The final edition of The Sporting Landscape’s Player Rankings has arrived, for 2021 at least.
Despite the 74-point grand final loss, four Dogs still managed to crack the list, while only two midfielders feature in the top-five.
See the full list below.
Grand Final Player Rankings
10. Tom Liberatore (WB)
‘Libba’ got to work in the middle, finishing with 23 disposals, 15 contested possessions, eight tackles, seven clearances, six score involvements, six intercept possessions and five inside 50s to cap off a stellar season.
9. Jack Viney (MELB)
The unheralded cog of Melbourne’s engine room, Viney thrived at the coalface on Saturday. The bull amassed 12 clearances and 14 contested possessions from 25 disposals, while also finishing with seven inside 50s and six tackles.
8. Ben Brown (MELB)
What a feel good story Ben Brown’s is. Having fallen from the lofty heights of three consecutive 60-goal seasons, he was discarded by North Melbourne and then made to prove his worth in the Demons reserves, and all while under heavy scrutiny. But he’s now a premiership player, and has three grand final goals to his name. He may not have replicated his goal-scoring highs this season, but team success is far sweeter.
MORE GRAND FINAL: Melbourne exorcises demons to rise from 57-year hell
7. Adam Treloar (WB)
The Treloar narrative has followed a similar storyline to that of Ben Brown, the only difference being he’s yet to reach that fairytale ending. Brutally neglected by the Pies last season, Treloar arrived at Whitten Oval, with his first season in the red, white, and blue culminating in a grand final appearance. Although the Bulldogs failed to capitalise, Treloar grasped the opportunity on a personal level. He finished with 27 disposals at a superb 89% efficiency, three goals, six score involvements and one goal assist.
6. Marcus Bontempelli (WB)
The grand final defeat capped off what was an agonising ‘almost’ season for Bontempelli. He was almost the Brownlow Medalist, and almost a premiership captain. That being said, he was awarded the AFLPA MVP, AFLPA Best Captain, and the Bulldogs’ Charles Sutton Medal. An impressive rap sheet. On Saturday, he was influential when the Dogs held the momentum, producing a display that included 25 disposals, three goals, 13 contested possessions, eight score involvements, six tackles, five clearances and 473 metres gained.
5. Caleb Daniel (WB)
Caleb Daniel looked to be on track for 50 disposals at half-time, but had to settle for 37. He was the Dogs’ best player and picked up a vote in the Norm Smith voting; accumulating 10 intercept possessions, 10 contested possessions, five inside 50s and 631 metres gained accompanying his 37-disposal haul.
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4. Christian Salem (MELB)
At the other end, Salem’s rebounding was a feature for the clash. He only managed 27 disposals in comparison with Daniel’s 37, but sometimes less is more, with Salem using the ball at a staggering 96% efficiency. He even snagged a classy goal, and had eight score involvements, seven tackles, seven inside 50s, six intercept possessions and one goal assist.
3. Clayton Oliver (MELB)
Once an accumulator, Oliver has transformed into one of the game’s most damaging players. He still accumulates, but he now kicks more, breaks lines, and impacts the scoreboard. Under the bright Perth Stadium lights, he did all of that, and then some; finishing with 33 disposals, one goal, 13 contested possessions, 10 tackles, six score involvements, five clearances, five inside 50s, one goal assist and 471 metres gained.
2. Bayley Fritsch (MELB)
Fritch’s performance was worthy of the Norm Smith Medal, unfortunately for him, there was a man named Christian Petracca tearing the game to shreds. Regardless, the kid from Coldstream bagged six goals, the most of any player in a grand final since Darren Jarman in 1997, and it was rather symbolic he did so in the number 31 guernsey made famous by six-time premiership player Ron Barassi. Fritch’s goals were crucial too, with two coming in less than a minute to spark the fateful 93-point turnaround.
1. Christian Petracca (MELB)
A grand final performance for the ages, rarely is a Norm Smith Medal so clear cut. It simply had to be Petracca. And with 39 disposals, two goals, 24 contested possessions, 15 score involvements, 11 inside 50s, nine clearances, eight intercept possessions, two goal assists and 896 metres gained; it’s easy to see why. Both his goals oozed flair, the first nailed from the 50-metre arc off one step, and the second dribbling in from the pocket, but a distinct understanding of when to seize the moment and when to pass the Sherrin off is what set him apart. Petracca’s built in the ‘Dusty’ mould, could he replicate Dusty’s feats? He’s one third of the way there.