After an enthralling weekend filled with top eight clashes and close games, round 16 arguably takes a backwards step with teams expected to win comfortably.

Melbourne take on Adelaide, Geelong face North Melbourne and Sydney travel to the MCG to play Essendon.

However, an intriguing matchup between Gold Coast and Collingwood at Metricon Stadium takes place on Saturday night while the Western Bulldogs travel north to come up against Brisbane at the Gabba.

Disappointing performances by St Kilda, Brisbane and Fremantle could see some changes at the elite level, while injuries to familiar faces forces coaches hands as we place our focus on round 16.

The Sporting News has all the latest news on AFL players in the reserves.

SEE YOUR TEAM: Adelaide | Brisbane | Carlton | Collingwood | Essendon | Fremantle | Geelong | Gold Coast | GWS | Hawthorn | Melbourne | North Melbourne | Port Adelaide | Richmond | St Kilda | Sydney | West Coast | Western Bulldogs

Nic Naitanui’s long-awaited return is nearing, with the superstar ruckman taking the field for West Coast in the WAFL. 

Injuring his knee against Collingwood earlier in the year, Naitanui has been sidelined for a long period of time, but the 32-year-old looks ready for the match against Richmond at the MCG.

The three-time All-Australian kicked two goals and collected 17 touches for the reserves on the weekend and seemed to be moving with confidence.

Naitanui will be a welcome boost for the lowly Eagles, who have put together solid performances the last two weeks against Essendon and Geelong.

Western Bulldogs’ Lachie Hunter continues to impress in the twos as he comes back from personal leave.

Hunter gathered 26 disposals and seven marks in the win against Box Hill and could find himself back in the senior side.

Forced into at least one change, coach Luke Beveridge will be without in-form half back Ed Richards, who suffered a concussion and was subbed out of the game during the second quarter.

Following AFL protocols, Richards absence could be met by Hunter’s recall as the Dogs try make it three wins in a row against Lions.

Lachie Hunter.jpg

Brisbane’s poor performance against Melbourne has Chris Fagan asking questions of his team, wondering if there’s any magnets that need moving.

Lion duo Rhys Mathieson and Darcy Fort have put their best foot forward for a senior selection after impressive performances in the VFL.

Mathieson has been super consistent and this week was no different, kicking two goals and amassing 43 possessions against the Pies.

Youngsters Deven Robertson, Thomas Berry and James Tunstill were all disappointing in their outings, potentially opening up a spot for the in-form forward/midfielder.

Fort on the other hand was just as imposing over the weekend.

The ex-Cat kicked two goals from 20 touches and is in line for a call up back into the senior side.

Oscar McInerney was very good against Luke Jackson on Thursday night but more support could be a route Chris Fagan could go down.

Other players are Essendon’s mid-season recruit Jye Menzie, who put his hand forward for an AFL debut after kicking four goals in the reserves.

Jason Castagna has responded strongly following his omission from the Richmond side, kicking three majors and laid 10 tackles, in a pressure forward role.

Jason Castagna.jpg

How AFL players performed in the VFL, SANFL and WAFL

Adelaide

  • Fischer McAsey – nine touches, three marks and three tackles
  • Lachlan Murphy – two goals, 19 disposals and seven marks
  • Matt Crouch – one goal, 42 possessions and 10 clearances
  • Luke Brown – 21 touches and five marks
  • Billy Frampton – 22 disposals and 14 marks
  • Andrew McPherson – 30 possessions, eight marks and three tackles
  • Lachlan Sholl – 32 touches and nine marks
  • Lachlan Gollant – two goals, 13 disposals and five marks
  • Kieran Strachan – 14 possessions, 37 hit-outs and six marks

Brisbane

  • Kai Lohmann – one goal, 15 touches and five marks
  • Callum Ah Chee – 18 possessions, four marks and four clearances
  • Ely Smith – 16 disposals
  • Nakia Cockatoo – one goal, 14 touches and three tackles
  • Tom Fullarton – three goals, 24 possessions and eight marks
  • Harry Sharp – 24 disposals and four marks
  • Darcy Fort – two goals, 20 touches, 24 hit-outs and nine clearances
  • Rhys Mathieson – two goals, 43 possessions and seven clearances

Carlton

  • Paddy Dow – one goal, 37 touches and seven clearances
  • Liam Stocker – 30 disposals and 10 marks
  • Jack Carroll – 19 possessions and five clearances
  • Alex Mirkov – 28 hit-outs, 13 touches and four marks
  • Will Hayes – one goal, 25 disposals and nine marks

Collingwood

  • Tyler Brown – 15 touches, four tackles and four clearances
  • Trent Bianco – one goal, 16 disposals and four marks
  • Callum Brown – 19 possessions, six tackles and four clearances
  • Finlay Macrae – one goal, 22 touches and six tackles
  • Arlo Draper – 17 disposals
  • Will Kelly – one goal, 16 possessions and four marks
  • Caleb Poulter – 14 touches and six marks
  • Aiden Begg – 20 hit-outs, 10 tackles and six disposals
  • Charlie Dean – 14 possessions and five marks
  • Jack Madgen – one goal, 15 touches and seven marks
  • Josh Carmichael – 24 disposals, eight marks and four clearances

Essendon

  • Jye Menzie – four goals, 11 touches and two clearances
  • Aaron Francis – 16 possessions and six marks
  • Tom Cutler – 11 disposals
  • Kaine Baldwin – three goals, 11 touches and five tackles
  • Brandon Zerk-Thatcher – 17 possessions and nine marks
  • Alec Waterman – three goals, 17 disposals and

Fremantle 

  • Neil Erasmus – one goal, 24 touches and four tackles
  • Connor Blakely – 22 possessions and three tackles
  • Lloyd Meek – 28 hit-outs, eight disposals and two tackles
  • Darcy Tucker – three goals, nine touches and six tackles
  • Nathan Wilson – 20 touches and six marks

Geelong

  • Shaun Higgins – 23 touches and seven tackles
  • Toby Conway – one goal, 12 disposals and 26 hit-outs
  • Cooper Stephens – one goal, 28 possessions and five clearances
  • Esava Ratugolea – two goals, 15 touches and five tackles
  • Quinton Narkle – one goal, 26 disposals and six clearances
  • Oliver Dempsey – one goal, 21 possessions and seven marks
  • Francis Evans – two goals, 19 touches and seven clearances

Gold Coast 

  • Rory Atkins – 38 touches and 10 marks
  • Alex Sexton – two goals, 12 disposals and four tackles
  • Sam Day – one goal, 11 possessions and three marks
  • Rory Thomspon – 13 touches and nine marks
  • Josh Corbett – one goal, 12 disposals and seven marks
  • Jeremy Sharp – 18 possessions and six marks
  • James Tsitas – 17 touches, 11 tackles and five clearances
  • Mac Andrew – 12 disposals and eight marks
  • Charlie Constable – 31 possessions, seven marks and seven tackles
  • Darcy Macpherson – 34 touches, four tackles and seven clearances

GWS Giants

Hawthorn

  • Tom Phillips – 14 touches and three tackles
  • Denver Grainger-Barras – eight possessions and six marks
  • Josh Ward – 19 disposals and nine tackles
  • Kyle Hartigan – 10 touches and three marks
  • Finn Maginness – 24 possessions, seven tackles and five clearances

Melbourne 

  • Bailey Laurie – one goal, 21 touches and six tackles
  • Jake Melksham – two goals, 21 possessions and five marks
  • Fraser Rosman – 14 disposals and five marks
  • Adam Tomlinson – 22 touches and five marks
  • Jacob van Rooyen – three goals, 17 possessions and five marks
  • Trent Rivers – 19 disposals and four marks
  • Luke Dunstan – 25 touches and six clearances
  • Jayden Hunt – 20 possessions and six marks
  • Oscar Baker – one goal, 24 disposals and eight marks
  • Mitch Brown – six goals, 21 touches and 10 marks

North Melbourne

  • Jack Mahony – two goals, 21 touches and eight tackles
  • Atu Bosenavulagi – 11 possessions and three marks
  • Callum Coleman-Jones – one goal, 25 disposals, 26 hit-outs and 11 clearances
  • Charlie Lazzaro – one goal, 24 touches and six marks

Port Adelaide

  • Orazio Fantasia – 17 touches and six tackles
  • Sam Hayes – 28 hit-outs, six possessions and two tackles

Richmond 

  • Jason Castagna – three goals, 13 touches and 10 tackles
  • Jake Aarts – two goals, 24 disposals and seven clearances
  • Riley Collier-Dawkins – 20 possessions and seven tackles
  • Thomson Dow – 13 touches, five marks and eight tackles
  • Samson Ryan – 34 hit-outs. 11 disposals and five tackles
  • Noah Cumberland – four goals, 15 possessions and three marks
  • Sydney Stack – one goal, 16 touches and eight tackles

St Kilda

  • Jack Higgins – one goal, 18 touches and five clearances
  • Dean Kent – two goals, 15 possessions and three marks
  • Mason Wood – one goal, 13 disposals and five marks
  • Tom Highmore – 35 touches and 13 marks
  • Leo Connolly – 20 possessions and four marks
  • Tom Campbell – one goal, 43 hit-outs and 25 disposals

Sydney

  • Sam Wicks – one goal, 23 touches and four clearances
  • Callum Sinclair – 19 possessions, 17 hit-outs and seven clearances
  • Ben Ronke – one goal, 21 disposals and eight marks
  • James Bell – 34 touches, five tackles and seven clearances
  • Joel Amartey – five goals, 23 possessions and seven marks

West Coast 

  • Nic Naitanui – two goals, 17 touches and 26 hit-outs
  • Sam Petrevski-Seton – 19 possessions and six marks
  • Isiah Winder – 18 disposals, five marks and six tackles
  • Alex Witherden – 27 touches and 12 marks
  • Xavier O’Neil – 27 possessions and eight marks
  • Jackson Nelson – one goal, 20 disposals and seven marks
  • Harry Edwards – 30 touches and 23 marks
  • Patrick Naish – two goals, 25 possessions and 14 marks
  • Jai Culley – 14 disposals, three marks and five tackles

Western Bulldogs

  • Lachie Hunter – 26 touches, seven marks and six tackles
  • Sam Darcy – 17 possessions, 20 hit-outs and four marks
  • Zaine Cordy – 15 disposals and seven marks
  • Toby McLean – two goals, 19 touches and six clearances
  • Buku Khamis – three goals, eight possessions and four marks
  • Roarke Smith – one goal and 10 touches
  • Riley Garcia – 25 disposals and four clearances

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