From The Notebook, Round 17: Adelaide’s style, Richmond’s meltdown, and how much to take out of two games

It was a bad day to be a three quarter time lead on Saturday.

While Richmond’s collapse in a hail of errors took the headlines over the weekend, today’s Notebook also covers Adelaide’s style and wonders what to take out of Geelong v Melbourne and Brisbane v Essendon.

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Querying Adelaide’s style in their midfield

This really deserves a whole piece of its own, but nevertheless we push on.

For most of the year, I’ve been figuring out how to explain what I think I’m seeing with Adelaide.

They’re a young side, obviously far from the finished article, with plenty more growth to come. However. I keep coming back to one nagging thought: that Adelaide are developing a style with a hard ceiling.

As evidence I present the midfield, and in particular Rory Laird, Matt Crouch and Ben Keays. Against Hawthorn they were three of the five most experienced Crows in terms of games played, and key ball winners.

While there are valid (and correct) questions about whether it’s the right style of midfield mix to trouble sides, let’s put that to one side for a moment. What shouldn’t be up for debate is how it’s up to your midfield to provide drive and set Adelaide up from contests.

On Sunday the trio combined for 100 possessions, which sounds great. Then you realise 63 of them were handballs.

Although metres gained can be a misused statistic at times, it paints a clear picture here. Laird’s 42 disposals gained a total of 298 metres. Keays’ 30 disposals gained 213, and Crouch’s 28 just 102 metres:

Adelaide, Round 17KicksHandballsDisposalsMetres Gained
Rory Laird132942298
Ben Keays141630213
Matt Crouch101828102

One midfielder playing this role makes perfect sense. Two is much harder to justify, but you can get there with some gymnastics.

Three is overkill and cripples any chance of fluid ball use. It’s reflected in the rest of the team as well. With the exception of a handful of players, the balance between offence and pressure tilts too far towards the latter.

The pressure is there, and you can see it. That teams – for the most part – can’t put big scores on a bottom four side means defensive setups around the ball are competent.

But at the moment that’s all there is, and there appears to be minimal desire in complementing that with an attacking mentality to trouble opposition defences.

At the moment Adelaide are set up to try and win by kicking 12 goals a game. The margin for error is minuscule with that mindset.

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For those who have missed any posts or podcast appearances over the last week, here’s where to catch up:

Sunday 10th: North’s Round 17 Review
Friday 8th: What To Watch For: Round 17
Wednesday 6th: What total minutes played by age says about a list profile
Tuesday 5th: The Hashtag Kangaroos Podcast
Monday 4th: From The Notebook: Round 16

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What prompted Richmond’s meltdown

Sometimes late game comebacks are due to structural and setup errors. Other times it’s a bunch of avoidable mistakes one after the other in quick succession. Let’s start with…

Wait, sorry, wrong game. In all seriousness there were a lot of similarities between the Petrenko game and this one, with simple individual errors gifting the opposition a way back into the match. Here comes the list.

1: It all begins with Jason Castagna’s mistake at the six-minute mark, taking too long to make his decision and having his kick smothered by Charlie Ballard. No need to post vision of it, everyone knows what I’m talking about.

2: Jayden Short’s 50 metre penalty handing Matt Rowell a shot at goal. A simple, easily avoidable error.

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

3: From the ensuing centre bounce, Jack Riewoldt gives away a free while trying to take mark of the century, depriving Richmond of a chance to lock the ball in their forward half.

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

4: Robbie Tarrant takes the long option when going short to Ivan Soldo was the correct choice, allowing Jarrod Witts to drop off and intercept.

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

5: Ben Miller gives away a needless free kick, costing Richmond possession.

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

6: No-one stays down with Mabior Chol – and the extra aerial numbers fail to kill the ball – allowing Chol to soccer the easiest of goals. Eventually, anyway.

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

7: Dylan Grimes drops a chest mark, giving Gold Coast one last opportunity to drive the ball deep.

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

Wildcard: However Noah Anderson managed to find room to receive Sam Day’s pass. As you can see, the director nailed it.

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

The common theme between all of these is that they’re simple, easily preventable individual errors. In a way you’d almost rather those compared to system breakdowns. Although that’s not much comfort at this stage.

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How much can you take out of Geelong v Melbourne & Brisbane v Essendon?

I can’t quite figure out how to approach these matches, so I’m throwing it out there to find other opinions.

Starting with Geelong’s win on Thursday night, there are so many oddities. An obvious starting point is the ground and conditions, which will be different if the two teams meet again in September.

The clearance count was 54-36 Geelong’s way, a monstrous edge. How likely is that to happen again?

Then again, Geelong’s three leading goal kickers on the year only combined for two between them – none until the last quarter, and one deep in junk time. Even allowing for Jeremy Cameron’s role further up the field, surely that won’t happen again?

It was Max Gawn’s first match back from his syndesmosis injury – how much better will he be with the run under his belt?

Lots of questions I can’t figure out the answers for.

Brisbane’s loss on Sunday prompts even more queries.

We know about all the changes; five through COVID (Ah Chee, McStay, Andrews, Coleman, Answerth), four injuries (Rich, Zorko, Berry, Prior).

But the on-ball rotation was largely untouched, and still there was the same recurring problem of opponents able to waltz the ball out of congestion much too easily.

Since the Hawthorn game in Round 10, Brisbane have become a bottom six side when it comes to conceding scores from stoppages. It’s a drastic change from the first nine rounds, where they were best in the league.

That part is genuinely worrying when it comes to Brisbane’s premiership aspirations. It’s got to the point where the downturn (seven matches) is almost as long as the positive start (nine matches).

Is it time to worry about this area for Brisbane, or did their crazy week make for an interrupted preparation, one which should return to normal sooner rather than later?

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