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How important Gawn?



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Was muttering and cursing about our situation and found myself looking for comparisons to help 'process' it all.

In 2015, GWS were sitting 7 wins 4 losses in round 11. Then they lost Mumford and finished the year with just 4 more wins, all against bottom 5 teams. Missing out on the 8 by a couple of games in a very uneven year.

We started 2017 with two wins, and since losing Gawn during the game against Geelong have had just 1 win from the last 5 games, with the margins of three of those games adding up to just 3 goals total.

So, my questions are -

If Gawn had been available, would we be sitting 6-1 and about to face Adelaide in an outright top-of-the-table contest?

When we get Gawn back, for say the last 6-8 rounds, what kind of position would be acceptable/viable for a late charge to finals?

Despite our last few rounds of disappointment, do people still hold that this team could have a meaningful impact in finals once we have our full squad back together, with the return of Smith, Vandenberg, Brayshaw and Gawn?

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Hes a superstar.

We started the season 2-0, and he tore the Saints apart.  Left the Geelong game early and thats when everything went to [censored] for us.

Of course, the Spencer injury has exacerbated things. 

We are a young developing side and couldn't afford to lose our one true dominant superstar.  He cant come back soon enough.

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1 hour ago, Little Goffy said:

If Gawn had been available, would we be sitting 6-1 and about to face Adelaide in an outright top-of-the-table contest?

When we get Gawn back, for say the last 6-8 rounds, what kind of position would be acceptable/viable for a late charge to finals?

Despite our last few rounds of disappointment, do people still hold that this team could have a meaningful impact in finals once we have our full squad back together, with the return of Smith, Vandenberg, Brayshaw and Gawn?

1) Yes. Losing Gawn and Spencer during games was particularly brutal.

2) If we can win 4-5 of our next eight then I think we're a chance, assuming 12 wins is required. That would mean defeating at least four of Carlton, Collingwood, Gold Coast, North and Sydney.  After the Tigers loss, and Spencer's long-term injury, I said our season was scuppered. However, 4-5 wins in the next eight would keep us in touch.

Four or five wins in the next eight would leave us needing 4-5 wins in the final six. GWS in ACT should be tough, but our other away game is North in TAS and at home we have Port, St Kilda, Collingwood and Brisbane.

3) Yes. Unsure whether VB is best 22, but Smith might be and I like Brayshaw.

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Losing one of our best players in the middle is going to have an impact. Being a ruck and losing him at the start of a game more so. Losing his back-up more so again. Losing his back-up at the start of a separate game again more so. Having no further mature ruck-men compounds the problem . . . Having one tall forward missing half the games, and another not ready to compete, is going to further compound the problem, especially when your third tall has to spend half of the season in ruck. That leaves Pedersen, on a hiding-to-nothing trying to compete against both an opposition's established ruck and their marking utilites in a single game.

Gawn is important. But it's the trickle down effect and the sum of injuries/stage of development in regards our talls. 

This is a list of every player currently ready and available on the Melbourne roster over 190cm.

Watts 196

OMac 196

Hogan 195 (missed 3 games)

TMac 194

Frost 194

Pedersen 193

Edited by Skuit
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Another way to frame the above, and the most equitable I could think of as a broad but reasonable picture.

The combined number of games played for the season by players over 190cm per club:

Adelaide 60

GWS 54

Geelong 75

Melbourne 36

I'm not saying that height directly equates to top teams. It would probably apply equally across the league. But not having it is a competitive disadvantage. And we're talking just 190cms  - barely above the average AFL player. Do a comparison above 196cm and it is worse still:

Adelaide 18

GWS 25

Geelong 28

Melbourne - 3 1/2 (with no overlap)

It may not directly translate to huge contested mark differentials, but it has a big effect on structures, game-plan, in-play options, and the expenditure of defensive personnel.

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Gawn is a very good player when on the field, but no Jimmy Synes in terms of games continuity.  Spencer not as good player but also injury prone.Not good succession planning, not good from the point of resilience.

But does highlight the absolute need to have a ruckman on the park. 

Ditterich burst onto the scene as a 16 y.o.time to roll the dice with King?

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He's important but wouldn't put down the losses exclusively to missing him. We were awful against Carlton with him in the side and probably should have lost it. We destroyed Hawthorn around the clearances yesterday. 

Gawn or no Gawn, playing bad team footy loses you games.

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When you touch the ball 1st 60-65% of the time and then lose someone and drop to 40-45% or less it's going to make it hard.

To me, Gawn is the single biggest reason we have fallen off, when we get the ball first and fast we can devastate opponents.   Unfortunately it's not happening enough with an undersized ruckman

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Very important for firat use.

Hawks exposed our lack of height yesterday

As good as our kids are theyre not good enough (yet) when not getting first use.

We rely on first use as our possession side of the game is terrible 

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Losing Gawn has meant, in some ways, that all the preseason planning for our midfield has been thrown out the window.  What it has now done is forced our midfield to learn how to shark opposition ruck work, which with a long term view, is going to be a great thing for their development.  That doesn't help us this year though.

While we might be winning the clearances even without Gawn, our midfielders aren't really playing their own game.   They are going to each ruck contest with about a 25% chance of our ruck winning the tap, so the confidence of getting our outside game going becomes more difficult.  When Gawn plays, we've got around a 75% chance of him winning the tap, which allows us to set up with so much more confidence.

We can't underestimate the importance of the "Hitouts to advantage" stat that Gawn brings, and the impact this has on a lot of other elements of our game plan.

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25 minutes ago, Unleash Hell said:

Very important for firat use.

Hawks exposed our lack of height yesterday

As good as our kids are theyre not good enough (yet) when not getting first use.

We rely on first use as our possession side of the game is terrible 

First use can be an advantage but not always - we won the clearances yesterday (and last week).  I had a sense that Hawthorn 'let us win' the clearances only to attack the ball carrier, spill it loose and run away with it.  First use isn't much good if we can't get it out of the center square.

With the exception of McEvoy we were taller than the Hawks.  They marked (newbie O'Brien took 10) whereas we spoiled, ineffectively.  It wasn't lack of height that hurt us, especially after they lost Birchall.

They had 9 scoring shots in the first qtr we had 2.  The ball didn't get close enough to the goals to even rush behinds or to miss deliberate shots for goal.  That is where and when we lost the game.  I doubt having Gawn yesterday would have prevented that appalling 30 minutes.

So yes, we miss Gawn but his absence isn't the reason we lost to Freo and Hawthorn. 

Edited by Lucifer's Hero
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We became far too reliant on Gawn last year. We've shown this year that we can be competitive without him (or any genuine ruckman for that matter). That is a massive positive for us long term.

The big plus with Gawn is the 3-4 clean clearances that he gives us each week and the 3-4 clean clearances that he prevents the other way. That is huge in a close game.

Plus McEvoy wouldn't have taken two clean marks in the goals square if Gawn was playing.

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Gawn is our best contested mark and that is the biggest issue to overcome. Whether it is in defence or up forward he covers the fact that our talls don't take a lot of contested marks. In the last quarter, Clarkson slowed the game down and kicked to his talls who took contested marks when we were resting ours. Rotating Pederson, Watts and Tom leaves us deficient in other areas. Spencer would fill the same spot. The absence of a true ruckman breaks down the structure and strategy they trained for all summer. WE are 5 goals worse off in their absence

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9 hours ago, Little Goffy said:

Was muttering and cursing about our situation and found myself looking for comparisons to help 'process' it all.

In 2015, GWS were sitting 7 wins 4 losses in round 11. Then they lost Mumford and finished the year with just 4 more wins, all against bottom 5 teams. Missing out on the 8 by a couple of games in a very uneven year.

We started 2017 with two wins, and since losing Gawn during the game against Geelong have had just 1 win from the last 5 games, with the margins of three of those games adding up to just 3 goals total.

So, my questions are -

If Gawn had been available, would we be sitting 6-1 and about to face Adelaide in an outright top-of-the-table contest?

When we get Gawn back, for say the last 6-8 rounds, what kind of position would be acceptable/viable for a late charge to finals?

Despite our last few rounds of disappointment, do people still hold that this team could have a meaningful impact in finals once we have our full squad back together, with the return of Smith, Vandenberg, Brayshaw and Gawn?

With Gawn we could very well be 7-0. There has not been a game this year where we haven't been in a place to win it. 

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1 hour ago, ignition. said:

We won the clearances yesterday.

We've missed his contested marking.

But it wasn't or hasn't been among our biggest problems of late.

The fact that we won the clearances shows how good a contested ball side we are and Clarkson said as much.

That we got slaughtered in contested marking shows that we played dumb footy, just bombing up the line to their talls, and that Hawthorn applied some good pressure to us. In the end it meant that our winning the clearances didn't mean much at all. We just have to be smarter with our use, especially going inside 50.

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His loss hurts us more structurally than in the ruck.

Gawn is our bail out kick when we come out the defensive 50 under pressure. He is parked at the half back flank, the players know to kick it there and he will either clunk the mark to relieve the pressure or bring the ball to ground and out of bounds. Without him there we have no-one capable of making that same contest so we are turning the ball over and opposition teams are getting repeat entries into their 50. 
We also miss him taking saving marks in defensive 50 and floating forward to help out too. Not having him means we take a tall player out of the forward or backline (Watts, Pederson, TMac) to cover is absence, which then also stuffs up the structure for that area of the ground. Until we can get a pure ruckman back in to help with our structure, we are going to struggle.

Still the worse thing about the team at present is the lack of leadership and organisation. I don't see anyone out there barking orders and trying to organise or fire up his teammates. Look at Hodge yesterday. As a player, he's pretty much shot, but he was still barking orders and organising his team. He was also picking fights with Melbourne players and getting his team mates involved. This bonded them and fired them up. We need better leaders who can organise us on-field.

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Gawn's loss has been huge in many ways as noted by posters above.

But a big negative has been the flow-on effect. With no Gawn (and no Spencer, and no Hogan in some games), we've had to take Watts away from being the 'third tall' who can be so damaging up the field, finding space, and also working his way back into the forward 50. 

I reckon Gawn and Hogan missing big chunks of the season so far really messes up everything we've trained for in terms of our structures.

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3 hours ago, praha said:

He's important but wouldn't put down the losses exclusively to missing him.

Gawn might have been the difference yesterday. He could easily have impeded the two McEvoy marks that led to goals, and maybe others.

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2 hours ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

First use can be an advantage but not always - we won the clearances yesterday (and last week).  I had a sense that Hawthorn 'let us win' the clearances only to attack the ball carrier, spill it loose and run away with it.  First use isn't much good if we can't get it out of the center square.

With the exception of McEvoy we were taller than the Hawks.  They marked (newbie O'Brien took 10) whereas we spoiled, ineffectively.  It wasn't lack of height that hurt us, especially after they lost Birchall.

They had 9 scoring shots in the first qtr we had 2.  The ball didn't get close enough to the goals to even rush behinds or to miss deliberate shots for goal.  That is where and when we lost the game.  I doubt having Gawn yesterday would have prevented that appalling 30 minutes.

So yes, we miss Gawn but his absence isn't the reason we lost to Freo and Hawthorn. 

I dont disagree LH its a good response and argument 

But McEvoy had 2 goals took some important clunks and 35ish hitouts at half time. Could easily argue that was the difference at the end of the game.

I need to re look at game and collect thoughts bur we miss big maxy and even spencer.

Sauce Jacobs will be licking his chops this week

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12 minutes ago, mauriesy said:

Gawn might have been the difference yesterday. He could easily have impeded the two McEvoy marks that led to goals, and maybe others.

Even Spencer would have had a big impact on the result. Gawn would be ideal obviously but at that point we just needed a recognised ruck who could go with McEvoy around the ground and pluck a few of those balls we bombed up the wing as well as into our forward 50.

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Massive loss for all the primary and secondary reasons as outlined in this thread. I like that Goodwin's attitude is to make the best of it as a sign of our flexibility, and we've shown how dominant we can still be in patches due to our exciting midfield, but Gawn's absence will be the statistical difference in our season when compared with last year. You don't lose someone of Gawn's influence and it not make a difference to the win-loss ratio. Simples. Ideally we learn from it, and truly become adaptable for the coming years, but many external observers will see us as having stalled. Gawn all year = finals. Gawn gone = back in the pack of wannabes. The club obviously won't sell it that way, but it's the truth. 

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Take Dangerfield out of Geelong or Sloane out of Adelaide  and I bet they would be less competitive than we are without Gawn.

We havent been flogged yet,  the Crows and Cats have both had horrible games and neither team is missing their superstar.

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