At a glance:
- Ben Paton's sensational efforts on Coleman Medal leader Tom Papley have continued the young defender's brilliant 2020 campaign.
- Papley had just nine touches and a goal by the final siren after a four-goal blitz against Hawthorn last week.
- Paton has played every game this season and has successfully locked down Richmond's Kane Lambert and Port Adelaide's Brad Ebert.
On Tuesday afternoon, 25-game defender Ben Paton was told he would be responsible for reining in Coleman Medal leader Tom Papley.
By Saturday night, the young Saint had successfully lowered the livewire Swan’s colours as St Kilda raced away to an ardent 53-point triumph.
It’s just another job done for the no-fuss defender, whose unsung lockdown roles have made him one of his teammates' favourite players to run out with on game-day.
Papley had been in white-hot form prior to Round 9, coming off the back of a match-winning four-goal bag against Hawthorn to extend his buffer (before Josh Kennedy’s seven against Collingwood slimmed the deficit considerably) in the Coleman race.
Thanks to Paton's resolute efforts down back, the star Swan was largely unsighted and had just nine touches – at 45% efficiency – and one goal to his name by the final siren.
“Ben’s really growing as a player,” senior coach Brett Ratten said post-match.
“He’s around that 30-game mark now and he’s going to get some challenges. He’s going to play on some good players depending on the match-up, but this was one that was suited for him.
“It’s good for his confidence. I think these little wins that you have as a player help you grow through your career, and for him to play on Papley and do a pretty good job, it’s a good win for him.”
It’s not the only win the young Saint from Tallangatta has had this season.
Premiership Tiger Kane Lambert and Port Adelaide stalwart Brad Ebert have both been quelled by the emerging talent, who is starting to entrench himself as a key member of the Saints’ remodelled back-six.
Paton has racked up the numbers himself, rounding out his super Saturday with 14 touches, seven marks, five rebound-50s and four intercepts.
He also leads the Saints for intercept possessions (48) after the first nine games of the year.
But Paton was quick to deflect any individual praise, instead crediting his teammates for their combined efforts in restricting the Sydney goalsneak.
"All the boys helped me out and it was a really good team performance on him," Paton told saints.com.au post-match.
“As a whole group, in the backline especially with Hunts and Coff, us younger boys are stepping up a bit.
“Getting a bit of confidence and having good wins like that takes it a long way.”