Round 15 saw five players stand above the rest, with Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt, Carlton’s Kade Simpson, Greater Western Sydney’s Callan Ward, Melbourne’s Max Gawn and Essendon’s Orazio Fantasia earning the maximum votes from the coaches.
Simpson made game number 300 a memorable one, with the Blues legend collecting 37 disposals and eight rebound-50’s, showcasing his signature dash and elite ball use in his milestone game, where he became just the fifth Blue to reach 300 games. But it was Patrick Cripps that was the big mover in the 2018 Shadforth Financial Group AFLCA Champion Player of the Year Award, as his four votes against Port Adelaide propelled him past Nat Fyfe, and into top spot.
Elsewhere, it was vintage Riewoldt in the top of the table clash between Richmond and Sydney. The star Tiger couldn’t be stopped as he collected 23 disposals, kicked three goals, and clunked a career-high 16 marks as the Tigers consolidated top spot on the AFL ladder.
Ward showed his class in the Giants’ vital 11-point victory over Hawthorn. The gun ball-winner amassed 32 disposals, 11 clearances, and kicked two goals as Greater Western Sydney won their fourth straight to propel themselves into fourth spot on the ladder.
Gawn was immense for Melbourne, but his Herculean effort wasn’t enough to lift the Demons over the top of St Kilda. The man who many have tipped to be this year’s All-Australian ruckman had 39 hitouts, 25 disposals and took 11 marks to earn himself the full compliment of votes from the coaches.
Fantasia was at his mercurial best as Essendon overcame North Melbourne in an instant classic. The Bombers’ small forward had 17 disposals, five tackles and booted four goals to help guide the Dons to a memorable win at Etihad Stadium, which has helped keep their finals hopes alive.