Holding the Ball is a hot mess.
Holding the Ball is a hot mess right now. The combination of a new interpretation that rewards tackling over winning the football and ridiculous umpiring has resulted in a toxic mix. An air of mystery now surrounds every tackle as what constitutes prior opportunity or a realistic attempt, or which one is more important, from stoppage to stoppage.
Who’d have thought that changing the interpretation of a rule midseason would have ramifications? The answer to that question is everybody outside of AFL House but unfortunately they are the ones that make the decisions
We wonder what Sam Petrevski-Seton would say about the rule and its application if the spectre of a huge fine wasn’t over his head if he did. Twice he was penalised for holding the ball in bewildering circumstances that resulted in West Coast goals. In one instance it seemed his choice of profession was deemed his prior opportunity, in the other he was penalised for not being able to make an attempt. The umpire seemingly unaware that 90kg men can make it very difficult for you to move when they have you in a bear hold.
Yet when Elliott Yeo, Shannon Hurn and Tom Cole were tackled in similar circumstances, the same logic wasn’t applied. Perhaps not having 18 Eagles players and a home crowd baying for you to make an incorrect call helps you reach the correct one. We’d also hazard a guess that putting a premium on winning the ball rather than tackling would help the process too.
How the Game Was Won
Another week, another 30+ point turnaround for the Blues the 14th time in 21 matches it has happened under David Teague. This one would have been particularly galling as it coincided with many of the more inconsistent decisions regarding holding the ball.
When Zac Fisher kicked the Blues 19 points clear at the start of the third quarter, the upset looked well and truly on the cards. Unfortunately it would be the highpoint on a day that quickly went south for the visitors. Three Eagles goals in 14 minutes saw the lead eroded, a further two in four minutes saw the home team take the lead and all the momentum into the final term.
A Will Setterfield goal early in the last offered some hope but it would be short lived. Goals to Dom Sheed and Jake Waterman helping the Eagles ice their comeback victory.
What the Coaches Said
Adam Simpson was proud that is team was ultimately able to overcome Carlton’s intensity and effort. “We knew Carlton were going to come out and play like they did. They’re very good in the contest. Their pressure was elite and we struggled to stay in the game. Probably lucky we didn’t concede. We did at the start of the third. We didn’t handle their heat. But our backs did stand up, I think they kicked the first goal in 30 seconds (in the second half).”
“We probably spent eight minutes defending and then it clicked a little bit. We won a few contests in front of the ball and we went into a pretty good space for probably half-an-hour and put the game out of reach. We’re a good side, but we’re no different to anyone else in terms of bringing intensity and playing four quarters – we’re still searching for that.”
It was no surprise that David Teague was pressed for his thoughts on the decisions against Petrevski-Seton. “I will never ask our players to not go for the ball,” Teague said.“’Sammo’ is a beautiful ball-winner. We want him to go and hunt the ball. He got a free kick against, that’s going to happen sometimes, but my message to our players is any chance you can put your head over the ball and win the ball, you win it. If you get stung for holding the ball we’ll wear that.
“It was an interesting one.”
“Our players are seeking a fair bit of clarity around it at the moment,” he said.
“It’s a hard one. Any time you change an interpretation through the season, it’s quite hard. As much for the umpires to adjudicate. Whether the umpires felt that was right or wrong that call, I don’t know because they’re going to make mistakes as well.”
“So it’s hard for us as coaches and players to understand which one was an error and which one wasn’t to get a pattern going forward. It’ll work out. Right now you’ve got to try and move the ball on pretty quick when you can.
“But if you’ve got no other option, you’ve got no other option.”
WEST COAST 2.2 3.3 8.4 11.6 (72)
CARLTON 2.0 5.4 6.5 7.8 (50)
West Coast: Kennedy 2, Darling 2, Sheed 2, Waterman, Gaff, Sheppard, Cripps, Cameron
Carlton: Fisher 4, Walsh, Gibbons, Setterfield
West Coast: Sheed, Naitanui, Yeo, Kelly, Duggan, Gaff
Carlton: Fisher, Jones, Kennedy, Murphy, Setterfield, Walsh
West Coast: Nil
Carlton: Jack Martin (calf)