DIMBOOLA’S Jackson O’Neill and Horsham’s Jye Smith were crowned joint Hank Neil Medallists in what was a vote count of two halves.
Smith started the season with a bang, polling 18 votes to have a seemingly unbeatable lead by the half-way point.
His form, which included six three-vote hauls, was that good he was promoted to the seniors after a best-on-ground performance against Stawell in round 12.
The fast-finishing O’Neill, who played eight reserves and eight senior games in the home and away season, polled maximum votes in his last five matches to come out of nowhere and tie with Smith on 22 votes.
“It was very unexpected – I didn’t play much in the twos,” he said.
“I didn’t think anyone could catch Jye Smith to be honest.”
O’Neill said while it was an honour to win the award, it was all about Saturday’s reserves decider against Horsham.
“I play to win a grand final with my mates and that’s what we’re all aiming for this weekend,” he said.
Minyip-Murtoa’s Brent Hudson and Horsham Saint Richard Bansemer were tied for the runners-up honour on 18 votes, with Roos ruckman Shanan Baker two votes behind on 16.
Smith was unable to collect his award after suffering a knee injury in Sunday’s preliminary final against Horsham.
Saints forward Justtin Combe took out the reserves goal-kicking award with 51 goals.