Nathan Buckley's five takeaways from Round 22

Nathan Buckley’s five takeaways from Round 22

The Buck Stops Here.

Nathan Buckley has gone through his five biggest takeaways from the weekend of footy.

Buckley has touched on Ben Cunnington, Jake Melksham, Tom Lynch, Dane Rampe, and Jake Lever.

Cunnington’s inspiring return to football

“At the end of Round 22, we’re a week away from the finals, and winning and losing seems to be the most important thing.

“It means a little less to me.

“The number one story I think out of the weekend was Ben Cunnington and his return after two bouts of cancer for North Melbourne.

“For a club that’s won two games for the year, lost their coach, has nothing to play for, but a universally respected player and person in Ben Cunnington, to see the human side that exists underneath this game, it’s a professional game that we all love, that story alone I think was brilliant for the club.

“It’s brilliant to see that Ben’s up and about and has a chance to play the game that he loves.

“I thought it was well handled by the North Melbourne footy club and Ben himself, so all credit.”

Melksham establishes himself in Melbourne’s side

“Halfway through the year his skirmish with Steven May and the words that were exchanged were seen as nearly something that wasn’t going to be overcome.

“But his performance on the weekend was first class.

“Whether the words were, ‘we wouldn’t have won the flag if you’d have played’, whether it’s anything like that, that sticks to a player.

“His contested mark with a minute-and-a-half to play gave Melbourne a chance.

“15 disposals, seven marks, four goals playing as a defensive forward, looks after the leading intercept marker of the opposition, and he’s established himself.

“Wherever Melbourne goes, he’s going to be there, because he’s played an important role recently.”

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Lynch cherry ripe approaching finals

“Eight goals at the ‘G yesterday (Sunday) at three-quarter time.

“He’s kicked 55 for the year. This guy could well be the joker in the pack for Richmond going into the finals.

“Taking clunks and pack marks is pivotal in finals football and in big games.

“You take three or four clunks in the forward 50 in a big game, in a tight game, final on the MCG, that’s going to make a difference.

“I think he’s cherry ripe to have a big September.”

Rampe’s defensive effort to deny Mihocek

“Dane Rampe’s goal in the first quarter was amazing, but his defensive effort to stop Brody Mihocek kicking a goal in the middle of the last quarter was a significant moment.

“When you get great games and great contests like that… it’s key moments that make the difference.

“Dane Rampe, as one of the captains of the club, stood up.”

Lever’s role in match-winning Demons play

“Right at the end of the Saturday night game, Jayden Hunt took that ground ball and was able to kick it in long.

“But to get the ball in the first place, it was squared up by Jake Lever, it was a great heads up play to put the ball in a dangerous position.

“Did they (Carlton) get enough numbers back behind the ball? Because when that ball went in it was actually even numbers, you can’t have that when you’re defending less than a one-goal lead with seconds remaining.

“But Jake Lever was able to get his hand on the ball … that kick was just a blind, 90-degree, perpendicular kick into the middle of the field, (Jesse) Motlop was the only Carlton player against three Melbourne players, Hunt swooped on it and was able to get it down for Kysaiah (Pickett) to finish off.

“A great heads up play by an experienced player. It would’ve been coached, but you’ve still got to keep your head in the moment to trust and to execute when it matters.”