The Crows took to the field again in round 15 after the death of coach Phil Walsh, but the raw emotion of the ordeal meant the club wasn't up to its best. West Coast demolished Adelaide and the outpouring of grief after the final siren from the likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Jacobs transcended sport. The pair was superb in the following week's Showdown, with Jacobs in particular putting in a heroic effort as the Crows scored a three-point win. Jacobs managed 51 hit-outs but was edged out for the Phillip Walsh Medal by Scott Thompson, who collected 36 possessions and kicked an important goal. It was Adelaide's first home game since Walsh's death, but with the Power also hurting, the two sides ran out through a single banner. In a fitting tribute, Showdown XXXIX was a classic, with the Power booting the final four goals of the game to fall agonisingly short of victory. The win pushed the Crows into the top eight and while special, they would hope there are higher points to come in September. - Harry Thring

Brisbane Lions

In a year of slim pickings, the undoubted highlight for the Lions was the rise of young defender Harris Andrews. Eighteen months ago the teenager was barely on the national radar. He came through the Lions academy and leapfrogged plenty to win a spot on the senior list. What Andrews has done this season has been quite remarkable. Justin Leppitsch introduced him in round three as a forward, and after glimpses of quality there, he was shuffled to defence where he really shone. For someone so lean – he has just 92kg to fill out his 200cm body – he battled with forwards both mature and strong and held his own. Andrews reads the flight of the ball with a maturity far beyond his years. His round 18 performance against Geelong was the most eye-catching, with 22 disposals and 12 marks – many of them intercepts. It earned him a Rising Star nomination. From almost nowhere, the Brisbane-raised product has given the club a key position player for the next decade or more. - Michael Whiting


In a season when low points were far easier to find than highlights, the rise of Patrick Cripps stands out. The West Australian has grown in confidence in his 20 games this year to become one of the Blues' key midfielders. With Chris Judd retiring and Bryce Gibbs out for the second half of the season, Cripps shouldered extra responsibility and his form was consistent. He was instrumental in Carlton's four victories, winning a Rising Star nomination for his superb performance in round four against St Kilda in Wellington. The big-bodied midfielder is a clearance specialist, has quick hands, great vision and tackles with conviction. The successful return of Matthew Kreuzer was another highlight, the ruckman improving with every game. He returned from a series of foot injuries against Adelaide in round 10, the same game in which Judd went down with a career-ending knee injury. While Kreuzer booted two goals against the Crows, his best game was in the win against Melbourne in round 21, booting three goals in the first half and combining brilliantly with Cripps. - Howard Kotton


Leading into the big round nine clash between Collingwood and North Melbourne at the MCG, the Magpies were fifth but just a game clear of the 12th-placed and underperforming Kangaroos. A loss would throw the Pies back among the pack, while a win would lift them back into the top four. North had been humiliated by Fremantle in Perth the previous week but hit back hard against the Pies to produce the kind of football that had lifted them to a preliminary final berth last year. The Kangaroos led by 39 points at half-time, after restricting Collingwood to just two goals in the first 50 minutes. However, the contest underwent an amazing transformation when the Pies piled on 10 successive goals to lead by 20 points early in the final term. North responded with four goals to regain the lead before the Pies added three late majors to record their third-biggest half-time comeback. Son-of-a-gun Darcy Moore's effort to bag a game-high five goals in just his third AFL game – a loss to eventual finalist Western Bulldogs in round 17 – also had Pies' fans foaming at the mouth about what the ultra-athletic 19-year-old forward/ruckman might produce over the next decade. - Ben Collins


This is a pretty easy one for the Bombers, given the highlights were few and far between this season. The best moment of Essendon's season came very early on, when the club overcame Hawthorn in round two at the MCG in a brilliant contest. The Bombers' two-point win came after a contest that had wild fluctuations. Just before half-time the Bombers held a 35-point lead, but they then looked set to be overrun for the second successive week, with the Hawks dominating the second half to take a 16-point lead midway through the last term. But the Bombers didn't stop. They edged back, and then a goal to Travis Colyer with 1:20 on the clock brought the Bombers to within four points. That gave the Bombers some hope, and it was unlikely hero Cale Hooker who capitalised on the opportunity to be a match-winner. The All Australian defender floated forward and snapped a curling goal with 57 seconds to play to put his team ahead, sparking jubilant scenes. The Hawks had another chance to snatch the win back but as small forward Luke Breust ran into an open goal the siren rang, handing the Bombers their best win of a horror year. - Callum Twomey

Jobe Watson celebrates the brilliant win against Hawthorn in round two. Picture: AFL Media


The Dockers are hoping their best moment will occur on the first Saturday in October, but their best moment so far this year was a team performance more so than an individual effort. Ross Lyon preaches team football and, despite numerous, incredible moments of brilliance from Brownlow favourite Nat Fyfe throughout the first half of the season, it is hard to go past the Dockers' first half performance in round four against the Sydney Swans at home. The Dockers had kicked nine goals to zero in the opening term of the Western Derby in round three, but question marks over West Coast's credentials at that stage of the year saw few give the display the credit it deserved. But a week later they kicked nine goals to one in a ferocious first-half display against the Swans that was reminiscent of the 2013 preliminary final. The Dockers had eight individual goalkickers to the main break as they mauled the Swans. The visitors responded in the second half and only lost by 14 points after trailing by 48 at half-time. – Alex Malcolm 

Geelong Cats

It was the return of luckless forward Daniel Menzel after four years out of the game that had the footy world talking. The 23-year-old's first AFL game in 1450 days against Collingwood in round 22 was a moment to cherish for Menzel and the whole club. After going through the anguish of four knee reconstructions since 2011, Menzel lit it up in the game against the Pies by booting four goals and picking up 20 disposals. His performance was a clear bright spot on a disappointing night as Geelong was booted from the finals race. The announced departures of Mathew Stokes, James Kelly and Steve Johnson in the lead-up to the final game of the home and away season made for an emotional week at the Cattery. But Geelong sent its champions off in style in a 39-point win over Adelaide, as a normally sedate Simonds Stadium crowd came to life to recognise the glittering careers of the premiership trio. – Ben Guthrie

Gold Coast 

In a season of on- and off-field turmoil, the round 14 victory against North Melbourne was a highlight for so many reasons. Not only did it snap a seven-game losing streak, but also signalled the triumphant return of skipper Gary Ablett. Ablett had missed 12 weeks with complications to his reconstructed shoulder, but gave the Suns a physical and emotional lift in the upset 55-point victory. The captain barely missed a beat, racking up 31 disposals, 11 clearances and kicking three goals. He kicked two from outside 50m and snapped another around his body from a stoppage. The crowd lifted, his team lifted, and the Suns proceeded to have a better second half of the season despite a knee injury sidelining Ablett again three weeks later. Charlie Dixon also played his best game in Suns colours that night, kicking seven goals in a powerhouse display that got the competition talking. It was a blueprint for what the team is capable of when most of its stars get on the field. - Michael Whiting

Gary Ablett was back to his best against North in round 14. Picture: AFL Media

GWS Giants

The Giants won three of their first four games of the season before they were humiliated by West Coast to the tune of 87 points in round five, and coach Leon Cameron wanted a response. Hawthorn, without captain Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis, who were both suspended, seemed like the perfect test. When Jack Gunston booted his first goal early in the second quarter the visitors led by 27 points and it looked like being another disappointment for the Giants, but GWS kicked the last five goals of the half to take a four-point advantage into the main break. As expected the Hawks willed themselves again to start the third term with the first three goals, but inspired by ruckman Shane Mumford, co-captain Callan Ward and Jeremy Cameron, the Giants refused to lay down. The star forward kicked five goals in the second half to finish the night with seven as the home side ran over the top of the back-to-back premiers to pull off the biggest win in the club's short history. - Adam Curley


A third consecutive flag would obviously be the ultimate for the Hawks, but in saying that there's been plenty of highlights on their 2015 journey so far. From the low of Jarryd Roughead's shock cancer diagnosis, his rapid return to football has been a feel-good story. Ditto for Brendan Whitecross after his long-awaited comeback from his second knee reconstruction. If he can somehow squeeze back into the side and play in a premiership it would top anything this season, although a Brownlow Medal for midfield marvel Sam Mitchell would run close. But perhaps the most uplifting part of the season to date has been Cyril Rioli's stunning turnaround from an injury-plagued 2014. The livewire small forward has reminded everyone of his immense talent with his explosive high-marking and pace, highlighted by a stunning six-goal haul from 12 touches against Geelong in round 20. Long may his previously dodgy hamstrings hold together. - Travis King


Max Gawn set the scene for an unlikely victory against Geelong at Simonds Stadium in round 12. After conceding the first two goals of the game, the Demons hit back hard to kick five straight goals even though their young star Jesse Hogan was missing. Led by Bernie Vince, their confidence grew as they won clearances and contested possessions. Vince was kicking goals and getting good support from youngsters Angus Brayshaw and Alex Neal-Bullen. However when the Cats regained the lead a minute into the second half it looked all over. But this time Melbourne dug in all over the ground and shocked the Cats with three consecutive goals. With the game in the balance at the final break it was fitting that the Demons' warrior captain, Nathan Jones, stepped up to kick the first goal of the final quarter to stretch the lead to 17 points. He had been outstanding all day. A left-foot snap from Vince (38 disposals) put the icing on the cake and ruined the party for Geelong who were hoping to celebrate Corey Enright's 300th game in style. Alas, the Demons could only win three of their remaining 10 games but the victory over the Cats showed they were a capable team on their day. - Peter Ryan

North Melbourne

The Roos' finals credibility was on the line when they squared off against ladder-leader Fremantle in round 21. North entered the game at Etihad Stadium on the back of six straight wins against teams outside the top eight, but had been smashed earlier in 2015 by Freo, reigning premier Hawthorn and Adelaide. Brad Scott's men looked out of their depth when the Dockers piled on seven first-quarter goals to take a 24-point lead into the first break. But with Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Andrew Swallow leading the way at stoppages, North gradually clawed its way back into the game. By half-time, it had cut Fremantle's lead to 13 points, and it went to the final break just six points adrift. After conceding the first goal of the final quarter, the Roos regrouped to kick the next four majors and take an 11-point lead. Freo was not done, however, with a Michael Walters goal at the 24-minute mark dragging it back within a kick. Fittingly, it was North's best player in 2015, Todd Goldstein, who sealed the game. After an enthralling ruck battle with Aaron Sandilands, Goldstein's ability to run forward proved decisive in the final quarter. In the dying seconds, he nailed a set shot from 35m – his second goal of the term – to give North an 11-point win. The victory would ultimately seal the Roos' spot in the finals and allow them the luxury of resting nine players in round 23, a move designed to ensure they reached even greater heights in the finals. - Nick Bowen

Port Adelaide

With their season in tatters, the Power were looking to finish 2015 with the same sort of intensity and application that saw them earn such heightened expectation in the first place. Coach Ken Hinkley called for the return of physicality to the side's game and it bore results. By the time they faced Hawthorn on Friday night in round 21, the Power had won three of their past four games. Despite Port's form, the game resembled a David and Goliath battle, but the Power gave their supporters hope for 2016 with a superb showing. Robbie Gray was at his absolute best with 34 disposals and four goal assists, while Chad Wingard continued to prove why he's the best small forward in the competition. Wingard gathered 20 disposals, booted four goals and assisted another as his side upset the Hawks by 22 points. It was the second time Port had beaten the reigning premiers this year and proved to everyone – including itself – that its best remained good enough. - Harry Thring


It goes without saying the Tigers will be hoping their highlight for season 2015 comes in the shape of a finals win or two in the coming weeks, but they wouldn't have made it at all had it not been for a pivotal final quarter against Collingwood in round seven. As their season threatened to slip away with a loss to condemn them to 2-5, it was their leaders who stood up and got things back on track. Brett Deledio kicked two clutch goals in the deciding term despite the lingering effects of his early-season calf issue, and captain Trent Cotchin had 11 disposals as the Tigers went on to pinch a thrilling five-point win. It came after the heat on coach Damien Hardwick flared following their lacklustre start to the season, and kick-started a run of form where they lost just three of their next 15 games. Later, Jack Riewoldt was involved in one of the more emotional moments of the season in round 16, when he combined with cousin Nick Riewoldt to honour the memory of Nick's late sister Maddie in her tribute match. - Jennifer Phelan

Nick and Jack Riewoldt embrace after 'Maddie's Match'. Picture: AFL Media

St Kilda

In round six, the Saints found themselves 55 points down against the Western Bulldogs in the third quarter. What followed was one of the most remarkable comebacks in VFL/AFL history and the club's biggest ever come from behind victory. What made it the team's high point of 2015 was the way Alan Richardson's young players galvanised, giving supporter's a win to remember. Jack Billings was a star in the comeback, kicking four goals, while David Armitage and Jack Steven were outstanding, combining for 77 possessions. It was a significant win that will be remembered by the players every time they fall behind in a match, giving them belief. Armitage's own response to an injury-riddled 2014 could also be the high point of the Saints' season. He is almost certain to win the club's best and fairest award and has matured into a respected leader. Then there is the find of defender turned forward Josh Bruce,who booted 50 goals this season. His thrilling contested marks and consistency this season have given St Kilda people a reason to be excited about going to the footy. – Nathan Schmook   

Sydney Swans

When club champion Adam Goodes took personal leave during the week before the round 18 clash with Adelaide after constant abuse from opposition fans had finally taken its toll, the Swans united as one. They'd lost three of their past five games and the season looked to have stalled, but with their mate hurting, the club's leaders rallied the side against the Crows. A key figure when the Goodes saga finally boiled over the week before in Perth, Lewis Jetta booted the opening goal of the game, celebrated with his own indigenous dance, and from that moment it was all over. Co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery and Josh Kennedy shared 109 touches and five goals in a thumping win, while Lance Franklin, who battled through the pain of a back injury and probably shouldn't have been on the park, kicked three goals. The Swans crowd rose at the seven-minute mark of the third term as a rousing tribute to Goodes and the SCG was filled with banners and shirts in an outpouring of love for the dual Brownlow medallist. It was a brilliant night to witness. - Adam Curley

West Coast Eagles

The Eagles have produced so many highlights so far this year and they are hoping for more in September and October. Luke Shuey's goal on the run to seal the win over Port Adelaide in round six seemed to be a significant moment in the Eagles' season at the time, but it got better and better from there. They kicked a club record 12 goals in a quarter against Gold Coast in round seven, but the human highlight reel, Nic Naitanui, provided the best two individual moments of the year. Naitanui missed two games late in the season due to the death of his mother, and in his return against the Western Bulldogs he celebrated a goal by touching his black armband and pointing to the sky in tribute. But he delivered an amazing highlight when he nearly touched the clouds with one of the marks of the season against Geelong in round nine. Naitanui soared onto the shoulders of 200cm-teammate Callum Sinclair to pull down a breathtaking grab. He finished off his work by slotting the set shot from just inside 50m. – Alex Malcolm     

Western Bulldogs

The Bulldogs will be hoping their fairytale season continues past this weekend with an elimination final win over Adelaide on Saturday night. But in a year high on special moments, it's hard to look past the memorable round five victory over the Sydney Swans. Taking on a hardened Swans' outfit on a soggy SCG, the young pups outmuscled and outplayed John Longmire's men to record a nail-biting four-point win. Individual moments have also been aplenty. Jake Stringer has wowed the Bulldogs faithful with his goalkicking brilliance while Marcus Bontempelli's evolution to superstar status has the football world in awe. Luke Beveridge's outstanding rookie season sees him in contention for coach of the year honours. And after many believed he was too small to make the AFL, 167cm draftee Caleb Daniel is proving the doubters wrong. The midfielder has impressed in nine senior games so far this season with his sharp skills and smart decision-making a standout. – Ryan Davidson