THE MIDFIELD in the round 18 Team of the Week, brought to you by AccorHotels, doesn't include the names that have featured most often in previous weeks.
There are 11 onballers who have been selected at least five times this season: Brodie Grundy, Patrick Cripps, Travis Boak, Stephen Coniglio, Tim Kelly, Lachie Neale, Max Gawn, Nat Fyfe, Marcus Bontempelli, Patrick Dangerfield and Scott Pendlebury.
None made this edition's 22.
Instead, Zach Merrett and Toby Greene were rewarded after helping Essendon and Greater Western Sydney respectively record upset victories, with the Bombers doing it despite the best efforts of Adelaide duo Reilly O'Brien and Brodie Smith.
St Kilda pair Jack Billings and Hunter Clark ensured Brett Ratten's first match as the Saints' interim coach was successful, while Liam Shiels and Jaeger O'Meara were formidable as Hawthorn overcame ladder-leader Geelong.
Jarryd Lyons showed why he is among the recruits of the year and Clayton Oliver was phenomenal in a losing effort.
In Alex Rance's absence, Dylan Grimes is putting quite the campaign together. Similarly, Joel Hamling is delivering while Alex Pearce has been sidelined. Heath Shaw was excellent against his former side Collingwood and Essendon speedster Conor McKenna is in a very nice patch of form. Liam Jones was fantastic and Jake Lloyd did what he always does, racking up the football in Sydney's narrow loss to Fremantle.
Smith was immense and couldn't have done much more, O'Brien dominated the ruck battle, while Merrett was fantastic. Saints supporters would be thrilled to see the way Billings has blossomed, but Gold Coast fans might be frustrated having watched Lyons standout in Brisbane's victory over North Melbourne. Given the GWS captaincy, Greene thrived, and that should surprise no one.
The combination of tireless workrate and accurate finishing Mitch Brown provided Essendon was critical to its win. A key reason the Giants can afford to send Greene further afield is because of how dangerous Jeremy Cameron is. When Richmond sends Dustin Martin into the goalsquare, forcing sides to defend he, Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt, the Tigers look incredibly imposing. Jack Darling was the best Eagle in a relatively even side, while Bayley Fritsch dragged Melbourne back into the contest.
It was a memorable 200th game for Shiels, and O'Meara was significant in ensuring the Hawks defeated their rival Geelong. Oliver starred in the clinches and Clark was stellar.