Despite no drastic changes near the top of the Shadforth Financial 2018 AFLCA Champion Player of the Year leaderboard, round eleven proved an entertaining one. One of the competitions premier indigenous talents – in Shane Edwards – stole the show on the rounds biggest stage and impressive performances were plentiful with seven perfect tens being given by the coaches. A couple of regular contributors continued to impress, further boosting their finals credentials. Whilst the 2017 Premiers stamped their authority on the competition with a vintage Richmond display.
The Swans handled their business at the SCG on Friday night despite a valiant effort from a young Carlton outfit. Callum Sinclair was dominant in the ruck battle for Sydney, winning 26 hit-outs and managing to sneak forward for two goals. Sinclair was given the ten votes from the coaches, whilst his teammate Isaac Heeney (eight votes) also impressed with 22 disposals and two goals.
Gary Ablett put on a show in his return to Metricon Stadium on Saturday night. However, it was fellow Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan who took away the best on ground honours, receiving the maximum ten coaches votes. Duncan was clinical on his way to 32 disposals, six inside-50s and a goal. Gold Coast applied little pressure on Ablett around the ground which resulted in a damaging 37-disposal, three-goal performance for the former Sun as well as eight votes. Geelong were able to pull away for a comfortable 86-point victory.
A deserving recipient for the Yiooken Award (best-afield in the Dream Time match), Shane Edwards had his way with the Essendon defence on Saturday night, playing a large role in the Richmond victory. Edwards set up his team mates several times – including an amazing toe poke which led to a Josh Caddy goal. The underrated forward also hit the scoreboard himself with two majors to go along with his 30 disposals. The frantic Richmond pressure proved to much for Essendon who went down by a margin of 71 points.
West Coast spearhead, Josh Kennedy bagged a much-needed six goals to hold off a competitive St Kilda team on Saturday night at Optus Oval. In the absence of fellow key forward Jack Darling who injured his ankle in the first quarter, Kennedy delivered for the Eagles – giving them a reliable and efficient avenue to goal. Down the other end of the ground, Tim Membrey was crucial for the Saints, equalling Kennedy’s tally of six goals in the 13-point loss. The two key forwards featured prominently in the coaches’ votes – Kennedy claiming best on ground honours with ten votes and Membrey polling eight votes.
North Melbourne continued to prove pre-season critics wrong with a dominant showing against Brisbane at Etihad Stadium. The Lions – who are still yet to win away from the Gabba this season – could not contain North’s ball movement, and in particular Shaun Higgins, who collected a game-high 38 disposals and seven inside-50s. Despite flying under the radar of many in the past, Higgins’ impact on the game was not undervalued by the coaches as he received maximum votes. Debutant Paul Ahern (29 disposals) also impressed for North with his silky skills, receiving a vote.
Gut-running Collingwood midfielder, Tom Phillips was amongst the coaches votes for the third consecutive week in his sides 61-point dismantling of Fremantle on Sunday. Phillips polled ten votes and ran riot on the MCG, finding the ball 36 times (25 uncontested) and booting three goals. The only man on the ground who had more of the ball was Phillips’ teammate Steele Sidebottom, who collected 37 disposals for five coaches votes himself.
Dylan Shiel was spectacular for the Giants in what could prove to be a season-saving victory. Shiel accumulated 30 disposals and five clearances for his side as they held on by 16 points over the Crows at Adelaide Oval. Shiel (ten votes) was given the best on ground honours from the coaches ahead of his counterparts Stephen Coniglio and Ryan Griffen who polled six votes apiece.
The top five on the leaderboard from round ten stays put after none of the leaders received votes in round eleven. Nat Fyfe holds onto first spot with 51 votes. Patrick Cripps narrowly sits in second place on 46 votes, ahead of the trailing Max Gawn and Trent Cotchin on 45 votes apiece. The injured Jack Darling rounds out the top five on 42 votes.