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Opinion

The AFL pecking order in Round 4

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Roar Guru
6 days ago
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The pecking order is always a challenging exercise.

It’s ranking the manner in which the teams performed and to some extent the way in which they were coached.

Round 4 was an entertaining and enthralling round to analyse.

1. Port Adelaide appeared to be in a class of their own in Round 4. They were good in almost every quarter, besides parts of the third when they let the West Coast within two goals. Their system is outstanding as it stands. The way in which they move the ball, take contested marks and finish off their good work up the field is precision-like.

2. St Kilda looked a lot more threatening than Richmond and appeared to have a better structure with just the one ruckman, Rowan Marshall. No disrespect to Paddy Ryder, but they looked like they had a better system without him in the ruck. Perhaps St Kilda could find a different role for Ryder. St Kilda weren’t only cohesive, but they managed to play team-first footy. They executed a fantastic game plan against the 2019 premiers.

3. The Western Bulldogs were fantastic. The team played team-first footy, led by their captain Marcus Bontempelli, who was extremely brave. Tim English played arguably his best game for the club. The Western Bulldogs’ system as a whole didn’t have flaws, besides the fact that Tom Papley kicked four goals for the game. This game was the first game that the Western Bulldogs have got to 60 points this season.

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4. Brisbane played a decent game of footy. It’s difficult to decipher whether Adelaide were bad or Brisbane were good. Brisbane should have had the game won by halftime, but they failed to kick straight throughout the contest. Their game plan appeared to be superior to that of Adelaide. Brisbane allowed Adelaide back into the game in the third quarter, but the game was played on Brisbane’s terms for the majority of the game.

Charlie Cameron

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

5. Hawthorn played a fairly good game of footy in a contest that you would want to win on paper as North Melbourne were without Ben Cunnington, arguably the most important player for them, due to Cunnington being a late out. The truth is that Hawthorn should’ve been winning by more than 21 points at three-quarter time based on the balance of play. Hawthorn would be disappointed in nearly losing a game that should’ve been over in the third quarter. It was an eerie feeling, almost like a loss.

6. The Greater Western Sydney Giants were erratic, but good in the key moments. When the game was there to be won, they stood tall. It proved a good move to bring in Shane Mumford as he curtailed the influence on the game of Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy. Grundy still had a good game, but Mumford battled manfully. It was a good effort by Matt De Boer to diminish the influence that Steele Sidebottom had on the game. Credit to the Giants for winning the game despite having three less scoring shots.

7. Collingwood lost the game that they should have won based on the balance of play. They missed their opportunities when the game was there to be won. Collingwood have a quality team on paper. Bringing Mason Cox back into the team somewhat impacted negatively on the Collingwood forward structure. They definitely have the talent, but they need improve their execution and skills when the game is on the line.

Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

8. Gold Coast played a reasonable brand of footy. They were lucky to get over the line in the fourth quarter. They were smashed in the final quarter in every element of the game except for the scoreboard. Fremantle lost Nat Fyfe through injury in the third quarter. The Gold Coast have plenty to work on. At the end of the day the endeavour they showed was unfathomable as they played for each other, so therefore they overcame their lack of control of the balance of play in the final quarter.

9. Despite the fact that Carlton dominated the game, that domination wasn’t translated onto the scoreboard. They were almost looking for a way to lose the game, as they found a way to keep Essendon in the game. At the end of the day they will be relieved that Jacob Townsend just couldn’t make the distance from Essendon’s last scoring opportunity. If Carlton are to play finals in season 2020 they need to take their chances to create scoreboard pressure when they gain control of the balance of play in a game.

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10. Fremantle would be pleased with the endeavour and the fight that they showed, but disappointed in losing the game. It was a winnable game for them. They were in the game throughout on the scoreboard and actually played some decent footy despite losing captain Nat Fyfe to a hamstring injury. All they need to work on is taking more risks and moving the ball through the corridor more often. They have to be willing to lose the game comprehensively by taking risks that if they come off could win them the game.

11. Geelong played slow and methodical footy and were in control of the balance of play until Melbourne fought their way back into the game in the fourth quarter. They played that type of footy due to the fact that they lost one of their most important players, Tom Stewart, due to an injury in the first quarter. It’s difficult to say which team deserved to win. It’s not a game that Geelong will look back on and say is their blueprint. All they really got was the four points, and perhaps confidence from winning. Ultimately, they would be disappointed in the manner in which they played and their overall performance.

Joel Selwood of the Cats leads his team out onto the field

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

12. North Melbourne only had one tall forward, who has potential of being one of their best tall forwards, in Ben Brown, who didn’t perform well. Their other tall forwards on their list are Nick Larkey, who couldn’t play due to injury, and Mason Wood, who shouldn’t have been omitted. North Melbourne stayed in the game from a scoreboard perspective, even though they were without perhaps their most pivotal player at stoppages, in Ben Cunnington. Somehow, they worked their way back into the game in the fourth quarter. Despite not winning the game they would be pleased with the character that they displayed. It was almost like a win.

13. Richmond were outplayed after kicking the opening goal of the game through Shane Edwards. They did have their moments where they threatened to fight their way back into the game. It appeared as if Richmond weren’t prepared for St Kilda playing with one ruckman and it appeared as if St Kilda were better prepared for the change of game style they were forced to implement. Richmond were ill-disciplined at times. They aren’t used to playing the game on an opposition team’s terms.

14. Essendon were clearly impacted by the week off. They were completely outplayed apart from on the scoreboard. As far as general play was concerned, they weren’t in the contest. At the end of the day they have plenty to work on. On the one hand they will be happy that they were in the contest up until the end of the game. Despite the fact that there were extenuating circumstances, they would be disappointed with their effort.

15. Melbourne lost a game that they could have won had they executed their skills better. The game was there for them to win in the fourth quarter. It was almost as if they were lacking confidence in the game plan and were scared of the detrimental repercussions of taking a risk by taking the dangerous kick. They lost by three points, when they could’ve won had they played without fear of making mistakes. Melbourne had 14 scoring shots to Geelong’s 12, but still lost.

Clayton Oliver of the Demons kicks the ball

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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16. The Sydney Swans appeared to be stagnant at times. The Sydney Swans are still without a first-quarter lead in 2020. They also missed key opportunities to score goals. The Western Bulldogs played with two less players on the bench in the second half due to injuries to Sam Lloyd and Aaron Naughton. In reality it felt like the Sydney Swans had two players less with injury on the bench. It’s fair to say the game plan of Luke Beveridge made the Sydney Swans look woeful at times. The only player that really stood up for the Sydney Swans was Tom Papley, kicking four of their five goals.

17. Adelaide would be pleased with the effort, despite losing the game comprehensively. They didn’t stop trying, but to no avail. At the end of the day they showed character in the third quarter to get within a winnable position as far as the scoreboard was concerned. They have plenty to work on as they were fortunate to only lose the game by 37 points as Brisbane had a total of 33 shots on goal to Adelaide’s 11, which says it all.

18. West Coast were woeful and their display was unfathomable. To think that they have acquired a quality player in Tim Kelly to add to an already quality midfield and to dish up what they did in Round 4 is strange. They may not be coping well with being in the hub. If anything, it shows what impact losing Jeremy McGovern to an ankle injury prior to the start of the game had on the team. Charlie Dixon kicked six goals. McGovern is arguably West Coast’s most important player, so that gives them somewhat of an excuse for their deplorable display.