AFL Round 5 Wrap

Charlie Dixon enjoyed a triumphant homecoming Saturday night to be the standout Queensland performer in Round 6 of the Toyota AFL premiership season.

The big Port Adelaide key forward put on a clinic in his team’s 83-point Gabba win over the Brisbane Lions with 20 disposals, 12 marks and four goals.

Dixon had 16 score involvements – the most by any player in a game this season – and earned the maximum 10 votes in the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year Award.

He earned a massive 151 Champion Data ranking points, ranking second among all players for Round 6 behind former Gold Coast Suns teammate Gary Ablett (210).

It was only the second time in his career Dixon has topped 20 possessions in a game – his best is 22 possessions against Adelaide in 2014.

The Cairns giant also had career highs with 12 marks and seven marks inside the forward 50m zone and had a huge physical presence to win high praise from coach Ken Hinkley.

“He’s been really strong for us this season,” Hinkley said. “He’s really in with what we are doing. He knows what he has to do and has performed really strongly.

“The boys recognise what he’s doing and from Charlie’s point of view that’s all he cares about … that his teammates recognise his work.

“He’s been a pretty good get for our footy club.”

Six rounds into the season Dixon, with a total of 551` Champion Data ranking points, ranks fourth among Queenslanders behind only Dayne Zorko (642), Dayne Beams (576) and Nick Riewoldt (555).

As 26-year-old Dixon blossoms in the prime of his career, 36-year-old Riewoldt is doing likewise in the twilight of his.

Having last week confirmed he will play on next season, the St.Kilda champion kicked four goals, had 20 possessions and earned 113 Champion Data ranking points in his side’s thumping win over Hawthorn in Launceston.

His second goal was the 700th of his stellar career.

He is the second Queenslander behind Jason Dunstall, the third St.Kilda player behind Tony Lockett and Bill Mohr, and the 23rd player in the game’s history to this milestone.

Sydney’s Lance Franklin is the only other current player in the 700 Club.

St.Kilda’s Sam Gilbert had 12 possessions as the Saints ended Hawthorn’s 19-game winning streak in Launceston.

Also over the weekend, Queenslander youngsters Ben Keays and Jack Bowes topped 20 possessions for the first time.

Keays, in his 19th game, had a career-best 25 possessions for the Lions at the Gabba to earn 80 Champion Data points and win high praise from coach Chris Fagan for his role on Brad Ebert, while Bowes, in just his 6th game, had 21 possessions and a goal for the Suns against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

The Lions’ Claye Beams had a rare personal win over older brother and captain Dayne on the stats sheet when he had 22 possessions and kicked a goal in his third game of the year.

It was his highest possession count since Round 1 2015, and earned him 94 Champion Data points.

Dayne Beams had 21 possessions and Zorko 19 possessions and a goal, while Harris Andrews had 17 possessions in a tough night in defence and Eric Hipwood, starved of opportunities, had four disposals and two goals.

Jarrod Harbrow earned one vote in the AFLCA award for 24 possessions and 114 Champion Data points in the Suns’ loss to North, while Alex Sexton collected 26 possessions, a goal and 99 Champion Data points, and Jesse Joyce had12 possessions.

Collingwood’s Josh Smith, surprisingly left out of the side for the Anzac Day game in Round 5, bounced back with a terrific performance in the Pies’ upset win over Geelong. He was third on his team’s stats sheet with 26 possessions, nine marks and eight rebound 50’s. He received 97 Champion Data points.

Zac Smith, ko’d early in the game, had seven possessions, 23 hit outs and a goal assist for the Cats, while Lachie Weller had 17 possessions and five tackles and Lee Spurr 15 possessions in Fremantle’s big loss to West Coast in Perth.

Sadly, GWS forward Sam Reid suffered an early hamstring injury in Friday night’s clash with the Western Bulldogs.  He had five possessions before the injury.

There was even worse injury news for Richmond ruckman Shaun Hampson, who hasn’t played yet in 2017 due to a bad back.
There are even fears now that he may miss the entire season.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said on Friday he didn’t know exactly how long Hampson would be sidelined for.

“Unfortunately with backs, you’re never quite sure how they’re going to respond. He’ll be moving well and then all of a sudden something won’t feel right and he’ll go back a little bit.

“It’s going to be longer than we initially thought, how long we’re not too sure.”

Hampson has turned to pilates to improve his weaknesses.

“It’s always in the back of your mind that it’s one of those ones that might hang around for 12 months,” Hardwick said.

“He’s doing a power of work on some areas that are a little outside the square.

“He’s doing a lot of pilates off-site. We’re just saturating him with that at the moment, just to try and get a bit of stability around his back and pelvis area.”

Hampson, stranded on 98 AFL games for Carlton and Richmond, is contracted to the Tigers until the end of 2018.

It was much better news for Melbourne’s Josh Wagner, who returned ahead of time from surgery for a broken thumb and was rated Casey’s best player against Geelong in the VFL.

He had 20 disposals, six marks and six tackles in a 36-point loss, and emerged unscathed.

“After a very interrupted 12 weeks with multiple injuries, he (Wagner) looked very sharp, his ball use was very creative and (he provided a) strong aerial contest,” coach Justin Plapp said.

Wylie Buzza kicked two goals for Geelong in the same game.

Josh Thomas, still finding his feet in his return to football with Collingwood, took a significant step forward when he was named his team’s third best player against Sandringham. Jesse White kicked two goals for the Pies.

Hawthorn’s Brendan Whitecross put his hand up for a senior recall when he was rated third best for Box Hill in the VFL, while Aliir Aliir did likewise at Sydney with a strong showing against the NT Thunder.

Also pushing hard is North Melbourne’s Braydon Preuss.  He had 12 disposals, 49 hit-outs and a goal for Werribee in the VFL. Corey Wagner kicked two goals in the same game.

Adelaide rookie Paul Hunter, too, continued to push his cause with 12 disposals, 13 hit-outs and two goals in the SANFL showdown against Port Adelaide. Elliott Himmelberg kicked two goals and had 17 disposals in the same game.

By Peter Blucher

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