From The Notebook: Round 2

A fortnight in to 2021 and we’ve already been gifted a contender for match of the season, Sunday afternoon’s clash between the Western Bulldogs and West Coast a pulsating encounter.

Elsewhere, Carlton’s defending leaves much to be desired while Sydney is suddenly an offensive juggernaut. Those will be the three matches to look at in this week’s edition of From The Notebook.

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Carlton’s forward half defending

Carlton aren’t going anywhere fast while they continue to struggle defensively, particularly holding the ball in their forward half.

For all their offensive abilities – and there are plenty – it’s all being gifted right back with a series of defensive errors ranging from the individual to system breakdowns.

When forwards give up as much as they score, it’s not a recipe for a successful season. Here are a string of examples from Thursday night’s loss to Collingwood, remembering these are just what’s visible on broadcast. Speaking from the point of view of someone who was sitting in Carlton’s forward half during the first and third quarters, there are plenty more unseen.

Sydney’s offensive transition

No analysis needed for this, just highlights. Here are three separate clips of Sydney rapidly moving it from their defensive half to forward 50.

It’s outrageous fun to watch. ‘Risk? What’s that?’, the Swans say as they take the quickest route home.

This approach against Richmond at the MCG on Saturday is going to be fascinating to watch.

*Enjoy this now because we’re not far away from Sydney being good. And when that happens, it means the academy discussion will inevitably arrive just afterwards to drain the fun from it.

The Naitanui-Kelly connection

Maybe the correct approach here would have been to highlight, you know, the winning side.

Nevertheless it was striking to see the connection Naitanui has with Kelly, and the confidence they have in each other – particularly in the dying stages.

Here’s Kelly more or less ignoring Bontempelli:

At this throw in Naitanui only has eyes for Kelly:

Kelly runs into what would be a useless position for 95 percent of midfielders, with the major difference being they don’t have Naitanui as a ruckman:

This combination – along with Naitanui doing Naitanui things – had the Bulldogs largely in a reactive mode around stoppages.

It makes the Dogs’ efforts there – winning the clearance count 41-36 – and their win that much more impressive, given the knock on them has often been their struggle when forced on to the back foot. Their Round 4 clash against Brisbane in Ballarat looms as a fascinating one given both teams’ trajectories.

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