Dockers’ shining light Neale goes to next level with Doig win
GUN midfielder Lachie Neale was an unsurprising victor of last night’s Doig Medal count at Crown Perth’s Grand Ballroom.
The South Australian took his game to another level in 2016, standing up in the ab- sence of injured senior players Nat Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands to win his first best-andfairest award.
Breaking the league’s disposals record with 737 in 22 games, Neale was a shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for the Dockers, who went from minor premiers last year to 16th with just four wins.
The 23-year-old, who signed a three-year contract extension during the season, finished with 200 votes, 30 clear of speedster Stephen Hill.
It was also a career-best finish for Hill, improving on his consecutive third-placings in 2014 and 2015. He finished the season strongly, collecting 30 possessions in each of the final four games to edge out livewire Michael Walters (152 votes).
Despite missing four games during the season, retiring champion Matthew Pavlich made the top five for the first time since 2012.
The six-time Doig Medal winner was in fourth spot with 118 votes, narrowly ahead of defender Lee Spurr (116) who rounded out the top five.
Three players likely to leave the club – Chris Mayne, Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Barlow – were sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.
Last season’s Doig medallist, ruckman Aaron Sandilands, won best clubman for his off-field efforts with the playing group during his long injury lay-off.
Emerging midfielder Lachie Weller won the Beacon Award for best first or second year player.