The opposition’s spare man has been killing us for a long time now.
But I don’t think people understand the concept of the Spareman…. why Peter Wright always has 2 opponents on him? why nobody ever man’s up Daniel Rich.
Below ive drawn a diagram of a contest on the wing. We are in red, opposition is blue.
McGrath is usually our spareman, who sits at the back of the contest. He’s around the ball, and is an ‘extra’ midfielder.
The opposition have their spare man in defence. It’s Daniel Rich, Jeremy McGovin, Alir Alir, Tom Stewart or Jake Lever.
We bomb the ball forward without looking, the spareman is the first one to mark the ball… and our forwards are easily bodied off making a contest.
Our midfield has been notoriously weak, and we’ve needed the extra player at the contest so we can break even…. But it leaves our forwardline exposed. It’s time to remove the training wheels, and midfield step up, man for man with the opposition, because I think they have become seriously complacent. The problem has been passed on to the forwardline who are always out numbered at the contest.
this has been a problem for us for well over a decade now and we’ve had a string of coaches who love the spare at the contest. I hate it, it’s a dice roll. If you are on top at the contest and your opposition is letting you walk out it works well for you but if it’s an arm wrestle in almost invariably back fires.
we gave the cats Tom stewart spare in the backline for the whole game. he didn’t have a huge direct impact but really mucked our ball movement up indirectly by forcing us to over possess and go side ways.
our spare at the contest had absolutely no impact at all, indeed he’s usually hard to spot. i really wish they’d consign this one to the bin only to be brought out on occasions where we are in complete control or where things are going horribly wrong and we want to try and change things.
it feels like it’s been the default position for as long as i can remember though and i can only remember a handful of games where it’s actually worked for us.
To be fair, its not justone spare man. We frequently have our forwards push up the ground as well, while their defenders stay back. The number of times there’s 4 defenders to two forwards is frustrating.
Our coaches over a long period of time LOVE having our spare man at the contest. But it just doesn’t work for us. Our talls end up getting double teamed and then the spare man racks up touch after touch from the backline and helps set up the opposition to cut through us on turnover.
Quite apart from the poor strategy everyone else has remarked on, you would have to say that McGrath is very ineffectual as the spare man in terms of getting possession and making effective disposals, instead of a hurried kick across his body to who knows where
The idea is to have more numbers at the contest and run the ball out and make that extra defender useless by hitting up easy passes. The problem is we rarely run it out easily and even if we do, the kick in is still shocking or straight on top of the opposition defensers head.
When it works it works well. We saw it last year, when we would use a series of handballs to move the ball forward. As we had an extra guy running with the ball carriers, the theory is that we have some extra time and space to hit up a short pass to a leading forward.
In theory the plan might work. In reality (like astro_bomber said), our mids just aren’t good enough kicks (aside from maybe Merrett) for it to be consistent. You also need forwards blocking for each other and timing their leads properly, which we haven’t had. It also falls apart when the opposition pressures us around the stoppage and forces a rushed kick.
No point to the spare if we are continually outnumbered forward… especially with the talent we have down there at the moment.
I think we should put our spare ahead of the contest sitting in-between the forwards and midfield. Once the ball is kicked forward, the opposition spare defender will likely mark or bring the ball to ground. From there, our spare can mop up the loose ball while streaming forward and if we always keep one player deep then they can either kick/push it forward to the last line or try converting.
We should also definitely rotate our spare to keep the opposition on their toes as each player offers a different dynamic.
Beat me to it. We’ve been throwing numbers at the contest to make up for our midfield weaknesses for a decade. Our most effective way of moving the ball through traffic is with chains of handballs but this requires extra numbers to work. Its not just why we have less forwards we are even sometimes outnumbered in the backline. We desperately lack not just the brute strength but the skills to have players who can actually move through traffic by themselves. Other than Stringer we don’t have any mid who can break tackles or find space in the contest. Even 1 on 1 we rarely see any of our players able to get past an oncoming tackler.
We usually bring our half forward or offensive winger up to the stoppage which creates a spare. There’s a huge disconnect from when (if) we win the ball from stoppage to actually hitting a target. Tippa/Stringer actually paper over a lot of the cracks in this department.
There’s nothing more frustrating that watching our guys win a crucial contest up the ground & then as they break free they are forced to stop & go backwards because we have nothing forward of the ball. It completely & utterly defeats the purpose of winning that contest.
I’d love a club to try something different with key forwards. Sure there’s some who are mobile enough to be effective all over the ground but Wright is fairly useless in anything but a marking or ruck contest up the ground. Hooker was pretty much the same last year & the worst for it was Tbell back in the day (when played forward). These lumbering guys just provide nothing in general play through HB & on the wings so why the fark are they there so often. They end up having to try to get back inside 50 quickly but nearly always have a more nimble opponent who gets back quicker or is more effective up the ground than our forward.