|STOP MITCHELL...STOP HAWTHORN..?|
It was the philosophical response to watching the Eagles slaughter Hawthorn in the West.
After a similar flogging in the finals last year led to most writing the Hawks off, it saw the champs regroup, hit back hard and serve it to the Eagles liberally in the Grand final.
Begging the question of a case of Groundhog Day in 2016?
Glass half full/half empty scenario
If you take the positive viewpoint, the reality is the Subiaco ground is the anti-christ to the Hawks uncontested style of footy. With its narrowness allowing the Eagles to fill the spaces that the Hawks thrive on and forcing them into a contested brand of footy that we quite frankly stink at.
We will not play on this ground in the finals meaning we have a greater chance to have our style rule.
The other fillip is the likely return of Ben Stratton, an absurdly underrated player that is arguably more crucial to our backline than Josh Gibson. With Stratton being able to play on bigs smalls as well as impacting on others with his clever reading of the play.
We have to a large degree ridden our luck in 2016 with many close results going in our favour supporting our ladder position.
The results falling our way have concealed two issues that were ruthlessly exposed on the Friday horror show.
Central is the failings of the inside mids to be a factor outside of Sam Mitchell. Teams choosing not to tag Mitchell has concealed this with him igniting others around him, both inside and outside mids alike. When the Eagles took him out with a heavy tag it exposed a 'passengers on the bus' scenario facilitating the flogging. The 15/6 centre clearance figure in the Eagles favour exposed the failing and set a domino chain in progress. Allowing the Eagles to get quick feeds to their outside mids to slice us up or precise laser like entry straight from the bounce into their loaded forward line.
Isolating our forward line to one on one duals while at the same time making Josh Gibson accountable. It exposed the flaws in our defenders particularly Gibson who was betwixted and between in zoning off or marking his man.
Matters were not helped by Josh Kennedy finally proving he isn't James Frawley's bitch.
The other issue was when we did have the ball going forward the decision making was quite frankly embarrassing.
Brainlessly bombing into the 50, despite having no vindicated contested marking tall and the Eagles commandeered by arguably the best intercept marking defender in the game in Jeremy McGovern. If the ball did hit the ground the high grade rebounding skills of the Eagles exposed our under siege defence once again.
The soft underbelly in the 22
After the 2012 Grand Final was lost on the back of the bottom 6 in our 22 being exposed and exploited, evenness has been the teams ethos.
It has driven the three-peat
With veterans David Hale and Brian lake pushed into retirement along with Matt Suckling let go, success in 2016 was always going to rely on youngsters standing up.
The absence of Jarryd Roughead and the pressure he takes off lesser lights with his brilliance has been a huge factor in this. Meaning there are many with nowhere to hide
Friday showed that we at least 6-8 players not up to it against quality in a real pressure situation. The sad part of this is it is not just the green youngsters but some of the true stars of the club like Jordan Lewis who looks very suspect with Father Time lurking in his shadow.
On top of this is Jonathon Ceglar doing his knee meaning we have to find a replacement for arguably our number one ruckman or alternatively get a bit funky in replacing him.
Bringing in a green ruck like Pittonet or maybe rolling the dice on Fitzpatrick?
Do either fill one with any confidence?
Or, maybe bringing in Shoenmakers as a defacto ruck with him mostly resting forward and getting McEvoy to assume most of the load?
Devil or Deep blue sea stuff!
The Pies at the G
It will see the zealots laugh off the WCE thrashing as an aberration without taking the gulf of quality into context after we more than likely flog the Pies