Three changes for the rolling All-Australian team this week and all three are stiff to lose their spots. At the same time, a few others have been spared from the axing and will need to repay the faith on the weekend. Next week could feature some massive changes if a pair of big-name midfielders don’t lift their game. Here’s the team line by line.
Nathan Brown is very unlucky. He kept Levi Casboult goalless on the weekend and did his job, but the efforts of Phil Davis in a GWS backline that is desperately undermanned have to be rewarded. The Collingwood forward line isn’t exactly loaded with firepower, but Davis kept Darcy Moore goalless and hasn’t been beaten too many times this season.
No other changes to the All-Australian backline this week, but a few players have been put on notice. Zach Tuohy drops to the bench after a quiet game against the Bombers. Considering he’s playing a more aggressive role at the Cats than he did at Carlton, he’s going to be graded on his disposal output as much as anything. Only managing 20 disposals and having minimal impact on the game puts him on the fringe. Speaking of the Blues, they tagged Dylan Roberton on the weekend, leading to his worst game of the season. If this becomes a trend, his spot may be in danger. Elliot Yeo was impressive again as an intercept marker, picking up 29 disposals and breaking even with Marcus Bontempelli. Fellow Eagle Jeremy McGovern had a quieter one, but it was a difficult game to grade key defenders considering the low scoring nature and the odd structure of the Bulldogs’ forward line. Sam Docherty and Rory Laird were both close to their side’s respective best players in losing teams.
On the cusp:
Key defenders Michael Hurley and Robbie Tarrant have had a good few weeks and are on the radar if a spot opens up. There aren’t really many running defenders putting their hands up to take the spots of the players currently in the side, but Kade Simpson has gotten back to his best after a slow start to the season and Jeremy Howe has also had a good year for the Pies.
Marcus Bontempelli’s body of work brings him into the All-Australian side at the expense of Luke Shuey. Bontempelli had 25 disposals, six clearances and 10 tackles against the Eagles, backing up the good form he’s shown in tight games recently. Shuey is unlucky, but 20 disposals, two clearances and only six kicks for a game isn’t enough to maintain a spot in this team.
Zach Merrett, Gary Ablett and Dustin Martin continue to dominate for their respective sides and aren’t going anywhere. Yes, I copy and pasted that in from last week’s article, but why reinvent the wheel when nothing has changed? Clayton Oliver moves into the starting 18 with another brilliant performance over in South Australia as well. Brodie Grundy soundly quelled Shane Mumford on the weekend and continues to hold his dominance over the ruck position despite a few others breathing down his neck. Ben McEvoy in particular is in close to career best form.
Rory Sloane and Patrick Dangerfield – next week will be your D-day. Sloane has been successfully tagged out of the last two games, but his start to the season keeps him in the team for now. Dangerfield kicked a couple of goals and was influential when Geelong was making their charge in the second half, but isn’t having the same impact with his disposals. Brad Hill is in career best form and is very close to finding his way into the team. Josh Kelly and Jack Steven are looming as the two after Dangerfield and Sloane’s spots. Next week will be very interesting.
Orazio Fantasia is in. The Essendon small forward pushes Daniel Menzel out of the side by the width of a hair. The two mercurial forwards are even in virtually every category including disposals and goals, but the big difference is tackles. Menzel has only laid five tackles for the year, while Fantasia averages 2.5 per game. Orazio was close to the Anzac Day Medal and despite a quiet game against the Dockers, has pushed passed Menzel. Considering there are only two small forward positions in the team, these 50-50 calls need to be made.
Jeremy Cameron leads the Coleman Medal after his six goal haul against the Pies. Fair to say he’s not going anywhere. Josh Kennedy kicked three of West Coast’s nine on Friday night and was equally influential on the game’s result. Eddie Betts remains pretty safe in the side, kicking two goals in another poor game for the Crows as a whole. Luke Dahlhaus had a quiet game, but he’s safe for the time being as well based on his body of work.
Tom Hawkins kicked four on the weekend and is certainly a chance of regaining his spot in the team, but Taylor Walker did enough to hold his spot. Toby Greene will return for the Giants this week and anything short of a stellar performance will see him drop out of the team. Christian Petracca could find his way into this team if he continues his form from the weekend and Dayne Zorko may also sneak back into the team as a half forward.
All Australian Side
FB: Dylan Roberton, Phil Davis, Sam Docherty
HB: Elliot Yeo, Jeremy McGovern, Rory Laird
C: Zach Merrett, Gary Ablett, Marcus Bontempelli
HF: Luke Dahlhaus, Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene
FF: Orazio Fantasia, Josh Kennedy, Eddie Betts
Foll: Brodie Grundy, Clayton Oliver, Dustin Martin
Int: Rory Sloane, Patrick Dangerfield, Zach Tuohy, Taylor Walker
Out: Luke Shuey, Daniel Menzel, Nathan Brown
On the cusp: Tom Hawkins, Sam Jacobs, Ben McEvoy, Dayne Zorko, Brad Hill, Josh Kelly
One the fringe: Toby Greene, Rory Sloane, Zach Tuohy, Patrick Dangerfield, Taylor Walker