Round eight saw another complete performance from Nat Fyfe and a comfortable lead atop the leaderboard.
-by Abe Spargo
Nat Fyfe reclaimed top spot after earning the maximum ten votes in round eight of the 2018 AFL Premiership season. However, Fyfe was not the only impressive performance recognised by the coaches over the weekend. Four other players received maximum ten coaches votes, an AFL/VFL record was broken and a pair of brothers set the MCG alight.
Nat Fyfe took a commanding lead in the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award. Fyfe continued his stellar form – which is being compared to his 2015 Brownlow winning year – against St Kilda on Saturday night. In his fourth 10 vote performance for the year, Fyfe picked up 36 disposals and 13 clearances. It also marks the first time an AFL/VFL player has had 25 or more contested possessions two weeks in a row. The inaccurate Saints had no answer for Fyfe’s dominance as they went down by 30 points.
Sydney took on Hawthorn on the high-pressure stage of Friday night football at the MCG. It was third gamer Ben Ronke who stole the show. Ronke was the obvious choice for best on ground honours as both coaches awarded him maximum votes for his incredible seven-goal haul. Not only did he kick the first five goals of the match for Sydney, but he also laid ten tackles and kicked a late goal to help Sydney hold on for an eight-point victory. The 20-year-old rookie’s nose for goal and ability to break tackles impressed many and he was the youngest Swan to kick seven goals in a game since 1982.
West Coast got the better of the Giants at Spotless Stadium in a battle of top four contenders. Jack Darling stood up for the undermanned Eagles, kicking four goals and taking nine marks (five contested) and was rewarded with the maximum ten votes.
At Etihad Stadium the Western Bulldogs gave the Lions their eighth loss in as many rounds. Underrated ball winner Jack Macrae again oozed class for the Dogs on his way to a massive 47 disposals and ten clearances. Macrae polled ten coaches’ votes for the second straight week.
The Curnow brothers were the difference for Carlton in their first win for season 2018 on Saturday against Essendon. The high-flying play of Charlie electrified the 44,669 spectators at the MCG as he kicked three vital goals – including two in the third quarter – and took four massive contested marks. Whilst older brother Ed worked hard in the engine room all day keeping Essendon ball-winner Zach Merrett to just 16 disposals. Ed also collected 24 disposals and kicked two goals himself, as the two brothers split best on ground honours with nine votes apiece.
Robbie Gray’s five-goal third term helped rejuvenate Port Adelaide in what was a showdown for the ages. Gray proved again that he is a genuine match-winner, earning ten votes from the coaches and finishing the game with six goals from 20 disposals. On the back of Gray’s performance Port kicked seven goals to two in the third quarter and withstood a late surge from the Crows to win by five points. Offseason recruit Steven Motlop proved ice cold as he kicked a clutch go ahead goal with 21 seconds remaining on the clock.
Ben Cunnington’s record breaking performance epitomised a brave North Melbourne outfit against the reigning premiers at Etihad on Sunday afternoon. With Cunnington leading the way, North Melbourne were hard at the contest. However, this was still not enough as the Tiger’s frenetic pressure and handball game eventually wore down North. Of Cunnington’s 38 disposals, 32 were contested – three more than the previous AFL/VFL record of 29 held by Patrick Dangerfield and Sydney’s Josh Kennedy – and consequently collected nine coaches’ votes. Skipper Trent Cotchin was inspirational for the Tigers, collecting 37 disposals and kicking a timely goal to earn himself nine votes.
A full summary of the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award Votes from round eight can be seen below: