We all know Triple M's Dave Noonan loves his footy...
As a self-proclaimed aficionado, we've asked him to share a little bit of his knowledge and insight every week by covering off on his favourite three things and his least favourite three things of the round.
Dave's 6-Pack - Round 4
- The Crows are on fire. They have the best forward line in the comp with Eddie Betts the best small forward in the game by a wide margin. Their backline is strong with Talia an elite defender and they have a really hard-working midfield with Sam Jacobs in career best form and Rory Sloane is a gun. In 2016 they took off like a rocket as well but struggled in the heat of the finals. Coach Don Pyke seems to have tweaked their game-plan. They are still attacking but have the capacity to press the opposition over the whole ground. Will be hard to beat if they maintain this form and intensity. They are playing with the freedom that a 4-zip start can give every player.
- I love the variety of body types that can succeed in AFL footy. In 2017 the cycle has turned and the nippy, agile, defensive small forward is now flavour of the season. Adelaide has Betts & Cameron and Richmond are having success with their young trio Rioli, Butler and Castagna buzzing around their forward 50. At my team, Melbourne, Jeff Garlett and Dean Kent play that role. The ability to quickly close down space, to tackle and to evade bigger defenders is crucial in the modern game where there seems to be less space than ever before. As a side-note, with Betts killing them at the Crows and Garlett, the Dee’s best small forward, Blues fans must still be furious with Malthouse for cleaning them out of Carlton when he arrived.
- Good Friday footy is here to stay! A good crowd of 42,814 watched a thriller between the Doggies and North Melbourne at Etihad. I think Easter spirit and footy can co-exist and I think that the Doggies and North deserve to keep the rivalry next year and going forward. The Doggies are just ticking over so far this year with another round of injuries set to impact on the team. North can consider themselves unlucky not to be 2-2 with their young group performing well but not quite being able to get across the line in tight games. Boomer Harvey would have been very handy against Geelong and the Doggies - I am sure a lot of North fans think the same.
- The Hawks were deplorable against the Cats. It is hard to believe that a team that has epitomised kicking efficiency and poise with the ball could look so rattled and inaccurate by foot and hand yesterday. Geelong should have been 10 goals up at half time. The Hawks new players have not been able to slot in to the roles but there is more to it. Over their recent dynasty the Hawks, like the current Doggies squad, had an ethos of “replace a soldier with another soldier”. Hodge, Mitchell and Lewis were often out and often together but the replacements played Clarkson’s game-plan with discipline and ferocity. At the moment they lack all confidence and self-belief. Hodge, Burgoyne and Gibson will be gone in the next year or so and it is hard to see who will be the new leaders and game breakers. O’Meara out injured doesn’t bode well either. Cyril looks like he is missing his senior team-mates. They can’t make the Eight and it may be a few years before they threaten again.
- The Pies must be disappointed with a 1-3 start to the year in coach Nathan Buckley’s defining season in the job. Every loss will compound speculation that Buckley is a dead man walking and undermines any efforts to generate greater cohesion. Remember only a year ago Damien Hardwick was under similar intense scrutiny at the Tigers during a dreadful season. The only difference is that he had signed a contract extension and the Tigers administration held firm. Now look at them, unbeaten after round 4 for the first time in 22 years. The question is has Buckley got the squad he wants playing the game he wants and are they about to blossom? How handy would Heath Shaw have been as a rebounding defender the last few years?
- It might seem head-in-the-sand and ostrich-like but I am not a fan of the huge offers being extended to young players. I am talking about the North offer to GWS star 22 y/o Josh Kelly. I was not a fan of the Doggies 10 year Tom Boyd offer either. I know he played well in their Premiership win but has not done much else. North have put $9 million on the table in a 9 year offer for Kelly. I feel like it is ‘all your eggs in one basket stuff’. What happens if he is injured for long periods? What happens if his form drops off? You are stuck with a huge part of your salary cap committed to one player and it undermines the team culture and ethic coaches try to develop. If he takes it, good on him and I think it is going to become more common as clubs are desperate to buy a marquee player and club champion for on-field and off-field (marketing) benefits. I would rather see players sacrifice the huge dollars for success as happened in the Hawks and Cats recent golden eras. It is interesting that in the year the Hawks made a huge offer for O’Meara, we are seeing cracks in their famed team ethos.
P.S - as a demented Dees fan, I find it frustrating (I am being polite here) - that they cannot close down a game when they are leading with 90 seconds to go. Surely they have a default structure in this type of situation. To see the ball flying into the Freo forward 50 with 3 defenders on 5 forwards was mind-boggling! We can only play the “young team” card for so long Dees! Time to grow up.
Thanks to Cripps - Cripps Master Loaf. Number 1 Choice for Tasmanian's daily bread!