Best and Fairest Part 2

Hawthorn
Best and fairest: Jordan Lewis is the frontrunner for this award, having arguably his most consistent year to date. In the absence of Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell through injury at various stages this season, Lewis has stepped up to take control of the Hawks’ midfield. Coleman Medal contender Jarryd Roughead has also been in great form, as has small forward Luke Breust.
Most improved: Big man Jon Ceglar has pushed ruck recruit Ben McEvoy out of the side for much of the latter part of the season with his good form, and has claims to being one of the competition’s most improved after being on the AFL scrap heap at the end of last season.
Best first-year player: Take your pick of the Hawks’ debutants this season – Angus Litherland, Mitch Hallahan, Alex Woodward and Billy Hartung have all been granted debuts this season after, in the case of Litherland and Hallahan, being stuck behind other, older midfielders for the better part of three years. Hartung has impressed with his pace after being taken in last year’s draft.

Melbourne
Best and fairest: Captain Nathan Jones is again the frontrunner for this award, following up last season’s super consistent effort with another great year. So far this season, Jones is averaging 27.7 disposals, three marks and five tackles, and has largely done so without the midfield support afforded some other key midfielders. Recruits Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson have also had great years for Melbourne after crossing from Adelaide and GWS respectively.
Most improved: Neville Jetta and Cam Pedersen will be vying for this award. Delisted and redrafted as a rookie, Jetta has reinvented himself from inconsistent small forward to lockdown small defender. Likewise, Pedersen has put his previous inconsistency behind him to become a dependable swingman.
Best first-year player: Small forward Jay Kennedy-Harris has had a superb debut season, playing 14 games and averaging 10 disposals, two marks, 0.6 goals and two tackles per game. Young midfielder Christian Salem has also shown glimpses in his first season.

North Melbourne
Best and fairest: Brent Harvey should be a shoe-in for this award, averaging 26 disposals, five marks, 1.5 goals and three tackles per game this season. In the absence of prime midfield movers Jack Ziebell, Daniel Wells and Andrew Swallow for large parts of the season due to injury, Harvey has shouldered more of the midfield load while still regularly hitting the scoreboard. Defender Scott Thompson has also had a consistent year.
Most improved: Levi Greenwood has taken North by storm this year, averaging career-best figures of 25 disposals, 5.4 marks and 4.5 tackles. He has played 18 games so far this season after playing a combined total of 11 in the previous two seasons.
Best first-year player: This award goes to Luke McDonald, who has played every game in his debut season, and has looked every bit the seasoned competitor in North’s backline.

Port Adelaide
Best and fairest: Several players are in line for this award thanks to Port’s barnstorming start to the season, in particular midfielder/forward Robbie Gray, captain Travis Boak and forward Jay Schulz, who have all had superb seasons. Ruckman Matthew Lobbe, who has had to shoulder Port’s ruck load all season, has also had a stellar year.
Most improved: After crossing from Brisbane at the end of 2013, Jared Polec has been superb for Port this season, as has recruit Matt White. Both have used their speed to great effect, and, more importantly, have delivered a greater level of consistency this year than at their previous clubs. Young defender Jack Hombsch has also developed into a key cog of Port’s back six.
Best first-year player: Jarman Impey has delivered for Port in his first season, establishing himself in the back half.

Richmond
Best and fairest: Dustin Martin has elevated his game this season, finding a new level of consistency, and would be the frontrunner for this award. Captain Trent Cotchin has also had a good year, while defender Alex Rance has been arguably the Tigers’ most important player when fit.
Most improved: Young defender Brandon Ellis has gone to new heights this season, both racking up the ball and managing to consistently lock down on his direct opponent. Young midfield recruit Anthony Miles has also been a revelation in his first year at the Tigers, averaging 24 disposals, three marks and five tackles in his 10 games for the club this season.
Best first-year player: Draftees Ben Lennon and Sam Lloyd have both shown glimpses this season, but are yet to establish themselves as members of the Tigers’ best 22.

St Kilda
Best and fairest: Nick Riewoldt should be a shoe-in for this award after a stellar season in which he has kicked 47 goals at an average of 2.4 per game. He is also ranked number one in the competition for total marks, and marks per game. Retiring midfielder Lenny Hayes has also had a great year, as has fellow midfielder David Armitage.
Most improved: Young defender Jack Newnes has found new consistency this year, racking up the ball while also showing a new level of accountability. Running defender Jarryn Geary has also developed into one of the Saints’ most consistent players, while recruit Shane Savage has become an effective player after moving to half back.
Best first-year player: Jack Billings and Luke Dunstan should share this award, after both had stellar debut seasons before injury curtailed them. Dunstan came into the team in round one, and immediately made an effect with his hard-at-it attitude. Billings’ goal smarts and silky skills were similarly impressive.

Sydney
Best and Fairest: Take your pick of a handful of Swans – any of Dan Hannebery, Josh Kennedy, Lance Franklin, Kieren Jack or Luke Parker could win this award, such has been the quality of their seasons.
Most improved: Youngsters Dane Rampe and Harry Cunningham have established themselves as key members of the Swans’ team this season after showing patchy form over the past few years, while recruit Jeremy Laidler has also been consistent. Ruckman Tom Derickx also enjoyed a fantastic season after several inconsistent years with the Tigers.
Best first-year player: Zak Jones, Tim Membrey and Dean Towers have all shown glimpses in their few opportunities, but have not been able to establish themselves as key members of the Swans’ team yet.

Western Bulldogs
Best and Fairest: Captain Ryan Griffen, ruckman Will Minson and defender Rob Murphy have all enjoyed stellar years, and would appear the frontrunners for this award at this stage. Young midfielders Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore could also poll well after consistent seasons.
Most improved: In just his second season, Jack Macrae has elevated himself to one of the competition’s most consistent midfielders, averaging 27 disposals, 5.4 marks and 4.3 tackles per game. Defender Jordan Roughead has also established himself as one of the Bulldogs’ most important players, being given responsibility for the opposition’s key forward each week, and performing admirably.
Best first-year player: Pick four in last year’s draft, Marcus Bontempelli, has made an immediate impact in his first season. With his deceptive speed and ability to win the ball both inside and outside, Bontempelli is the favourite for the Rising Star award.

West Coast
Best and Fairest: After another superb season, midfielder Matt Priddis should finally get the kudos he deserves this season with an All-Australian nod. In an inconsistent and largely disappointing season for the Eagles, Priddis has been a shining light. Defender Shannon Hurn has also been in good form, while key defender Eric Mackenzie has had another superb year.
Most improved: Ruckman Scott Lycett has shown talent this season, given more opportunities in the wake of Dean Cox’s imminent retirement. Mark Hutchings has also become a consistent performer this season, winning disposals while also playing a tagging role in recent weeks.
Best first-year player: Dom Sheed has shown glimpses in his first year, as have midfielders Blayne Wilson and Simon Tunbridge. Utility Jeremy McGovern has impressed in his 11 games in his debut year, averaging 12 disposals, 7sevenmarks and 1.2 goals per game.