By Peter Blucher
Mabior Chol … where did that come from?
After three and a half years in the AFL and two games that had produced a total 10 disposals, three marks, 13 hit-outs, three tackles, and one goal the Sudanese-born Richmond ruckman produced something very special in his third AFL game on Sunday.
Chol was a standout in Richmond’s hard-fought win over St.Kilda at Marvel Stadium, ranking among the Tigers’ best with 16 disposals, nine marks, two tackles, seven hit-outs, three goals and a goal assist.
After showing some exciting moments in his second game against Adelaide in Round 13, he produced a quality full game of AFL football.
With the now trademark gold stripe down the middle of his hair, and a confidence and flare to match, he was excitement-plus to justify the faith the club has shown in him.
De-listed at the end of last season and re-drafted after being overlooked by other clubs in the National Draft, the original 2016 rookie from Yeronga has guaranteed his future at Punt Road.
Chol’s breakout performance was the highlight of Round 15 matches in which fellow Queenslanders Dayne Zorko and Eric Hipwood shared the spotlight at the Gabba on Sunday.
Zorko was best afield as the Lions’ wore down Melbourne, collecting a season-high 31 possessions, including a season-high 16 contested possessions, seven clearances and five tackles, and kicking three goals in an inspirational performance.
It was the 22nd time in his 158 games Zorko has had 30 or possessions, the 14th time he has kicked three goals or more, and the fourth time he has had 30 possessions and three goals in the same game.
Hipwood was at his enigmatic best against the Demons, turning the game with four goals in the third quarter and a fifth in the opening seconds of the four quarter.
He was the first player in the AFL this year to kick four goals in a quarter, and brought up his 100th career goal with his second of the day.
The athletic left-fielder became the 17th Queenslander to kick 100 AFL goals behind Jason Dunstall (1254), Nick Riewoldt (718), Jason Akermanis (421), Kurt Tippett (325), Michael Voss (245),, David Hale (217), Charlie Dixon (202), Zorko (173), Dayne Beams (172), Mitch Hahn (164), Jesse White (148), Marcus Ashcroft (145), Charlie Cameron (131), Brad Miller (120) and Michael Osborne (110).
The other Queensland highlight of Round 15 came on Saturday when Jesse Joyce had a career-best 23 possessions as the Gold Coast Suns went down to the Sydney Swans at the SCG.
Sydney’s Aliir Aliir, thrust into the ruck when Callum Sinclair dislocated his shoulder in the first minute, was a valuable contributor with 16 disposals, eight hit-outs and the second goal of his 42-game career – a brilliant long running effort bursting through the middle of the ground.