Round 14 saw four players stand above the rest, with Essendon’s Adam Saad, Hawthorn’s Liam Shiels, North Melbourne’s Shaun Higgins, and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps earning the maximum votes from the coaches. Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe has retained top spot in the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award, despite having the bye in Round 14. Cripps was the big mover, as his 10 votes against Collingwood catapulted him up the leaderboard into second place – just three votes behind Fyfe.
Saad tore up the Optus Stadium turf, with his blistering pace off halfback key to the Bombers’ 28-point upset victory over the West Coast Eagles on their home deck. The first-year Bomber had 26 disposals, four inside-50’s and a game-high six running bounces to spur on the Bomber blitz, which at one point had them leading 50-1. The win secured a fourth win in five games for John Worsfold’s men.
Shiels did it all for Hawthorn, amassing 33 disposals, 10 marks and kicking a goal as the Hawks turned it on in the second half to defeat the Gold Coast Suns by 53 points. The premiership winning on-baller helped arrest the Suns’ early momentum, to get the game back on Hawthorn’s terms and secure a perfect score from the coaches.
Higgins was immense in North Melbourne’s last gasp win against the Western Bulldogs, racking up 32 disposals (17 contested), eight clearances and kicking two goals to get the Kangaroos over the line. The star midfielder’s final term was huge as his 11 disposals and three score involvements helped North Melbourne snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and move into eighth spot on the AFL ladder.
Cripps led from the front in Carlton’s valiant 20-point loss to Collingwood, with his mix of strong contested work and effectiveness in front of goal earning him top billing from the coaches. The star Blue had 29 disposals (20 contested), nine tackles, seven clearances and booted three goals as the Blues fell just short against their old rivals.
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