest.

2. Max King: At the ground, he looked the most ominous of all forwards. The supply often was lacking, but his sheer presence meant he was always a danger. 2.4 and eight marks could have been much better and won the Saints the game.

1. Riley Bonner: The former Power backman showed why the Saints were so keen to pick him up. 28 disposals, including 24 kicks, meant the Saints were often able to bypass the Cats’ pressure and allow the Saints to counter to great effect.

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Gold Coast Vs Adelaide

Gold Coast

3. Matt Rowell: He may haven’t had the most numbers of the Gold Coast midfield, but the work rate of Rowell was immense and, once an early tag from Sam Berry ended, Rowell went to work in the contest, helping the Suns to a big lead. 

2. Noah Anderson: While Rowell was winning it in the clinches, Anderson was winning it all over the ground, with 758 metres gained, well clear of the next best on the ground, and won plenty of the footy to go with it as well. 

1. Sam Flanders: Picking up from where he left off a week ago, Flanders’ reputation as a ball magnet continues to grow, with an equal game-high 35 disposals. 

Adelaide 

3. Matt Crouch: While the rest of the Crows midfield were more crucial in a late surge, Crouch’s efforts were on display from word go, with him being the Crows’ best midfielder for the match, matching the likes of Rowell from the Suns. 

2. Rory Laird: When the Crows roared back into the game late and threatened to steal the match, it was on the back of players like Laird who lifted massively to continually drive the ball forward and get some reward for early efforts. 

1. Josh Rachele: Tough to split the efforts of Rachele and Izak Rankine, but Rachele gets the nod for his late efforts, with two of his three goals coming in the Crows last quarter surge. 

Melbourne Vs Western Bulldogs 

Melbourne 

3. Max Gawn: After a disappointing Opening Round, Gawn bounced back and was the most influential man on the park. Gawn was giving first use to midfielders, having gotten the better of Tim English, and had 26 disposals of his own.

2. Jack Billings: Billings made the high half-forward role his own, part of a chain in which no Bulldogs defender could slow him down. Billings was a key link in the chain, recording 15 marks.

1. Steven May: Ever the defensive stalwart, May held Naughton to one goal and was a key distributor from the backline, recording 26 disposals and 13 marks. 

Western Bulldogs 

3. Marcus Bontempelli: Influential with almost every disposal, Bont was best in the first quarter yet rounded out his game with 25 disposals and a goal.

2. Lachlan Bramble: Recruited from Hawthorn, Bramble’s ball use from half-back was key to the Bulldogs’ ball movement from defensive 50.

1. Tom Liberatore: With nine clearances, Liberatore’s effort in and under did not go unnoticed, his competitiveness in the contest paired prettily with Bontempelli.

Port Adelaide Vs West Coast

Port Adelaide

3. Zak Butters: Hard to look past the recently appointed vice-captain, he was in nearly everything. He provided plenty of composure and competitiveness while finishing with 27 touches and a goal.

2. Connor Rozee: No pressure for the new skipper as he, alongside Butters, commanded the midfield. Two goals, 14 score involvements and 27 touches. A day out.

1. Ivan Soldo: A sensational debut for Port’s new starting ruck and he produced an entertaining battle with West Coast’s Bailey Williams. Soldo’s physicality stood out and while some tall forwards were wayward, he was accurate with two goals.

West Coast 

3. Jeremy McGovern: The Eagles are a far better team with him in the side as was proven last season. The veteran was a general in defence while his side was under siege and finished with 19 touches.

2. Harley Reid: It was hard to avoid the first overall pick who took to AFL football like a fish to water. While not a dream debut in terms of a result, it was a performance Eagles fans can be excited about.

1. Jayden Hunt: While making some errors, the former Demon provided some dare and dash out of defence. He had five score involvements and 10 rebound 50s – a large number attributed to kick outs.

Fremantle Vs Brisbane 

Fremantle

3. Caleb Serong: So very right for Caleb Serong who had it on a string against Brisbane, breaking career records and Fremantle records across the board. Not even a tag could slow him down for very long as he had a night to remember. 

2. Jye Amiss: Fast becoming the key pillar of Fremantle’s forward line, Amiss picked up where he left off last season, rising above packs to kick four goals for the match, one of which came from a screamer. 

1. Alex Pearce: The head of the Fremantle defence, Pearce was a rock for his club with a hot Brisbane threatening to run away with the game early. While he may have faded later, his efforts ensured Fremantle remained in the contest to turn the game their way eventually. 

Brisbane 

3. Joe Daniher: Daniher was easily the most effective big man up forward for Brisbane, covering the ground well, and kicking two goals late to soften the blow of a disappointing loss at least.

2. Harris Andrews: Andrews did what he did best for Brisbane, and it was only his presence that kept the result from getting worse for Brisbane, with 12 marks down back, helping stem the bleeding for the Lions marginally. 

1. Josh Dunkley: With Lachie Neale missing from last week’s team, Dunkley was forced to pick up the slack in the middle, and did well, with his numbers slightly ahead of Jarryd Lyons in midfield, and his pressure also the best for the Lions as well.

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