From The Notebook: Round 13

For how the round looked on paper leading in, it turned out to be quite entertaining in reality. A draw, two more games decided by a kick, Nathan Buckley’s Collingwood farewell and a ripper in Adelaide which kicked things all off.

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For those reading via email who see a blank space where there are supposed to be clips, there’ll be a link to click so you can watch and not miss out on anything.

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The Travis Boak v Mark O’Connor tag

(A disclaimer before continuing: This being O’Connor’s first game since Round 6 obviously had some sort of effect on the matchup)

It’s fascinating watching a tag applied, and how it evolves over the course of a match. To half time, O’Connor clearly had the upper hand.

Boak had only eight disposals and was clearly struggling to get his normal level of influence on the contest. O’Connor’s work meant Boak couldn’t get on the move and link up in chains as he normally does.

After the main break there was a clear focus from Boak to release the shackles and simply focus on running his opponent into the ground.

A 10-disposal third quarter featured influence all over the ground:

Which then paid off to start the last quarter. Boak, still fit and fresh, now had a tiring O’Connor on him, probably starting to feel the pinch on his return.

– First centre bounce: Free kick to Boak, against O’Connor for holding
– Second centre bounce: Free kick to Boak, against O’Connor for holding

Boak’s work in the third quarter paid off to start the last, and now he was firmly on top.

It prompted a move from Chris Scott and Geelong, releasing the tag and turning their offensive dial up – which, fair to say, paid off pretty well.

It was good football all around – which it usually tends to be when Port Adelaide face a top eight team at home.

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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:

2021’s From The Notebook

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How will Hawthorn’s backline end up looking?

This is more of a stream of consciousness thought bubble than attempting to highlight anything in particular, but nevertheless projecting Hawthorn’s first-choice defensive unit in a couple of years is a fun exercise.

To say they’re spoiled for choice when it comes to half backs and intercepting types is an understatement. When Sicily returns next year, he’ll join a group containing the likes of Day, Scrimshaw and Jiath, with Hardwick locked in as the small, Impey an important piece, and undoubtedly a focus on getting games into Grainger-Barras as one of the keys.

If we’re to assume Hawthorn go like most teams and settle on a defensive group of seven in their match day 22 (or 23, or maybe 26 or 27 in a couple of years when they rise up the ladder), making all these pieces fit in a functional unit is going to be fascinating to watch.

Let’s say Hawthorn see Grainger-Barras as the man who takes the best key forward. Do their glut of interceptors mean they’re more willing to take a risk and not play a genuine second tall, instead working to their strengths and doing it by committee?

Maybe it’s option B with Grainger-Barras, and we’ll put Frost’s name in there as a second tall. If that happens, you surely can’t have all of Sicily, Day, Impey, Scrimshaw, Hardwick and Jiath in the same defensive unit.

Or there’s an option C to consider as well. Most teams like to keep their back rotations essentially separated from the midfield, but could Hawthorn look to using one or both of their wings as part of a way to open things up? One of the key requirements of the open side winger is to track back and help out the defenders both in the air and at ground level, which in theory plays into the skills of several Hawks. Jiath potentially rotating with Scrimshaw, or maybe even Day in time.

And obviously while Clarkson is coach, there are also options D through to Z which haven’t even crossed my mind. Either way it’s going to be fun to watch the process unfold.

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

Round 10 v Essendon
Round 11 v St Kilda
What to take out of the first half-season
Round 13 v GWS

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Adelaide’s 36-point comeback explored

1. The Thilthorpe and Walker goals coming against the flow early in the third

It’s easy to look at a scoreboard which says four goals to none in the third quarter and think Adelaide dominated its entirety. Not so.

For the first 10-12 minutes of the term, it was all St Kilda. By my (manual) count they had nine of the first 12 inside 50s, but it only resulted in 1.2 to Adelaide’s 2.0.

Those goals to Thilthorpe and Walker gave Adelaide a little bit of margin for error, which proved handy when St Kilda’s territorial dominance resulted in a couple of missed shots. If they were goals it would have almost been game over. Instead…

2. Finding joy in space/on the counter for Rowe and Mackay’s goals, because space is not St Kilda’s friend

It’s been covered in previous Notebooks, but St Kilda’s strength is when the game is tight and contested. It doesn’t mean they’re infallible in that area – far from it as we’ll see in a moment – but open spaces are a mighty struggle for them to defend, more than most teams.

When Adelaide found some open space to get a bit of speed and chaos into the game, watch how St Kilda were a step slow to defend:

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

3. A contested dominance in the last quarter

Depending on which colour glasses you have on, it’s either Adelaide finding a way to get on top, or St Kilda running out of legs and looking gassed.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but either way the differential was an insane +21 Adelaide’s way in the final term with the game on the line.

Arguably the most impressive from a long-term point of view was Schoenberg’s seven, coming after being virtually anonymous in the first three quarters. Most inexperienced players don’t have that capability to bounce back in such an emphatic way.

The contested differential meant a huge clearance advantage, naturally translating into a flood of inside 50s. Consider the following numbers, in just a quarter:

Adelaide’s final quarter, R13Differential
Contested possessions+21 (51-30)
Clearances+12 (16-4)
Inside 50s+15 (20-5)

For all the setups and structures in play, sometimes it’s as simple as one on-ball unit hammering another. It essentially became Adelaide v the clock for large parts of the final quarter.

4. An unbelievable series of events

– Rory Sloane’s smother
– Paddy Ryder’s kick bouncing off Jimmy Webster, straight to Riley Thilthorpe
– Thilthorpe kicking it over his head on the non-preferred
– The ball bouncing the right way
– Sloane again smothering from the following centre bounce

A string of 50-50 moments which all went Adelaide’s way in the last two minutes to ensure the win. By the end they more than deserved the four points.

(PS. Also, are we sure Thilthorpe is 18 years old? He doesn’t play like one)

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