Local Aussies: McGree sparks Jets' resurgence
There were outstanding performances in every position over the Hyundai A-League weekend, with a keeper, defender, midfielder and striker all catching the eye.
In our Local Aussies wrap, we shine a light on four homegrown products that made a big impression in Round 27.
Newcastle Jets bounced back to form at the perfect time ahead of their first Finals Series in eight years, and young midfielder Riley McGree was the catalyst.
The teenager has been improving every week since arriving in the Hunter in January from Belgian outfit Club Brugge.
He was the chief tormentor in the 8-2 rout of the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night, setting up the opening goal for Joey Champness before putting the home side to the sword.
McGree scored a fantastic hat-trick with three superb left-footed strikes across the keeper as the Jets became the first away team in Hyundai A-League history to score eight goals in a match.
It was the first treble of his short senior career and he now has four goals and one assist from just 10 appearances under Ernie Merrick.
He may be coming towards the end of his career but the veteran defender is showing no signs of slowing down.
Now 33, Wilkinson is still playing as well as ever and is a major factor behind the Sky Blues' back-to-back Premierships.
The veteran defender made an incredible nine clearances in total, two more than any other player on the pitch, while four blocks underscored his whole-hearted display against Victory.
He twice denied the visitors a goal, first from an early block to deny Besart Berisha at point-blank range and he then produced an even better stop in the second-half, with a miraculous goal-line clearance to keep out Leroy George's goal-bound effort that kept three points intact.
Could there be another appearance at a FIFA World Cup for the dependable defender?
Perth Glory may have missed the chance to get into the Hyundai A-League Finals Series with their loss to Brisbane Roar but the form of “Taggs” towards the end of the season has been exceptional.
Taggart, who played for the Caltex Socceroos at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, made it four goals in his last three games with the opener in the 3-2 loss at nib Stadium.
When fit there’s no doubt Taggart is one of the best finishers in the Hyundai A-League.
Unfortunately for Glory, injury has meant he managed just 14 appearances in the 2017/18 campaign.
Despite the lack of matches, Taggart still finished the season as Glory’s top scorer with eight goals.
"If it doesn’t contribute to a win I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean much,” Taggart said after the Roar loss.
"We want to be winning games and especially [against Brisbane] was a big opportunity for us to make a late run into the finals."
He may have been on the losing side in the end but the City keeper was easily his side’s best in the loss to Wellington in Auckland.
The 27-year-old, who is keeping the vastly experienced Eugene Galekovic out of the City 11, pulled off four incredible reflex saves to keep his side in the contest.
Bouzanis’ distribution is also one of the best in the Hyundai A-League, often starting City attacks with pin-point delivery both out of his hands an off the ground.
Once signed by Liverpool as a teenager, Bouzanis will be key to the title hopes of Warren Joyce’s men over the next three weeks.