Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dealing with Hawthorn's 'Contested Conundrum'

Hawthorn's unexpected loss to Geelong gave a back to the future glimpse of how to derail this great outfit.

Centring around tactics employed by both Richmond and West Coast last year focusing on the following:

1, Man on man, denying the lethal foot skills of the Hawthorn players by filling in space they thrive on. Space, allowing surgical dissection through any zone, making their forward line lethal by the chaos theory it creates. Taking the greatest strength of Hawthorn in its forward line and making it into an exploitable weakness.

2, With no space, it forces kicking to contested situations, either one on one or in packs. An Achilles heel of a forward line that has no big on their list who is above average in contested marking situations. Even the much missed Jarryd Roughead, might be built like a power forward but plays like a 6'6 small. Relying on leading and losing his man due to his underrated 'tank' in traffic to be effective.

3, With this preyed on, it accentuates the rebound of the opposition, leaving Hawthorn out of position and rendering their team defence obsolete. Intercept genius's like Josh Gibson and the like cannot zone off and be factors when the ball springboards out of the attack in a fast, decisive manner. It exposes a defence that gets by with a 'little help from their friends' by fracturing the mateship and isolating them in one on one contests.

One knows this will be the main theme of the Grand Final replay with WCE. Especially with the highlight of Adam Simpson's team being an undersized defence revered for its lethal defensive rebound.

Clarko's Response

There are two ways you can view this.

Firstly, the genius coach will dismiss it as a few coincidences of the team playing badly allowing this, or view it as a real issue needing addressing.

I think it is a bit of both.

If Hawthorn plays to its optimum, no one can match them. Despite this, one has to respect these tactics that limit their ability to play, and when this happens their absence of a viable 'Plan B'.

Mosquito Fleeting in the Pagan Paddock?

HF: Shoenmakers, Gunston, Whitecross

FF: Rioli, Puopolo, Bruest

In this setup, space in the 50-metre attacking arc is left vacant.

 Both Shoenmakers and Gunston would be the lead-up targets between the 50-metre defensive arcs, segwaying between defence and attack. Using the strength of their run to lose their opponents in the traffic to set up goals for others, or themselves in transition. The rest stay in the vicinity of the 50-metre arc and the square. The only set position is Whitecross taking Puopolo's position as the defensive forward, marking WCE's most dangerous rebounder, likely Shannon Hurn, as well as being a factor with his footy smarts.

With all of Rioli, Bruest and Poppy above average as contested factors against players of similar size it flips the blueprint to derail Hawthorn. Allowing them to be favoured in one on one situation as well as being lethal with their pace with the kick over the top that these tactics rely on.

Others like Isaac Smith and Shaun Burgoyne rotating with these three in the forward 50 roles.

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