From The Notebook: Round 6, 2022

Our first six rounds of spaced out matches have ended, and we’re about to head into at least a five-week block of traditional Friday to Sunday congestion.

Thankfully Round 6 provided plenty to discuss, and it’s a three-game slate in today’s Notebook.


The Shinboner Patreon is up and running this year from March 1 to October 31. The $5+ tiers get you early access to the weekly Notebook pieces in the morning, before they’re free to all in the evening.

Overall there are four different tiers. It starts at $2.50 per month and goes up to $10 per month for all the benefits. A huge thank you to everyone who’s signed up so far, it’s allowing me to do much more this season.

Here are all the details and how to sign up.


The broken Giants

In Friday’s What To Watch For, I went through all the problems GWS had, and why expecting Toby Greene’s return to magically fix things may be overly optimistic.

Then, unfortunately, the closing stages of Friday night’s game confirmed all my worst suspicions.

With all due respect to Josh Battle, Tim Membrey and even Jack Steele, their presence in the ruck should have been something the Giants had a field day with. It offered Braydon Preuss the lay of the land, freedom to do whatever he wanted at stoppages.

That freedom turned into a jumbled mess as hit-outs went in all directions except the most damaging ones. Rucks thinking one thing, midfielders thinking another.

It was baffling, either a lack of communication, understanding, or both as the Giants squandered their last ticket back into the game.

This is just a selection of clips from the second half of the last quarter. Watch how it appears no-one is on the same page:

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here to view

Hit outs are going away from Giants, towards Saints numbers, away from dangerous areas, towards congestion. It’s the sign of a muddled team, unsure what they want to achieve.


For those who have missed any posts over the last few days, here are links to catch up with – and share around.

Monday 25th: North’s Round 6 Review
Friday 22nd: What To Watch For: Round 6
Wednesday 20th: North’s VFL building blocks
Monday 18th: From The Notebook: Round 5
Saturday 16th: North’s Round 5 Review


The issue with Max King’s set shots

It’s about $1.01 odds that there’ll be sections here on Aaron Naughton and Harry McKay by the end of the year, but for the moment let’s focus on King.

1.7 from King on Friday night took his season tally to 17.17, coming off 38.30 in 2021 and 22.20 in 2020.

Not all of the misses against GWS were from traditional drop punt set shots, but the ones which were tend to follow a consistent pattern.

King’s ball drop is askew, usually going to the inside of his foot rather than straight over the middle. As a consequence, King chases the drop with his foot, essentially trying to ‘catch up’ with it.

But the drop creates too many problems, basically an in built hook so most of his set shots miss to the left hand side.

To illustrate how it’s an ongoing concern, here are six examples from the season so far – two against each of the Giants, Tigers and Magpies:

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here to view

From the outer, it seems like a relatively simple issue to fix once coaches get to work on King’s mechanics.

17 other teams won’t want it though, considering it’s just about their last avenue of escaping a St Kilda game without a King bag.


If you’ve missed it, we’re at the part of 2022 where Patron-exclusive pages will start to have extra features added. A reminder:

  • For those on the $7.50 Patreon tier (or above), there’s exclusive access to the Stat Suite page, now with rolling monthly stat rankings
  • For those on the $10 Patreon tier, they have exclusive access to everything on the website, including the List Management suite now with 2021 v 2022 minutes played by age comparisons

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Essendon’s lines of defence

Technically this is supposed to be a ‘Round 6’ Notebook, but as I hinted at last week I’ve been waiting for the right week to discuss Essendon’s defence.

Put aside ANZAC Day’s result for a moment, how Collingwood shot the lights out in a goalkicking performance which isn’t replicable.

All season – even dating back to practice matches – when Essendon are trying to keep the ball in their forward half the balance in their structure is slightly off, and it keeps costing them.

In earlier games this year a common theme was the deepest line of defence not pushing up high enough, leaving too much space between their line and the ball.

For recent weeks, and particularly on Monday, it’s moved more towards those around the ball not reading the play and resetting quickly enough after possession changed hands. It’s way, way too slow.

Now we’re far enough into the season, teams have scouted it and can game plan around Essendon’s deficiencies.

There were several passages of play where it looked as if Collingwood’s forwards were refusing to move towards the ball, to provide options.

But in the larger context it all made sense because the Pies were trying to hold forwards as deep as possible, knowing those around the ball could pick Essendon apart on rebound.

Let’s look at clips of two Collingwood goals to illustrate. First, it’s Jack Crisp’s goal. From the point Crisp marks the ball, note how there isn’t a single legitimate lead at the ball. It’s because the Pies know there won’t be enough pressure on the ball to worry them.

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here to view

The second is Brody Mihocek’s third quarter major, this one somehow being a team and individual breakdown at the same time.

Coming after 45 to 50 seconds of forward half territory, there shouldn’t be any excuse for Collingwood to march out of their defensive 50 so easily.

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here to view

Just so this section isn’t a full negative, there were sections in Essendon’s game on Monday which took a step forward compared to previous weeks. It’s easy to make a case they were the better team in general play and Collingwood aren’t going to kick 15.3 again any time soon.

There’s still plenty of work to do in this specific area though.

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