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From The Notebook: Round 7

As promised last week, it’s an all-positive edition of the Notebook. For today’s edition:

– Liam Baker, Kane Lambert and a Tiger tweak
– The Suns and Izak Rankine, adding a wrinkle to stoppages
– Why Brisbane has a favourable matchup against Port Adelaide


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For those reading via email, I’ve noticed recently the embedded videos tend to be temperamental in actually showing up. There should be a link to click to view from now on if you can’t see the videos.


Liam Baker, Kane Lambert and a Tiger tweak

Richmond’s win against the Bulldogs felt, to an outsider at least, very much like an ‘early Richmond’ victory based purely off the manic defensive press and efforts while the offensive areas were spotty, this time due to unavailable players rather than a system still being bedded down.

Perhaps the move that summed it up well was the move of Baker to the forward half, getting close to taking Lambert’s spot in the rotations but playing it in a different way.

The great part about Richmond’s system is their ability to put players in a position where strengths are accentuated. Here, although Baker moved into a nominally attacking role, there was no expectation to be a Lambert clone. Instead, Baker had the licence to focus on what he does well – defending, and using that as a springboard to propel Richmond forward.

Liam Baker v Western Bulldogs
Pressure acts29 (2nd on ground)
Tackles8 (1st on ground)
Tackles inside forward 503 (equal 1st on ground)

Ideally this isn’t interpreted as a downplay of what Baker can, and did, do offensively – two goal assists and a goal on Friday night! – but more the fact expecting him to be a straight swap for Lambert’s skill set – the equal leader at Richmond for score involvements per game this year – wouldn’t be putting Baker in the best position to succeed.

Here is about a minute’s worth of Baker’s best defensive efforts. Note how often he’s able to come in from the defensive side of play, which means he’s starting from a great position to prevent Bulldogs players from going forward, rather than a last ditch effort to effect play. It’s a subtle difference, but one that separates players into different levels.

For those who can’t see the video, click here to view


If you’ve missed any of the previous editions of Monday’s Notebook, you can catch up by clicking here and scrolling through the season so far:

From The Notebook, 2021 (and 2020)


The Suns and Izak Rankine, adding a wrinkle to stoppages

Most actions at stoppages are relatively simple – one stationary player blocks for another, running a wrap around the back of play, those types of things.

The Suns are adding extra wrinkles into their actions, especially in the forward half where they have the freedom to really get on the move. This throw in which led to a Rankine goal was their latest offering. Let’s break it down step by step:

For those who can’t see the video, click here to view

There is so much going on here – players on the move, multiple actions, different directions, false clues. Five seconds of action took 40 seconds to explain, so what hope do defenders have when they only have a split second to react and Gold Coast’s movement is all timed to perfection?


For those who have missed any North Melbourne recaps and ruminations from the last month, you can catch up here:

Round 4 v Adelaide
Round 5 v Geelong
Round 6 v Fremantle
Round 7 v Melbourne


Brisbane’s favourable matchup with Port Adelaide

Brisbane’s last two clashes with Port Adelaide have both resulted in comfortable wins, Saturday night’s 49-point victory backing up the 38-point result last year.

Sometimes sides just find an opponent which suits everything they want to do, which is the case here for the Lions. At worst they break even around contests, and in general play – both offensively and defensively – their base style works in neutralising the Power’s strengths.

With how Brisbane move the ball and the strengths of their mobile forward line, the Power defenders are stretched and unable to intercept at their usual high level. Take this heat map comparison of Joe Daniher, Dan McStay, Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron. There’s as minimal overlap as you can get for four forwards:

Then at the other end, Harris Andrews is an excellent matchup for Charlie Dixon. In each of these last two games, Dixon has gone goalless, and only managed one mark on Saturday night.

By shutting down the Power’s fulcrum, Brisbane are forcing them to take an indirect way home. That, coupled with the continued pressure on disposal, results in longer, lower percentage shots which shows up on the scoreboard with inaccuracy. Compare the shot quality Port were able to get at the Gabba (5.14) with the previous week against St Kilda (14.9):

If the two teams are to meet again this year, it’d be in a final. Brisbane would be mightily confident heading into it.

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