Time to crack down on Tomahawk’s tactic, and why this Kangaroo deserves an All-Australian gig


What. A. Spherical.

After a reasonably lacklustre begin to the week on Friday evening, footy exploded for the remainder of the weekend, with sport after sport of fascinating, thrilling soccer that has as soon as once more rocked the season to its core.

We had a draw, a kick after the siren, the very best QClash in years, and a 20-year previous primary draft decide coming of age in essentially the most spectacular type.

After which there have been the smorgasbord of spectacular highlights all through the week – we noticed mark of the yr contenders aplenty and a number of the season’s most ridiculous targets.

Toby Greene, Adam Saad and Mitch Georgiades touched the moon; Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Josh Daicos kicked the celebrities. The one query is, which mark and objective had been the very best of the bunch?

It was a spherical that may certainly be remembered for a protracted, very long time. Let’s relive all the thrill and unpack precisely what went down.

1. It’s time to crack down on Tom Hawkins’ tactic

If latest rule modifications to fight Richmond’s golden years are any information, it appears within the AFL lately being the highest canine comes with the hindrance of getting the league actively attempt to restrict your dominance.

If that’s the case, then certainly the time has come to handle the tactic everybody is aware of Tom Hawkins does, but no person appears to care sufficient to cease.

Hawkins is a superb footballer, and doubtless nonetheless the neatest ahead within the sport. Not only for his glorious foot abilities, unselfishness and unmatched power, however in his persevering with exploitation of one of many sport’s most baffling gray areas.

Nearly each week, social media will gentle up with despair when Hawkins blatantly shoves his opponent within the again to take a mark; this week in opposition to Port Adelaide, it was Tom Clurey being shunted below the ball. Test the participant above in the event you haven’t seen it already.

But solely when it occurs within the final minutes of tight video games, reminiscent of on Brisbane’s Harris Andrews earlier this yr, does it really generate any media consideration – and the dialog has all the time been about whether or not the umpire made a mistake. It’s by no means about whether or not the rule that permit Hawkins get away with it’s essentially damaged.

This isn’t a crack on the umpires – the legal guidelines round pushing in a marking contest are intentionally gray to permit forwards to mainly get away with homicide.

The official phase within the guidelines of the sport (18.5b for anybody ) solely refers to a participant who ‘unduly pushes or bumps an opposition participant’; but its interpretation has lately revolved round whether or not it’s acceptable for gamers to protect their house with their arms.

Over years, the rule has primarily gone from ‘fingers within the again are okay, simply don’t lengthen your arms’ to ‘do what you want, Tommy, so long as you are taking the mark’.

Hawkins is totally not the one ahead (or, once in a while, defender) to get away with this, both; however he’s the identify each single footy fan associates with the tactic due to the sheer quantity of instances he does it.

It’s apparent why it includes him rather a lot: defenders will all the time play in entrance of him, as a result of he’s a big human who’d be not possible to spoil enjoying again shoulder, and good luck partaking with him in a one-on-one contest.

Your solely hope in the event you’re Tom Clurey is to take entrance spot and hope the ball doesn’t carry over the again – or the ump doesn’t discover you getting shoved out of the way in which.

Clurey took the proper place within the above contest, and the one approach for Hawkins to take the mark as he did with the kick delivered to him was by way of signifies that had been – or must be – unlawful. The backman needs to be given the prospect to compete.

The quantity of hoopla seen this yr over Jack Ginnivan has seen a landmark change in how excessive contact is interpreted – this week alone, we’ve seen dozens of tackles that might have been apparent frees a month in the past waved off.

Think about if the AFL, the media, and us as followers put as a lot scrutiny on a 34-year previous champion who has been doing this for a decade as we did on a 19-year previous with a handful of video games?

Whether or not it’s outlawing any contact within the again solely, or clearing up the gray space round extending the arms, one thing has obtained to be carried out. If Ginnivan’s ways had been sufficient to immediate a rule change, so too ought to Hawkins’.

Tom Hawkins marks in front of Tom Clurey.

Tom Hawkins marks in entrance of Tom Clurey. (Photograph by James Elsby/AFL Images by way of Getty Photos)

2. The draw ain’t broke, so why will we need to repair it?

As is the norm now each time one crops up, speaking heads shortly popped up across the footy world following Friday evening’s Richmond-Fremantle sport, questioning whether or not it’s time to do away with the draw.

Surprisingly, these speaking heads even included Tigers coach Damien Hardwick, who advocated for the match to proceed till the subsequent rating if a match is tied up at full time, relatively than the same old name for additional time.

(Name me a conspiracy theorist, however I wonder if Hardwick would have felt the identical had it not been his workforce charging ahead and solely stopped from scoring by the ultimate siren?)

However whether or not additional time or ‘golden level’ is your poison, right here’s my resolution: maintain it as it’s. What on earth is mistaken with a draw?

I agree that for fixturing causes, attracts within the finals simply aren’t attainable anymore. I used to be all the time a fan of the idea of a grand closing replay, however each single participant from the 2010 draw hated it with a ardour, so it made sense to do away with it and make the large dance identical to each different closing.

However typically, within the home-and-away rounds, circumstances come up in order that neither workforce wins a sport. And that’s fully tremendous!

As an apart, the ultimate seconds of Friday evening would have performed out very otherwise: there’s no likelihood the Dockers would have been as attacking with ball in hand in on the dying had that they had additional time looming. I’d counsel that loads of video games that function groups rolling the cube with scores tied late can be neutered by bringing in additional time.

Primarily, although, my problem with altering the present system is that this: attracts are a time-honoured a part of the sport, as uncommon as hen’s enamel, and simply as memorable (perhaps much more so) than any thrilling win or loss. It’s a essentially distinctive a part of our sport, too, given each that it’s higher-scoring than European soccer with much less likelihood of it occurring.

Attracts are tremendous. Let’s hope debate about it’s strictly stored in hypothetical phrases, and the AFL isn’t tempted to repair what isn’t damaged.

3. The Kangaroo that must be an All Australian contender

North Melbourne may legitimately have misplaced to Hawthorn by 100 factors if it wasn’t for Ben McKay.

Certainly, they’d most likely have misplaced considerably greater than two video games by that margin this season if it wasn’t for Ben McKay.

Amidst a season from hell for the Kangaroos, the important thing defender hasn’t simply been a shining gentle – he’s been excellent in his personal proper. You could possibly make a really actual case that he was the very best man afield in opposition to the Hawks – however in fact, when your workforce concedes 121 factors and loses by 46, nobody’s going to see it that approach.

But the Roos’ defence was fairly spectacular after a dismal eight objective first quarter – the Hawks obtained the ball inside 50 a staggering 68 instances, however ‘solely’ mustered 26 scoring photographs.

That was mainly all right down to McKay. He took eight intercept marks – 5 greater than some other participant on the sphere – whereas beating an excellent opponent in Mitch Lewis fingers down. Studying the ball expertly, he outright gained or nullified just about each one-on-one contest between the pair, whereas additionally repeatedly chopping out his teammates with well timed spoils or pack marks.

Barring a weird, determined swap to the ahead line mid-season – maybe David Noble’s most baffling teaching transfer of all – this has been the norm all season. He was equally excellent in opposition to Collingwood a fortnight in the past, practically holding off the Magpies’ cost on his personal; and great preventing a solo battle in heavy losses to Geelong and Fremantle.

His common of 4.2 intercept marks per sport is healthier than anybody within the competitors – and that’s with out factoring in that he’s twice been concussed within the first half of video games, and missed the final quarter in opposition to the Dockers and Lions with leg knocks. (Within the latter sport, the Roos conceded 9 targets with out him).

That he’s been in a position to do all of it whereas additionally enjoying as a key ahead for Carlton is much more noteworthy (nudge nudge wink wink).

There’s cheap competitors for key defensive spots this yr – Steven Could is the apparent clubhouse chief but once more, whereas Sam De Koning, Paddy McCartin, Sam Taylor and Tom Barrass can be different worthy selections – however McKay’s efforts shouldn’t be dismissed due to the standard of the aspect he’s in. If something, that ought to solely improve what he’s been in a position to do.

If he finishes the yr unscathed, he’ll have performed 16 video games, with two of these first-half substitutions. It’s most likely not sufficient for him to crack the workforce itself, however he ought to at the very least be within the dialog for a squad spot.

I’d be comfy with him being neglected due to the footy he’s missed – but when we’re speaking high quality of contribution, McKay’s season deserves the best of reward. If anybody deserves an All Australian gig from a two-win workforce, it’s him.

Ben McKay of the Kangaroos celebrates a goal.

Ben McKay of the Kangaroos celebrates a objective. (Photograph by Dylan Burns/AFL Images by way of Getty Photos)

4. Girl luck is on the Pies’ aspect – they usually should money in

Collingwood couldn’t have performed the ultimate minute in opposition to Essendon any higher – however that doesn’t imply that profitable it wasn’t the most important fluke of their lengthy checklist of shut video games.

Little doubt Pies followers will rightly declare ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ – and it’s fully right – however had Harrison Jones not hit the publish with a reasonably simple set shot, had the Bombers determined to place anybody on Trent Bianco on the wing, had one of many two Dons round obtained a fingernail to Jamie Elliott’s mark, the Magpies’ eight-game profitable streak wouldn’t have reached 9.

To present them the credit score they’re due, the Pies by no means wavered from that closing kick-in; a lesser workforce would have bombed straight up the center, relatively than executed what you may solely assume to be a set play: house created on the wing for Darcy Moore to mark and kick to Bianco, and at worse a boundary throw-in deep within the pocket.

It’s not possible to really feel just like the Pies’ luck can final for much longer – besides that’s what all of us mentioned after their win over North Melbourne a fortnight in the past, after which after squeaking previous Adelaide simply final week. They’re on a trip for the ages – and even when it solely makes half a per cent distinction, the quantity of confidence they should have in getting the job carried out on the dying will likely be sky excessive.

However as any cricketer is aware of, whenever you’ve obtained the gods in your aspect, you’ve obtained to money in and money in huge time. The Pies are actually within the prime 4 – with a proportion of 106.2! – and with an inexpensive sufficient run residence to present them each likelihood of holding on.

However there’s no assure their luck will maintain in 2023; they usually’ll have to deal with a top-six fixture relatively than a bottom-six fixture. Their finest likelihood to snag a premiership may nicely be proper right here and proper now.

Because it stands, if there’s 5 minutes to go in a giant closing and the margin is below a kick, you may wager your backside greenback whoever the Pies are enjoying goes to start out getting very, very nervous.

5. Two-touch Bruce nonetheless an important Canine cog

In two video games since his AFL return from a critical knee harm, Josh Bruce has had a mixed 5 disposals, and is but to kick a objective.

However regardless of that, the Bulldog continues to be an necessary motive why they’ve stored their season alive with two essential wins, together with Saturday evening’s thriller in opposition to Melbourne.

Massive blokes, even huge blokes as woefully out of contact as Bruce presently is, are pure focal factors. They command a giant defender, and take strain off different, smaller forwards.

Bruce’s presence in opposition to the Dees was extra substantial than any two-possession sport actually may very well be. He occupied sufficient of the eye of Steven Could, Adam Tomlinson and Harrison Petty to permit Jamarra Ugle-Hagan better house to maneuver.

His presence didn’t imply the Demons didn’t nonetheless take bulk marks behind the ball – Could monstered him a few instances within the closing time period specifically – but it surely at the very least meant Ugle-Hagan and Aaron Naughton weren’t getting repeatedly double-teamed, which repeatedly occurred earlier within the season with a smaller Canine ahead line.

Working example was Ugle-Hagan’s first objective within the opening time period. Towards a smaller man, Tomlinson would have been in a position to shepherd Petty’s house sufficient for him to mark coming again with the flight; with Bruce there, it pressured the ball to floor as Tomlinson was drawn in shut sufficient to collide with Petty. Ugle-Hagan did the remaining at floor stage.

The Canine’ power final yr was primarily based round a three-tall ahead line, with Bruce, Naughton and Tim English too tall for a lot of opposition defences.

Whereas Bruce might want to get higher for them to even trace at a finals run, giving him each likelihood to try this is much extra necessary than any two-touch sport may very well be.

6. Cats the frontrunner, however this flag continues to be completely anybody’s

If ever one other premiership may very well be gained by a workforce outdoors the highest 4, it would nicely be this yr.

After one other topsy-turvy spherical, I’m ready to say that 9 groups stay in rivalry for the premiership – sure, even the Bulldogs and Richmond.

Equally, except for Geelong on prime, all the opposite main frontrunners a month in the past have appeared decidedly susceptible. Cracks are beginning to seem in Melbourne’s much-vaunted workforce defence; Fremantle are getting repeatedly blitzed out of the center, Brisbane nonetheless appear a workforce wholly succesful both of a magic run via September or crashing out in straight units once more.

Even the Cats are giving groups a glance in – 9 instances this yr have they conceded a rush of targets just like the eight they gave as much as Port Adelaide within the second time period. They, like Collingwood, might need amplified their ladder place with a wonderful report in tight video games.

Essentially the most in-form workforce within the comp, except for these clutch Cats and Pies, is clearly Sydney; however even they fell asleep after a slashing first quarter in opposition to the Crows, and whereas they had been too far forward for it to matter, they may not be so fortunate in opposition to a greater aspect.

Then there’s Carlton in seventh, who’re fearsome at their finest however will seemingly have to return from outdoors the highest 4 to get it carried out.

As for the remaining – St Kilda are nonetheless simply proportion outdoors the eight, and Port Adelaide and Gold Coast most likely cooked by their losses this week however enjoying sufficient good footy that you may’t formally put a line via them. Their destiny is out of their very own fingers, however can you actually say they’re carried out on this wacky, fantastic season?

All too typically at this stage of the yr, the die is mainly solid: everybody is aware of who’s a contender, who’s out of the finals race, and who’ll simply be making up the numbers in September.

This yr feels totally different: not solely are there a better than common checklist of the top-tier contenders – you can argue it stretches all the way in which to the Blues in seventh – however solely the Cats appear a reduce above the remaining.

When you thought this weekend was good, simply wait to see what 2022 has in retailer subsequent!

Tom Papley of the Swans celebrates a goal.

Tom Papley of the Swans celebrates a objective. (Photograph by Michael Willson/AFL Images by way of Getty Photos)

Random ideas

– Truthfully don’t suppose it’s attainable to have a greater half of footy from a small ahead than Brad Shut’s first half on Saturday.

– Seems younger key forwards want a little bit of time. Who knew?

– I don’t care how a lot he’s paid, however Tim Kelly gave up below the Marcus Windhager tag as meekly as humanly attainable.

– Josh Daicos’ objective was higher than Sam Draper’s final week, however we must always nonetheless give Draper objective of the yr. Thanks for coming to my TED Speak.

– Absolutely John Longmire can’t drop Ryan Clarke? Enjoying an ultra-crucial position in an excellent Swans workforce.

– It’s tremendous harsh, however I’d by no means seen a 30-disposal participant really make their workforce worse earlier than Aaron Corridor.