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Game plans, tactics and all that jazz



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Posted (edited)

I know this may seem a strange thing to write given we are such a system based team, but I wonder if Tomlinson's injury will force us to change our system slightly. And will we utilise Max differently or is it simply a case of plug and play?

A slight reshuffle could see May take the lockdown defender role (leaving him less creativity and freedom) and see Petty take May's role as an interceptor and stopper, while Lever still takes the third best/tallest forward. The most important thing is obviously just having two guys that can lock down their opponent and allow Lever to intercept and direct traffic. 

Petty started shakily a few weeks ago, but given a bit of time and continuity (a block of 3 or 4 games), I believe he'll be a solid contributor back there. He's got great hands and he's a very good reader of the play.

The make up of the back 6 might also be a week by week proposition, which I feel like I've heard Goodwin mention once or twice before in terms of picking the best team each week, may mean a different mix depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.

What do Demonlanders think we'll do here? My feeling is we'll see some experimentation over the next block of 3 or 4 games. If we can strike the right balance coming into the back end of the season, that's the aim.

I see McDonald as a distant backup option, which I really hope we don't have to go to.

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Some interesting discussion about stoppages, which has been a theme since we were dominant here in 2018. A few interesting things from the weekend: This is a typical stoppage from the weekend.

Thanks for starting a stand alone thread @binman, I really enjoy this type of analysis. For a bit of context in how I view games, and my lens is slightly different from most I suspect, I'm a psyc

A nice analysis on what we’ve changed up in our structure and how it’s helped us get to 6 and 0: https://theshinboner.com/2021/04/29/melbourne-rising-whats-behind-the-demons-unbeaten-start-to-202

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Posted (edited)

Currently listening to the podcast and it sounds like you're covering my question here.

Edit. Sounds like we're on the same page @binman vis a vis McDonald and Petty.

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On 5/1/2021 at 5:05 PM, It's Time said:

The turning point in the game last night appeared to me to be when the Tigers started to get on top in the clearances. Up to that time early into the second quarter the Dogs had been dominating. I don't know how the Tigers turned this around. @binman @AxisofBob et al anyone got any idea what they did. Because whatever it is will be the key to us beating the Dogs. 

This raises a point I've been thinking about for a while. Clearances and particularly Centre Clearances are still a major work in progress. By all rights we should be dominating them with Gawn, Oliver, Viney, Petracca etc but we're not. In 2018 we were the top Centre Clearance team. Goody mentioned it after the Saints game as an area that needs work. 

I have done a bit of a summary of the stats up to the end of round 6 on the differentials on Hitouts and clearances and compared the top teams to the Demons. 

                         Melbourne    Dogs  Tigers  Port

Hitouts            +147              -25       -10      +21

Clearances     +11                +53         4       +23

C Clearances  Equal            +24       +12      Equal

Stoppages       +11               +29        -8        +10

We are clearly not getting the advantage we should from Max's domination. 

 

I also had a look at how individual ruckman are going. Here are the respective stats. The first Melbourne is Max, the next Jacko, Coll Grundy WCE Nic Nat then Vardy.  There's some interesting stats to come out of that lot. The first is the impact Jacko is having on spreading the ruck load. You can't just look at how many hitouts Grundy has won v Gawn. You have to look at how many contests and here you can see that we are able to spread the load a lot more with Jacko compared to how much extra work Grundy has to do. The other is how little game time Nic Nat is playing. Also it shows you how much time Max must be playing out of the ruck as he has 92.5% game time compared to Grundy's 85.1% but has 311 ruck contests to Grundy's 418.  The Hitout win percentage and Hitout to advantage percentage give a more accurate picture of their respective effectiveness. 

More to follow.  

Screen Shot 2021-04-25 at 10.47.28 pm.png

 

Have to say the weekend's game reinforced the need to sort out the centre clearances. North's dominance in the first half started from the centre clearances. The very first bounce Max did a beautiful tap right in front of Kozzie several metres from the bounce and he just got brushed aside by his opponent who spat out a handpass and they were on their way to their first goal. 

Interestingly Dogs are the worst team for Hitout differentials but against the Tigers they actually won them 30 to 23. Yet the centre clearances which they normally dominate were even. They won stoppage clearances 26 to 21 yet only had 43 to 57 i50's. I think there's a real argument that losing hitouts regularly enables teams to set up to defend first against opposition so they can react to where the ball falls rather than set up pre the contest and run at a spot hoping it will be there. 

I think it was Hardwick who again mentioned the post pressure stat again. We unfortunately don't get access to that stat but his game appears to reinforce the post clearance outcome is a more important stat than the clearances won. No idea how we can find this one out. But it was clear in the North game that they were getting repeat deep attacks by winning the early centre clearances. 

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, It's Time said:

Have to say the weekend's game reinforced the need to sort out the centre clearances. North's dominance in the first half started from the centre clearances. The very first bounce Max did a beautiful tap right in front of Kozzie several metres from the bounce and he just got brushed aside by his opponent who spat out a handpass and they were on their way to their first goal. 

Interestingly Dogs are the worst team for Hitout differentials but against the Tigers they actually won them 30 to 23. Yet the centre clearances which they normally dominate were even. They won stoppage clearances 26 to 21 yet only had 43 to 57 i50's. I think there's a real argument that losing hitouts regularly enables teams to set up to defend first against opposition so they can react to where the ball falls rather than set up pre the contest and run at a spot hoping it will be there. 

I think it was Hardwick who again mentioned the post pressure stat again. We unfortunately don't get access to that stat but his game appears to reinforce the post clearance outcome is a more important stat than the clearances won. No idea how we can find this one out. But it was clear in the North game that they were getting repeat deep attacks by winning the early centre clearances. 

They weren't just winning the clearance, they were doing it without any pressure. Some of our mids seemed to be cheating forward at times allowing them easy passage after winning the ball.

Edited by Dr. Gonzo
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Surely we can go back to Max floating back behind the ball taking intercept marks so May can be more lockdown?

This may give Jacko more time in the ruck after the initial bounce moving him up the ground opening up space in the forward line for another tall.

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I don't there's any need to change our tactics. Thankfully Tomlinson's role is the easiest to replace, although he was doing it well. His job is just to run with the opposition's big forward and be competitive. At the best teams this role is played by the least talented tall defender, as all they have to do is stand and engage the opponent whilst support flies for the ball. Think of the likes of Astbury, Broad, Balta, or Marcus Adams, or Clurey, or J Kolodjashnij. These are good, honest, reliable talls that have a specific role to play, but the role they play isn't impossible to replace.

If May or Lever were the ones to go down they're tough to replace ..... they're uniquely good players that we build our defence around. But we probably still wouldn't change the tactics, we'd just implement them more poorly. 

I think our forward structures are easier to mess with based on personnel. We have 3 tall forwards available (Brown, TMac, Weid), plus Jackson and Fritsch who play tall and small, so can probably experiment with a one tall (+Jackson and Fritsch), 2 tall or 3 tall forward line at different stages to see what works. Having Fritsch and Jackson show strong ground level skills so far does give us more options. 

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4 hours ago, It's Time said:

Have to say the weekend's game reinforced the need to sort out the centre clearances.

North's dominance in the first half started from the centre clearances. 

 

Respectfully, disagree with the first point. 

Agree with the second.

What i mean is that we don't need to sort anything as such. The center clearance differential their way early was a function of the changes we have made to our clearance set up (as discussed earlier in this thread) and our sub par pressure.

We are prepared to lose more clearances than we have in previous years - with the pay off being when we do win a clearance are more likely to create a scoring opportunity than was the case previously. Basically a tigers tactic.

The challenge with this shift is that it relies on a rock solid defensive unit. Which in turn relies on super high all team pressure.

When both elements are in place you get a stat like oppositions only scoring 30% of the time they enter 50 (our stat prior to the north game). And with opposition teams only scoring every third time they enter their 50 losing clearances is not such an issue. 

When one, or both element are not in place, as was the case in the fist half, losing clearances becomes a big issue. As we saw. 

I think this why the tigers will occasionally cop a 5 goal loss - their pressure drop off and so opposition clearances really hurt.

In the tigers dogs a game, when the tigers upped the pressure the dogs clearances became useless - and in fact often costly because players like Bolta took multiple intercept marks and triggered scoring chains. Same story for us against the roos, albeit with much less pressure.

So what i'd say is the the weekend's game (and the dogs v tigers and lions v port games for that matter) reinforced the need for us to always have our pressure ratings up high as our game plan is completely dependent on that being the case.

The Swans will beat us if we don't bring the heat.

But if we do bring the heat i'm predicting a big win as they are a young team, coming off an emotional win, with a game plan that like the dog's is susceptible to breaking down under pressure because it relies on skilled execution. 

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10 minutes ago, binman said:

The center clearance differential their way early was a function of the changes we have made to our clearance set up (as discussed earlier in this thread) and our sub par pressure.

I think the lack of clearances is because we replaced Viney with players who aren't Viney. He's a bit polarising on here, but Viney is really crucial to our midfield setups because of his insane intensity and power, especially defensively. He's able to control where the space is and, if something goes wrong, shut it down really well. When you replace that with Brayshaw, for example, then you are getting a big body who hits in straight lines to replace a shifty but powerful tackler. We had one player get 7 tackles against North (Jordon), whilst Viney averages 7 a game. Oliver had 4 and nobody else had more than 4. As a result North were able to walk the ball out of clearances, especially early. 

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4 minutes ago, binman said:

Respectfully, disagree with the first point. 

Agree with the second.

What i mean is that we don't need to sort anything as such. The center clearance differential their way early was a function of the changes we have made to our clearance set up (as discussed earlier in this thread) and our sub par pressure.

We are prepared to lose more clearances than we have in previous years - with the pay off being when we do win a clearance are more likely to create a scoring opportunity than was the case previously. Basically a tigers tactic.

The challenge with this shift is that it relies on a rock solid defensive unit. Which in turn relies on super high all team pressure.

When both elements are in place you get a stat like oppositions only scoring 30% of the time they enter 50 (our stat prior to the north game). And with opposition teams only scoring every third time they enter their 50 losing clearances is not such an issue. 

When one, or both element are not in place, as was the case in the fist half, losing clearances becomes a big issue. As we saw. 

I think this why the tigers will occasionally cop a 5 goal loss - their pressure drop off and so opposition clearances really hurt.

In the tigers dogs a game, when the tigers upped the pressure the dogs clearances became useless - and in fact often costly because players like Bolta took multiple intercept marks and triggered scoring chains. Same story for us against the roos, albeit with much less pressure.

So what i'd say is the the weekend's game (and the dogs v tigers and lions v port games for that matter) reinforced the need for us to always have our pressure ratings up high as our game plan is completely dependent on that being the case.

The Swans will beat us if we don't bring the heat.

But if we do bring the heat i'm predicting a big win as they are a young team, coming off an emotional win, with a game plan that like the dog's is susceptible to breaking down under pressure because it relies on skilled execution. 

I take your points on board and I understand where you're coming from. Your opinion appears also to be supported by Hardwick's comments about how they think the post pressure is more important than the clearance stat. However, I believe you have to take into account the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team. Nankervis is usually beaten for hitouts and often quite a lot. He's only 199 and doesn't have a leap. So Tigers by necessity have to be set up better to rely on the post hitout phase of clearances to get their control. Dogs have been on top of the ladder for a reason. I don't know that stats of their scoring from centre clearances but I bet it was the best in the Comp by a comfortable margin.

You make a really interesting argument about being willing to lose more clearances in return for having better clearances when you do win. Is this your theory or have you heard this from the coaches.  I can see on the face of it this has some logic. However,  we have one player who is clearly the best in the league in his position for hitouts. Thats Gawn. And he should be giving us an advantage that other teams don't have. We also have 2 clearance players receiving from him who are in the top ten in the comp. While I follow your logic I still maintain we are not making the most of what arguably should be our best advantage over the rest of the comp. The advantage of centre clearances directly into our forward line with the way we are now trapping the ball i50 should elevate us to another level. I know we could argue that perhaps our defence is now our greatest strength but I think it is very reactionary to have to respond to the opposition clearances by waiting to intercept them in defence instead of getting control in the first place and being able to attack straight from the centre clearances. 

I guess one way to resolve this debate would be to get access to the stat of which teams score the most from centre clearances. 

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, It's Time said:

You make a really interesting argument about being willing to lose more clearances in return for having better clearances when you do win. Is this your theory or have you heard this from the coaches.   

My theory.

In this post from March, i make the case why i think we have made the shift.

In short we are adopting the tactics of the winners of almost all premierships in the last 10-15 years.  

We have had the dominant ruck for three years. And in that time we have regularly smashed temas in clearances and inside 50s. Yet often lost games where we have won those stats.

With the clear tactical shift we have made we are currently scoring more, conceding less points and unbeaten after 7 rounds. The proof is in the pudding.    

In the third quarter in the north game the commentators noted how far from the center bounce Oliver started. They didn't really explain why he was set up that way.

What they should have said it relates to a pretty big change in how we set up at stoppages(a point you made when you called into the podcast - an excellent point i might add).

I contend this set up relates to the discussion about clearances.

That space is a double edged sword - if they win it there is a good chance they will do so in space.

But if we are on our game even, if they do win it we more often than not (in fact two thirds of the time) intercept mark and/or rebound off half back. In part becuase of pressure, in part becuase we are structured well and in part becuase often the opposition have to kick it from thee defensive side of the stoppage.

But if we win it and it gets to Oliver (who can now hit that contest at speed as he is coming from 20 meters away not 5) our kick inside 50 is deep and dangerous. Think how many goals we have kicked this season, particularly in the second half, from these sort of clearances.  

And conversely how few we have conceded from the center square clearances. Sure some, those easy north goals stood out as they were outliers. 

Quality over quantity. 

Edited by binman
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6 minutes ago, binman said:

My theory.

In this post from March, i make the case why i think we have made the shift.

In short we are adopting the tactics of the winners of almost all premierships in the last 10-15 years.  

We have had the dominant ruck for three years. And in that time we have regularly smashed temas in clearances and inside 50s. Yet often lost games where we have won those stats.

With the clear tactical shift we have made we are currently scoring more, conceding less points and unbeaten after 7 rounds. The proof is in the pudding.    

In the third quarter in the north game the commentators noted how far from the center bounce Oliver started. They didn't really explain why he was set up that way.

What they should have said it relates to a pretty big change in how we set up at stoppages. I contend this set up relates to the discussion about clearances. That space is a double edged sword - if they win it there is a good chance they will do so in space.

But if we are on out game even if they do win it we can intercept mark and/or rebound off half back. In part becuase of pressure, in part becuase we are structured well and in part becuase often the opposition have to kick it from their defensive side of the stoppage.

But if we win it and it gets to Oliver (who can now hit that contest at speed as he is coming from) our inside 50 is deep and dangerous. Think how many goals we have kicked this season, particularly in the second half, from these sort of clearances.  

And conversely how few we have conceded from the center square clearances. Sure some, those easy north goals stood out as they were outliers. 

Quality over quantity. 

binman is it fair to summarise your theory as being willing to lose more clearances in return for having better clearances when you do win.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, It's Time said:

binman is it fair to summarise your theory as being willing to lose more clearances in return for having better clearances when you do win.

 

 

I guess.

Though i think it would be more accurate to say we are willing to lose more clearances than we historically were under roos and goodwin in return for having better clearances(as defined by creating scoring opportunities) when we do win them.

Of course winning clearances remains important for us. But is no longer a fundamental indicator of our success. 

I suspect a more important indicator is the percentage of stoppages that we win that result in a score.

And conversely how effective we are stopping the opposition score from stoppages we lose

To be honest i don't know what those numbers are across the season (AOB might), but i suspect they both look good for us and in all likelihood are the best in the AFL atm. 

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Posted (edited)

Are our slow starts a concern? I saw a graph On Reddit showing we are collectively behind our opponents in first quarters, and our last quarters were 94+ points ahead now after the Nth game.

 

*Actually we're even, sorry.

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Posted (edited)

Just picking up on a topic which came up in the podcast but wasn't entered into, on the Deeluded podcast 14th April, Episode 5 20201, So Far So Goodwin, Tom Morris said the word is that the person on whom Choco has had the most significant influence at MFC is Simon Goodwin. Bit dated now but still an interesting listen....

Edited by Grr-owl
Pickiness
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18 hours ago, Grr-owl said:

Just picking up on a topic which came up in the podcast but wasn't entered into, on the Deeluded podcast 14th April, Episode 5 20201, So Far So Goodwin, Tom Morris said the word is that the person on whom Choco has had the most significant influence at MFC is Simon Goodwin. Bit dated now but still an interesting listen....

I listened to that podcast and found that comment interesting

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2 hours ago, FritschyBusiness said:

I listened to that podcast and found that comment interesting

Yeah. Things like that often fly under the radar, but I reckon there's a lot to it, and a lot to give us faith going forward. SA boys to begin with. And I reckon just what Goody needed. 

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5 hours ago, Engorged Onion said:

So our forward line isn’t what Land thinks it is?

Its competing well but I can still see its NQR at the minute. But the defensive pressure is the bedrock to build on. When we hit targets that will alleviate some of the need to pressure.

Edited by rpfc
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On 5/4/2021 at 4:25 PM, binman said:

My theory.

In this post from March, i make the case why i think we have made the shift.

In short we are adopting the tactics of the winners of almost all premierships in the last 10-15 years.  

We have had the dominant ruck for three years. And in that time we have regularly smashed temas in clearances and inside 50s. Yet often lost games where we have won those stats.

With the clear tactical shift we have made we are currently scoring more, conceding less points and unbeaten after 7 rounds. The proof is in the pudding.    

In the third quarter in the north game the commentators noted how far from the center bounce Oliver started. They didn't really explain why he was set up that way.

What they should have said it relates to a pretty big change in how we set up at stoppages(a point you made when you called into the podcast - an excellent point i might add).

I contend this set up relates to the discussion about clearances.

That space is a double edged sword - if they win it there is a good chance they will do so in space.

But if we are on our game even, if they do win it we more often than not (in fact two thirds of the time) intercept mark and/or rebound off half back. In part becuase of pressure, in part becuase we are structured well and in part becuase often the opposition have to kick it from thee defensive side of the stoppage.

But if we win it and it gets to Oliver (who can now hit that contest at speed as he is coming from 20 meters away not 5) our kick inside 50 is deep and dangerous. Think how many goals we have kicked this season, particularly in the second half, from these sort of clearances.  

And conversely how few we have conceded from the center square clearances. Sure some, those easy north goals stood out as they were outliers. 

Quality over quantity. 

Yep, completely concur and it was clear having tried to dissect every centre bounce against Sydney that when we have Oliver, Petracca and Jordon at the bounce, we are aiming for the most potent, effective clearance. It would be the same when Viney is in there.

But there is some flexibility to this philosophy and it's partly situational (what's happening on the scoreboard and how deep into the game or quarter the play is) and partly personnel. For example, when ANB goes into a centre stoppage, he's happy to bang it on the boot if he gets a look at a clearance, but if it were Oliver or Petracca, they might look for a player in a more dangerous outside position to get most bang for buck from the clearance.

I think our players have been taught to play within their limits. See ANB and think of the 'our game plan is simpler this year' type quotes we've heard from the players. I also think they've been told to take the game on whether it's taking on the tackler, which we still do a lot, or looking for that extra handball to get it to the outside of the contest.

It's important to note this greater blend of contested and uncontested footy is relatively new to us. We only started getting it to click a bit with the arrival of Langdon last year, and have taken it to a new level by utilising Hunt's pace and receive role this year. We'll get better with time/experience at knowing when to go for the uncontested play and when to get it forward and take territory. 

I agree with what @It's Timeis saying (across this thread and the centre stoppage thread) in that we need to maximise our centre clearance work in order to take our game to the next level, but perhaps I disagree that it's necessary to do so in order to beat the likes of Port, Bulldogs or Brisbane.

Despite their last quarter comeback, the Bulldogs are defensively vulnerable and the whole competition now knows it. If we play our way and bring the pressure game you talk about @binman, I think we strangle the Bulldogs.

If we're on, I think our current defensive system will take care of anyone, irrespective of centre clearances. However, the value of around the ground clearances cannot be underestimated though. This is a fundamental mechanism of our team defence. Being able to take territory our way and taking pressure off our defence reverts the pressure back onto the opposition and allows us to set up behind the ball to intercept.

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On 5/5/2021 at 4:27 PM, FritschyBusiness said:

No doubt Chocco's focus on kicking skills has been a huge impact as well. We've never kicked this well.
I think the way the place is humming is due to the recent changes in staff and management at the club.

And I think the players taking on some more responsibility to get the job done is a big factor to the buy in. The players and Goodwin often talk about this being built off the back of the back half of 2020. No doubt Choco and Yze are having a massive influence though.

On 5/7/2021 at 1:16 PM, Engorged Onion said:

Great quote mate. This is why I don't think we're peaking too early. Sort out our inconsistent midfield connection and get the most dynamic and complimentary forward set up, and look out. 

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    After another slow start when they conceded 2.3.15 to nothing in a handball-happy opening 15 minutes, the unflappable Demons delivered a warning sign of major proportions to the rest of the competition with their 34-point win over the reigning premiers in their Anzac Eve contest. And what made things even more ominous is that they did it without two elephants in the room - key forwards Ben Brown and Sam Weideman who have been amassing goals at VFL level while coming back from injuries that

    Demonland
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    Match Reports

    A TALE OF TWO HEROES by Whispering Jack

    On Saturday night at the ANZAC Day Eve game between Melbourne and Richmond, we will give recognition to the achievements of two great Demons who made significant contributions to the Melbourne Football Club over substantially different time spans. The first is the late Frank V “Checker” Hughes who was born on 26 February 1894 and began his career as a Richmond player in 1915. Shortly after, Hughes was called on to serve his country when he went to war during WW1. He returned from battle and

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    Special Features

    TURNING POINT by The Oracle

    It wasn’t that long ago when Melbourne held sway in its Anzac Eve matches against Richmond. The early versions of the blockbuster saw the Demons home by 32 points in 2015 and 33 in 2016. When the turning point came it was dramatic and sudden. The Demons might have been on an upward curve in 2017 under new coach Simon Goodwin but so were the Tigers who had finished a disappointing 13th in 2016. When the teams met in Round 5 under lights in front of a crowd of 85,657 — the highest ever betwee

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    Match Previews

    STARTING OVER by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons made a successful return to the playing field with a 51 point away from home victory over the Box Hill Hawks. The visitors were starting over after a hiatus of almost 20 months and fielded a strong team of 14 AFL listed players against an undermanned opponent. And they showed from the first bounce that they were out to make up for lost time with an aggressive opening that saw them off to 21 point lead at the first break with thanks to a dominant midfield and two key forward

    Demonland
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    Casey Articles

    NUTCRACKER by George on the Outer

    Q: How to crack a tough nut? A: Use a bigger hammer! It took Melbourne until the last quarter to crack the Hawthorn nut. These days, the Hawks under Alastair Clarkson simply don’t have the talent that served them so well in years gone, and they have to rely on not losing rather than trying to win.   The result is that the match became a slog for three quarters, as Hawthorn clogged the game, flooded heavily and simply stopped the Melbourne run.  Even in the first quarter the signs

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    Match Reports

    CANCEL CULTURE by Whispering Jack

    I’m not one who likes mixing politics with sport but it should be noted there have been some unusual trends in the world of sport lately. In the US, Major League Baseball announced that it’s moving the 2021 All-Star Game and the 2021 MLB Draft out of Georgia, in response to the state’s new voting law. Over here, there’s a move to force Carlton to change its club song because the original song on which it was based (written in the late 1800s) has “racist connotations”. The Blues maintain the curr

    Demonland
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    Match Previews


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