The crucial cogs of AFL’s Round 9: Which players need to be the difference makers?


There are no longer any undefeated teams in the AFL, but North Melbourne still hasn’t won a game.

The season is getting exciting with some tantalising matchups, starting with Carlton and Melbourne, which is the first game of Round 9.

We’re taking a look at one player from each team that needs to make a difference for their team this week.

Carlton v Melbourne


Nic Newman polled four Coaches’ votes in Round 8 against Collingwood, where he had an impressive six score involvements and nine intercept possessions.

It will be intriguing who Newman is matched up on when Carlton takes on Melbourne, as he may be up against Kysaiah Pickett, Kade Chandler or Harrison Petty at times.

The former Sydney defender may have to switch opponents throughout the game.


Caleb Windsor is a player with plenty of X-factor.

The number seven pick in the 2023 AFL draft has a lot of talent and it was on show in Round 8 against Geelong. The 18-year-old finished the game with 18 disposals, nine score involvements and six tackles.

Windsor is a player to keep an eye on and expect him to have an impact against Carlton, as he was named the Round 8 AFL Rising Star Nominee, which should give the youngster a lot of self-confidence.

Geelong v Port Adelaide


Gryan Miers is a player who is starting to reach the peak of his ability and has become an integral part of the Geelong team.

The 25-year-old has been in good form having averaged 22 disposals this season, along with 7.38 score involvements per game.

Port Adelaide

Jeremy Finlayson should be a welcome addition to the Port Adelaide forward line after kicking four goals in the SANFL last week.

The 28-year-old has averaged two goals per game and has only been held goalless once, which was in Round 1 against West Coast.

Jeremy Finlayson. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Fremantle v Sydney


Jeremy Sharp has featured in all eight games for Fremantle so far this season.

The former Gold Coast player has settled in well, however, Sharp may face a stern test against Sydney, because he could be up against Errol Gulden who’s an elite player of the competition.


James Jordon did a fantastic job negating the influence of Lachie Whitfield, restricting the influence that Whitfield had on the Sydney Derby in Round 8. Jordon conceded just one uncontested mark to Whitfield.

It was a masterstroke move, so expect Jordon to curtail the influence of Jordan Clark in Round 9, as Clark has been in good form.

Hawthorn v St Kilda


Josh Weddle was a smart choice by Sam Mitchell, adding another string to the bow of Weddle by choosing to play him on a key forward against Western Bulldogs in Round 8. He had the tough task of being matched up on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Weddle kicked a goal in the third quarter and finished the game with four score involvements, along with five intercept possessions.

Interesting to see what role Weddle plays against St Kilda, as he can also play on the wing.

Josh Weddle’s hit that one so sweet ????‍????#AFLDogsHawks

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St Kilda

Mason Wood was back and performed admirably when St Kilda won against North Melbourne in Round 8 and he had 20 disposals, eight score involvements and four intercept possessions.

Wood may be matched up against Karl Amon on the wing, against Hawthorn, which could prove to be a critical duel.

Essendon v GWS


Darcy Parish dominated in the midfield in Round 8 against West Coast, which gave Zach Merrett the license to go up forward and kick three goals.

Parish had 36 disposals, to go with six score involvements and five tackles and he must take that confidence into the game against GWS.


James Peatling had 24 disposals and eight tackles in a great display in the Sydney Derby in Round 8.

There’s no disputing that Peatling put his case forward to be a permanent fixture in the best 22 for GWS.

The 23-year-old should take plenty of belief into the game against Essendon.

Richmond v Western Bulldogs


Mykelti Lefau has proved that necessity is the mother of invention: Lefau got a game given Tom Lynch and Noah Balta have been injured.

Along with that, Lefau has kept Samson Ryan and Jacob Koschitzke out of the team.

The New Zealander will need to limit the impact of Liam Jones taking intercept marks when Richmond take on Western Bulldogs, as he did against Alex Pearce, keeping him to one intercept mark when Richmond took on Fremantle in Round 8.

Garry Lyon loved the work of Mykelti Lefau on the weekend against Alex Pearce.

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Western Bulldogs

James Harmes was one of the few bright sparks that Western Bulldogs can take away from their Round 8 game, when they lost narrowly to Hawthorn.

The former Melbourne player will be looking to ensure that he is a permanent part of the Western Bulldogs best 22 and he can prove his Round 8 display wasn’t an aberration when Western Bulldogs take on Richmond.

Gold Coast v North Melbourne

Gold Coast

Jarrod Witts had just six disposals in the Q-Clash in Round 8, which was well below his average of 13.9 disposals per game.

The former Collingwood player must bounce back, as he faces a tough challenge against North Melbourne ruckman Tristan Xerri who has arguably been the best player for North Melbourne this season.

North Melbourne

George Wardlaw always has a crack and he’ll need to do that against Gold Coast; the 19-year-old is a player that hunts the footy, he’s not scared of putting his body on the line, as he attacks the contest with vigour.

The Round 2 AFL Rising Star Nominee may go head-to-head with Matt Rowell, given Josh Dunkley dominated his match-up with Rowell in the Q-Clash and Brisbane won the game fairly comfortably.

Collingwood v West Coast


Bobby Hill will need to stand up for Collingwood in the absence of Brody Mihocek, Lachie Schultz and Beau McCreery.

It will be intriguing to see how Craig McRae chooses to use Bobby Hill; there’s a chance Collingwood could isolate Hill at times because Hill is such a tough match-up.

It’s difficult to see any West Coast defender stopping him from having an impact if he’s at his best.

West Coast

Jamie Cripps had a brain fade in Round 8, which cost West Coast a goal in the fourth quarter in a pivotal part of the game.

Along with that, it was the only game so far this season that Cripps has been held goalless in.

Therefore, Cripps will be looking to bounce back against Collingwood. Given West Coast will be without Jake Waterman against Collingwood, Cripps must hit the scoreboard.

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Adelaide v Brisbane


Mark Keane did a great job restricting Charlie Dixon to one goal in the Showdown. Along with that, Keane finished the game with ten intercept possessions.

The Irishman will need to perform to his optimum level up against Eric Hipwood and Joe Daniher at times against Brisbane.


Josh Dunkley needs to fire on all cylinders if Brisbane is going to claim the four points against Adelaide.

The former Western Bulldogs player tagged Matt Rowell and dominated the battle in the Q-Clash.

It will be fascinating to see which Adelaide midfielder Dunkley is matched up on.

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