AFL Heroes & Villains Round 10: Clarko's Papley call was spot on

Round 10 of the 2020 AFL season saw a Collingwood jet live up to his family name, the Saints' rise continue but a star Swan would be feeling sheepish after his efforts.

HEROES

Josh Daicos: Up until the final minutes of Thursday night's Collingwood vs. Sydney clash, Daicos had been pretty poor. The young Pie had found plenty of the ball but produced a couple of the worst kicks you've ever seen and had failed to hit the scoreboard.

But in a tight game, everything can be forgotten with just one moment of magic, and that's exactly what Daicos produced with the Pies up by three points with just two-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

Channeling his mercurial father Peter, Daicos picked up the Sherrin on the boundary, beat an opponent and launched an unbelievable checkside kick which sailed through for a major. It was ultimately the winning goal and final score of the match, with Collingwood holding on for a nine-point win over the Swans despite injuries to Adam Treloar, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Isaac Quaynor.

The four points could prove critical in this shortened season, particularly with the Pies' mounting injury list.

And it looks like the AFL may finally have a new Macedonian Marvel - long live the AFL's father-son rule!

Clayton Oliver: Everyone knows Oliver is elite at winning the footy in a contested situation. Everyone also knows Oliver often lets rivals off the hook with shoddy, sometimes panicky disposal.

On Wednesday night against the Crows, something changed. Maybe it was the lowly opposition, perhaps it was a coaching directive, or maybe just an internal adjustment, but Oliver appeared to have a different mindset. He regularly burst through congestion, took opponents on and kicked strongly to set up attacking thrusts for the Demons.

The recently-turned 23-year-old ended the game with 34 disposals (22 contested possessions), 11 clearances, six tackles, one goal and 515m gained.

Fox Footy analyst David King said Oliver's take-the-game-on attitude was noticeable.

"His ability to get hands on ball is as good as anyone in the competition - the next phase of ensuring his possession ends up on the scoreboard I think we saw tonight," he said post-game.

It was a performance that inspired Melbourne to a 51-point win, which just might kick-start the Dees' spluttering season. And if he keeps it up, Oliver will transition from an elite inside beast to a damaging, well-rounded match-winning midfielder.

St Kilda's new faces: In the risk-averse AFL industry, it's pretty rare for clubs to turn their lists -- and coaching teams -- basically upside down in one offseason, but St Kilda's decision to go on a recruiting blitz under new coach Brett Ratten is paying off spectacularly.

In Thursday night's nailbiting win against the Suns, speedy small forward Dan Butler's push for All-Australian selection gathered pace with four match-winning goals; Bradley Hill was industrious, while Zak Jones, Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder all played important roles. That quartet have made an immediate impact at the Saints, and they've also got a stack of emerging young talent which should have them primed for regular finals appearances in the short- and medium-term.

As important as the on-field recruits has been the appointment of Ratten. Seen by many as unfairly axed by the Blues in 2012, Ratten is proof that so-called 'failed' senior coaches shouldn't be left on the scrapheap. He has the Saints playing with an attacking mindset and freedom so often lacking.

The victory over Gold Coast moved St Kilda into second spot, with a fascinating clash against Geelong at the Gabba next Monday night.

VILLAINS

Inaccurate Lions: If good kicking is good footy, then what the Lions dished up against the reigning premiers was the worst footy we've seen from Brisbane in a long time.

The Lions were smashed to the tune of 41 points -- no easy feat considering the shorter quarters in 2020 -- but had just one fewer scoring shot than the Tigers, who have now won the past 15 clashes between these teams dating back to 2009.

Their final tally of 4.17 (41) was depressing for many Brisbane fans, including Dayne Zorko's children who have yet to see their father's side beat the yellow and black in their lifetime. Little wonder they were left in tears at their father's goal kicking.

View this post on Instagram

When Dad can't kick straight for goal 😂

A post shared by Dayne Zorko (@dzorko_) on

The frustrating part of the performance is that Brisbane never really looked overwhelmed; they won the possession count (+3), clearance count (+9) and marks (+39), showing, for the most part, control over the match. The Tigers simply forced them wide for their shots at goal, with just a handful of shots coming from within a 30 degree angle of straight in front (as per Stats Insider).

Perhaps the Lions need to knock on St Kilda's door; their accuracy in 2020 has been exemplary following an intensive two-year goalkicking 'program'.

Tom Papley: Was 'Clarko' right? Two weeks ago, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson labelled Papley one of the league's worst stagers, which prompted fierce feedback from media and fans alike (although we debated whether his honesty was actually a good thing).

But he might have had a point.

In the final term of Sydney's tight loss to Collingwood on Thursday night, with the Swans enjoying strong momentum and threatening to cause a huge upset, the ball was delivered in front of Papley and his opponent Brayden Maynard.

Maynard made minimal contact with the Swans' forward to take what appeared to be a fair mark, but Papley flopped forward as if he'd been shot out of a cannon and was somehow gifted a free kick. It prompted howls of disbelief from Maynard and the Magpies, and fierce blowback on social media.

Papley's resultant shot at goal missed, perhaps fittingly, with Collingwood steadying to secure a much-needed victory.

Don't get us wrong - we love Papley's enthusiasm, goal sense and combative attitude, and he's clearly one of the best small forwards in the league. But maybe 'Clarko' honest assessment a fortnight ago was on the money.

Aaron vandenBerg: If we're going to criticise Jasper Pittard and Jake Carlisle, sorry, but you're copping it as well, Aaron!

We know the Demons ultimately outclassed the winless Crows on Wednesday night but it wasn't exactly smooth sailing for Simon Goodwin's side early on in the contest.

Melbourne was up by just four points when Jake Melksham out-marked Fischer McAsey in the forward 50m, seconds before the quarter-time siren sounded at Adelaide Oval. But before Melksham could take his kick, vandenBerg shoved McAsey to the turf, which led to the umpire reversing the free kick.

It was a moronic action from vandenBerg, a player who has been on the fringe at the Dees for a number of seasons, playing just 12 games in the past four years.

At that point in the game, a shot on goal was like gold and could not be passed up over some I'm-tougher-than-you bravado.

The AFL has done the right thing in attempting to stamp out these types of fake macho acts. Let's hope the rest of the competition has actually learned something.