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Centre Clearances - Considered Analysis Requested.



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1 hour ago, titan_uranus said:

How?

I can accept that we can set up and plan to win whether or not we win centre clearances.

But how exactly will we be "far less dangerous" by winning them?

Because 'winning' a clearance that under pressure you are forced to kick a mongrel, scrubby, shallow entry kick that gets picked off by a defender and goes straight down the other end is not actually winning.

But, say Oliver getting the ball in space, perhaps after a couple of quick high risk handballs (that when they breakdown often result in an opposition clearnce), at pace, with time to run a few steps and kick deep inside our 50? 

That's winning a clearnance.

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15 hours ago, Wells 11 said:

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! 

Well said Wells.

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So I've gone through and analysed each centre stoppage clearance for the game. Here they are:

FIRST QUARTER
1) We have Oliver, Petracca and Kozzie with Max. The players in a triangle formation in equal distance apart. Kozzie is the only player defensive side of the stoppage (ie behind Max). The tap is a nil all, dropped at everyone's feet. It bobbles between Mills and then Oliver, and then Kennedy, whose brute strength can't prevent him from getting a tumbling kick forward to be marked by Papley. Even in this play, Kozzie is caught a little ball watching off from Warner, who could have received from Kennedy.
Analysis: This is a solid, but rushed clearance from Sydney that lands in the forward's hands because Kennedy manages to get a quick kick away before Petracca can reel him in. 

2) This time we have Oliver, Petracca, Jordon and Max. You would think this is a more defensive and safer set up. Petracca covers the defensive side of the stoppage, Oliver wing side (he and Kennedy are basically grappling each other without it), while Jordon and Warner are much wider of the ruckmen on our attacking side of the stoppage. Petracca is on Mills, so one would hope is likely to neutralise him or win the contest and defend the back of stoppage. Max wins the tap slightly towards Jordon who goes to attack it, but ends up blocking for Max, who takes it momentarily before dropping it/it being knocked out of hands. Jordon immediately wins the ground ball and handballs back to Max, who then goes wide and high with the handball that hangs too long in the air for Oliver. Max probably should have kicked it or the handball needed to be better/flatter. Kennedy tackles Oliver, the ball squirts free and Hickey picks it up and gets a simple long kick out of the contest, with Max well off him. 
Analysis: We had the more defensive set up after a quick goal against, Max won the tap, Jordon got it out to Max, who potentially overdid it on handball. Unlike the first Sydney clearance of that quick kick forward, Max tried to go for the cleaner clearance. I can see why you might try for that early in the game, but we needed to get ourselves into the game after a really early concession.

3) The score is 2.1 Sydney to nothing us at this stage. We have the more experienced body in Harmes, along with Oliver, Petracca and Max. Just about the most experienced starting combination we can muster at the moment. Petracca covers the back of the stoppage again. Oliver and Kennedy grapple again wing side, but slightly wider than before and closer to our attacking side of the stoppage. Harmes is well wide with Warner. Max wins the tap again, this time a double-hander and gets it well clear and forward of the contest. Harmes turns and is pursued by Warner. Harmes gets to the ball first, but clatters into the inside slider in ANB, who has come steaming in off the edge of the square to impact the contest (something that rarely happens all night - the inside slider). This moment is unfortunate and a bit clumsy. This spillage leaves Harmes and ANB on the ground and three free Swans at the ball and two Swans on the outside to give to. Lloyd picks it up and handballs uncontested to Mills who has completely lost Petracca and got him on the outside.
Analysis: This stoppage was a bit unlucky again. Harmes coming back from injury, potentially lacking a bit of synergy with his team mates. With Max's tap to space, we should have probably at least won a rushed clearance from Harmes or ANB, but Sydney did cover this side of the stoppage well with two defenders pushing up into the centre square. Petracca's defensive accountability questionable.

4) McDonald has just kicked our first and the score is 2.1 to 1.0. We stick with Harmes, Oliver and Petracca, with Max. Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage this time. Oliver and Kennedy on the wing side and closer to the rucks than the last stoppage. Petracca has attacking side of the contest with his back to our goals. He and Parker are wider of the rucks. Max almost takes it out of the air, but it knocks our way, he can't gather cleanly, but immediately pressures Mills at ground level and lays a tackle, but Mills gets his hands free and handballs cleanly to Parker on the outside. Although Parker started on Petracca, Christian I think tries to cover Rowbottom, but it is Petracca's man that gets the kick out of stoppage again.
Analysis: It's hard to know if Petracca was at fault for this clearance, but Mills gets the ground ball and manages to cleanly dish out to Parker. Without Max stopping Mills, we're in trouble here. Christian probably needs to do better defensively.

5) The score is 2.3 Sydney to 2.0 us. ANB joins Jordon, Jackson and Petracca in our most inexperienced combination for the night so far. Jordon takes Kennedy MCC wing side, but doesn't start by grappling him, like Oliver did. ANB starts well wide of his opponent in Rowbottom. ANB starts behind LJ and Rowbottom is more central. Sinclair is in the ruck for Sydney. Petracca and Florent are our attacking side of the stoppage but some distance from the other mids. The bounce favours Sinclair, but he cleanly taps it straight down to Kennedy, who gives to Florent, who loses Petracca in traffic. Christian's man again. The kick goes inside 50.
Analysis: This is a very clean clearance for Sydney. The best of the night thus far, but three centre clearances in a row where Petracca's man has got him on the outside.

6) We had just taken the lead by 3 points, thanks to a Ben Brown major. Max is back in the ruck. ANB is now playing on Kennedy. The two are defensive side of the contest this time. Jordon and Mills grapple on the wing side of the stoppage, while Oliver is 20+ metres (you can tell from the cut of the grass) from the centre circle on Parker. Max and Hickey halve the tap, it's probably marginally Max's win. Jordon and Mills get sucked in closer to the rucks and the ball is tapped behind them, allowing Oliver to burst into the space behind them and then use a handball to ANB, who gets a rushed left footed kick forward, which is marked by Kozzie just forward of centre wing.
Analysis: This stoppage set up is the ideal match up and set up for us. Parker isn't particularly quick and he and Oliver start very wide of the contest. Oliver is often very good when he has room to burst into the stoppage and stop the jumper pulling against him. We just needed to get the ball into that space and allow Oliver to do his thing. Our best clearance of the night thus far. ANB kept it simple by banging it on the boot.

7) This time there's 1.30 left on the clock for the first quarter. Max is in there with Hickey. Jordon and Mills are defensive side of the contest, but close to the stoppage. Petracca and Parker are wing side of the stoppage, a bit closer to the wing position this time (further from the rucks), and Oliver is 16m wide from the centre circle with Warner. Max wins the knock, hitting it wide towards the wing position (the wing further from camera side). McInerney comes off Langdon's wing really quickly to gather, but Oliver tackles him, not before McInerney gets a rushed handball away that misses Oliver's opponent Warner. Warner recovers by himself, as Oliver had been drawn to covering McInerney, when all of a sudden Langdon's incredible closing speed comes out of nowhere to tackle Warner. Warner gets a throw away that isn't paid and gets to Cunningham on the outside. A very good hit up, even if a throw. Oliver pursues him out of the centre square and ends up forcing Sydney wide to the back flank to Lloyd.
Analysis: I'd say this one, even though Sydney won the stoppage, we recovered well from where we were. We were unlucky not to get a free kick for a throw, but still managed to force them wide and defensive side. We then transitioned across to cover the line really quickly. So even though we lose the clearance, we have the game on our terms almost immediately as they have to kick up the line to our contests. They decide to go short and then they eventually go to the contest that we kill over the line. That's a win for us.

SECOND QUARTER
8) Max starts in the middle. Kozzie starts at the back of the stoppage again, defensive side on Warner. Mills and Petracca are on the wing side of the contest, close enough to the rucks, and Oliver and Kennedy start well wide (15+ metres again) of the centre circle on our attacking side of the rucks. The bounce hangs over Max's head, Hickey attacks it and taps it back towards Petracca and Mills, wing side. Mills and Petracca grapple as Kozzie's man Warner comes in behind them and scopes up the quick clearance before Kozzie can stop him.
Analysis: Hickey is really aggressive in this stoppage and Sydney manage to block for each other well and win a rushed clearance. Due to the rushed nature, it isn't a targeted clearance, which enables May to read it quicker and get off Buddy to spoil it wide.

9) This time Max, Petracca, Jordon and Harmes are in the centre. Petracca starts wide, offensive side for us. Jordon and Mills grapple wing side, but slightly further away from the rucks this time and Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Max wins the tap forward, but Jordon is on the defensive side of Mills, so Mills ends up getting to the ball by himself. Jordon tries to close him down, which means Mills handballs to a running Swan defender off the back of the square, who is pursued by ANB. ANB forces a rushed, lucky kick forward (but still in the middle of the MCG) to Wicks and Salem. Salem is pinged for pushing Wicks in the back. Sydney get a clean possession from the free kick.
Analysis: Despite not winning the clearance, we're in good shape to defend slow attacks like this.

10) This is the first time Langdon hasn't started on the wing. Gus and Jordon start there here. Jackson into the ruck against Hickey. Oliver is wide of the contest again, probably 15 metres away from the centre circle. Harmes and Parker grapple on the wing side. Melksham on Florent covers the back of the stoppage. Hickey wins the tap down, but Harmes reads it off his hands and takes on Florent and beats him. He runs away with what would have been a perfectly clean clearance, but is pinged for running too far. He takes 11 steps from the point he receives the ball from Hickey's tap to when he kicks it. It felt like a nonsense call and it was.
Analysis: When Harmes is on song he really gives us good ball winning ability and toughness through the middle. We should have won this clearance and didn't because of an umpire error. 

THIRD QUARTER
11) We're up 5.6 to 3.7. Max is back in there. Oliver is wing side closest to camera on Parker, but they're 10m off each other. Petracca and Mills are next to each other on the opposite wing side. Kozzie is defensive side of the stoppage again on Warner. This is a dangerous set up for Sydney. Max and Hickey come together. Oliver lets Parker go and is free directly to Max's right, whereas Parker gravitates towards defending the back of the stoppage (offensive side for us), which is where Max hits it with conviction, as if he expects Oliver to be there. Parker is there by himself and gets the handball to a spreading Mills, who again catches Petracca on his heels at the stoppage. Mills gets the clearing kick, but Petracca's closing speed means it's rushed and lacks penetration. We set up really well behind the ball. It doesn't actually get inside 50. It's probably 70m from goal inside the centre square. Hunt goes up for the spoil and Salem is front and centre, and gets the handball out to Langdon. It's essentially a clearance for us because Hunt, Salem and Langdon are so clean.
Analysis: All three stoppages Kozzie has attended to this point in the game, he's been used defensive side of the contest. I presume they like his pace to defend if it gets out the back, and he could be a weapon bursting through the stoppage if the tap is appropriate or one of our other mids wins it. Again, we 'lose' the clearance, but it doesn't hurt us and we immediately win it back with Hunt, Salem and Langdon.

12) A similar set up again. Petracca covering defensive side of the contest in place of Kozzie. Max in the ruck again against Hickey. Oliver and Jordon on either wing side, but again Oliver is playing 5m off his opponent. Max just wins the tap straight down to Oliver, who snaps it on his left boot, but is smothered by Kennedy. The ball loops up and Petracca outmuscles Warner to get a penetrating but rushed snap kick inside 50, which is intercepted by Sydney.
Analysis: This is a somewhat lucky clearance, but Petracca's strength enables him to fend off the defending Swan and get it moving forward. Harmes playing inside 50 can't prevent the Sydney defender from intercept marking.

13) Jackson is into the ruck this time against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage on Warner. Jordon is wing side and Petracca is wider of the opposite wing side. Hickey taps it down to himself and is tackled by Jackson, but manages to get a handball to Kennedy, who is tackled by Jordon and it is thrown out/spills out. Petracca bursts onto the loose ground ball and despite being tackled by Mills, has the strength to dish the handball wider to Oliver, whose really quick hands find Jackson in space, who in turn, handballs a risky one to Jordon given it's wet. JJ manages to be clean and gets a mongrel kick inside 50.
Analysis: This is where the likes of Oliver and Petracca are really dangerous around stoppages. If the ball is loose on the ground, they gobble it up with their intensity and cleanness. They get it to the outside here and Jackson's quick thinking and JJ's cleanness allows a good inside 50. 

14) Jackson is in there on Hickey. Oliver is well wide of the stoppage again, but defensive side. Harmes starts on Parker on the wing side. Petracca is on the offensive side and wider of the contest, but not as wide as Oliver. Jackson roves his own tap brilliantly, accelerates away from the contest and kicks on his left foot and gets it to the half forward flank.
Analysis: Jackson is a weapon at stoppage. If he's not taking it out of the air, he's staying in the contest to defend or winning ground balls like a man half his size. The kid is a gem. His kick probably doesn't go deep enough and it goes on Spargo's head (not the guy whose head you want to be kicking it on), but Jordon gets over to make it a contest, before Jackson arrives with our mids. Great surge work rate.

15) Max is back into the ruck. Oliver is wing side of the contest. Melksham is defensive side of the stoppage and Harmes is goal side 15m from the centre circle. Max wins the tap down to Harmes who is tackled by Hickey. The ball slips out and it appears Hickey slings him to the ground without the ball, but play on. Kennedy tries to pick it up, but being pursued by Melksham, fumbles it into the path of Florent who has Oliver on his case, and can only kick it off the ground 40m to be marked by Hibberd.
Analysis: Both of Melksham's CBAs have been defensive side of the contest, like Kozzie's. Given the score is the biggest margin of the match at this stage (22 points), it's an interesting time to go defensive - having Harmes and Melksham in there. But perhaps it's a pre planned rotation at say the 20 min mark of the quarter? Despite losing the clearance, all Sydney can manage is a rushed kick off the ground that is intercepted by one of our defenders. No damage done.

16) Max in again. Petracca has the defensive stoppage side. Oliver tighter on Parker on the wing side. Jordon on the opposite wing side. Hickey wins the tap down to Florent who can't gather, but instead Oliver's opponent Parker gets the ground ball and in the end a relatively simple clearance. It is not as shallow as the previous Sydney clearance, but it still only just makes it inside 50.
Analysis: Oliver gambles a bit at this stoppage. If Jordon or Max win it, Oliver is on the outside to receive. Instead, Oliver ends up looking lazy and his opponent gets a relatively easy clearance. Fortunately, Franklin can't get there and May mops up.

17) Max, Oliver, Melksham and Petracca are at this stoppage. Oliver is at the defensive goal side of the stoppage. Melksham grapples on the wing side. Petracca plays the offensive side of the contest. Max knocks Hickey over and the ball finds itself in dispute on the ground. Hickey knocks/handballs it to the outside. Melksham gets sucked into Hickey on the ground, his opponent Mills reads it very quickly and is incredibly clean when Hickey knocks it into a bit of space. Rowbottom partly blocks Petracca out of it and Mills gets a handball to the outside again to Oliver's man Parker all by himself, who this time gets a deep inside 50. Oliver got caught trying to man Kennedy and left Parker.
Analysis: This is a tough one to analyse. It seems that Oliver backs Petracca to impact the contest more, but Petracca is pushed out of it easily and Oliver doesn't cover Parker well enough.

FOURTH QUARTER
18) Max starts against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca the offensive side and Harmes the wing side. All mids start essentially on the outer centre square ring, so closer in tight to the rucks. Max wins the tap and taps it towards Oliver, but Hickey gets there first. The Swans mids spread and Hickey gives to Rowbottom flying past him and they get a really clean look at an inside 50. Probably for the first time in the match, but May leads Buddy to it. It's not a well directed kick and May is switched on.
Analysis: We're lucky that they don't get an easy hit up here. Hickey wins the ball and gives by hand far too easily. Three of our guys get caught on the offensive side of the contest and three Swans burst into the space left by our mids. This is probably the poorest stoppage for the game and it starts the last quarter, when they were coming and only 10 points down. Off May's fist, our mids trail in, they surge it forward and Gus probably coughs up that easy goal to Sinclair. Not a good start. Like most of our guys weren't switched on here.

19) Max, Harmes, Petracca and Oliver again. Petracca (offensive side) and Oliver (wing side) are both very wide and Harmes is closer to Max, defensive side of the contest. Hickey and Max both neutralise each other, but the ball squirts out towards our forward half. Oliver and Parker chase after it. Parker gets a speculative kick off the ground, which goes out to centre wing, where Gus picks it up and kicks it on the full.
Analysis: Not a good start to the quarter for Gus. He coughed up that first goal and then ends the stoppage play by kicking it on the full and giving the ball back. Again though, not a clean clearance for Sydney, which meant we could get it going our way quickly.

20) Jackson into the ruck for the first time since the middle part of the third term. Up against Hickey still. Harmes stands defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca is on the wing side and Oliver offensive side. There's 15m between each 1v1 contest. Jackson wins the tap. Ball is in dispute. Jackson is about to pick up the ground ball when Harmes does it first and handballs instead to Florent. Harmes goes after him and the ball spills, and Harmes, Warner and Oliver end up holding it up for a ball up.
Analysis: This is an example of where the synergy isn't quite there yet with the mids and in particular a returning James Harmes. They just get in the way of each other and then make a poor choice, but manage through second efforts, to lock up the contest and ensure we don't get hurt by it.

21) Max back in the ruck against Sinclair. Harmes at the offensive side of the contest. Oliver on the defensive side with Parker and Mills and Petracca on the wing side. Gawn and Sinclair halve the tap. Oliver lets Parker run and Parker wins the clearance before Oliver can stop him. Parker's kick is a little impacted by Oliver's shove, but it's a big clearance given we're 9.6.60 and they're 8.9.57 with 11.52 left on the clock. Rivers and Hibberd do really well to pressure their Swans opponents inside 50 and then Petracca and Oliver get back really well and Oliver atones for his error with a clean pick up and clearing kick that goes down the throat of Fritsch in the middle of the ground.
Analysis: Oliver needs to play the percentages here and play tighter on Parker. It's a big moment in the match. Momentum is going their way, Parker is dominating and Oliver gambles on us winning and leaves Parker free on our defensive side of the contest. It's a bad play. Probably Clarry's worst moment for the night, in what was an otherwise superb performance.

22) Jackson against Hickey. Jordon manning the defensive side of the contest. Harmes on the wing side. Oliver on the offensive side 15m from the centre circle. Hickey takes it out of the ruck and gets a 15m kick forward. Rivers does well again to get the ball going back our way and then our mids push back to help out, but Sydney cause another spillage and Rivers comes through again inspirationally and clears it on his left foot.
Analysis: Perhaps a little bit of inexperience with Jackson? Hickey has tried to take it out of the ruck a couple of times. We need to be awake to this, particularly at such an important moment in the match - 10 points up, 7.25 to play.

What this game showed is I think our mids are prepared to gamble a bit more at centre stoppage, because they know that as long as the opposition are only getting rushed clearances that aren't deep, our defenders should be able to deal with these.

With this in mind, we often left space for our mids to explode into the offensive side of the contest. It didn't work too often, but with more synergy with Max, it could be extremely dangerous. What we found in this particular game though was Sydney's mids often exploited that space instead. However, what this meant was that rather than having a 35m kick to get it inside 50, they'd have to have a 50+ metre kick under pressure to get it inside 50, as they'd be kicking from our offensive side of the contest. Often their clearances were shallow as a result.

There's no doubt Petracca is a weapon offensively from centre stoppages, but is still a bit of a liability defensively. He does seem to get caught ball watching a bit. This is something that happened at times last year too when he went into the middle. If we had momentum against us and we were trying to defend stoppage, Petracca wasn't always our strongest defender in there. Oliver can lose his man a bit too, but I guess this just shows what concentration is required to play the majority of centre bounces for the match. This is where having a Viney to go with Harmes will give Petracca and Oliver more rests, so that when they go into the middle, they're completely switched on. It might even be worth running Brayshaw through there a bit more.

Given this point, I wonder if some of our sloppy centre stoppage work can be forgiven due to the lack of midfield rotations? But we're going to have to tidy this up, either through more rotations or by going more defensively in our set ups.

There is also a trend at the start of quarters (see the first, third and the last) of our guys ball watching or not being entirely switched on. I think this is contributing to our slow starts, where we put our defenders under early pressure and hand the opposition early momentum.

It'll be interesting to see whether our stoppage work improves when Viney returns to play the more defensive orientated midfield role. This is a role I think Harmes can play really well for us too. We just need some more rotations through there IMO.

A little side note that I'm note sure is worth much, but I noted something I've never seen before last night. Langdon playing the MCC wing side occasionally. Can't say what the thinking would be here, but there you go.

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1 hour ago, A F said:

So I've gone through and analysed each centre stoppage clearance for the game. Here they are:

FIRST QUARTER
1) We have Oliver, Petracca and Kozzie with Max. The players in a triangle formation in equal distance apart. Kozzie is the only player defensive side of the stoppage (ie behind Max). The tap is a nil all, dropped at everyone's feet. It bobbles between Mills and then Oliver, and then Kennedy, whose brute strength can't prevent him from getting a tumbling kick forward to be marked by Papley. Even in this play, Kozzie is caught a little ball watching off from Warner, who could have received from Kennedy.
Analysis: This is a solid, but rushed clearance from Sydney that lands in the forward's hands because Kennedy manages to get a quick kick away before Petracca can reel him in. 

2) This time we have Oliver, Petracca, Jordon and Max. You would think this is a more defensive and safer set up. Petracca covers the defensive side of the stoppage, Oliver wing side (he and Kennedy are basically grappling each other without it), while Jordon and Warner are much wider of the ruckmen on our attacking side of the stoppage. Petracca is on Mills, so one would hope is likely to neutralise him or win the contest and defend the back of stoppage. Max wins the tap slightly towards Jordon who goes to attack it, but ends up blocking for Max, who takes it momentarily before dropping it/it being knocked out of hands. Jordon immediately wins the ground ball and handballs back to Max, who then goes wide and high with the handball that hangs too long in the air for Oliver. Max probably should have kicked it or the handball needed to be better/flatter. Kennedy tackles Oliver, the ball squirts free and Hickey picks it up and gets a simple long kick out of the contest, with Max well off him. 
Analysis: We had the more defensive set up after a quick goal against, Max won the tap, Jordon got it out to Max, who potentially overdid it on handball. Unlike the first Sydney clearance of that quick kick forward, Max tried to go for the cleaner clearance. I can see why you might try for that early in the game, but we needed to get ourselves into the game after a really early concession.

3) The score is 2.1 Sydney to nothing us at this stage. We have the more experienced body in Harmes, along with Oliver, Petracca and Max. Just about the most experienced starting combination we can muster at the moment. Petracca covers the back of the stoppage again. Oliver and Kennedy grapple again wing side, but slightly wider than before and closer to our attacking side of the stoppage. Harmes is well wide with Warner. Max wins the tap again, this time a double-hander and gets it well clear and forward of the contest. Harmes turns and is pursued by Warner. Harmes gets to the ball first, but clatters into the inside slider in ANB, who has come steaming in off the edge of the square to impact the contest (something that rarely happens all night - the inside slider). This moment is unfortunate and a bit clumsy. This spillage leaves Harmes and ANB on the ground and three free Swans at the ball and two Swans on the outside to give to. Lloyd picks it up and handballs uncontested to Mills who has completely lost Petracca and got him on the outside.
Analysis: This stoppage was a bit unlucky again. Harmes coming back from injury, potentially lacking a bit of synergy with his team mates. With Max's tap to space, we should have probably at least won a rushed clearance from Harmes or ANB, but Sydney did cover this side of the stoppage well with two defenders pushing up into the centre square. Petracca's defensive accountability questionable.

4) McDonald has just kicked our first and the score is 2.1 to 1.0. We stick with Harmes, Oliver and Petracca, with Max. Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage this time. Oliver and Kennedy on the wing side and closer to the rucks than the last stoppage. Petracca has attacking side of the contest with his back to our goals. He and Parker are wider of the rucks. Max almost takes it out of the air, but it knocks our way, he can't gather cleanly, but immediately pressures Mills at ground level and lays a tackle, but Mills gets his hands free and handballs cleanly to Parker on the outside. Although Parker started on Petracca, Christian I think tries to cover Rowbottom, but it is Petracca's man that gets the kick out of stoppage again.
Analysis: It's hard to know if Petracca was at fault for this clearance, but Mills gets the ground ball and manages to cleanly dish out to Parker. Without Max stopping Mills, we're in trouble here. Christian probably needs to do better defensively.

5) The score is 2.3 Sydney to 2.0 us. ANB joins Jordon, Jackson and Petracca in our most inexperienced combination for the night so far. Jordon takes Kennedy MCC wing side, but doesn't start by grappling him, like Oliver did. ANB starts well wide of his opponent in Rowbottom. ANB starts behind LJ and Rowbottom is more central. Sinclair is in the ruck for Sydney. Petracca and Florent are our attacking side of the stoppage but some distance from the other mids. The bounce favours Sinclair, but he cleanly taps it straight down to Kennedy, who gives to Florent, who loses Petracca in traffic. Christian's man again. The kick goes inside 50.
Analysis: This is a very clean clearance for Sydney. The best of the night thus far, but three centre clearances in a row where Petracca's man has got him on the outside.

6) We had just taken the lead by 3 points, thanks to a Ben Brown major. Max is back in the ruck. ANB is now playing on Kennedy. The two are defensive side of the contest this time. Jordon and Mills grapple on the wing side of the stoppage, while Oliver is 20+ metres (you can tell from the cut of the grass) from the centre circle on Parker. Max and Hickey halve the tap, it's probably marginally Max's win. Jordon and Mills get sucked in closer to the rucks and the ball is tapped behind them, allowing Oliver to burst into the space behind them and then use a handball to ANB, who gets a rushed left footed kick forward, which is marked by Kozzie just forward of centre wing.
Analysis: This stoppage set up is the ideal match up and set up for us. Parker isn't particularly quick and he and Oliver start very wide of the contest. Oliver is often very good when he has room to burst into the stoppage and stop the jumper pulling against him. We just needed to get the ball into that space and allow Oliver to do his thing. Our best clearance of the night thus far. ANB kept it simple by banging it on the boot.

7) This time there's 1.30 left on the clock for the first quarter. Max is in there with Hickey. Jordon and Mills are defensive side of the contest, but close to the stoppage. Petracca and Parker are wing side of the stoppage, a bit closer to the wing position this time (further from the rucks), and Oliver is 16m wide from the centre circle with Warner. Max wins the knock, hitting it wide towards the wing position (the wing further from camera side). McInerney comes off Langdon's wing really quickly to gather, but Oliver tackles him, not before McInerney gets a rushed handball away that misses Oliver's opponent Warner. Warner recovers by himself, as Oliver had been drawn to covering McInerney, when all of a sudden Langdon's incredible closing speed comes out of nowhere to tackle Warner. Warner gets a throw away that isn't paid and gets to Cunningham on the outside. A very good hit up, even if a throw. Oliver pursues him out of the centre square and ends up forcing Sydney wide to the back flank to Lloyd.
Analysis: I'd say this one, even though Sydney won the stoppage, we recovered well from where we were. We were unlucky not to get a free kick for a throw, but still managed to force them wide and defensive side. We then transitioned across to cover the line really quickly. So even though we lose the clearance, we have the game on our terms almost immediately as they have to kick up the line to our contests. They decide to go short and then they eventually go to the contest that we kill over the line. That's a win for us.

SECOND QUARTER
8) Max starts in the middle. Kozzie starts at the back of the stoppage again, defensive side on Warner. Mills and Petracca are on the wing side of the contest, close enough to the rucks, and Oliver and Kennedy start well wide (15+ metres again) of the centre circle on our attacking side of the rucks. The bounce hangs over Max's head, Hickey attacks it and taps it back towards Petracca and Mills, wing side. Mills and Petracca grapple as Kozzie's man Warner comes in behind them and scopes up the quick clearance before Kozzie can stop him.
Analysis: Hickey is really aggressive in this stoppage and Sydney manage to block for each other well and win a rushed clearance. Due to the rushed nature, it isn't a targeted clearance, which enables May to read it quicker and get off Buddy to spoil it wide.

9) This time Max, Petracca, Jordon and Harmes are in the centre. Petracca starts wide, offensive side for us. Jordon and Mills grapple wing side, but slightly further away from the rucks this time and Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Max wins the tap forward, but Jordon is on the defensive side of Mills, so Mills ends up getting to the ball by himself. Jordon tries to close him down, which means Mills handballs to a running Swan defender off the back of the square, who is pursued by ANB. ANB forces a rushed, lucky kick forward (but still in the middle of the MCG) to Wicks and Salem. Salem is pinged for pushing Wicks in the back. Sydney get a clean possession from the free kick.
Analysis: Despite not winning the clearance, we're in good shape to defend slow attacks like this.

10) This is the first time Langdon hasn't started on the wing. Gus and Jordon start there here. Jackson into the ruck against Hickey. Oliver is wide of the contest again, probably 15 metres away from the centre circle. Harmes and Parker grapple on the wing side. Melksham on Florent covers the back of the stoppage. Hickey wins the tap down, but Harmes reads it off his hands and takes on Florent and beats him. He runs away with what would have been a perfectly clean clearance, but is pinged for running too far. He takes 11 steps from the point he receives the ball from Hickey's tap to when he kicks it. It felt like a nonsense call and it was.
Analysis: When Harmes is on song he really gives us good ball winning ability and toughness through the middle. We should have won this clearance and didn't because of an umpire error. 

THIRD QUARTER
11) We're up 5.6 to 3.7. Max is back in there. Oliver is wing side closest to camera on Parker, but they're 10m off each other. Petracca and Mills are next to each other on the opposite wing side. Kozzie is defensive side of the stoppage again on Warner. This is a dangerous set up for Sydney. Max and Hickey come together. Oliver lets Parker go and is free directly to Max's right, whereas Parker gravitates towards defending the back of the stoppage (offensive side for us), which is where Max hits it with conviction, as if he expects Oliver to be there. Parker is there by himself and gets the handball to a spreading Mills, who again catches Petracca on his heels at the stoppage. Mills gets the clearing kick, but Petracca's closing speed means it's rushed and lacks penetration. We set up really well behind the ball. It doesn't actually get inside 50. It's probably 70m from goal inside the centre square. Hunt goes up for the spoil and Salem is front and centre, and gets the handball out to Langdon. It's essentially a clearance for us because Hunt, Salem and Langdon are so clean.
Analysis: All three stoppages Kozzie has attended to this point in the game, he's been used defensive side of the contest. I presume they like his pace to defend if it gets out the back, and he could be a weapon bursting through the stoppage if the tap is appropriate or one of our other mids wins it. Again, we 'lose' the clearance, but it doesn't hurt us and we immediately win it back with Hunt, Salem and Langdon.

12) A similar set up again. Petracca covering defensive side of the contest in place of Kozzie. Max in the ruck again against Hickey. Oliver and Jordon on either wing side, but again Oliver is playing 5m off his opponent. Max just wins the tap straight down to Oliver, who snaps it on his left boot, but is smothered by Kennedy. The ball loops up and Petracca outmuscles Warner to get a penetrating but rushed snap kick inside 50, which is intercepted by Sydney.
Analysis: This is a somewhat lucky clearance, but Petracca's strength enables him to fend off the defending Swan and get it moving forward. Harmes playing inside 50 can't prevent the Sydney defender from intercept marking.

13) Jackson is into the ruck this time against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage on Warner. Jordon is wing side and Petracca is wider of the opposite wing side. Hickey taps it down to himself and is tackled by Jackson, but manages to get a handball to Kennedy, who is tackled by Jordon and it is thrown out/spills out. Petracca bursts onto the loose ground ball and despite being tackled by Mills, has the strength to dish the handball wider to Oliver, whose really quick hands find Jackson in space, who in turn, handballs a risky one to Jordon given it's wet. JJ manages to be clean and gets a mongrel kick inside 50.
Analysis: This is where the likes of Oliver and Petracca are really dangerous around stoppages. If the ball is loose on the ground, they gobble it up with their intensity and cleanness. They get it to the outside here and Jackson's quick thinking and JJ's cleanness allows a good inside 50. 

14) Jackson is in there on Hickey. Oliver is well wide of the stoppage again, but defensive side. Harmes starts on Parker on the wing side. Petracca is on the offensive side and wider of the contest, but not as wide as Oliver. Jackson roves his own tap brilliantly, accelerates away from the contest and kicks on his left foot and gets it to the half forward flank.
Analysis: Jackson is a weapon at stoppage. If he's not taking it out of the air, he's staying in the contest to defend or winning ground balls like a man half his size. The kid is a gem. His kick probably doesn't go deep enough and it goes on Spargo's head (not the guy whose head you want to be kicking it on), but Jordon gets over to make it a contest, before Jackson arrives with our mids. Great surge work rate.

15) Max is back into the ruck. Oliver is wing side of the contest. Melksham is defensive side of the stoppage and Harmes is goal side 15m from the centre circle. Max wins the tap down to Harmes who is tackled by Hickey. The ball slips out and it appears Hickey slings him to the ground without the ball, but play on. Kennedy tries to pick it up, but being pursued by Melksham, fumbles it into the path of Florent who has Oliver on his case, and can only kick it off the ground 40m to be marked by Hibberd.
Analysis: Both of Melksham's CBAs have been defensive side of the contest, like Kozzie's. Given the score is the biggest margin of the match at this stage (22 points), it's an interesting time to go defensive - having Harmes and Melksham in there. But perhaps it's a pre planned rotation at say the 20 min mark of the quarter? Despite losing the clearance, all Sydney can manage is a rushed kick off the ground that is intercepted by one of our defenders. No damage done.

16) Max in again. Petracca has the defensive stoppage side. Oliver tighter on Parker on the wing side. Jordon on the opposite wing side. Hickey wins the tap down to Florent who can't gather, but instead Oliver's opponent Parker gets the ground ball and in the end a relatively simple clearance. It is not as shallow as the previous Sydney clearance, but it still only just makes it inside 50.
Analysis: Oliver gambles a bit at this stoppage. If Jordon or Max win it, Oliver is on the outside to receive. Instead, Oliver ends up looking lazy and his opponent gets a relatively easy clearance. Fortunately, Franklin can't get there and May mops up.

17) Max, Oliver, Melksham and Petracca are at this stoppage. Oliver is at the defensive goal side of the stoppage. Melksham grapples on the wing side. Petracca plays the offensive side of the contest. Max knocks Hickey over and the ball finds itself in dispute on the ground. Hickey knocks/handballs it to the outside. Melksham gets sucked into Hickey on the ground, his opponent Mills reads it very quickly and is incredibly clean when Hickey knocks it into a bit of space. Rowbottom partly blocks Petracca out of it and Mills gets a handball to the outside again to Oliver's man Parker all by himself, who this time gets a deep inside 50. Oliver got caught trying to man Kennedy and left Parker.
Analysis: This is a tough one to analyse. It seems that Oliver backs Petracca to impact the contest more, but Petracca is pushed out of it easily and Oliver doesn't cover Parker well enough.

FOURTH QUARTER
18) Max starts against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca the offensive side and Harmes the wing side. All mids start essentially on the outer centre square ring, so closer in tight to the rucks. Max wins the tap and taps it towards Oliver, but Hickey gets there first. The Swans mids spread and Hickey gives to Rowbottom flying past him and they get a really clean look at an inside 50. Probably for the first time in the match, but May leads Buddy to it. It's not a well directed kick and May is switched on.
Analysis: We're lucky that they don't get an easy hit up here. Hickey wins the ball and gives by hand far too easily. Three of our guys get caught on the offensive side of the contest and three Swans burst into the space left by our mids. This is probably the poorest stoppage for the game and it starts the last quarter, when they were coming and only 10 points down. Off May's fist, our mids trail in, they surge it forward and Gus probably coughs up that easy goal to Sinclair. Not a good start. Like most of our guys weren't switched on here.

19) Max, Harmes, Petracca and Oliver again. Petracca (offensive side) and Oliver (wing side) are both very wide and Harmes is closer to Max, defensive side of the contest. Hickey and Max both neutralise each other, but the ball squirts out towards our forward half. Oliver and Parker chase after it. Parker gets a speculative kick off the ground, which goes out to centre wing, where Gus picks it up and kicks it on the full.
Analysis: Not a good start to the quarter for Gus. He coughed up that first goal and then ends the stoppage play by kicking it on the full and giving the ball back. Again though, not a clean clearance for Sydney, which meant we could get it going our way quickly.

20) Jackson into the ruck for the first time since the middle part of the third term. Up against Hickey still. Harmes stands defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca is on the wing side and Oliver offensive side. There's 15m between each 1v1 contest. Jackson wins the tap. Ball is in dispute. Jackson is about to pick up the ground ball when Harmes does it first and handballs instead to Florent. Harmes goes after him and the ball spills, and Harmes, Warner and Oliver end up holding it up for a ball up.
Analysis: This is an example of where the synergy isn't quite there yet with the mids and in particular a returning James Harmes. They just get in the way of each other and then make a poor choice, but manage through second efforts, to lock up the contest and ensure we don't get hurt by it.

21) Max back in the ruck against Sinclair. Harmes at the offensive side of the contest. Oliver on the defensive side with Parker and Mills and Petracca on the wing side. Gawn and Sinclair halve the tap. Oliver lets Parker run and Parker wins the clearance before Oliver can stop him. Parker's kick is a little impacted by Oliver's shove, but it's a big clearance given we're 9.6.60 and they're 8.9.57 with 11.52 left on the clock. Rivers and Hibberd do really well to pressure their Swans opponents inside 50 and then Petracca and Oliver get back really well and Oliver atones for his error with a clean pick up and clearing kick that goes down the throat of Fritsch in the middle of the ground.
Analysis: Oliver needs to play the percentages here and play tighter on Parker. It's a big moment in the match. Momentum is going their way, Parker is dominating and Oliver gambles on us winning and leaves Parker free on our defensive side of the contest. It's a bad play. Probably Clarry's worst moment for the night, in what was an otherwise superb performance.

22) Jackson against Hickey. Jordon manning the defensive side of the contest. Harmes on the wing side. Oliver on the offensive side 15m from the centre circle. Hickey takes it out of the ruck and gets a 15m kick forward. Rivers does well again to get the ball going back our way and then our mids push back to help out, but Sydney cause another spillage and Rivers comes through again inspirationally and clears it on his left foot.
Analysis: Perhaps a little bit of inexperience with Jackson? Hickey has tried to take it out of the ruck a couple of times. We need to be awake to this, particularly at such an important moment in the match - 10 points up, 7.25 to play.

What this game showed is I think our mids are prepared to gamble a bit more at centre stoppage, because they know that as long as the opposition are only getting rushed clearances that aren't deep, our defenders should be able to deal with these.

With this in mind, we often left space for our mids to explode into the offensive side of the contest. It didn't work too often, but with more synergy with Max, it could be extremely dangerous. What we found in this particular game though was Sydney's mids often exploited that space instead. However, what this meant was that rather than having a 35m kick to get it inside 50, they'd have to have a 50+ metre kick under pressure to get it inside 50, as they'd be kicking from our offensive side of the contest. Often their clearances were shallow as a result.

There's no doubt Petracca is a weapon offensively from centre stoppages, but is still a bit of a liability defensively. He does seem to get caught ball watching a bit. This is something that happened at times last year too when he went into the middle. If we had momentum against us and we were trying to defend stoppage, Petracca wasn't always our strongest defender in there. Oliver can lose his man a bit too, but I guess this just shows what concentration is required to play the majority of centre bounces for the match. This is where having a Viney to go with Harmes will give Petracca and Oliver more rests, so that when they go into the middle, they're completely switched on. It might even be worth running Brayshaw through there a bit more.

Given this point, I wonder if some of our sloppy centre stoppage work can be forgiven due to the lack of midfield rotations? But we're going to have to tidy this up, either through more rotations or by going more defensively in our set ups.

There is also a trend at the start of quarters (see the first, third and the last) of our guys ball watching or not being entirely switched on. I think this is contributing to our slow starts, where we put our defenders under early pressure and hand the opposition early momentum.

It'll be interesting to see whether our stoppage work improves when Viney returns to play the more defensive orientated midfield role. This is a role I think Harmes can play really well for us too. We just need some more rotations through there IMO.

A little side note that I'm note sure is worth much, but I noted something I've never seen before last night. Langdon playing the MCC wing side occasionally. Can't say what the thinking would be here, but there you go.

Bravo A F. I read every word of this and learnt a lot. Thanks! 

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14 hours ago, Lord Travis said:

Probably not that much. He’s been average the past two seasons, wins less clearances and contested possessions than both Oliver and Petracca. He’s not a match winner either, and gets overrated by the media. Carlton have other more damaging players to worry about. 

Walsh is comfortably their best midfielder this year. We need to make sure he has strong pressure applied all day, as his disposal is poor when pressured. If he’s allowed to run then he’ll break lines and do damage though.

It's not so much Carlton I'm worried about, it's the Dogs. If they get first touch at centre clearances and move the ball under little pressure our defenders won't stand much of a chance. Bont, McRae, Trealor will carve us up.

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2 hours ago, A F said:

So I've gone through and analysed each centre stoppage clearance for the game. Here they are:

FIRST QUARTER
1) We have Oliver, Petracca and Kozzie with Max. The players in a triangle formation in equal distance apart. Kozzie is the only player defensive side of the stoppage (ie behind Max). The tap is a nil all, dropped at everyone's feet. It bobbles between Mills and then Oliver, and then Kennedy, whose brute strength can't prevent him from getting a tumbling kick forward to be marked by Papley. Even in this play, Kozzie is caught a little ball watching off from Warner, who could have received from Kennedy.
Analysis: This is a solid, but rushed clearance from Sydney that lands in the forward's hands because Kennedy manages to get a quick kick away before Petracca can reel him in. 

2) This time we have Oliver, Petracca, Jordon and Max. You would think this is a more defensive and safer set up. Petracca covers the defensive side of the stoppage, Oliver wing side (he and Kennedy are basically grappling each other without it), while Jordon and Warner are much wider of the ruckmen on our attacking side of the stoppage. Petracca is on Mills, so one would hope is likely to neutralise him or win the contest and defend the back of stoppage. Max wins the tap slightly towards Jordon who goes to attack it, but ends up blocking for Max, who takes it momentarily before dropping it/it being knocked out of hands. Jordon immediately wins the ground ball and handballs back to Max, who then goes wide and high with the handball that hangs too long in the air for Oliver. Max probably should have kicked it or the handball needed to be better/flatter. Kennedy tackles Oliver, the ball squirts free and Hickey picks it up and gets a simple long kick out of the contest, with Max well off him. 
Analysis: We had the more defensive set up after a quick goal against, Max won the tap, Jordon got it out to Max, who potentially overdid it on handball. Unlike the first Sydney clearance of that quick kick forward, Max tried to go for the cleaner clearance. I can see why you might try for that early in the game, but we needed to get ourselves into the game after a really early concession.

3) The score is 2.1 Sydney to nothing us at this stage. We have the more experienced body in Harmes, along with Oliver, Petracca and Max. Just about the most experienced starting combination we can muster at the moment. Petracca covers the back of the stoppage again. Oliver and Kennedy grapple again wing side, but slightly wider than before and closer to our attacking side of the stoppage. Harmes is well wide with Warner. Max wins the tap again, this time a double-hander and gets it well clear and forward of the contest. Harmes turns and is pursued by Warner. Harmes gets to the ball first, but clatters into the inside slider in ANB, who has come steaming in off the edge of the square to impact the contest (something that rarely happens all night - the inside slider). This moment is unfortunate and a bit clumsy. This spillage leaves Harmes and ANB on the ground and three free Swans at the ball and two Swans on the outside to give to. Lloyd picks it up and handballs uncontested to Mills who has completely lost Petracca and got him on the outside.
Analysis: This stoppage was a bit unlucky again. Harmes coming back from injury, potentially lacking a bit of synergy with his team mates. With Max's tap to space, we should have probably at least won a rushed clearance from Harmes or ANB, but Sydney did cover this side of the stoppage well with two defenders pushing up into the centre square. Petracca's defensive accountability questionable.

4) McDonald has just kicked our first and the score is 2.1 to 1.0. We stick with Harmes, Oliver and Petracca, with Max. Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage this time. Oliver and Kennedy on the wing side and closer to the rucks than the last stoppage. Petracca has attacking side of the contest with his back to our goals. He and Parker are wider of the rucks. Max almost takes it out of the air, but it knocks our way, he can't gather cleanly, but immediately pressures Mills at ground level and lays a tackle, but Mills gets his hands free and handballs cleanly to Parker on the outside. Although Parker started on Petracca, Christian I think tries to cover Rowbottom, but it is Petracca's man that gets the kick out of stoppage again.
Analysis: It's hard to know if Petracca was at fault for this clearance, but Mills gets the ground ball and manages to cleanly dish out to Parker. Without Max stopping Mills, we're in trouble here. Christian probably needs to do better defensively.

5) The score is 2.3 Sydney to 2.0 us. ANB joins Jordon, Jackson and Petracca in our most inexperienced combination for the night so far. Jordon takes Kennedy MCC wing side, but doesn't start by grappling him, like Oliver did. ANB starts well wide of his opponent in Rowbottom. ANB starts behind LJ and Rowbottom is more central. Sinclair is in the ruck for Sydney. Petracca and Florent are our attacking side of the stoppage but some distance from the other mids. The bounce favours Sinclair, but he cleanly taps it straight down to Kennedy, who gives to Florent, who loses Petracca in traffic. Christian's man again. The kick goes inside 50.
Analysis: This is a very clean clearance for Sydney. The best of the night thus far, but three centre clearances in a row where Petracca's man has got him on the outside.

6) We had just taken the lead by 3 points, thanks to a Ben Brown major. Max is back in the ruck. ANB is now playing on Kennedy. The two are defensive side of the contest this time. Jordon and Mills grapple on the wing side of the stoppage, while Oliver is 20+ metres (you can tell from the cut of the grass) from the centre circle on Parker. Max and Hickey halve the tap, it's probably marginally Max's win. Jordon and Mills get sucked in closer to the rucks and the ball is tapped behind them, allowing Oliver to burst into the space behind them and then use a handball to ANB, who gets a rushed left footed kick forward, which is marked by Kozzie just forward of centre wing.
Analysis: This stoppage set up is the ideal match up and set up for us. Parker isn't particularly quick and he and Oliver start very wide of the contest. Oliver is often very good when he has room to burst into the stoppage and stop the jumper pulling against him. We just needed to get the ball into that space and allow Oliver to do his thing. Our best clearance of the night thus far. ANB kept it simple by banging it on the boot.

7) This time there's 1.30 left on the clock for the first quarter. Max is in there with Hickey. Jordon and Mills are defensive side of the contest, but close to the stoppage. Petracca and Parker are wing side of the stoppage, a bit closer to the wing position this time (further from the rucks), and Oliver is 16m wide from the centre circle with Warner. Max wins the knock, hitting it wide towards the wing position (the wing further from camera side). McInerney comes off Langdon's wing really quickly to gather, but Oliver tackles him, not before McInerney gets a rushed handball away that misses Oliver's opponent Warner. Warner recovers by himself, as Oliver had been drawn to covering McInerney, when all of a sudden Langdon's incredible closing speed comes out of nowhere to tackle Warner. Warner gets a throw away that isn't paid and gets to Cunningham on the outside. A very good hit up, even if a throw. Oliver pursues him out of the centre square and ends up forcing Sydney wide to the back flank to Lloyd.
Analysis: I'd say this one, even though Sydney won the stoppage, we recovered well from where we were. We were unlucky not to get a free kick for a throw, but still managed to force them wide and defensive side. We then transitioned across to cover the line really quickly. So even though we lose the clearance, we have the game on our terms almost immediately as they have to kick up the line to our contests. They decide to go short and then they eventually go to the contest that we kill over the line. That's a win for us.

SECOND QUARTER
8) Max starts in the middle. Kozzie starts at the back of the stoppage again, defensive side on Warner. Mills and Petracca are on the wing side of the contest, close enough to the rucks, and Oliver and Kennedy start well wide (15+ metres again) of the centre circle on our attacking side of the rucks. The bounce hangs over Max's head, Hickey attacks it and taps it back towards Petracca and Mills, wing side. Mills and Petracca grapple as Kozzie's man Warner comes in behind them and scopes up the quick clearance before Kozzie can stop him.
Analysis: Hickey is really aggressive in this stoppage and Sydney manage to block for each other well and win a rushed clearance. Due to the rushed nature, it isn't a targeted clearance, which enables May to read it quicker and get off Buddy to spoil it wide.

9) This time Max, Petracca, Jordon and Harmes are in the centre. Petracca starts wide, offensive side for us. Jordon and Mills grapple wing side, but slightly further away from the rucks this time and Harmes covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Max wins the tap forward, but Jordon is on the defensive side of Mills, so Mills ends up getting to the ball by himself. Jordon tries to close him down, which means Mills handballs to a running Swan defender off the back of the square, who is pursued by ANB. ANB forces a rushed, lucky kick forward (but still in the middle of the MCG) to Wicks and Salem. Salem is pinged for pushing Wicks in the back. Sydney get a clean possession from the free kick.
Analysis: Despite not winning the clearance, we're in good shape to defend slow attacks like this.

10) This is the first time Langdon hasn't started on the wing. Gus and Jordon start there here. Jackson into the ruck against Hickey. Oliver is wide of the contest again, probably 15 metres away from the centre circle. Harmes and Parker grapple on the wing side. Melksham on Florent covers the back of the stoppage. Hickey wins the tap down, but Harmes reads it off his hands and takes on Florent and beats him. He runs away with what would have been a perfectly clean clearance, but is pinged for running too far. He takes 11 steps from the point he receives the ball from Hickey's tap to when he kicks it. It felt like a nonsense call and it was.
Analysis: When Harmes is on song he really gives us good ball winning ability and toughness through the middle. We should have won this clearance and didn't because of an umpire error. 

THIRD QUARTER
11) We're up 5.6 to 3.7. Max is back in there. Oliver is wing side closest to camera on Parker, but they're 10m off each other. Petracca and Mills are next to each other on the opposite wing side. Kozzie is defensive side of the stoppage again on Warner. This is a dangerous set up for Sydney. Max and Hickey come together. Oliver lets Parker go and is free directly to Max's right, whereas Parker gravitates towards defending the back of the stoppage (offensive side for us), which is where Max hits it with conviction, as if he expects Oliver to be there. Parker is there by himself and gets the handball to a spreading Mills, who again catches Petracca on his heels at the stoppage. Mills gets the clearing kick, but Petracca's closing speed means it's rushed and lacks penetration. We set up really well behind the ball. It doesn't actually get inside 50. It's probably 70m from goal inside the centre square. Hunt goes up for the spoil and Salem is front and centre, and gets the handball out to Langdon. It's essentially a clearance for us because Hunt, Salem and Langdon are so clean.
Analysis: All three stoppages Kozzie has attended to this point in the game, he's been used defensive side of the contest. I presume they like his pace to defend if it gets out the back, and he could be a weapon bursting through the stoppage if the tap is appropriate or one of our other mids wins it. Again, we 'lose' the clearance, but it doesn't hurt us and we immediately win it back with Hunt, Salem and Langdon.

12) A similar set up again. Petracca covering defensive side of the contest in place of Kozzie. Max in the ruck again against Hickey. Oliver and Jordon on either wing side, but again Oliver is playing 5m off his opponent. Max just wins the tap straight down to Oliver, who snaps it on his left boot, but is smothered by Kennedy. The ball loops up and Petracca outmuscles Warner to get a penetrating but rushed snap kick inside 50, which is intercepted by Sydney.
Analysis: This is a somewhat lucky clearance, but Petracca's strength enables him to fend off the defending Swan and get it moving forward. Harmes playing inside 50 can't prevent the Sydney defender from intercept marking.

13) Jackson is into the ruck this time against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage on Warner. Jordon is wing side and Petracca is wider of the opposite wing side. Hickey taps it down to himself and is tackled by Jackson, but manages to get a handball to Kennedy, who is tackled by Jordon and it is thrown out/spills out. Petracca bursts onto the loose ground ball and despite being tackled by Mills, has the strength to dish the handball wider to Oliver, whose really quick hands find Jackson in space, who in turn, handballs a risky one to Jordon given it's wet. JJ manages to be clean and gets a mongrel kick inside 50.
Analysis: This is where the likes of Oliver and Petracca are really dangerous around stoppages. If the ball is loose on the ground, they gobble it up with their intensity and cleanness. They get it to the outside here and Jackson's quick thinking and JJ's cleanness allows a good inside 50. 

14) Jackson is in there on Hickey. Oliver is well wide of the stoppage again, but defensive side. Harmes starts on Parker on the wing side. Petracca is on the offensive side and wider of the contest, but not as wide as Oliver. Jackson roves his own tap brilliantly, accelerates away from the contest and kicks on his left foot and gets it to the half forward flank.
Analysis: Jackson is a weapon at stoppage. If he's not taking it out of the air, he's staying in the contest to defend or winning ground balls like a man half his size. The kid is a gem. His kick probably doesn't go deep enough and it goes on Spargo's head (not the guy whose head you want to be kicking it on), but Jordon gets over to make it a contest, before Jackson arrives with our mids. Great surge work rate.

15) Max is back into the ruck. Oliver is wing side of the contest. Melksham is defensive side of the stoppage and Harmes is goal side 15m from the centre circle. Max wins the tap down to Harmes who is tackled by Hickey. The ball slips out and it appears Hickey slings him to the ground without the ball, but play on. Kennedy tries to pick it up, but being pursued by Melksham, fumbles it into the path of Florent who has Oliver on his case, and can only kick it off the ground 40m to be marked by Hibberd.
Analysis: Both of Melksham's CBAs have been defensive side of the contest, like Kozzie's. Given the score is the biggest margin of the match at this stage (22 points), it's an interesting time to go defensive - having Harmes and Melksham in there. But perhaps it's a pre planned rotation at say the 20 min mark of the quarter? Despite losing the clearance, all Sydney can manage is a rushed kick off the ground that is intercepted by one of our defenders. No damage done.

16) Max in again. Petracca has the defensive stoppage side. Oliver tighter on Parker on the wing side. Jordon on the opposite wing side. Hickey wins the tap down to Florent who can't gather, but instead Oliver's opponent Parker gets the ground ball and in the end a relatively simple clearance. It is not as shallow as the previous Sydney clearance, but it still only just makes it inside 50.
Analysis: Oliver gambles a bit at this stoppage. If Jordon or Max win it, Oliver is on the outside to receive. Instead, Oliver ends up looking lazy and his opponent gets a relatively easy clearance. Fortunately, Franklin can't get there and May mops up.

17) Max, Oliver, Melksham and Petracca are at this stoppage. Oliver is at the defensive goal side of the stoppage. Melksham grapples on the wing side. Petracca plays the offensive side of the contest. Max knocks Hickey over and the ball finds itself in dispute on the ground. Hickey knocks/handballs it to the outside. Melksham gets sucked into Hickey on the ground, his opponent Mills reads it very quickly and is incredibly clean when Hickey knocks it into a bit of space. Rowbottom partly blocks Petracca out of it and Mills gets a handball to the outside again to Oliver's man Parker all by himself, who this time gets a deep inside 50. Oliver got caught trying to man Kennedy and left Parker.
Analysis: This is a tough one to analyse. It seems that Oliver backs Petracca to impact the contest more, but Petracca is pushed out of it easily and Oliver doesn't cover Parker well enough.

FOURTH QUARTER
18) Max starts against Hickey. Oliver covers the defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca the offensive side and Harmes the wing side. All mids start essentially on the outer centre square ring, so closer in tight to the rucks. Max wins the tap and taps it towards Oliver, but Hickey gets there first. The Swans mids spread and Hickey gives to Rowbottom flying past him and they get a really clean look at an inside 50. Probably for the first time in the match, but May leads Buddy to it. It's not a well directed kick and May is switched on.
Analysis: We're lucky that they don't get an easy hit up here. Hickey wins the ball and gives by hand far too easily. Three of our guys get caught on the offensive side of the contest and three Swans burst into the space left by our mids. This is probably the poorest stoppage for the game and it starts the last quarter, when they were coming and only 10 points down. Off May's fist, our mids trail in, they surge it forward and Gus probably coughs up that easy goal to Sinclair. Not a good start. Like most of our guys weren't switched on here.

19) Max, Harmes, Petracca and Oliver again. Petracca (offensive side) and Oliver (wing side) are both very wide and Harmes is closer to Max, defensive side of the contest. Hickey and Max both neutralise each other, but the ball squirts out towards our forward half. Oliver and Parker chase after it. Parker gets a speculative kick off the ground, which goes out to centre wing, where Gus picks it up and kicks it on the full.
Analysis: Not a good start to the quarter for Gus. He coughed up that first goal and then ends the stoppage play by kicking it on the full and giving the ball back. Again though, not a clean clearance for Sydney, which meant we could get it going our way quickly.

20) Jackson into the ruck for the first time since the middle part of the third term. Up against Hickey still. Harmes stands defensive side of the stoppage. Petracca is on the wing side and Oliver offensive side. There's 15m between each 1v1 contest. Jackson wins the tap. Ball is in dispute. Jackson is about to pick up the ground ball when Harmes does it first and handballs instead to Florent. Harmes goes after him and the ball spills, and Harmes, Warner and Oliver end up holding it up for a ball up.
Analysis: This is an example of where the synergy isn't quite there yet with the mids and in particular a returning James Harmes. They just get in the way of each other and then make a poor choice, but manage through second efforts, to lock up the contest and ensure we don't get hurt by it.

21) Max back in the ruck against Sinclair. Harmes at the offensive side of the contest. Oliver on the defensive side with Parker and Mills and Petracca on the wing side. Gawn and Sinclair halve the tap. Oliver lets Parker run and Parker wins the clearance before Oliver can stop him. Parker's kick is a little impacted by Oliver's shove, but it's a big clearance given we're 9.6.60 and they're 8.9.57 with 11.52 left on the clock. Rivers and Hibberd do really well to pressure their Swans opponents inside 50 and then Petracca and Oliver get back really well and Oliver atones for his error with a clean pick up and clearing kick that goes down the throat of Fritsch in the middle of the ground.
Analysis: Oliver needs to play the percentages here and play tighter on Parker. It's a big moment in the match. Momentum is going their way, Parker is dominating and Oliver gambles on us winning and leaves Parker free on our defensive side of the contest. It's a bad play. Probably Clarry's worst moment for the night, in what was an otherwise superb performance.

22) Jackson against Hickey. Jordon manning the defensive side of the contest. Harmes on the wing side. Oliver on the offensive side 15m from the centre circle. Hickey takes it out of the ruck and gets a 15m kick forward. Rivers does well again to get the ball going back our way and then our mids push back to help out, but Sydney cause another spillage and Rivers comes through again inspirationally and clears it on his left foot.
Analysis: Perhaps a little bit of inexperience with Jackson? Hickey has tried to take it out of the ruck a couple of times. We need to be awake to this, particularly at such an important moment in the match - 10 points up, 7.25 to play.

What this game showed is I think our mids are prepared to gamble a bit more at centre stoppage, because they know that as long as the opposition are only getting rushed clearances that aren't deep, our defenders should be able to deal with these.

With this in mind, we often left space for our mids to explode into the offensive side of the contest. It didn't work too often, but with more synergy with Max, it could be extremely dangerous. What we found in this particular game though was Sydney's mids often exploited that space instead. However, what this meant was that rather than having a 35m kick to get it inside 50, they'd have to have a 50+ metre kick under pressure to get it inside 50, as they'd be kicking from our offensive side of the contest. Often their clearances were shallow as a result.

There's no doubt Petracca is a weapon offensively from centre stoppages, but is still a bit of a liability defensively. He does seem to get caught ball watching a bit. This is something that happened at times last year too when he went into the middle. If we had momentum against us and we were trying to defend stoppage, Petracca wasn't always our strongest defender in there. Oliver can lose his man a bit too, but I guess this just shows what concentration is required to play the majority of centre bounces for the match. This is where having a Viney to go with Harmes will give Petracca and Oliver more rests, so that when they go into the middle, they're completely switched on. It might even be worth running Brayshaw through there a bit more.

Given this point, I wonder if some of our sloppy centre stoppage work can be forgiven due to the lack of midfield rotations? But we're going to have to tidy this up, either through more rotations or by going more defensively in our set ups.

There is also a trend at the start of quarters (see the first, third and the last) of our guys ball watching or not being entirely switched on. I think this is contributing to our slow starts, where we put our defenders under early pressure and hand the opposition early momentum.

It'll be interesting to see whether our stoppage work improves when Viney returns to play the more defensive orientated midfield role. This is a role I think Harmes can play really well for us too. We just need some more rotations through there IMO.

A little side note that I'm note sure is worth much, but I noted something I've never seen before last night. Langdon playing the MCC wing side occasionally. Can't say what the thinking would be here, but there you go.

Copy cat! Seems we had the same idea (see page 3).

Nice work though mate. Really interesting read, especially having been through the exercise myself, to see where we might have drawn different conclusions, but there wasn’t much difference. 

I did mine in the morning. In the afternoon I watched bits of the Carlton and Bulldogs game, and the Brisbane and Freo game, and found myself wishing the players would hurry up and kick a goal so I could observe how they set up at the bounce. One thing I noticed the Blues/Dogs mids do that I never saw in our game, was for both sides to have two wing side mids and a defensive side one, ie both clubs having one man each unopposed, going head to head. We were man-on-man at EVERY ball-up - not sure if it was us who forced that or Sydney. It will be easy to tell with watching more centre bounces.

I’d never analysed a clearance in my life before, but I don’t reckon I’ll ever stop doing it with every one now.

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Kudos to everyone for the foregoing amazing, detailed analysis. Beyond my range, and I dips my lid.

Anyway, two coaches (one a loser and one a winner) have put centre clearances at the top of their agenda in preparing for their match next week. Should be something to watch!

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3 hours ago, Nairobi_Demon said:

Bravo A F. I read every word of this and learnt a lot. Thanks! 

Me too fantastic insight

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Having had a look at a game where we sucked in the centre, I decided to have a look at a game where we were competitive in the centre clearances and see what looked different. I picked the Geelong game - it was a game where all our mids had very high clearance numbers.

One thing that was obviously different was how far away the midfielders were from the circle, at every bounce. There was only ever one, or sometimes none in close. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to the space in which our midfielder would fill. The mids always knew exactly where the tap was going to go, so the right player was charging in at pace, the other two were preparing to either spread or defend, depending on which way that contest went. It was random who the nominal receiver was, but Oliver and Viney in particular got themselves in to the right spot, in space, to receive the tap heaps of times. I barely saw this happen against Sydney.

I reject the assertion that Max's taps are too predictable. When we set up well, one of the three mids will be anointed to receive the tap. It could be any of the three. Or the plan could be to punch it to space. How could the opposing midfield possibly know in advance? They have a one in four chance of guessing correctly.

In the Sydney game our mids lined up very close to the circle at nearly every bounce. I'm now convinced Sydney forced that. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to a pair in a flat footed contest, or to space, but there was no player there to run on other than bloody Parker, who had a field day. 

I watched thinking it might be the Viney factor. Having now watched two games worth of centre bounces, I don't think Viney is particularly any better than Oliver or even Harmes for winning contested ball in this scenario. His point of difference is that he tackles like a warrior. If his opponent gets a clearance, you can be sure that he has earned it at maximum price. We're definitely better for having him in there, but we've still got enough inside firepower that we should be able to get by without him without getting smashed in there like we did on Saturday. 

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Read yours too Nasher. Hope the FD is doing their own and looking at these opinions. The more heads look at a problem or situation the more likely a good result for the future.

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Hats off to Nasher and AF.  Well done for breaking it down.

i imagine each midfield poses a different challenge, depending on the ruckman and types of mids (speed, power, nous)?  What the strength of one midfield is has to be either countered or discounted - we either have to be defensive or offensive at the clearance.  You reckon we should have the midfield to back ourselves - we probably start this way (see result when it doesn’t work in the first, third and last quarters) and then modify for more defense from there.  We should back ourselves - however we need a reboot in here because it is centre clearance that we cannot clog up with extra bodies and have to win 4v4 each time.

interesting to know what we were doing differently in previous years when we were winning the centre clearance but not much else...

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46 minutes ago, Nasher said:

Having had a look at a game where we sucked in the centre, I decided to have a look at a game where we were competitive in the centre clearances and see what looked different. I picked the Geelong game - it was a game where all our mids had very high clearance numbers.

One thing that was obviously different was how far away the midfielders were from the circle, at every bounce. There was only ever one, or sometimes none in close. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to the space in which our midfielder would fill. The mids always knew exactly where the tap was going to go, so the right player was charging in at pace, the other two were preparing to either spread or defend, depending on which way that contest went. It was random who the nominal receiver was, but Oliver and Viney in particular got themselves in to the right spot, in space, to receive the tap heaps of times. I barely saw this happen against Sydney.

I reject the assertion that Max's taps are too predictable. When we set up well, one of the three mids will be anointed to receive the tap. It could be any of the three. Or the plan could be to punch it to space. How could the opposing midfield possibly know in advance? They have a one in four chance of guessing correctly.

In the Sydney game our mids lined up very close to the circle at nearly every bounce. I'm now convinced Sydney forced that. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to a pair in a flat footed contest, or to space, but there was no player there to run on other than bloody Parker, who had a field day. 

I watched thinking it might be the Viney factor. Having now watched two games worth of centre bounces, I don't think Viney is particularly any better than Oliver or even Harmes for winning contested ball in this scenario. His point of difference is that he tackles like a warrior. If his opponent gets a clearance, you can be sure that he has earned it at maximum price. We're definitely better for having him in there, but we've still got enough inside firepower that we should be able to get by without him without getting smashed in there like we did on Saturday. 

Brilliant work again, Nasher. Do you think the difference in Geelong game, given the directional tap superiority you quote, was Max facing less competitive opposing ruckman?  

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On 5/9/2021 at 5:40 AM, Wells 11 said:

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! 

At one point they were nine to one and we were still in it.

Rarely ever happens that a team can lose with those centre stats.

It shows how good our defence has become even with Tomlinson injured we kept the Swans to a low score.

Also in most of our games we have been seemingly sluggish in the first qrts.

I think we must be one of the fittest teams going about though.

 

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10 minutes ago, leave it to deever said:

At one point they were nine to one and we were still in it.

Rarely ever happens that a team can lose with those centre stats.

It shows how good our defence has become even with Tomlinson injured we kept the Swans to a low score.

 

Yes, in part.

But mainly it show show good our all team pressure is.

If Max, Jacko , the mids and anyone sliding into the square (eg Nibbler off HF or Langdon or Gus off the wing) do apply strong pressure on the opposition player who first gets hands on the ball, anyone else who receives the handball and the player kicking inside 50 then they have time and space to kick to the forwards advantage.

And in that scenario it doesn't matter how good our defence is tam will hurt us, particularly the top sides.

Our whole game plan is predicated on pressure. We will lose if we don't bring it.

Pressure means they scrub a kick (often shallow) inside 50 and players with the nous of lever, hibbo, rivers and may can read it better than their opponent an either take an intercept mark, create a contest (which often we win, or at least create a stoppage) or win a ground ball.

O course it helsp to have guns like Lever and may, but pressure is the key reason we are miles ahead in intercept marks, top the table of of least marks inside our 50 and are the best at stopping opposition score when they get inside 50. 

And once we win the ball - as we are doing more often than any other team from our back half - we control it, transition effectively and get territory.

And once we do that we combine all of the above will more pressure  and keep in trapped in our forward half as well as any team in the game.

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53 minutes ago, buck_nekkid said:

interesting to know what we were doing differently in previous years when we were winning the centre clearance but not much else...

One thing we were definitely doing is setting up our mids closer to the center circle when the ball was bounced.

Another, related, structural element  was Max was not hitting to space as often (high risk, low reward as our mids are close to him).

Which meant that bulls like Viney, Trac an Oliver were great chances of winning any contested ball that dropped close to the circle, as often happened (and still does - eg no clear tap, the opposition ruckman doesn't want to hit to space etc)  - particularly when max is looking to tap it down directly to one of them. 

So we "won" lots of clearances with that structure.

But often those clearances were messy and shallow because they were under pressure.

Which goes  along way to explain why we had such a poor inside 50 to score ratio, often winning inside 50s but losing the match.

It also explains why we all got sick of seeing opposition defenders like McGovern take easy intercept marks. Did our collective heads in. Just as it must do for fans of teams that play us this year.

And as many people on Demonland pointed out last year, opposition teams often started sweating on our players on the outside of the ring that our bulls were trying to handball. Basically allow us to do all the work to the win the ball and pick it off. When this worked they won the ball out in space an could hurt us with unpressured inside 50 kicks. 

 

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I've been convinced for weeks now that Max is playing injured, and it is showing in both his ruck work and his marking efforts around the ground. Most likely it is a shoulder or back injury that is restricting his ability to get his arms up and then twist around to hit in a variety of directions.

That said, our midfielders too often give up front position at centre bounces and are too often stationary. When Max is hitting to neutral areas, Sydney's midfielders in particular were much quicker to react. It was really disappointing that nobody, particularly Jordon as a more defensively minded player, made an effort to neutralise Parker at any point.

Jackson's leap is making up for his lack of height, and his athleticism makes him effectively a fourth midfielder which is tilting the balance in our favour. We look far more dangerous with him in the ruck at present.

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One of the major reasons we .lose in the middle is lately we are 2nd to the ball.  We are just not getting our hands on the pill first often enough. Another is Max, he never gets off the ground, nor does he block for our onballers at ground level, he is pretty much useless actually once the tap has been won or lost.  Another thing i am seeing is Oliver starting too wide and is actually not getting to where the ball drops way too often.  

A lot of these things are not as noticeable at boundary clearance situations as we have Langdon/Salem/Brayshaw/Jorden covering.  Oliver is playing a much more stationary predictable player at round the ground stoppages too.

It is clearly not about tap outs otherwise we would be drilling most teams.   Really do think Max needs to screen/block for others a lot more, or rest him if he can't put his body on the line.  To me he just does not throw his weight around.... nearly every other ruck does.  Max needs to play with lot more aggression and we will start winning a lot more clearances imo.

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2 hours ago, Nasher said:

Having had a look at a game where we sucked in the centre, I decided to have a look at a game where we were competitive in the centre clearances and see what looked different. I picked the Geelong game - it was a game where all our mids had very high clearance numbers.

One thing that was obviously different was how far away the midfielders were from the circle, at every bounce. There was only ever one, or sometimes none in close. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to the space in which our midfielder would fill. The mids always knew exactly where the tap was going to go, so the right player was charging in at pace, the other two were preparing to either spread or defend, depending on which way that contest went. It was random who the nominal receiver was, but Oliver and Viney in particular got themselves in to the right spot, in space, to receive the tap heaps of times. I barely saw this happen against Sydney.

I reject the assertion that Max's taps are too predictable. When we set up well, one of the three mids will be anointed to receive the tap. It could be any of the three. Or the plan could be to punch it to space. How could the opposing midfield possibly know in advance? They have a one in four chance of guessing correctly.

In the Sydney game our mids lined up very close to the circle at nearly every bounce. I'm now convinced Sydney forced that. Whenever Max tapped, it was always to a pair in a flat footed contest, or to space, but there was no player there to run on other than bloody Parker, who had a field day. 

I watched thinking it might be the Viney factor. Having now watched two games worth of centre bounces, I don't think Viney is particularly any better than Oliver or even Harmes for winning contested ball in this scenario. His point of difference is that he tackles like a warrior. If his opponent gets a clearance, you can be sure that he has earned it at maximum price. We're definitely better for having him in there, but we've still got enough inside firepower that we should be able to get by without him without getting smashed in there like we did on Saturday. 

Great stuff Nasher.

Even more interesting than comparing two of our games might be to compare to the Dogs who according to the stats I compiled above are by far the best centre and stoppage clearance team. The win v Blues was another typical game by them losing hitouts  23 to 42 but winning centre clearances 23 -7 but interestingly breaking even on stoppage clearances. Being a strong advocate of the importance of ruckmen I don't want to face the possible truth that the Dogs show that winning hitouts is not only not important but in fact could be a negative. It's hard to ignore that their stats appear to indicate that it is a lot more effective to setup defensively and shark the opposition's hitouts than to setup to win a clearance from your own hitouts. No doubt the rest of the comp are studying the Dogs system very closely. 

I have focused on Viney in the past and noticed how much structural blocking he does to create corridors for the other mids to break out from. It's not just his contribution of winning the ball himself. We seem to be missing that work as much as his own clearances.     

 

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18 hours ago, Demon77 said:

2018 Brayshaw was our clearance king. Finished 3rd in the Brownlow.

2019 Brayshaw was sent to half back, a position he hadn’t played previously. Was taken out of the game.

2020 Brayshaw was lucky to get a game and there was a lot of public talk of him being traded.

2021 Brayshaw back to the wing. He is one of our most sure handed players and has a great kick and handball either side. Should spend more time st centre bounces.

errrr no.

He is a lazy kick and often misses targets

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Posted (edited)

My two pence worth:

For the last two years we had many games where opps were happy to cede hitouts but win the clearances:  Bulldogs, Geelong, Lions, Cats and sometimes Hawthorn or even Eagles when Nick Nat was out.   We would often get first hands to the ball but the opps would get the clearance.

iirc having Viney in there in those years didn't make a difference. 

On Max, until this week he has played no less than 90% game time, sometimes as high as 97%.  He looked beaten up vs north after all the clips across the back of the head from Richmond but and I couldn't tell if he was carrying an injury but thought he needed more bench time to rest.  He was given this vs Swans.  As @Pollyannamentioned he played 'just' 84%.

Interestingly, Jackson's game time (usually 70-80%) didn't go up to compensate Max's time on the bench; in fact it went down:  79% to 70% this week.  It looks to me we are 'managing' Jackson's game time rather than rest him for a whole game. 

How many times do we see Max drag himself up off the ground.  They must be heavy knocks to fell a 204cm giant.  He is getting no protection from the umpires and I'm glad the club saw fit to increase his bench time this week.

I don't think Max should be given a week off.  He is our captain, a proud man and incredibly courageous.  Give him more bench time if necessary but he has to play, unless he is injured. 

I truly don't think Max or his hitouts are the problem.  I think the opps develop effective strategies against us, strategies we are yet to counter in games or at training. 

I would like us to try different centre bounce setups during the next few games if we get an unassailable lead.  I read somewhere that this is what Clarkson does.  We can practice at training but there is nothing like game conditions.  

Edited by Lucifer's Hero
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20 minutes ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

My two pence worth:

For the last two years we had many games where opps were happy to cede hitouts but win the clearances:  Bulldogs, Geelong, Lions, Cats and sometimes Hawthorn or even Eagles when Nick Nat was out.   We would often get first hands to the ball but the opps would get the clearance.

iirc having Viney in there in those years didn't make a difference. 

On Max, until this week he has played no less than 90% game time, sometimes as high as 97%.  He looked beaten up vs north after all the clips across the back of the head from Richmond but and I couldn't tell if he was carrying an injury but thought he needed more bench time to rest.  He was given this vs Swans.  As @Pollyannamentioned he played 'just' 84%.

Interestingly, Jackson's game time (usually 70-80%) didn't go up to compensate Max's time on the bench; in fact it went down:  79% to 70% this week.  It looks to me we are 'managing' Jackson's game time rather than rest him for a whole game. 

How many times do we see Max drag himself up off the ground.  They must be heavy knocks to fell a 204cm giant.  He is getting no protection from the umpires and I'm glad the club saw fit to increase his bench time this week.

I don't think Max should be given a week off.  He is our captain, a proud man and incredibly courageous.  Give him more bench time if necessary but he has to play, unless he is injured. 

I truly don't think Max or his hitouts are the problem.  I think the opps develop effective strategies against us, strategies we are yet to counter in games or at training. 

I would like us to try different centre bounce setups during the next few games if we get an unassailable lead.  I read somewhere that this is what Clarkson does.  We can practice at training but there is nothing like game conditions.  

Good post.

In all the years i have followed the dees i have never seen one of our players play better over a sustained period than max has in the first third of this home and away season. And that includes Robbie. 

And that is off the back of an immense 2020.

His athleticism has gone up a level, as has his ball handling skills, particularly when the ball is on the deck.

There was a brilliant example in the Swans game (i can't remember if it was the second or last quarter - we were kicking to the Punt Road end, which is where I was sitting).

Max collected the ball off the ground right in the pocket, only a meter or so from their goal. From the distance i was watching it took me a sec to register that it was max, such was the way he smoothly picked it up, took some steps and delivered the ball by foot.  

The ball tic tacked up the ground and went out on our goal side of the wing. Max ran from the back pocket to take the ruck.

I think he got a free from the throw in (or if not grabbed it) and kicked a perfect pass to Harmes who somehow dropped it over the line on our HF. 

He then went to the next throw in and tapped it brilliantly to a moving Oliver who if memory serves got it to Salem who kicked it to brown 20 meters out.  

Incredible skills. Incredible work rate. And the key actor in a critical goal. 

All while looking not 100% fit.

And as occurs every week with how we play, after getting physically smashed in aerial contests and taking his turn tackling and being tackled. 

And again copping hits to the head from opposition players who know they can hit him with impunity.  

Max is a million miles away from being the problem.

He is the solution. 

 

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38 minutes ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

I would like us to try different centre bounce setups during the next few games if we get an unassailable lead.  I read somewhere that this is what Clarkson does.  We can practice at training but there is nothing like game conditions.  

The hard part about this is that your centre-square setup is at least in part determined by what your opponent does. For example at one point we lined up with Petracca at 2 o'clock, Jordon at 6 o'clock and Oliver at 9 o'clock, which was a unique setup that I only saw once. Each player was manned up by the opposing player. So who decides who's going to stand where - is it the Melbourne players, or the Sydney players? Neither midfield combination seemed prepared to say "you do you your thing and we'll do ours, let's see who wins"; nor did that happen in any other of the games I watched.

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  • Nasher changed the title to Centre Clearances - Considered Analysis Requested.

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    THE POINTY END by The Oracle

    The AFL’s two oldest clubs, Melbourne and Geelong, face off on Friday evening in a sudden death Preliminary Final. It’s a game that promises plenty in terms of fascination and intrigue as a result of the rivalry that’s been building between the teams over recent encounters that have been tight struggles which have gone to the wire with two of them decided by after-the-siren goals. The added touch of mystery attached to this week’s meeting comes by virtue of the fact that it’s going to take

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    THE VFL YEAR THAT NEVER WAS by KC from Casey

    The rising case numbers and the continuing lockdowns in Victoria and NSW spelled doom for the 2021 VFL season which went through a slow, painful demise before its recent official cancellation. After weeks of indecision, the AFL decided to pull the plug on the season with the 10-0 Bulldogs recognised as minor premier, but without a premiership cup and without awarding the J.J. Liston Medal for the best and fairest VFL player. It was somewhat fortuitous for the integrity of the competition t

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    Casey Articles

    TAMING THE LIONS by George On The Outer

    With nine finals debutants in the side, the Melbourne Football Club had a daunting assignment ahead of it in the First Qualifying Final — to overcome the competition’s highest scoring side, the Brisbane Lions. In the end, the Demons accomplished the task by putting the bite on their opponents on their way to taming the Lions and recording a 33 point win that propelled them into one the two Preliminary Finals of 2021.   It was one of those debutants, Luke Jackson, who put the bite in more

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    RETURN TO NEVERLAND by Whispering Jack

    The greatest Demon A HIGHWAY OF DEMONS by Whispering Jack CHAPTER SIXTEEN - RETURN TO NEVERLAND  I have a six year old grandson who recently took up the family tradition of following the Demons. He had his first taste of the game a few years ago when he went to the “G” with his parents to watch the 107-point massacre of Carlton and he went to another game in the following season which was also a W for the Dees. But his appetite for the club has grown exponentially this year and wh

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    Special Features 13

    METAMORPHOSIS by Whispering Jack

    I’ve always believed that when the home and away matches come to an end, the football season takes on a completely different shape and character. During the regular season, each team’s goals progress as the weeks pass and if you’re good enough to survive and make the grade, the situation changes. The comparison can be made with the life cycle of a butterfly going through stages from egg to larva to caterpillar, cocoon and in the end to a bright and colourful creature that emerges from darkness i

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    STEALING THE CATS’ CREAM by George On The Outer

    They were leading by 44 points well into the third quarter of a game to decide the minor premier, having kicked nine unanswered goals. The Cats were about to lap up their bowl of cream, dreaming of next week but the Demons led by Max Gawn had other ideas. In a stunning finish, they stole the game from under them to claim the plaudits as best team and top of ladder position. In a remarkable game, it all came down to Max having to kick the winning goal after the final siren, something which s

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    SKIN THE CATS by Whispering Jack

    The task ahead for the Demons as they wend their way down the Princes Freeway to Geelong on Saturday night will be to skin the Cats. For them to come away with the points from this game would mark an historic occasion for the club as it will finish on top of the ladder for the first time since its last premiership year, 1964. And it was in that year, that a trip to Corio Bay to meet the reigning premiers in Round 12, was one of the catalysts for Melbourne’s surge to the flag. It was a top o

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    REACH FOR THE STARS by George on the Outer

    It was a game of great significance for the Melbourne Football Club. A win would see them keep top spot on the ladder with one round remaining. To achieve top place in the Round for Reach when we are all inspired to “Be Like Jim” and reach for the stars was a great way of honouring one of our heroes. All the better given that it was done by way of an emphatic 41 point win against Adelaide! It is worth remembering that, but for the umpiring mistake in the previous encounter with the Crows, t

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    Match Reports

    TICKETS PLEASE by The Oracle

    A lot of water has passed under Princes Bridge in the five years since Melbourne last met Adelaide on the MCG. The Crows were riding high at the time while the Demons were mid-table and scrambling for a win to stay in the race for the finals. The 30,000 fans who had tickets to the game were thoroughly entertained by a close, high scoring affair that ended in tears for fans of the home team. Not even an eight-goal second term could help them.   Times have changed.    In the fi

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    ELECTRIFYING by George On The Outer

    What more can they throw at the Demons of 2021? Covid restrictions, hubs, aircraft circling between airports before landing for games and now a match stopped for 30 minutes to give a flagging opponent its second wind? To date, none of those distractions has swayed the team from their winning objectives. The game against West Coast in Perth can be marked on their report card as another positive outcome after yet another test. There was much at stake for both sides.  Melbourne had t

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    LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY by Whispering Jack

    When the combatants that are due to face off on Monday night at Optus Stadium last met, it was 11 days after the World Health Organization had declared the Covid19 outbreak a global pandemic. In Australia, the first cases had just come to light, including visiting US actors Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, the toilet paper panic was in full flight and the world was starting to reel in anticipation of impending disaster. Half an hour before this last game of the opening round was due to comme

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