13/04/2024
Club MVP Round Three

Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow were just some of the players who had a big impact in Round Three. Picture: Elly McNerney/The Inner Sanctum

McKay bullied the under-sized North Melbourne defence, taking 10 marks and kicking 5.1. 

Easter Weekend sees the first month of the AFL season conclude, and while some early bolters got a reality check, others continue to build.

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.

Brisbane Vs Collingwood

Brisbane

3. Lachie Neale: It didn’t take long for Lachie Neale to show why he was sorely missed for Brisbane. Neale fought through an ankle issue to amass 20 contested possessions and turn the game Brisbane’s way in the second quarter. 

2. Dayne Zorko: The veteran has shown no signs of slowing down yet for Brisbane, and once again demonstrated his class against Collingwood with 30 disposals, including 11 in the first quarter. 

1. Hugh McCluggage: Mr. Consistent for Brisbane, McCluggage was his usual busy self against the Pies and kicked a late goal to give them hope. 

Collingwood 

3. Tom Mitchell: The Pies needed a lift from their midfield mix, and they got it from Mitchell, who set the tone early with four tackles in the first quarter to help Collingwood to an early break. 

2. John Noble: Welcome back John. After falling out of favour in late 2023, Noble wasn’t about to waste his recall opportunity and provided plenty of drive off the backline for Collingwood. 

1. Jamie Elliott: While Bobby Hill was dangerous early, it was Elliott who put the finishing touches on this performance, with back-to-back final-quarter goals snuffing out any Brisbane revival.

North Melbourne Vs Carlton 

North Melbourne 

3. Harry Sheezel: When others in the backline felt the pressure of constant forward 50 entries and the Blues’ big forwards, Sheezel always seemed composed. His 81% disposal efficiency talks to his ability to hit a target leaving the defensive 50 when under pressure. 

2. Tom Powell: After a slow start, Powell worked hard to get into the game, particularly in the early stages of the third quarter, where the Kangaroos made a mini comeback to pull within four goals. Powell continued to run out the match from there, finishing with 29 disposals and a goal.

1. Paul Curtis: When the game was in the balance, it felt as though Curtis was having a real influence on the contest. He finished with 3.1 and four tackles and, along with Nick Larkey, provided the only real forward options consistently for the young Roos side.

Carlton

3. Harry McKay: McKay bullied the under-sized North Melbourne defence, taking 10 marks and kicking 5.1.  His kicking woes seem to be a thing of the past too, slotting difficult shots with ease.  If this form continues, he will cause significant headaches for all defences in the league.

2. Charlie Curnow: The other half of Carlton’s twin-towers in the forward line, Curnow was also a headache for the North defenders, finishing with 4.1 and five marks, often out-muscling his opponent to take marks in dangerous areas. 

1. Patrick Cripps: The Blues skipper was the dominant midfielder on the ground, using his size to break clear of congested stoppages on many occasions and his link-up play with other Blues outside mids and his key forwards was a pleasure to watch.

Fremantle Vs Adelaide 

Fremantle 

3. Hayden Young: After two almost games to start the year, Young put it all together brilliantly against the Crows, and looks assured in his new midfield role with 32 disposals, covering the ground well, and giving the forward line plenty of supply. 

2. Michael Walters: A vintage performance for ‘Sonny’ who would have had a bag if not for inaccurate kicking. Nevertheless, Walters was a constant danger for the Adelaide defence, especially in the first half. 

1. Luke Ryan: The backline general for the Dockers, Ryan was at his intercepting best against Adelaide, cutting off numerous forays by the crows on his way to 10 marks for the match, the best for the Dockers.

Adelaide 

3. Mark Keane: Easily the most dominant defender for the Crows, Keane repelled several Docker attacks on his way to a game-high 11 marks for the match. 

2. Matt Crouch: Finally cementing his spot in a tough Crows midfield, Crouch has been building steadily to start 2024, and led the Crows for clearances and disposals once again in a disappointing loss. 

1. Max Michalanney: The Crows father-son from 2022 continues to grow his profile with an impressive performance down back for Adelaide, working hard throughout the match, amassing seven marks. 

Essendon Vs St Kilda

Essendon

3. Nic Martin: 44 touches, including 28 to half time, is a fine day at the office. Martin just kept finding the ball all day, and his team fed him as well to use his kicking abilities to the Dons advantage.

2. Dyson Heppell: The former captain wound back the clock to lift when the Bombers needed him against the Saints. Heppell had an important last quarter for Essendon to get them over the line, and his 12 marks were a game-high. 

1. Zach Merrett: From the ex-captain to the current captain, Merrett’s work at the coalface helped the Bombers to dominate the centre clearances, and strong pressure from him in a hot final term helped secure victory. 

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St Kilda

3. Sebastian Ross: A tireless worker for St Kilda in the middle, Ross was electric early in the middle and eventually ended up with six clearances, the most for the Saints. 

2. Rowan Marshall: Worked over by both Goldstein and Draper all game, but responded by making himself effective around the ground as well, taking eight marks, largely via cutting off Essendon forays inside 50. 

1. Jack Steele: St Kilda will be disappointed with the finish, but it wasn’t for lack of trying via their captain Steele, who had seven tackles for the match and was desperately trying to hold Essendon at bay late. 

Port Adelaide Vs Melbourne

Port Adelaide

3. Willem Drew: If the John Cahill Medal were given right now, Drew would have it won. The most underrated player in the Port line-up was a class above his teammates, with 25 touches, 11 tackles and 10 clearances.

2. Travis Boak: The 351-game veteran made his presence felt in the first half as he continues to prove going on was a right call. From his new wing position, Boak had 24 touches.

1. Jackson Mead: While Connor Rozee could’ve comfortably squeezed in here, Mead’s performance deserves special notice. On the fringe in previous seasons, Mead had 14 touches and six tackles, while set up a few opportunities inside forward 50.

Melbourne

3. Alex Neal-Bullen: With the game there to be won, Neal-Bullen was arguably the match winner. His impact from his 24 touches and two goals held the Demons in great stead as he produced one of his best performances for the club.

2. Max Gawn: In an enthralling battle with Ivan Soldo, Gawn was phenomenal. Big Max had 20 touches, six marks and 50 hitouts.

1. Jack Viney: In his 200th game, Viney was in everything. The tough mid amassed 21 disposals, eight tackles and sent Kane Farrell into the next dimension with his candy selling for his goal.

Western Bulldogs Vs West Coast

Western Bulldogs

3. Adam Treloar: In a match where players seemed to come into the game, play a cameo role and fade back out again, Treloar was busy for the entire afternoon.  His 35 possessions were seven more than the next highest on the day, and few were wasted. 

2. Laitham Vandermeer: One of the unsung members of the Bulldogs group, Vandermeer does his job and does it well.  23 disposals and 10 marks made for a busy and productive day.

1. Marcus Bontempelli. Whilst not his greatest game, he still knows how to bob up and impact the contest.  His first three quarters were efficient but routine, but six possessions, two goals and four tackles in the last showed a champion’s prerogative to keep playing the match out.

West Coast

3. Tim Kelly: On a dirty day for the Eagles, Kelly was one of the few who won his position, being instrumental in getting the ball out of the middle and putting the West Coast into attack.

2. Elliot Yeo: Worked his socks off all day in the middle of the park, often finding himself at the base of the pack and feeding his colleagues frequently and effectively.  After an injury-riddled couple of years, Yeo has started 2024 well and continued his strong start here.

1. Jamie Cripps: The main narrative of Cripps’ game was his goal-kicking return of 1.5, but six scoring shots in a well-beaten team deserves mention for how hard Cripps worked in tough conditions throughout the four quarters.

Sydney Vs Richmond

Sydney

3. Nick Blakey: Blakey played a crucial role in protecting defensive 50 during the match and finished with seven intercept possessions on a fairly disappointing day for Sydney.

2. Tom Papley: Papley picked up 18 disposals and kicked one goal with his quick movement around the ball and tried everything in the tight tussle to help his team, especially late.

1. Isaac Heeney: Heeney stepped up in the game when the Swans needed him at crucial times and added strength to the quality midfield, finishing the disappointing day at the G with 27 disposals.

Richmond

3. Shai Bolton: Bolton utilised his quick speed and amazing skills to finish with 25 disposals to his name and was among the difference makers in a nail-biter with two goals.

2. Tim Taranto: In a tight tussle at the MCG, Taranto played with class. His eight clearances were instrumental in the Tigers centre-bounce dominance, and he also had the highest number of disposals for the match.

1. Nick Vlastuin: Vlastuin was critical at the G, constantly intercepting Swan’s forays inside 50 and with 15 intercept possessions to his name, his strength was crucial down back, especially late.

Geelong Vs Hawthorn

Geelong 

3. Tanner Bruhn: 15 first-quarter touches were instrumental in the Cats’ early lead, and Bruhn finished with 27 touches and five tackles, leading his team to a hard-fought victory. 

2. Mitch Duncan: The ageless Cat was clean in the rain when others weren’t, with his elite kicking a real plus in the slippery conditions. 26 disposals and nine marks showed why the Cats love his ball use off half back. 

1. Tom Hawkins: Safe to say, in game 350, Tom Hawkins is still as good as ever. Hawkins kicked four goals and was the most likely forward option for the Cats during the match.

Hawthorn 

3. James Worpel: The Hawks’s second-quarter surge was on the back of centre-square dominance, helped to a great degree by Worpel. He was everywhere against the Cats, racking up 36 disposals and eight tackles in a near-best on-ground performance. 

2. Mabior Chol: Chol’s best is brilliant, as he was easily the best on the ground during the second and third quarters, taking big contested marks and hitting the scoreboard, as well as laying tackles in the forward 50.

1. Cam Mackenzie: It was an impressive game from the young Hawk Mackenzie, who was regularly getting into dangerous areas in front of goal and applying great pressure as the Cats tried to exit their D50 as well as finishing with 15 touches and two goals. 

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