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Begrudgingly agreeing with Boris
Begrudgingly agreeing with Boris

There are many reasons why the Dockers have had such a resounding finish to the season.

David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Nat Fyfe have been in outstanding form. Toss in Aaron Sandilands, Ryan Crowley and Stephen Hill and the Dockers brigade around the middle has the credentials to challenge the best in the league.

There have been plusses down back where Adam McPhee has enjoyed some exceptional games, as have Luke McPharlin, Michael Johnson and Paul Duffield.

To me, though, the headline acts have come from the forwards.

Matthew Pavlich, after booting 14 goals in the first nine games of the season has kicked 54 since round 11, an outstanding achievement.

But I’d suggest one of the more significant efforts have come from Hayden Ballantyne, for a number of reasons.

It appears the little man has finally grown up after copping a two-week suspension for whacking Paul Chapman in the opening game and another week for hitting Richmond captain Chris Newman in round 11.

Ballantyne built a reputation for being an on-field stirrer and at times carried it a little too far, bringing the cringe factor to some supporters who just wanted him to play the game.

Coach Ross Lyon continually defended his small forward but it seems the penny has dropped with Ballantyne that sitting in the stands because of cheap shots wasn’t doing him or the team any good.

Now, he appears to have drawn his own line in the grass, knowing the perils of crossing it.

Ballantyne has kicked 17 goals in the last six games and has been a great foil for Pavlich who also has been on the receiving end of some of his teammates' smart work.

Few people in football the size of Ballantyne attack the contest as hard, few chase as hard and few put in the second and third efforts with as much gusto.

Against Geelong, Ballantyne had 22 pressured acts, second only behind Michael Barlow with 27, and had eight scoring involvements to go with his three goals.

Perhaps Ballantyne always has had the respect of his teammates but the way he’s performed in the last half of the season, he’s now getting the respect of the competition.

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