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Witherden finishes third in Rising Star

Alex Witherden has finished third in the 2018 Rising Star award, with Collingwood Jaidyn Stephenson becoming the first Magpie to the claim the award. 

The speedy forward, pick No.6 in last year's AFL Draft, polled 52 votes to take home the prestigious Ron Evans Medal from Adelaide's Tom Doedee (42 votes) and Witherden (32 votes). Richmond's Jack Higgins finished fourth while Sydney's Oliver Florent and Geelong's Jack Henry were equal fifth

Stephenson kicked 34 goals for the season – 11 more than the next-highest return for a player eligible for the award, Sydney's Ben Ronke (23).

Stephenson was one of four Pies to kick more than 30 goals for the season, with the 19-year-old's speed and creativeness in front of goal a crucial factor in Collingwood's return to finals and its eventual finish in the top four.

Stephenson bagged a career-high five goals in the Magpies' 48-point victory over Adelaide in round four to receive his nomination, going on to play every game in his debut season.

After biding his time in the SANFL in his first two seasons, Doedee produced a breakout season in inheriting Jake Lever's role in 2018 – averaging 2.2 intercept marks and 18 disposals per game before breaking his collarbone in round 22.

No Rising Star nominee averaged more than Witherden's 22.4 disposals down back, with Coach Chris Fagan believing his charge would have been a worthy overall winner.

Final votes

52 Jaidyn Stephenson (Coll)
42 Tom Doedee (Adel)
32 Alex Witherden (Bris)
11 Jack Higgins (Rich)
10 Jack Henry (Geel), Ollie Florent (Syd)
4 Cameron Rayner (Bris)
2 Ben Ronke (Syd)
1 Aaron Francis (Ess), Ed Richards (WB)

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs