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Melbourne B&F mid-season preview

Matt Burgan  June 14, 2018 9:02 AM

CAN ‘Clarry’ do it again? Will Maxy have his moment? Or does Jonesy have the chance to do what only two Melbourne players – Allan La Fontaine and Jim Stynes – have done and win his fourth Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy?

At the half-way mark of the season, Melbourne’s 2018 best and fairest race looks like being a fascinating one.

Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Nathan Jones are all right in the hunt for this year’s B&F, along with key forwards Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald, who is rocketing up the charts.

Then there are a host of others who have their claims.

Could it be a smoky such as defender Oscar McDonald or Neville Jetta?

Another ball-winning type such as Angus Brayshaw or a forward like Jake Melksham?

Entering the bye, at this stage, it’s hard to go past Gawn, who is likely to feature prominently among the votes in every match this season.

Probably his match against the Pies on Queen’s Birthday was his quietest in some respects, but his season has been All-Australian-like.

The same goes for Clayton Oliver (who has the seventh most disposals in the AFL after 12 rounds) and Jesse Hogan (who has booted 31 goals, third only to Ben Brown and Jeremy Cameron) – both right in the All-Australian frame.

Oliver and Hogan are no doubt pushing their claims for this year’s best and fairest.

It would be an outstanding feat if Oliver went back-to-back, given he is still only 20 years old and has not quite reached 50 games – he has played 47.

Hogan has kicked a goal in every game this year – expect against the Magpies last round. He has bagged three hauls of five goals and his work up the ground has been exceptional for a big man.

Jones has been a model of consistency.

Notching up his 250th game in round 11 against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Jones has led the team brilliantly, yet again.

He won the award in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and it would be a mighty effort if he did it again in 2018.

At this point, it’s hard to go past Gawn, given his influence.

His player ranking points, according to Champion Data, are incredible. And his work for a ruckman, who can also kick a goal is first class.

And don’t discount Tom McDonald. He has been elite in his matches – highlighted by a personal-high six goals against the Magpies last round.

Although he missed the opening five rounds, he has been in arguably career-best form.

It shapes as a top count, given several could seriously be in contention.

Matt’s top five Melbourne players at the half-way mark…

1 – Max Gawn
2 – Clayton Oliver
3 – Jesse Hogan
4 – Nathan Jones
5 – Tom McDonald

Players to watch out for in the best and fairest

ROUND 1: Melbourne def by Geelong

Max Gawn: 47 hit outs, 20 disposals, three contested marks
Christian Petracca: 24 disposals, seven clearances, one goal
Clayton Oliver: 27 disposals, six clearances, nine tackles
Others to watch out for: Nathan Jones, Cam Pedersen and Jordan Lewis

ROUND 2: Brisbane def. by Melbourne

Jesse Hogan: five goals
Jeff Garlett: four goals
Clayton Oliver: 35 disposals
Others to watch out for: Nathan Jones, Christian Petracca and Max Gawn

ROUND 3: Melbourne def. North Melbourne

Jesse Hogan: 26 disposals, seven marks, one goal
Max Gawn: 50 hit outs, 18 disposals, six marks
Dean Kent: three goals, 20 disposals
Others to watch out for: Nathan Jones, Christian Petracca, Jordan Lewis, Tom Bugg, Jordan Lewis and Christian Salem

AFL 2018 Round 03 - Melbourne v North Melbourne
Dean Kent celebrates a goal against the Roos

ROUND 4: Hawthorn def. Melbourne

Nathan Jones: 20 disposals, restricted Tom Mitchell to 24 touches
Clayton Oliver: 28 disposals, 23 contested possessions, 11 tackles
Dean Kent: three goals
Others to watch out for: Christian Salem, Max Gawn and Jesse Hogan

ROUND 5: Melbourne def. by Richmond

Jake Melksham: four goals
Max Gawn: 56 hit outs, 16 disposals, eight tackles
Jake Lever: 18 disposals, six rebounds, 10 intercepts
Others to watch out for: Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince

ROUND 6: Essendon def. by Melbourne

Max Gawn: 42 hit outs, two goals
Mitch Hannan: three goals, 18 disposals
Charlie Spargo: two goals, 18 disposals
Others to watch out for: Neville Jetta, Michael Hibberd, Bayley Fritsch, Oscar McDonald, Christian Salem, Nathan Jones and James Harmes


Max Gawn was a standout in round six

ROUND 7: St Kilda def. by Melbourne

Jesse Hogan: three goals, 25 disposals
Clayton Oliver: 36 disposals
Angus Brayshaw: 32 disposals
Others to watch out for: Max Gawn, Michael Hibberd, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis, Dom Tyson and Tom McDonald

ROUND 8: Gold Coast Suns def. by Melbourne

Tom McDonald: five goals
James Harmes: 33 disposals, 18 contested possessions
Clayton Oliver: 29 disposals, 11 clearances, 11 tackles
Others to watch out for: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Jordan Lewis, Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen, Mitch Hannan and Jesse Hogan

ROUND 9: Carlton def. by Melbourne

Jake Melksham: five goals, 21 disposals, 14 contested possessions
Tom McDonald: four goals
Nathan Jones: 31 disposals, 18 contested possessions, eight inside 50s, seven clearances
Others to watch out for: Alex Neal-Bullen, Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw and Jake Lever


Melksham had a field day against the Blues

ROUND 10: Melbourne def. Adelaide

Angus Brayshaw: 37 disposals, 14 marks, three goals
Jesse Hogan: five goals
Jack Viney: 35 disposals, seven clearances, 20 contested possessions
Others to watch out for: Max Gawn, Alex Neal-Bullen, Jake Lever, Tim Smith, Clayton Oliver, Michael Hibberd and Christian Petracca

ROUND 11: Western Bulldogs def. by Melbourne

Tom McDonald: four goals, 24 disposals, 11 marks, 12 score involvements
Jesse Hogan: five goals, 19 disposals, 10 marks
Neville Jetta: 24 disposals, 14 intercepts
Others to watch out for: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Bayley Fritsch

ROUND 12: Melbourne def. by Collingwood

Tom McDonald: six goals, 16 disposals, eight marks
Clayton Oliver: 31 disposals, 10 tackles, six clearances
Jordan Lewis: 33 disposals, 13 intercepts
Others to watch out for: Joel Smith, Nathan Jones and Jack Viney