DESPITE queries over the effectiveness of his 50-disposal game against Collingwood, Hawthorn midfielder Tom Mitchell is a deserving selection in the round eight Team of the Week, brought to you by Accor Hotels.
Mitchell became just the seventh player to reach the magical milestone, made up of 22 kicks and 28 handballs.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley chose not to tag the Hawks onballer as he did his damage by “stealth”, but Mitchell’s 22 contested possessions underlined how important he was to his side’s early dominance.
Magpies skipper Scott Pendlebury was the other dominant player on the field, with the skipper’s leadership and never-say die attitude a huge reason behind Collingwood’s 43-point comeback.
Other midfield spots were at a premium, as Seb Ross, Josh Kennedy, Dustin Martin and Joel Selwood can all count themselves as mighty unlucky not to be picked.
Essendon’s Michael Hurley was a lock at centre-half back after a stellar game – one of four Bombers to make the team – against the Eagles.
Michael Johnson (Fremantle): It seemed age might have left the veteran wearied at the start of the season but he has responded in fine fashion. Continually cut off Carlton’s forays forward on Sunday and had 10 intercept possessions among his 15 disposals.
Alex Rance (Richmond): It’s tough to blame the gun defender for his side’s run of four losses. He was superb in winning 19 disposals and match-high stats for one-percenters (16) and intercept possessions (10).
Nathan Wilson (GWS): The dashing defender started the chain that saw the Giants pinch an extraordinary win by booting it into the middle of the ground from the kick-in and gained a match-high 765 metres from his 20 disposals.
Rory Laird (Adelaide): Unsurprisingly, the backman was once again brilliant for the Crows. He racked up 37 disposals, used the ball well and sparked much of his side’s counterattack and looks on track to win a berth in the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team.
Michael Hurley (Essendon): Sitting out for a year with a doping ban hasn’t hurt the Bomber’s form. Against West Coast, he finished with 26 disposals and a game-high nine intercept possessions.
Jake Lloyd (Sydney): Even as the Swans started the season slowly, the former rookie racked up the ball at will. He finished with 35 disposals and his hard running meant his teammates always had an option to kick to.
David Zaharakis (Essendon): A return to form for the 2011 club champion continued Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium, when he had his best game for a while. He picked up 31 disposals and seven tackles.
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood): Overcoming a 43-point deficit against the Hawks probably wouldn’t have happened without the skipper’s contribution in his first game as a father. His class became more obvious as the game wore on and finished with 36 disposals, 13 score involvements and 691m gained.
Dan Hannebery (Sydney): Memories of a slow start to the season for the star Swan will fade away quickly if he keeps producing performances like his 30-disposal effort against St Kilda. The two goals he slotted in the first quarter added extra punch to his game.
Michael Walters (Fremantle): Walters has been in superb form and he continued his stellar run against the Blues. He ignited the Dockers with three goals in the third term to take the game away from Carlton and finished with 27 disposals to stamp his name all over Fremantle’s win.
Joe Daniher (Essendon): Another brilliant game from the in-form forward, as he bagged five goals in Essendon’s big win over West Coast. Got his confidence up early by nailing his first set-shot within the first minute of the game. He then kicked three more snaps to end the first-half with four goals to set up the Bombers’ win.
Tom Lynch (Adelaide): Outworked opponent Marco Paparone and was an excellent link between the midfield and the forward line. The hard-running Crow collected 23 disposals, eight marks and kicked three goals. Lynch’s first goal from a tight angle on the boundary line, that has been nominated for the Coates Hire Goal of the Year, underlined his class.
Mitch Hannan (Melbourn): The young forward was Melbourne’s most likely scoring option in another disappointing loss. Hannan, who stands up at just 189cm, took three contested marks and continued to create a contest when some of the other Demons forwards couldn’t. Kicked three goals in his best performance at AFL level.
Ben Brown (North Melbourne): Showed that he can carry North Melbourne’s forward line with a bag of five goals, to go with six marks (five inside 50 and two contested). The Demons had few answers for Brown’s mix of height and competitiveness, as he drew plenty of attention for his Dennis Lillee-style set-shot run up.
Eddie Betts (Adelaide): Not your typical Eddie Betts goal frenzy that we have become accustomed to seeing, but what he did, he did very well. Kicked three goals and contributed with four goal assists (including setting up debutants Hugh Greenwood and Jordan Gallucci for goals).
Zac Smith (Geelong): Bounced back from a terrible performance against Essendon the previous week to play his most influential game in Geelong colours. Finished with a career-high 25 disposals and a personal best 48 hit-outs, as well as eight clearances and 10 tackles, to be a key figure in the Cats’ desperately-needed victory.
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong): Despite playing with sore ribs, Dangerfield was at his brilliant best against the Dogs. His stat line looked pretty – 36 disposals, 10 clearances and four goals. But it was his intent to hunt the opposition (12 tackles) and set an aggressive tone for his team that was equally noteworthy.
Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn): The opposing coaches may have squabbled over whether Mitchell had a major impact on the game, but 50 disposals is 50 disposals. Became only the seventh player to reach that milestone, with 22 contested possessions and eight tackles topping off an exceptional individual game.
Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne): Looked to be in a bit of strife after he injured his knee in the first quarter, but returned at the start of the second term and quickly became one of the most influential players on the ground. His crisp handballing to release teammates into space was a feature, as he ended the day with 26 disposals, eight clearances and one goal.
Lachie Neale (Fremantle): Picking up 37 disposals and a goal and playing a pivotal role in helping overhaul a brave Carlton outfit merits attention from the football world. He was massive in tight, winning 20 contested possessions and eight clearances.
Mitch Wallis (Western Bulldogs): Playing in his first game since suffering a horrific broken leg suffered in round 18 last season, Bulldogs midfielder Mitch Wallis was outstanding during the Cats’ first-half onslaught and in his side’s second-half revival. The tough onballer gathered 26 disposals and two goals, both of which came as the Bulldogs charged back into the game in the third term.
The fans’ pick
Fan vote: Zach Merrett (Essendon): The young gun beat out Richmond’s Dustin Martin in the Twitter fan vote, 65 per cent to 35 per cent. He was typically creative and damaging with the football and collected 37 disposals in an integral performance.