Round 20 delivered several scintillating performances, with seven players – Geelong’s Tim Kelly, Adelaide’s Matt Crouch, Sydney’s Lance Franklin, the Western Bulldogs’ Jason Johannisen, Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver, West Coast’s Elliot Yeo and Greater Western Sydney’s Josh Kelly – earning a perfect-10 votes from the coaches.
But it was Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell that made the biggest impact on the leaderboard, notching up his fourth consecutive game of 40+ disposals to see him take top spot from Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn. Mitchell (86 votes), who added 13 clearances and seven inside 50s to his 43 disposals against Essendon, now leads the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award by six votes from Gawn (80 votes), with Carlton’s Patrick Cripps (78 votes) a further two votes back in third place.
Kelly continued his impressive first season of AFL football, putting in a best afield display against the ladder-leading Tigers. The Western Australian ball-magnet was vital in his side’s dominance of contested possession, and collected 36 disposals (16 contested) and kicked a goal as the Cats lost to Richmond by three points.
Crouch kicked an important late goal, and had the run of the midfield, as Adelaide claimed a controversial three-point victory over Port Adelaide in Showdown 45. The rugged on-baller collected 35 disposals (18 contested), eight tackles, seven clearances and kicked a goal to earn a perfect score from the coaches.
Franklin was brilliant for the Swans, as they grabbed a last gasp two-point win over Collingwood to boost their finals hopes. Buddy was dominant in booting six majors, as well as collecting 17 disposals and taking nine marks. His six goals moved him into second place in the Coleman Medal race, just four behind North Melbourne’s Ben Brown.
Johannisen was outstanding in the Bulldogs’ 35-point victory over St Kilda. The pacy defender played a key role in his side's third quarter blitz of the Saints, and amassed 42 disposals while driving the ball inside-50 five times to earn a perfect-10 votes from the coaches.
Oliver’s star continues to rise, with the AFL Coaches Association’s Best Young Player for 2017 collecting 31 disposals (14 contested), 11 marks, seven tackles and booting two goals in Melbourne’s 96-point demolition of the Gold Coast.
Yeo again showed his versatility for the Eagles, getting it done in the midfield and up forward as West Coast claimed a 58-point victory over Fremantle in a heated Western Derby. The 24-year-old was adjudged best afield, with his 26 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals winning him the inaugural Glendinning-Allan Medal.
Kelly put an injury affected start to the 2018 season behind him, playing arguably his best game for the club in Greater Western Sydney’s 105-point trashing of Carlton. The classy Giants midfielder had a monster game, with his 41 disposals (22 contested), 16 inside-50s (tied for AFL record), and 10 clearances helping his side to their fourth consecutive victory.