Star Demons forward Bayley Fritsch (Photo: Michael Kleine/News Corp)

On a player-by-player basis, how did the Premiership winning Demons preform on Grand Final day? Let’s rate them out of 10.

Back line

#14 Michael Hibberd – 6

The veteran played an old fashioned back pockets game. He didn’t see a lot of the football, but made sure that his opponent didn’t either.

#1 Steven May – 7

Playing on a torn hamstring and it showed. That said, he still wore Aaron Naughton like a glove, keeping him to a single goal and zero marks in the forward 50. The All Australian wasn’t at his usual best in the air or on the rebound, but battled manfully.

#24 Trent Rivers – 7

After a patchy preliminary final performance, the youngster came to play in this one. Didn’t shirk his responsibilities in the contest. When the Dogs were on top, Rivers was one of the few Demons to keep up his performance levels.

#8 Jake Lever – 7

As expected he had Josh Schache for company. As a result, Lever didn’t have the usual impact with his interception game. That said, still played a solid defenders game, nullifying whoever he was matched up with, spoiling numerous contests. Was unusually poor in the 2nd quarter, when the Bulldogs made their run.

#35 Harrison Petty – 6

As usual, wasn’t flashy. Did what was asked of him, though he did struggle with the sheer size of Tim English. An errant handball gave Adam Treloar an easy goal in the 2nd term.

#3 Christian Salem – 8

Classy as always from half back. Immense opening quarter – used the ball beautifully but also laid some crunching tackles. Was running at 100% disposal efficiency to half time. Not as proficient as the Dees midfield took control, though ventured forward to join the goal kicking parade late in the final quarter.


#10 Angus Brayshaw – 8

Was as diligent as ever as a defensive wing, though did venture forward more often than usual to great effect in the 3rd quarter when he kicked a rare goal from a diving mark. Was desperate at the contest. Easily Brayshaw’s best game for 2021 and amongst the Demons best on the night.

#15 Ed Langdon – 6

When the Demons were on top, Langdon shined. A solid opening quarter and a devastating final term as the onslaught came to pass. His elite running saw him finish the game strongly. However, was missing in action somewhat when the Bulldogs were in the ascendancy.

#7 Jack Viney – 9

Did what Dad and Dees legend Todd could not: win a Grand Final. Asserted himself early with some crunching hits on Dogs ball magnet Jack Macrae. Led all comers in clearances whilst matched up Tom Liberatore, who led the ALF in that statistic. A lifelong Demon, this will mean more to him than most.

#11 Max Gawn – 7

The inspirational captain was not the dominant figure he was in the Preliminary, but very good all the same. Asserted himself well in the ruck and as a solid marking option around the ground.

#5 Christian Petracca – 10

A performance for the ages earned him the Norm Smith medal in a unanimous decision. With 39 possessions, tied Lion Simon Black’s 2003 effort for the best of all time. Ten opening term possessions got the Demons off to a flyer. When Melbourne turned the game late in the 3rd term, he was again front an centre with another 10 disposals. All up Petracca had 39 disposals – 24 of them contested – nine clearances, eight interceptions, 15 score involvements and 896 metres gained. Bobbed up for two impressive goals, too. His – and the games – first kicked from distance from a standing start; the other a dribbler from the pocket to show technique that compliments his explosiveness. If Petracca wasn’t a superstar in the league before, he certainly is now.

#13 Clayton Oliver – 9

Was overshadowed somewhat by Petracca’s remarkable performance, but don’t let that take away from Oliver’s wonderful night. Thirteen of his 33 touches came in the first quarter, but it was his defensive work that impressed as he finished with a team high 10 tackles.

Forward line

#30 Alex Neal-Bullen – 7

A terrific performance from the perpetually underrated half forward. Finished with 24 disposals and 10 score involvements. His delivery to leading forwards was exemplary as always. Rewarded with a long range goal early in the final term – a kick that broke the Bulldogs’ backs.

#32 Tom Sparrow – 6

The young man did his job well. Kept the pressure on influential Bulldogs half back Bailey Dale, who struggled mightily in the opening stages. Rewarded with a goal in the early stages of the Demons goal avalanche.

#25 Tom McDonald – 5

From on the trade block – and not wanted by any other club – to Premiership player in the space of 12 months. Wasn’t at his best, failing to exploit a potential weak spot in the Dogs defense in Zaine Cordy. Did take an important defensive mark late in the 3rd term and kicked a pair of last quarter goals, including one after the siren.

#31 Bayley Fritsch – 9

Capped a career year by kicking six goal in the big one – the first Demon to do so since Jack Mueller in 1948. When the Demons trailed by 19 points late in the 3rd term, it was Fritsch who got them back into gear with a pair of goals in the space of 80 seconds. Finished 2nd in voting for the Norm Smith medal.

#9 Charlie Spargo – 5

Kicked a goal in the opening quarter, but didn’t have too much of an impact beyond that. Pressured the Bulldogs defenders well. Is the 4th generation of his family to play League football, but the 1st to win a Premiership.

#50 Ben Brown – 8

Only took four marks, but consistently brought the ball to ground, allowing his little men to come into the game. His radar was off early, but found his touch to kick three goals. Fritsch aside, was the best forward on the ground for either team.


#4 James Harmes – 6

Surprisingly he didn’t match up with Liberatore. Instead, played as somewhat of a firefighter, moving to whatever Bulldog happened to be gaining some ascendancy. Set up Fritsch for the goal that began the Demons late avalanche.

#6 Luke Jackson – 7

Played a huge role in the Demons comeback. With Gawn resting, Jackson’s ruck work for a seven minute period in the 3rd term saw Melbourne kick three goals, all forward entries coming directly from his tap work. Still a few days from turning 20, this young man is a star in the making.

#17 Jake Bowey – 7

The 19 year old has played seven games of football, has yet to experience defeat and is now a Premiership player. Was as composed as a man with 10 years experience and decisive by foot.

#36 Kysaiah Pickett – 3

It just didn’t happen for the explosive forward. Just the four possessions, though he didn’t stop running all game. A early chase down caused panic in the Bulldogs defense, leading to an easy goal for Spargo.

#23 James Jordan – N/A

Medical substitute – not activated.


Simon Goodwin – 8

Pulled the strings magnificently. Took a risk in not starting Harmes on Liberatore, but trusted his superstars to play a two way game, which they did. Managed his ruck rotations perfectly, evidenced by Jackson’s telling 3rd quarter cameo. Set up his defense well to both contain the Dogs ball movement and to assist the hobbled May.