05/03/2024

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 one saw new recruits flourish, draftees shine and wins for all four new coaches, but who gets the votes in the opening round of the year?

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

Richmond, 8.10 (58) drew with Carlton, 8.10 (58)

Thursday night was a tough slog for both sides, with neither being able to break away and form a meaningful gap. Great defence lead to a gruelling contest that allowed busy midfielders to shine.

3 votes – Tim Taranto (Richmond): The Tigers’ recruit was on full display on opening night, from the first bounce he showed a desire to make an impact. He had 12 contested possessions on his way to 32 disposals and ranked fourth for metres gained with 542.

Taranto had eight tackles and was constantly under the nose of the umpires, five clearances and two shots on goal helped stamp his case for Best on Ground.

2 votes – Daniel Rioli (Richmond): Rioli was the powerhouse behind Richmond’s ball movement from the back half, comfortably leading the game with almost 700 metres gained. His run through the centre of the ground opened up the game and allowed Richmond a point of difference to their opponents.

Rioli had five inside 50s and five score involvements working as the primary distributor from half back. His movement with ball in hand was a key factor in the Tiger’s late comeback.

1 vote – Lewis Young (Carlton): Fourteen intercept possessions. Young was one of the most impactful players on the ground, he worked tirelessly to keep the Tigers to just 38 per cent efficiency from their 66 inside 50s.

He was influential without the ball, causing the Tigers to take bad options into the forward line just to avoid him.

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Geelong, 16.7 (103) def by Collingwood, 19.11 (125)

Collingwood have carried on the trend of last-quarter victories, coming from six points behind at the final break to run out 22-point winners at the MCG. It was a victory overshadowed by injuries to star defenders Tom Stewart (Knee) and Jeremy Howe (Broken Arm) but didn’t stop a number of stars from shining under the Friday night lights.

3 votes – Jordan De Goey (Collingwood): De Goey started season 2023 on fire against the reigning premiers, kicking three goals to go with 25 touches. He kicked the game-tying goal to start the final quarter and ignited the Pies’ surge to steal the win.

Having five clearances and three goal assists to go with his own haul demonstrates just how integral he was to generating a result.

2 votes – Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood): It was a vintage performance from the former skipper on Friday night. Freed from the shackles of captaincy, Pendlebury was back in the midfield rotation and was as clean in the contest as he’s ever been.

Weaving in and out of traffic, he had nine score involvements from his 27 touches as well as kicking an important goal to start the second quarter. Pendlebury was influential whenever he touched the ball, and didn’t shy away from the contact, leading the game with eight tackles.

1 vote – Nick Daicos (Collingwood): The prodigal son of Collingwood continued where he left off last season, racking up 35 disposals off half-back without breaking a sweat. He was at the centre of several key plays for the Pies, creating overlaps on offence and using handball chains to break down the Cats’ defence.

Daicos had nine score involvements on the night and ranked second for Collingwood for metres gained, with 579.

North Melbourne, 12.15 (87) def West Coast, 12.10 (82)

A shoot-out from siren to siren, Alistair Clarkson’s men were able to hold off a last-minute charge from the Eagles to start 2023 with a win. Debutants Harry Sheezel and Reuben Ginbey both started their careers in red-hot form at the Mecca of Australian Football on Saturday afternoon.

3 votes – Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne): LDU thrived in his first game under Clarkson, dominating the contest with 10 clearances and 19 contested possessions. His work in the first half helped the Kangaroos take a 21-point lead into the main break.

He had eight score involvements, including a goal of his own, and was a constant threat when around the ball.

2 votes – Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne): The debutant was electric running off half-back, he had a game-high 34 disposals and was second for metres gained. Sheezel took nine marks playing as the distributor out of the backline, kickstarting most of North’s counterattack.

He found himself involved in handball chains down the wing, was composed in traffic and delivered plenty of ball into the forward 50. An incredible debut performance and a star for the future.

1 vote – Nick Larkey (North Melbourne): Larkey walked away from the West Coast fixture with six goals for the second year in a row. He looked threatening whenever the ball entered the forward 50 and comfortably dealt with the Eagles’ defenders.

The first key forward bag of the season, Larkey set up an inspirational win to start the Clarkson era and will find plenty of confidence moving forward.

Port Adelaide, 18.18 (126) def Brisbane, 11.6 (72)

The Power is on for 2023, causing an upset at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon. Port Adelaide endured a second-quarter surge from Brisbane before kicking 13 goals in the second half to start their season with a strong win at home.

3 votes – Jason Horne-Francis (Port Adelaide): The former number-one pick was on full display on at Adelaide oval, highlighted by his goal bursting from stoppage on the 50-metre arc. He collected 25 disposals and seven clearances while leading the Power for metres gained with 532.

Down by 12 at halftime, Horne-Francis had 11 disposals and two direct goal assists in the third quarter to drag Port Adelaide back in front.

2 votes – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide): Rozee had team-highs in both tackles (6) and pressure acts (17). He also managed to put up 10 score involvements including a goal himself.

He had 23 disposals on the day, including nine in the first quarter to get Port off to a strong start.

1 vote – Ryan Burton (Port Adelaide): Burton led the game with nine intercept possessions, three of which being intercept marks. He was also a key factor in the Powers’ ball movement, having five rebound 50s and four inside 50s in his 24 disposals.

Melbourne, 17.13 (115) def Western Bulldogs, 9.11 (65)

The Demons continue to have the wood over the Dogs following a strong win at the MCG. The Gawn and Grundy combo got off started 2023 in fine form, combining for 33 disposals and three goals. The Bulldogs’ had struggles at both ends of the field as the Demon’s class shone through.

3 votes – Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne): Four goals and 30 pressure acts, Pickett was incredible on Saturday night. He had a game-high eight tackles, including a league-high seven inside forward 50. He had 19 disposals, 11 of those being score involvements including two direct goal assists.

A performance dimmed only by his controversial bump on Bailey Smith, Pickett was electric for the four quarters for a career-best game.

2 votes – Christian Petracca (Melbourne): Petracca led the game for metres gained with 661 from 30 disposals. His eight clearances were tied for a game-high with Clayton Oliver and helped combat the Bulldogs’ midfield.

He had two shots on goal for behinds but looked a constant threat forward of centre. 18 of his 30 disposals came in the first half when the game was close.

1 vote – Clayton Oliver (Melbourne): Game-high 33 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency, 15 contested possessions and eight clearances. Oliver was at his best against the Bulldogs on Saturday, racking up 11 score involvements and dominating the second half to help Melbourne pull away to secure the four points.

Gold Coast, 9.7 (61) def by Sydney 16.14 (110)

The ghosts of Grand Final day were nowhere to be seen as the Swans cruised to an eight-goal win in humid conditions on the Gold Coast. The Suns struggled to handle the Swans’ pressure and were well-beaten around the contest in a disappointing start to 2023.

3 votes – Chad Warner (Sydney): Warner was clean and concise with the ball when everyone else fumbled. He eased his way to 30 disposals, having fourteen score involvements along the way. He led the game with over 700 metres gained and eight inside 50s.

Warner was sublime on the Gold Coast and is off to a hot start in 2023.

2 votes – Jarrod Witts (Gold Coast): Regardless of result, Jarrod Witts’ performance was one of the best of the round. 51 hit outs and 25 disposals on a humid night at Heritage Bank Stadium, collecting 16 contested possessions and five score involvements.

He had game-high 10 clearances as the Suns dominated the Swans in the contest but it wasn’t enough to overcome last year’s Grand Finalists.

1 vote – Dane Rampe (Sydney): Rampe had 20 disposals and 10 intercept possessions at halftime. He was the Swans’ last line of defence and played a brilliant role cutting off the Suns’ advances.

He worked hard on both ends of the ball, having seven score involvements and nine one-percenters on defence.

GWS, 15.16 (106) def Adelaide, 12.18 (90)

Adam Kingsley is off to a winning start as the Giants’ Coach, watching his side stage a late-game comeback to finish 16-point winners at Giants stadium. The Crows got off to a solid but inaccurate start, with nine first-quarter points leaving the door open for a persistent Western Sydney outfit.

3 votes – Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney): Back in the midfield and back in the votes. Coniglio was monumental in the Giants’ last quarter comeback. He led the game with 810 metres gained from his 32 disposals.

He had a final quarter goal and goal assist included in his game-high 14 score involvements. Six of his eight clearances came in the second half when GWS kicked nine goals to the Crows’ four.

2 votes – Toby Greene (Greater Western Sydney): His first game as captain and he would not go quietly. Greene rallied his fellow teammates and dragged them over the line in the final quarter, kicking a goal and taking two important marks inside forward 50.

He kicked four goals on the day and was inspirational in leading the comeback.

1 vote – Josh Rachele (Adelaide): The Crows’ best, Rachele worked in tandem with Izak Rankine to create a formidable small-forward duo. He had three goals of his own as part of nine score involvements.

He had a team-high four tackles and was able to pick up three clearances during his rotations into the midfield.

Hawthorn, 9.11 (65) def by Essendon, 19.10 (124)

A spirited Hawks side kept the game close until halftime, but as legs grew tired in the second half the Bombers piled on the goals. Essendon’s confidence will be sky-high after a strong showing against their rivals, earning Brad Scott his first win as coach.

3 votes – Archie Perkins (Essendon): Perkins kicked three goals from his 20 disposals with another three behinds. He was prolific in the forward half, generating a game-high 10 score involvements and two goal assists.

Perkins had over 500 metres gained, working up the ground to get involved in handball chains and pushing back hard towards goal.

2 votes – Darcy Parish (Essendon):  It was business as usual for Parish to start season 2023, racking up 37 disposals with 18 contested possessions. He had the most clearances in the league for round one with 13 to go with his 10 inside 50s.

He led the Bombers for metres gained with 575 and had nine score involvements.

1 vote – Mason Redman (Essendon): The Bombers’ distributor from the backline. Redman had seven intercept possessions and six rebound 50s in his 24 disposals, while also generating seven score involvements.

He kicked two big goals from outside 50, including the first of the game, helping to set up the game before the floodgates opened late.

St Kilda, 10.7 (67) def Fremantle, 7.10 (52)

Ross Lyon’s second era at the Saints is off to a remarkable start, leading an undermanned squad to a resounding 15-point win over the Dockers. Fremantle’s forward half struggled while St Kilda kicked four goals to none in the final quarter to steal victory.

3 votes – Luke Ryan (Fremantle): Despite the loss, Ryan was the most influential player on the ground. He had 37 disposals (seven more than the next best) and 775 metres gained (almost 200 metres more than second) all while operating at 92 per cent efficiency.

He had 13 marks and 13 intercept possessions as the Dockers’ defence controlled the ball early in the game.

2 votes – Mason Wood (St Kilda): Wood kicked two last-quarter goals and led the Saints for pressure acts in the final term, essentially dragging them over the line. It was an astonishing effort to watch him both with and without the ball.

He finished with 20 disposals and seven score involvements, but it was his ability to perform when required that caused him to stand out.

1 vote – Ryan Byrnes (St Kilda): Was the Saints’ best in the opening half, he finished with 580 metres gained from 27 disposals. He led St Kilda with 12 contested possessions and was tied second with four clearances.

He assisted two goals inside two minutes late in the second quarter to give the Saints the lead and was a great second option at the centre bounce.

The Inner Sanctum’s Brownlow Leaderboard – Round One

Unsurprisingly, there’s a nine-way tie for first at the end of the first round.

=1st (3 votes) – Tim Taranto (Richmond)

=1st (3 votes) – Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)

=1st (3 votes) – Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne)

=1st (3 votes) – Jason Horne-Francis (Port Adelaide)

=1st (3 votes) – Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)

=1st (3 votes) – Chad Warner (Sydney)

=1st (3 votes) – Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney)

=1st (3 votes) – Archie Perkins (Essendon)

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