For the Saints’ Round 23 loss against Adelaide, I have assigned votes accordingly:
Lenny Hayes – 5
Sam Fisher – 4
Jack Steven – 3
Rhys Stanley – 2
Sean Dempster – 1
Those votes leave the FINAL LEADERBOARD as follows:
Nick Riewoldt – 47
Lenny Hayes – 47
Jack Steven – 32
David Armitage – 27
Leigh Montagna – 21
Sean Dempster – 18
Luke Dunstan – 16
Jack Newnes – 13
Luke Delaney – 11
Jack Billings – 11
Shane Savage – 11
Rhys Stanley – 10
Adam Schneider – 8
Mav Weller – 8
Seb Ross – 6
Tom Curren – 5
Cam Shenton – 5
Billy Longer – 5
Farren Ray – 4
Tom Hickey – 4
Clint Jones – 4
Jarryn Geary – 4
James Gwilt – 3
Josh Saunders – 2
Jimmy Webster – 1
Nathan Wright – 1
Terry Milera – 1
Josh Bruce – 1
That’s right, we have a tie! It was flagged last week that Lenny Hayes required maximum votes and an egg from skipper Nick Riewoldt to share the award, and that’s exactly what transpired in the Saints’ final game against Adelaide.
Hayes was terrific in his last game. The legend had six tackles en route to his game-high tally of 13, which saw him break Jude Bolton’s all-time record, as well as 21 possessions (including a team-high 12 contested disposals) and a team-high six clearances. You only needed to see Lenny's performance on Sunday to get a sense of what St Kilda will be missing in coming years.
Not joining Hayes in the votes was Riewoldt, who as mentioned in the match report had one of his quietest games of the year opposed to hugely impressive Adelaide defender Daniel Talia.
Following Hayes in the votes is Sam Fisher, who finished his abbreviated campaign with a solid run of games that should be rewarded with a new one-year deal. Against the Crows, the defender picked up 28 possessions, six rebound 50s and four tackles.
[quote]You only needed to see Lenny's performance on Sunday to get a sense of what St Kilda will be missing in coming years.[/quote]
Jack Steven closed out his similarly interrupted 2014 season with a strong performance in the engine room, filling the stats sheet with a team-high 30 possessions, four tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s.
Rounding out the votes are Rhys Stanley and Sean Dempster. Stanley started the game forward before assuming full-time ruck duties after half time when Billy Longer was substituted. Stanley ended the day with 15 possessions, eight marks, 21 hitouts, four clearances and a goal. Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs probably beat him, but he fought the contest out well. Finally, Dempster concluded his decent season with a 21-possession, 10-mark effort in the besieged backline.
These votes were in no way contrived to deliver the final outcome of a tie, and I would actually say that a tie is a fitting result. Riewoldt started the year magnificently before losing some form as the team began its long slide down the ladder, while Hayes showed the kind of consistency Saints fans enjoyed from him for the best part of two decades. Hayes was the standout performer in many of the Saints’ losses, while Riewoldt was at times the team’s only focal point in an extremely starved forward line. Both are deserving winners of Player of the Year honours.
Jack Steven may have trumped both had he played the full year. Yes, he played 17 games and finished a full 15 votes behind the winners, but an uninterrupted season would likely have done wonders for his form. Steven finished the season in terrific touch, and hopefully he’ll take that into the preseason.
Leigh Montagna’s overall performance was a little disappointing, and I’d have to think he was carrying niggles and/or injuries in the second half of the campaign. He picked up the lion’s share of his votes early on.
First-year rookie Luke Dunstan was the pick of the young players, finishing seventh overall on 16 votes despite missing six games. Right behind him was Jack Newnes, who had a more consistent season and will almost certainly out-poll him at this week’s Trevor Barker Award. But with this voting system, anomalies such as this are inevitable. For example, defender Luke Delaney and flanker Farren Ray were also among the Saints’ most consistent performers, and they too will almost certainly perform better at the Best & Fairest than in this clearly more prestigious award.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Who do you think was St Kilda’s best player in 2014?
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