Midway point in the season - reflections

I’m more excited to see if Draper comes on strong.

Phillips has been serviceable all year, but Draper could take this team to the next level. Durability is a concern.

It’s fun to watch us again.

And our pressure has been impressive, a couple of games aside.


said this in the review thread but…

im one happy bomber right now, im enjoying our footy. flogged a couple of sides, won Anzac day convincingly, competitive in losses for the main part with on the whole a young team. very, very good signs. we are way ahead of what I expected this year. its genuinely refreshing to watch new guys

we’ve beaten two teams by 70+ in a development year. its unbelievable.

there is a clear buy in. I think that shows with individual form - parish, hind, merrett, snelling, tippa and laverde are in career best form. hooker is looking decent. red dog is back to playing great footy. we are doing something right.


I must admit I was still concerned despite the 72 point win. North cut us up over and over in that 3rd quarter. I think they scored 5.5. We need to be better than that.

The biggest positive is that we finally seem to have a game plan that works and we’re applying it consistently, the execution will improve as we get games into the young players and we’re as not reliant on 2-3 players each week. The room for improvement is the scores we’re letting though and the scores from turnovers

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One thing I’ve noticed is that they seem to have a decided plan to rest one of McGrath, Parish and Merrett more than the other two in any game - look at minutes played and they seem to rotate them to give the odd short game, on some kind of rotating basis. One of them will get 5-6 or even up to 10 minutes more bench time in any one game.

In the past, I reckon MgGrath has had longer % of game time than Merrett, who has often played 5-6 minutes less than other mids and been more of an impact player in most games.

You’d think they’d play it very even or a set % of game time for each player. But it looks like a definite plan.

Hopefully this is a reflection of Parish as he has noted getting his tank up and Merrett now combining his great burst game with slightly higher ability to keep going.

People often make comments about how so and so looked tired or gave up a chase without considering their overall game time load or what they might have had to run in the prev 5 minutes - even without getting near the ball. Without that knowledge you really have no idea whether ‘must be carrying something’ is right or they just have a bout of fatigue from interval running combined with collisions that might do in an Olympic athlete.


Watched the replay this morning. Paid particular attention to that 3rd quarter… We took a bit of time adjusting the way we were moving the ball after half time, we were trying to go to a slower kick/mark method to get around their spares and didn’t quite nail it. Still kicked 4 goals for the quarter so there wasn’t really any damage done on the scoreboard, they only closed the margin by ~10pts. What was pleasing was their ability to address it at 3/4 time and then run away with it again in the last.


I agree that they got the game back on their terms in Q4, but it’s these lapses that cost us games. We were never in danger of losing the game yesterday, but we can’t afford those lapses against better sides.

They won the quarter by 4 points and we butchered at least that many opportunities going inside 50. We just went off the boil a little and missed some short options around and inside 50 that we took at other times during the game. Probably also lost our intensity around the ball slightly.

It was hardly the 3rd quarter v Hawthorn though


Cox, Perkins and Jones for me have been the standouts this year so far.
Hind is close to being recruit of the year.

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Im really enjoying this season. 1000x better than last year and it’s much more exciting then 2016 was for me.

So much to look forward too.

I’d say 2 areas of improvement are centre clearances and our defence on the rebound. Pretty happy with our scoring ability and we’ve kicked some good scores its just that we leak even bigger scores sometimes.

Cox, perkins, Jones :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

Don’t care where we finish on the ladder, I reckon we will improve significantly in the off season between 2021-2022.


We were playing the bottom team. They had 10 scoring shots in one quarter. We have had lapses in nearly every game so far. I know we are a young team and this is to be expected, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned by these lapses. It gives opposition teams hope that they can come back.

There are many positives to come out of our performances this year, but we still have a long long way to go before we challenge the top sides.

I don’t disagree. When we say lapse all i’m saying is that it wasn’t a total disintegration like we’ve seen at other times this year


Dunno about everyone else but with the exception of one turkey on this site, I’m enjoying the distinct silencing of the calls for a BBM


I’m probably of this frame of mind, albeit absolutely loving the ride. Thought it would be a year of torment.

Quite looking forward to Saturday against West Coast to see how we go. It could easily be another Port/Brisbane type game, however I think we have also improved since that Brisbane game.

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For me, and many of us, we’re clearly performing better than expected. However, I think we’re still a long way from being a premiership contender; albeit, there are some green shoots. So my views:

It’s worth listing out what I expected here:

  • Midfield: I thought we’d go ok here. I thought Draper, Merrett, Shiel, Parish, Langford, McGrath was a very strong core midfield with support from Stringer, Smith and Walla. I hoped Caldwell in his third year would show enough to add to the mix and be there most weeks. As far as I was concerned this unit was almost “complete”, but had zero depth. So without injuries, I expected this part to be working but busy as ball bounced straight out of the F50.
  • Midfield: I did want to see a bit more system here.
  • Backline: To be honest, I thought this would be horrific. Over-reliance on ageing players, and no small depth meant I thought we’d really be struggling.
  • Small Backs: On the small backs specifically, I thought we’d be worse off than we are. I wasn’t expecting Hind to pick up as he did, although Redman is doing nothing I didn’t expect. And I assumed we’d be playing Francis as a 4th small or having to scrub the deck elsewhere. So I really thought we’d be struggling (note. I don’t rate Guelfi in defence).
  • Tall Backs: I thought we’d be playing Hurley & Ambrose, so the kids would still struggle to get game time. I thought we’d be only playing 3 tall backs, so I also thought Francis would again struggle for game time unless played as a small, or due to injuries.
  • Forwardline: I thought Wright would do ok, Hooker would struggle, but we’d have Stringer & Walla doing well. After that, who knows? Snelling, Smith, Ham, Cahill, Johnson, all might get gametime but it was a question mark over how much. It was also a question over our structure. Didn’t really expect Jones to be doing much at AFL level. Or Eyre. Thought Cox might be played forward.
  • Youngsters: I thought Perkins would get game time up forward, Jones might show a bit at VFL level and get a taste. Cox I thought would play the T Lynch (Ade) role at VFL and might get games in the second half of the season at AFL level. Hind would play, Wright would play, and both be steady contributors. Waterman looked promising. No expectations around Bryan, Reid, Brand. Thought Eyre might show a bit at VFL level.

So overall I thought until injuries hit we’d have a good engine, but leak goals down back and have it bounce out of the F50. When injuries hit I expected even the midfield would struggle, and that we’d end up bottom 5 for the year.

So where have expectations been exceeded, or just different things done?

  • Given the injuries (Draper, Shiel, Caldwell, Stringer), I would have expected the midfield to struggle. Instead, it’s going so strong you wonder how Shiel & Caldwell will fit in. Cox has been a revelation, Parish has been allowed to shine (I had him in my dreamteam, I expected him to do well. Not quite this well!). It definitely lacks depth, but Shiel/Caldwell/Perkins will provide some. Need another elite talent IMO though.
  • We seem to have a much more cohesive gameplan. I like how we’re transitioning the ball, and the focus on intercepting off HB. We seem to generally be kicking through, with a little bit of speed. But can go slow. I’m a fan of 3 talls up forward, although this needs more work (Hooker too immobile, Jones not used enough as linkup). Midfield with the injuries is still a bit shallow, and need to cut out some stupid turn-overs when under pressure.
  • I’ve liked how Cahill has been performing in the middle at VFL level.
  • Small forwards: Snelling has been fantastic, Smith and Ham running through these spots have been decent.
  • Kids/unproven players: Been getting lots of games, which is a huge plus. Perkins, Cox, Laverde, Francis, Jones, Wright, Hind, Ham have all played most weeks. The older players are performing as we need them (or above), while the kids have all shown a bit to varying degrees. Lav has stayed uninjured. Bryan has mostly been doing it at VFL level, but looks a hell of a find. Hind is playing at elite level, which was totally unexpected (I thought he’d be above average, not this above average).


  • Ignoring travel, we’ve had a pretty easy draw for games 1-10. Only 4 teams inside the top 9, who have all defeated us. If Sydney kicks straight, we’re really only in one of those 4 games. If Fremantle kicks straight, we’ve probably lost to every top 10 team. We still need more elite talent.
  • I still don’t like that Parish started up forward in rounds 1 & 2.
  • Tall/mid defence: showing a very intercept style, which helps cover deficiencies. Good coming out, but definitely still questions on how well they’ll do against top-line forwards.
  • Tall/mid defence: I think there is major questions on Stewart, and I think Francis still has more to prove. Zerk has been incredibly disappointing. I said when we took Brand maybe it meant the coaching staff didn’t rate him, I think I was correct (although given I did rate him, got that one wrong!). Lav is looking good, but needs to continue to stay on the park and ideally keep improving.
  • Depth: Absolutely no small defenders depth. Nothing behind Heppell/Hind/Redman. The midfield has very little quality depth. And our VFL small forwards are all playing midfield as there is too many injuries. Questions on Mozzie. So issues here as well.
  • Injuries: Caldwell injury is very concerning. Draper struggles to stay on the park.
  • We need to replace Hooker at some point, and nobody (yet) who is here long term has put their hand up in the reserves.
  • The VFL has been decimated by AFL and VFL injuries, meaning there are some players not getting development time (injured) or getting time in the wrong areas (Cahill, Johnson, Hird) as we’re desperate for midfielders. This flows on to the frequency and quality of ball going forward. So any forward will struggle (well, except Ambrose). We need to get some guys like Clarke and Dunkley back.

Draft picks. I’ve said above I think we need more elite talent, especially if we want to challenge for top four/premierships, rather than just winning a final. That elite talent either comes through out-drafting everyone else, or low draft picks. Unfortunately, we’ve had a really soft draw, and have been going well against weak teams (4 out of 6 versus bottom 9 teams). Add in St Kilda & Collingwood totally imploding, and Carlton failing to progress to even mediocrity, and we’re probably 2-3 ladder positions higher than expected. This will impact our ability to get elite talent in.


Worth noting that we had more inside 50s in the third (15) than in any other quarter but our efficiency collapsed. We also had fewer touches, lost contested ball and gave up 17 inside 50 but our tackle count was the second highest quarter for the game. So we didn’t play well but it wasn’t a total crisis.

Nevertheless is the 4th quarter response to this from off was very very pleasing


It’s our defensive structures that seem to fall down.

Yeah, it happens when we don’t use it well going inside 50 and bounces out I reckon. Need to have a close look at the replay tonight


It’s not really… turnovers when we have the ball in areas that can’t be defended is what’s killed us more than breakdowns defensively. There have been poor defensive moments for sure but without having seen the stats I’d suggest we’d be bottom 2-3 for scores against from turnover. Maybe only North that are worse.