Round 6 Review
Society is a strange beast at the moment. We had a round of football that included:
The pre-Round 6 flag favourite being torched by a rampant Geelong
Fremantle becoming the first team to trail by more than 7 points at quarter time and come back to win (a 42-point turnaround under the shortened format is extraordinary)
Two young sides in Melbourne and the Gold Coast Suns playing exciting footy, with the Suns unveiling Izak Rankine in a brilliant debut
Port Adelaide announce themselves as a genuine contender after beating GWS in an absolute arm wrestle
An exciting Carlton team who have nearly become the best team to watch at the moment
Instead, most of the focus has been on Richmond v Sydney, featuring the reigning Premiers trying to grind their way to a win in the wet after six forced changes to their side, and a Sydney team with a Papley-or-bust forward line and serious injury problems of their own.
Incredible how we focus on the negatives. There were bad games 20 years ago, they just weren't on TV with everyone at home during a pandemic...
This article from Russell Jackson at the ABC is a fantastic read. While I don't believe it's the broadcasters *fault* in terms of the state of the game, I'm totally convinced that perceptions can be changed if we make more use of the wider shots. Having watched the game from these wider angles over many many years, there is an opportunity to tweak how the game is delivered to fans. Execution will be the tricky part, but it's worth a shot. Perhaps it's time for an article on this topic soon from an insider's perspective.
Didn't the bump get some airtime this week?!? Wowee. Obviously no one will be satisfied with tribunal consistency no matter what happens, but it does highlight the single drawback in handing down tribunal penalties in a rolling format across a weekend - you can't nail consistency as easily when there are a set of comparable incidents across a round. Would the Gary Rohan incident be viewed differently if all of those bumps were adjudicated by the MRO on a Monday?
Speaking of Gary Rohan - there is nothing surer than his early aggression being driven by a message from the coaches to be more physical.
It's official - the weekly knee-jerk reaction is the most predictable aspect of an unpredictable season. We've seen Collingwood written off after two close losses, Hawthorn have gone from a potential threat in Round 3 and completely cooked only three weeks later, and the Giants under the pump after losing an absolute coin flip against a quality side in Port Adelaide. A great guide to a team's expected chance of winning is their closing price in the gambling markets (deliberately steering clear of betting talk/information on here, but this is slightly different). As an example, Collingwood were $1.68 and expected to win but not find it easy, so the Hawthorn loss was probably larger than people thought but not a total shock. Port Adelaide ended up $1.96 against GWS $1.85 and got over the line - with prices that close the game is basically a coin flip, so the reaction to a GWS loss is way too savage given what the market thought of their chances.
For some late night amusement, take a look at Champion Data's mentions on Twitter over a weekend. The football nuffies really do come out to play, taking aim at apparently inconsistent Supercoach scores or a missed "kick" for their player when the ball glances off his shin. It's extraordinary. I've been an advocate for the opening up of *some* data for the more hard-core footy fans so they can continue to learn how the game is played and what the clubs look for in the statistical space. However, there are commercial realities around what can be made available. Just because you want access to more numbers to play around with, doesn't mean you'll get it.
We've heard a lot about the struggles of players in hub life and their struggle to be close to their families. Spare a thought for the staff who are still the untold story out of this whole situation. I'll keep mentioning it because the tale needs to be eventually told. But sadly, since they aren't current or ex-players, the spotlight never turns to some really good operators who have put their lives on hold to keep earning a living and do their best to keep this season ticking along.
Round 6 Burning Question:
Who should take more blame for Melbourne's forward 50 issues - the mids or the forwards?
We probably didn't get a definitive answer just yet, but there is no doubt the Demons execution in both areas of the field was far better. No better guide than their Mark Play On percentage forward of centre. Round 1-5 it was around 27% (2nd most in the comp). In Round 6? About 15%, the third lowest for the round. Something changed, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.
Who Won The Round?
The Blues! It was the perfect antidote to the Richmond v Sydney game we endured just before it. Carlton looked to go forward at every opportunity, were challenged by the Bulldogs who certainly didn't take a backward step early on, and then stormed home with a 37-3 final quarter. The only team to hit 100 points since Round 2 (remember when Carlton had that incredible stretch of sub-100 point games for a couple of years?), and a great side to watch at the moment. What a game their Round 7 clash with Port Adelaide promises to be...
Who Lost The Round?
Surely St.Kilda. In the shortened format, basically no one should be 36 points up at quarter time and lose, yet somehow they did. Big test for them now they are away from Marvel Stadium. But they're capable of challenging most sides, so it will be interesting to see how they handle themselves over the next few weeks.
The usual Round 7 Preview, with the footy moving West for a while (get ready for some weird timeslots, too - 8:10pm Friday night, anyone?).
How long until teams have to quickly ship out of NSW? Fascinating situation at the moment. Let's just hope footy can hang in there...