Tomas Bugg, GWS
In tough conditions Bugg showed experience beyond his years, compiling 27 touches in a defensive post in a side that was under siege. Performances like Bugg’s are why GWS were able to avoid a complete blow-out in their AFL debut.
Josh Gibson, Hawthorn
In what became a shoot-out at the MCG last Friday night, Gibson stood up in the Hawks’ backline, having 11 acts classed as one per centres – more than anyone else on the ground.
Jed Adcock, Brisbane
Adcock controlled the game against Melbourne, setting up several attacking forays whilst stopping most from Melbourne. Adcock finished with 29 disposals and would have been best afield, if it weren’t for teammate Simon Black.
Chris Yarran, Carlton
When the game needed to be won, Yarran stepped up and delivered an early contender for goal of the year. But that wasn’t his sole contribution on the night: Yarran provided run and carry out of the Tigers’ attack and was vital in several scoring opportunities.
Michael Johnson, Fremantle
Johnson played extremely well against the reigning premiers, having 24 disposals and a game-high five rebound 50s. In a match that was decided by less than a kick, he was instrumental in getting Fremantle across the line.
Hamish Hartlett, Port Adelaide
Another result under a kick, another defender who was pivotal in the result going the home side’s way. Hartlett controlled the game off the back flank, with 26 disposals at 81% efficiency, including a spectacular goal from outside 50.
Scott Pendlebury, Collingwood
Without Pendlebury, who knows how the Magpies’ match against Hawthorn would have ended up, as he lifted the Pies and brought them into the game with 33 disposals and two goals. More importantly, he finished with 13 clearances, more than anyone else on the field.
Sam Mitchell, Hawthorn
Mitchell was the only player who got near Pendlebury when it came to clearances (11), and still had his usual influence across the park. Mitchell finished with 32 touches, 19 of which were contested.
Josh Kennedy, Sydney
Kennedy was magnificent in the opening game of the year, winning the inaugural Brett Kirk medal for best afield, scoring two goals with 27 touches, and having as many clearances (7) as anyone else on the ground.
Cyril Rioli, Hawthorn
When Hawthorn was struggling in the second term, Rioli was the reason the Hawks were still close to the Magpies. Rioli took what could be mark of the year, kicked two goals and set up a few more in an electric quarter, setting the standard for the rest of his game.
Lance Franklin, Hawthorn
It was a scary sign for the rest of the competition on Friday night, as Collingwood defender Ben Reid actually performed admirably on the Coleman medallist, yet Buddy still finished with five goals. Reid contained Franklin in marking contests, but Franklin was completely unstoppable with the ball on the ground.
Marc Murphy, Carlton
Murphy was brilliant on Thursday night, with 32 disposals and a goal in a display that should give him three votes. His seven clearances were pivotal in Carlton maintaining their lead as Richmond tried to get back into the game.
Kurt Tippett, Adelaide
Tippett was exceptional against the Suns, finishing with 19 disposals and four goals in a powerful display. Gold Coast were lucky he didn’t kick more, as he missed several set shot opportunities, but the key forward showed signs of returning to his best on Saturday.
Josh Kennedy, West Coast
The second Josh Kennedy to appear on our list, and with good reason, as the West Coast forward kicked seven goals to quickly take a lead in the Coleman Medal race. Kennedy had four by quarter-time and constantly punished the Bulldogs’ defence.
Tom Rockliff, Brisbane
Rockliff was thrown forward against Melbourne, and it proved to be a masterstroke, with the midfielder winding up with eight scoring shots. Rockliff only converted three into goals, yet with his 23 disposals, he was one reason the Lions got on top early against the Demons.
Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle
The big man was back to his best on Saturday night, with 32 hit-outs and 19 disposals. More importantly, he gave Fremantle an easy exit from the Geelong press, with his marking reach proving near impossible to stop.
Simon Black, Brisbane
Black was magnificent against Melbourne, gathering 30 disposals, 13 of which were contested, 10 tackles, nine clearances and a goal. Black received some unwarranted attention from debutant James Magner early in the piece, but had the last laugh as he was clearly best afield.
Brett Stanton, Essendon
The often maligned midfielder was brilliant against North Melbourne, with 35 touches, eight clearances and two goals vital in the close-fought victory. Stanton was all over the field, with five rebound 50s and 9 inside 50s proving his worth to the Essendon faithful.
Scott Thompson, Adelaide
Thompson went head-to-head with Gary Ablett, and managed to claim the personal victory, which is something very few are able to say. Thompson finished with 39 disposals in a best on ground performance.
Matthew Boyd, Western Bulldogs
Despite the Eagles’ midfield clearly winning the battle against the Bulldogs, Boyd managed to hold his head up high with 38 touches and 10 clearances. It was no surprise to see Boyd with such high numbers; the ball magnet has proven himself to be a performer no matter how his Bulldogs are travelling.
Matt Priddis, West Coast
23 of Priddis’ 33 possessions were contested and 17 were clearances in a best on ground performance. Those are staggering numbers, but it is nothing unusual for the Eagles’ midfielder.
David Rodan, Port Adelaide
David Rodan was subbed on late in the third quarter on Sunday, and he immediately had an impact, gathering 11 disposals, nine of which were contested, kicked a goal and had two inside 50s. But amazingly, Rodan had more clearances than any other player, despite all but one having more time on ground.
Think you can do better? Who would you include?