Why Adelaide and Geelong won’t win the flag in 2018

Alphingtonian Roar Pro

By Alphingtonian, Alphingtonian is a Roar Pro

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    Following an impressive and dominant finals series from Richmond, their coach Damien Hardwick spoke of the Tigers’ focus on a high pressure rating and speed (especially up forward) being the cornerstone of their turnaround as a team.

    Richmond had comprehensively belted every team they faced in the finals including Geelong and Adelaide. They have become the pre-eminent finals team and a blueprint for the perfect modern AFL side.

    You’d think then that all teams would realise speed, especially up forward, and small forward lines that pressure would be the way to go? Not so for Geelong and Adelaide who will enter 2018 as slow and tall as ever.

    So let’s get to the crux of the issue, how do you apply the most pressure as a team? The most simple way is to have a very fast team that can close down space very quickly, change direction quickly, and harass with repeat efforts. Tall lumbering types and slow bulky mids just won’t get the job done in regards to pressure.

    Both Adelaide and Geelong don’t seem to have realised this, losing speed during the trade period and not looking to replace or increase the speed of their respective sides at all.

    Both also favour having two talls in their forward line the majority of the time with Adelaide having Taylor Walker and Jenkins, Geelong Tom Hawkins and Harry Taylor/Rhys Stanley. This outdated frankly archaic philosophy of how to construct a forward line cost both teams dearly when they faced the speedy Tigers on the wide expanses of the MCG in finals.

    Their tall lumbering forwards were a huge liability being exposed on transition again and again by the Richmond wave of runners.

    It’s not only their forward lines though that lack speed, Adelaide and Geelong are slow almost all over the ground. Geelong only have Pat Dangerfield, Sam Menegola, Zach Tuohy, and maybe Nakia Cockatoo (if he can get on the park) with any real breakaway pace and Adelaide only having Eddie Betts, Paul Seedsman, and Curtly Hampton providing any dynamic speed.

    So where is their pressure going to come from?

    Geelong will take solace in the fact that they play on by far the most narrow ground in the league for nine games in 2018 meaning they won’t have to shut down anywhere near the space they would on the MCG to apply pressure.

    The Crows too play 12 games on a smallish ground in the Adelaide Oval, allowing them to apply pressure with more ease than they would be able to elsewhere.

    Unlike Richmond who transition with dynamic pace, handball, or kicking to space both Adelaide and Geelong prefer to use a more measured kicking game with ball in hand rather than run and carry. Logic says they’ll now rely on such measured and at times predictable ball movement even more.

    Strangely being able to play their respective home grounds so well and only having to shut down limited space is a real problem for both teams, deceiving their respective coaches (and many of their more misguided fans) in to feeling secure in set ups and a game plan that simply won’t cut it in September against quicker sides on the wide spaces of the MCG.

    Patrick Dangerfield Rory Sloane Geelong Cats Adelaide Crows AFL 2017

    (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    I also can’t help but feel Taylor Walker and Hawkins are forwards made for yesteryear far less athletic in the air and at ground level than a Jack Reiwoldt type they are becoming a liability and a point of weakness in their respective teams because of the way they draw the ball and hardly mark it.

    Once it goes to ground they’re completely out of the contest and it’s swept up by nimble defenders who run it out of there to start yet another counter attack. On a side note it’s no coincidence GWS’s best and most dynamic performance of the year came without their lumbering forward in Jon Patton slowing down their forward line.

    The advantages of a small quick forward line with only maybe one KPF marking target that’s incredibly athletic like Richmond’s are four fold.

    First, they apply enormous pressure to the opposition inside forward 50 limiting the effectiveness of the oppositions ability to build up coherent attacking play from defence or forcing a turn-over to give the attacking team a chance to score again.

    This is reflected in Richmond being ranked first in intercepts per game in 2017, and first in tackles inside 50 per game.

    Second, on quick transition from defence they supply speed which can move together in unison using handball/run and carry down the ground to quickly create an outnumber and overwhelm slow tall traditional defences. This is reflected in the combined stat of Richmond finishing fourth in metres gained per game, and third in bounces per game in 2017.

    Third, when a team like Richmond are looking for a target moving forward opposition defences find it incredibly difficult to go third man up with mosquito forwards leading every which way separating defenders and not making it obvious where the ball will go. Richmond finished second in marks inside 50 per game last year despite having a small forward line for this very reason

    Fourth, small forwards with speed are lethal when the ball hits the ground, able to win more ground ball than tall defenders and being able to break with speed from the contest to create space and set up teammates to have shots on goal. The Tigers ranked equal fifth in goal assists in 2017.

    Each area on its own may not lead to success but when it’s all combined it’s a lethal mix. It’s now the blueprint for success and unless Richmond get terrible injuries I think they’re a very good chance to go back to back given they’re a fair way in front of the rest of the comp when it comes to fully understanding the importance of speed and athleticism in modern footy.

    Port Adelaide may have the speed to worry them, possibly GWS if they actually have the courage to play small, maybe even Essendon are an outside chance with their own mosquito fleet, Hawthorn can’t be counted out if Puopolo and Cyril stay fit.

    Come September however one thing’s for sure the Tiges certainly won’t have to worry about Adelaide or Geelong troubling them, with the Cats and Crows forward set ups and lack of understanding of the importance of speed all over the park more closely resembling the structure of a perfect team from 1988 than 2018.

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    The Crowd Says (226)

    • November 14th 2017 @ 6:31am
      Mattyb said | November 14th 2017 @ 6:31am | ! Report

      Id probably have Geelong as early Premiership favourites as I think they’ll be hungry knowing the cliff isn’t very far away.
      Adelaide should be thereabouts but I think the mountain of not being a VFL club might again prove to big an obstacle.
      I also think the seasons of Dangerfield,Martin and Fyfe are going to go a long way to shaping next years ladder,and if Dangerfield can get some support from Selwood and Ablett Geelong will be seeing a fair bit of the ball. I’d imagine Selwood will be very hungry after a shocking finals series this year.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 9:45am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        But Mattyb you fail to account for Geelongs lack of pace. They are slow as treacle as the article alludes to.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 10:48am
          DougyW said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

          Quite right HTH. Geelong’s lack of speed was never so obvious as that embarrassing final. As the game progressed Richmond got quicker and Geelong slower.
          Mattyb the Cats have just toppled over the cliff.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 10:55am
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            DougyW, that’s why each year they make finals but then get found out on the wide G…this time I believe they have indeed toppled over and a 34 year old ex champ with hamstrings like frayed rope isn’t going to help.

    • Roar Guru

      November 14th 2017 @ 7:27am
      Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      This prediction of yours will likely turn out as rubbish as your prediction of the Cats being belted by Sydney. You are absolutely kidding yourself with this line, “They have become the pre-eminent finals team and a blueprint for the perfect modern AFL side.”
      Every year a team wins and suddenly they are the perfect example of what to do. Last year it was the Dogs. The years before it was Hawthorn and their precision kicking. Now it’s the Tigers. No one has ever won a flag trying to out do the Premiers at their own game style. Only teams that aren’t sheep and try their own things have any chance of the ultimate success.
      Richmond will come closer to missing finals than they will of going back-to-back.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 8:46am
        Slane said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

        Your backflip from ‘Ablett is an over-the-hill dud’ to ‘Ablett will deliver the Cats a flag’ is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened on these boards since you were outed as Gene/Samantha/Cat.

        • Roar Guru

          November 14th 2017 @ 10:29am
          Paul D said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Now now Slane, surely you know Scott Clayton & Stephen Wells were eagerly following Cats comments on this site to wait for him to set the going rate for Gaz. He had to furiously hedge so that his club didn’t get ripped off. Perfectly understandable, if you’re patently delusional about the relationship between oneself and the club you support.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 4:51pm
            Slane said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

            I’ve heard the first thing recruiters do of a morning is log onto this Sydney based multi-sports opinion website to check whether any of us ‘Anons’ rate player X.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 10:58am
          Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          I agree Slane…but Gene often backflips like she/he did when arguing opposite points to suit his case in the 2017 finals games Geelong v Richmond and then Geelong v Sydney. Check out his comments in those two! A complete reversal of argument to suit the Cats!

          • Roar Guru

            November 14th 2017 @ 2:23pm
            Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            Oh please do enlighten us about this one hopelesshank

        • November 14th 2017 @ 11:01am
          Deir-ba-zor said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          Nevertheless, he is right.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 7:01pm
        Col in paradise said | November 14th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

        A retired Reiwoldt would be better than Hawkins !!!…

    • Roar Guru

      November 14th 2017 @ 8:40am
      Wayne said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Why does everyone seem to forget that Adelaide won the first quarter, and were looking to do it easy in the Grand Final until Richmond decided to turn up and play?

      They are still a dangerous looking team, that needs to learn that kicking it to a 1v3 isn’t a good option.

      Cats have Ablett or Dangerfield probably lurking in Forward line. Crows have Betts. I’ll take a Key Position Forward drawing 2 defenders and bringing the ball to ground with them in my forward line any day.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 11:25am
        Brian said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        Its a fair point. If they had Smith, McGovern and some balanced umpiring they are pretty much ahead at half time.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 11:29am
          Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          If, if, if. If only. And blame the umpires. Soft. How will Adelaide perform without Smith and Lever in the back half next year? Oh yeah. IF. Letting Adelaide off the hook IF you ask me!

          • November 14th 2017 @ 4:34pm
            sammy said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

            Richmond played better on the day – that is all. Crows were the best team up until the GF and underestimated their opponents on the day. By adding gibbs to the midfield they now have 4 genuine A grade midfielders rolling through there and have added a tagger that they did not have – ie someone to go to a martin and help quell his influence. Adelaide beat teams during the year with quick ball movement and they won’t need to change that. They should have learnt to respect the opponent a bit better for next time – having beaten the Cats by 10 goals in the prelim they got ahead of themselves.

            • November 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm
              pussyblue said | November 23rd 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

              Thats the problem with too many home finals. Beating Geelong at home is not the same as beating them at Kardinia park or the MCG. It did get Adelaide into the grand final but left them ill prepared to play Richmond at their home ground when the tempo goes up a notch. Many teams game plans have come unstuck on the wide expanses of the MCG. This will always give the MCG tenants an advantage as their game plan is more suited to their home ground.

              • Roar Pro

                November 23rd 2017 @ 2:51pm
                Alphingtonian said | November 23rd 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

                4 of the last 5 Premiers have been MCG tenants so there might be something to that. However Sydney beat Hawthorn there in 2012 and The Bulldogs who hardly play on the ‘G’ won two finals on the way to their Premiership in 2016 so I just think it comes down to a coaching staff that create an adaptable game-plan and pick the appropriate players to execute it on the ‘G.’ I think both Adelaide and Geelong last year were far too set on the two tall lumbering forwards strategy that had worked so well for them on their respective home grounds rather than adapting their forward set up to the wider spaces of the ‘G’ where speed rules – especially in September.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 4:44pm
            Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

            perhaps more to the point young hungry jack is how the Swans let a battered ageing old slow team absolutely belt them in a final?

        • November 14th 2017 @ 11:44am
          Milo said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          And if they’d had taken Richmond a bit more seriously, had a coach who made some moves, didn’t focus all their cleverness on the PowerRangers anthem stance, didn’t have their best players shut down for most of the game, had kicked straight, weren’t under as much pressure, had a Dustin Martin, had an Alex Rance, weren’t playing Richmond, didn’t drop their heads and spit the dummy towards the end of the second quarter, played better football than Richmond…

        • November 18th 2017 @ 8:12am
          David C said | November 18th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

          They got thrashed. You have to play 4 quarters.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:45am
      Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      Interesting article, Alph. Sure to provoke some feeling. For what it’s worth I think you’re on to something here. The way Richmond toweled up both these sides in the finals can’t be ignored. The scary thing is that they have massive room for improvement. Do Adelaide? Geelong? Have my doubts. The fact that many pundits here want to consistently complain about Adelaide ‘not being a VFL club’ thereby making it that much harder for them and Geelong not getting ‘earned’ home finals at the Cattery would indicate a certain defeatist attitude of many, but not all, supporters. These two teams will be thereabouts due to their home ground advantage throughout the season but beyond that . . .
      Sydney v Richmond GF for mine! Beyond that clear air!

      • November 14th 2017 @ 9:01am
        I ate pies said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        Richmond have a much harder draw next year, and they still have a crap bottom 6. I wouldn’t be surprised if they fell out of the finals altogether. Bottom half of the 8 is the most likely spot for them though.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am
          Milo said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          Interested to know who you think is the crap bottom six at Richmond?

        • November 14th 2017 @ 9:36am
          Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          Just who are the crap bottom 6? Betcha they were all influential in the GF. All the talk about A-graders, B-graders, bottom 6, etc. is all garbage! It takes a team! As for harder draw, you’re taking a lot of liberty there. If you’re assuming ladder positions will be much the same, well . . . they won’t be! It’s just a tired cliche just like bottom 6 players, lazily used as ‘evidence’ to support a bias conjecture.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 10:56am
          Rick said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Not sure about Richmond’s hard draw, 14 games at the MCG, including 6 out of the first 7.

          Play Sydney in Melbourne after their bye and play Geelong twice at the G.

          Have to travel 5 times!!!!

          • Roar Guru

            November 14th 2017 @ 8:52pm
            Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

            Difference is no one spent the off-season scheming and planning to beat Richmond last year. This year 17 teams will be gunning and ready for them.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 4:46pm
          Slane said | November 14th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          Richmond have the easiest draw in the competition. They don’t play the reigning premiers at all!

        • November 18th 2017 @ 8:15am
          David C said | November 18th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

          Having just won the premiership there is absolutely no pressure on Richmond. Should make the top 8 easily but the competition is very even at the moment with no stand out team. Form in the finals will again go a long way to deciding next years premier.

      • November 14th 2017 @ 11:05am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

        Nope Hungry Jack you are wrong. The two slowest sides in the AFL are Geelong followed by Sydney. Both have made finals in the past because their lack of speed is masked on their tiny home grounds, both fail in finals. No flag in the Buddy era for the Swans and a 5-10 finish for you next year with still no silverware.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 12:39pm
          Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report


    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:50am
      Don Freo said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      Alphingtonian! Alphingtonian! Why not change the club you barrack for?

      At least, with this article, you have a 17 in 18 chance of FINALLY being right.

      Will it be more enjoyable to eventually be correct or would you prefer your team to keep having success?

      • November 15th 2017 @ 6:50pm
        Bobby said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

        THIS! Get out of my club alphingtonian.

    • November 14th 2017 @ 8:53am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      Yes, at last a really good summary of where modern footy is at. I totally agree that pace is the issue and it is pace that is the most important key for 2018. Geelong and Sydney for that matter consistently make finals because they get away with being slow on their funny little toy grounds where space is less and they can turn their games into ugly scrums. Once they are on the wide expanses of the G suddenly they have so much ground to cover and no legs to do it with. That is why Geelong in particular have consistently made finals since 2011 and consistently fail each finals series at a certain point. Geelong’s little toy ground has worked against them and they are slow, painfully slow, yet gave away Motlop, one of the very few they have with breakaway pace. They may finish just in the 8 next year by virtue of their silly little toy ground masking their inadequacies but they will not challenge. Cats will finish 8-12th next year Ablett or no Ablett.

      • Roar Guru

        November 14th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        I love how you started out guaranteeing Geelong would miss finals, now you are making up excuses to hedge your bets.

        • November 14th 2017 @ 9:43am
          Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

          No I didn’t Cat, I have always said I expect Geelong to miss finals but they will sit in a 8-12 category but will not be a genuine challenger. Regardless, I’m flattered you consider my opinion worthy of comment. now, if you would only acknowledge Dangerfield’s selfish mistake in carrying his baby through the banner before the Richmond final instead of concentrating on the task at hand.

          • Roar Guru

            November 14th 2017 @ 10:55am
            Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            Your envy is showing.

            • November 14th 2017 @ 11:01am
              Hungry Jack said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              Is it Gene? Jean? Or Samantha?

              • Roar Guru

                November 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm
                Cat said | November 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                I have never once hidden my identity. Every post I have made on this site is linked to my profile. I did change my name, but it is still the same account with the posts all linked. You don’t have the same level of honesty though do you?

            • November 14th 2017 @ 11:06am
              Harsh Truth Harry said | November 14th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

              MY envy? Essendon flags = 16. No envy there Jean/Gene/Samantha

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