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Centre Clearances - Considered Analysis Requested.



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So I was terrified in the 1st Quarter with how easily the Swans won the clearances, thank god for the team defense. I was hoping to discuss what is going on in the middle, my op in not meant to be definitive, more just starting a conversation.

Our tactics have evolved quite a bit under Roos/Goodwin, we started at a team keen to shake the 'bruisefree' label, as Roos/Goodwin stated 'We built from the contest out' or words to that effect, and you could see it, especially with early Viney, and it was something we could hang our hat on, even if our defense was shakey and we had lovely but useless guys like Dawes in the forward line, we had become respected in the center but other teams worked that out.

Then we got better and we had Goodwin Game-plan 1.1, which was to hit the center bounce  at speed with blokes running in from the back half and using Oliver's great clearance skills to extract and charge down the ground like a rapier thrust - this was quite enjoyable to watch.

The AFL buggered that for us with 6/6/6 and we needed a reset, this took a while, also as seen after 2018, while we were quite good at smashing the opposition, we dinged a few of our own bodies with this high attrition style of collision footy. We then struggled as everyone gathered at the contest and we were put to the sword on the outside. We needed a reboot, as we had reached the Windows equivalent of the bluescreen of death with versions 1.2-1.9.     

Under much pressure Goodwin has bravely come up with Game-plan 2.0 ( which has also involved some brave and so far fruitful recruiting), what I am particularly impressed with is the players have given up none of their desire for contested footy but are much smarter about leaving a few on the outside. We have also seen an absolute evolution in our defense without ball in hand, meaning we can cope with a loss of a few center clearances. Watching today to see Sydney transition to the fat-side only to find Melbourne players covering the switch made me happier than seeing a forward kick eight, this is a Melbourne I have never seen before.

But anyway this version 2 does seem predicated on Max's radar working a bit better, I would argue that if we had won center clearances we would have one easily by more than 6 goals as we make much better use of f50 entries than previously, others have noted, high risk high reward with where Oliver starts and hits the clearance from wide and at speed.

But as the coach has said he expects us to win from a superior number of f50 entries, that comes from winning clearance. I am keen to hear what others have observed about center clearances, what they think our plan is, have we given up a bit of our clearance ability to obtain an advantage in other areas. In other words what is going on, is Max a bit off, etc? As others have said I actually thought we were looking better with Jackson taking clearances during today's game.  

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centre clearances were 17-4 against!  I wonder how long it’s been since ANY team has been beaten like that in that stat. 

When you think about the quality of the players in there ( three probable AA’s) it’s just hard to fathom. 

I look forward to seeing our positioning and % of wins in the centre evolve! 

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Thanks for this I too find it hard to take

 

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Max is too predictable with his taps and the opposition read them easily now. If we win (say) 70% of centre hit outs per game there needs to be a systematic plan re direction of those. i.e. left, right, forward or back. It’s seems pretty much hit and hope now.

LJ is great at the centre bounces as he he a newbie therefore unpredictable to them opposition and often wins his own ball.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be against giving him the odd run in the middle not as the ruckman.  In fact, I think we have any number of players who could have a run through the midfield occasionally just to mix it up. Who knows, we might strike a golden combination.  Having said that, I feel a lot more comfortable with Viney in there.

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1 hour ago, dino rover said:

Thanks for this I too find it hard to take

 

Yes, but if I had the choice of winning the centre clearances or winning on the scoreboard I know which one I would prefer.

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Great thread.

Major alarm bells were going off last week when we decided to let Cunnington do as he please.

Sadly, nothing changed this week and perhaps that’s just a result Viney being out but either way it’s a huge issue that needs to be fixed ASAP.

In fact, it’s remarkable that we are so bad with the best ruckman in the game and so many competitive beast midfielders.

The issue with losing centre clearances is it essentially a free inside 50 to the opposition with even numbers.

 

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7 minutes ago, Clint Bizkit said:

Great thread.

Major alarm bells were going off last week when we decided to let Cunnington do as he please.

Sadly, nothing changed this week and perhaps that’s just a result Viney being out but either way it’s a huge issue that needs to be fixed ASAP.

In fact, it’s remarkable that we are so bad with the best ruckman in the game and so many competitive beast midfielders.

The issue with losing centre clearances is it essentially a free inside 50 to the opposition with even numbers.

 

Baffling and worrying.

Surely it must be game plan and not only execution. 

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It's not just losing the centre clearance. It's losing the centre clearance and the opposition being allowed to run it out under no pressure. Losing it but applying pressure resulting in hack kicks forward for Lever/May/Hibberd to chop off isn't so much of an issue. Letting them waltz out and spot up target inside 50 is.

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In 2018 Max to Viney or Max to Brayshaw were the breakaway tap outs from the middle that stuck in my mind! He doesn’t seem to put it into Trac and Oliver chest that much!

I would like to see Max have two hit outs a quarter where he just smashes it 20-30 metres forward when we’re having a bad centre clearance patch, at least get some territory forward, and put Kossie in the middle a little more often when we’re struggling, just his speed and elusiveness would be good to throw into the mix!

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Viney does things for Oliver and Trac; blocks, takes the coverage on the offensive side, or just takes the most dangerous player in the stoppage. 

So he hurts when he isn’t there.

But don’t confuse the contest with stoppages - we are still elite with contests around the ground and pressure the ones that the opposition win so much that they turn it over. 

So while we are putting ourselves on the back foot it isn’t the end of the world that are we are getting done in the centre clearances.

It backs up what I was posting a few months ago about clearances losing importance as teams adjust to rules that allow them to counterattack so easily.

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3 minutes ago, Dr. Gonzo said:

 

It's not just losing the centre clearance. It's losing the centre clearance and the opposition being allowed to run it out under no pressure. Losing it but applying pressure resulting in hack kicks forward for Lever/May/Hibberd to chop off isn't so much of an issue. Letting them waltz out and spot up target inside 50 is.

Exactly, may as well start each centre bounce with an opposition free kick.

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Adem Yze is the new midfield coach.

Playing devils advocate, is he all that he is cracked up to be?

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8 minutes ago, Clint Bizkit said:

Exactly, may as well start each centre bounce with an opposition free kick.

It's also that we're starting our attack from the backline which gives the opposition time to set up their defence. . It's only a matter of time until we get punished for losing centre clearance.

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As the game progressed, I was looking at the centre bounce set up by Dees and Swans on the TV, and predicting how the Swans would waltz out of the centre. I was right about 75% of the time. On occasion, Max would make a mistake, but more often it was Kennedy and Parker moving and our boys moving much more slowly, or waiting to react to the Swans having the ball. There seemed to be a lack of intent and hunger.

At stoppages around the ground, Oliver, Harmes and Jordon were crashing in, and the intent was very much there. Difficult to understand.

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Certainly don’t agree with the sentiments of “lack of intent and hunger”. Intent and hunger probably won us the game last night. There is a distinct lack of cohesion with clearances which Goody is aware of & as some other posters have alluded to...fix that even by 50% and our winning margins will increase dramatically!! Aside from that is Gawn perhaps carrying a niggle ?

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24 minutes ago, DeeZee said:

Adem Yze is the new midfield coach.

Playing devils advocate, is he all that he is cracked up to be?

Do you think that the only thing ‘the midfield coach’ assists with are centre clearances?

Playing Gods Advocate...

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Maldonboy38 said:

As the game progressed, I was looking at the centre bounce set up by Dees and Swans on the TV, and predicting how the Swans would waltz out of the centre. I was right about 75% of the time. On occasion, Max would make a mistake, but more often it was Kennedy and Parker moving and our boys moving much more slowly, or waiting to react to the Swans having the ball. There seemed to be a lack of intent and hunger.

At stoppages around the ground, Oliver, Harmes and Jordon were crashing in, and the intent was very much there. Difficult to understand.

Musings...

Perhaps it's an over correction. In the sense of, there seems to be an edict that it's 'ok' to lose a clearance. Thus it's psycholgically easier against bigger bodied mids to not go 'quite' as hard - as there is a fail safe outlet 40-60 away from the oppositions kick.

 @binman and @Axis of Bob have detailed how the midfielders now set up, with one spare at the back in a centre bounce/clearance situation. So that should we lose the clearance, we have a greater likelihood of intercepting the ball.At the same time we are honouring the much vaunted skills of Petracca, Oliver etc. 

Without Viney though - the pressure from him against strong bodied midfielders (Cunnington/Kennedy etc) is clearly not there - hence the clearance differential.

As @Clint Bizkitmentioned earlier today - if this is not rectified - Cripps will have a field day - and it's then about whether their forwards can capitalise. 

I am interested in the strategy of Oliver starting away from the ball and coming in at pace. Whilst that's a good option with a tag that he is finding difficult to shake - is it part of on ongoing strategy regardless of a tag?

Clarry is clearly fantastic in and up close distributing the ball out, so by starting further away - we lose that great ability of his. 

I didn't watch the game as I was at a 40th (and an AFL coach was there, who was seemingly far more interested in the game on his phone and updates than the dinner party convo) #humblebrag 

Anyway... by Clarry starting wide, I wanted to know who his direct opponent was - so in essence, what advantage did it give us, or what did we nullify for the Swans?

 

Edited by Engorged Onion
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2 minutes ago, rpfc said:

Do you think that the only thing ‘the midfield coach’ assists with are centre clearances?

Playing Gods Advocate...

Big part of it mate

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Richmond were relatively poor winning centre clearances in their flag years and it didn’t bother them much. A pattern I notice is that we concede too many goals in the first few minutes at start of games and start of quarters before we lock down. 

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7 minutes ago, John Crow Batty said:

Richmond were relatively poor winning centre clearances in their flag years and it didn’t bother them much. A pattern I notice is that we concede too many goals in the first few minutes at start of games and start of quarters before we lock down. 

They would have been even better if they did win centre clearances.

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Max’s taps have great variety, which is a quality, mostly. We’ve all seen him put it beautifully down Oliver or Trac’s throat, but those instances have become less frequent. He’ll mostly now go the big forward thump, the ‘behind his head’ or the backhand-outside, but rarely now bring the ball to the feet and protect it with his size - almost like that plan is for lesser ruckman. But I reckon this might be a way to stop the rot.....bring it to the feet, and have a Jordon (he’s staggeringly calm, nuggety and mature for his 8 games!) or Harmes (in Viney’s absence) effectively kill it (if they can’t get it off to Oliver/Petracca). Thus we force a ball-up in ‘stoppage mode’, which we are clearly much better at. I suspect also that’s why the damage seems less when Dogga is rucking. He offers a physical presence with elite second efforts, but without the tap expansiveness, maybe it’s better at killing the ‘space’ for oppo players to nab the breakaway. 

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3 minutes ago, Clint Bizkit said:

They would have been even better if they did win centre clearances.

The yin and yan of the game means they might have dropped off somewhere else. But I agree we need to be better where we can. We are not Richmond yet with a dynasty. 

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