What did the Pinch Hitters Learn Like and Dislike in Round 11 of the AFL in 2020

AFL 2020: Round 11 – Learned, Liked and Disliked.

Find out what The Pinch Hitters Learned Liked and Disliked in an action packed Round 11 of the 2020 AFL Season?

Can’t get enough footy? Check out our Pinch Hitters AFL Mid Season Report Cards here.

Port are legit.

We’re not going to lie, despite their 8-2 start to the season, we weren’t yet convinced that Port were legit. Their defeat of Richmond, in one of the games of the season, has changed our minds. Not just for the win but for how it was achieved. After twice surrendering big leads, they ran away from the Premiers in a blistering final quarter.

Rhyce Shaw has some work ahead of him.

The Kangaroos are in need of a whole lot of work before they can become a force again in the AFL. After years and years of railing against it, there is no avoiding the fact that the playing list needs a complete overhaul. Despite defying critics and getting more than anybody thought possible out of their squads, they are now left without the necessary weapons to compete against the best teams in the competition.

It wouldn’t be North Melbourne though if they went quietly into the night. While admitting post match that the club would now be playing with a focus on the future, Rhyce Shaw also made it clear that they will continue to fight in the moment. They don’t know any other way at Arden Street.

There is no substitute for experience.

The storylines for Geelong and St Kilda ahead of their Monday night clash couldn’t have been more different. The young, brash Saints had risen to second on the back of exciting ball movement and forward pressure. Their opponents Geelong, full of class and experience had split their last four matches including a difficult stretch in Perth.

With the football world expecting a genuine test for both teams, Geelong proved once again that there is no substitute for experience. They feasted on the Saints young and inexperienced onballers to completely dominate this contest.

A quick look at the best for both teams illustrating the gulf perfectly. Not one of the Cats five best – Menegola, Hawkins, Dangerfield, Rohan and Duncan – is under 28. Of the Saints best five – Steele, Battle, Long, Phillips and Bytel – Steele, at 24, is the only one older than 22. While the Cats best each have an average of 189 games of experience, the Saints best has 170 games between them.

Can’t get enough footy? Check out our Pinch Hitters AFL Mid Season Report Cards here.

Can’t get enough footy? Check out our Pinch Hitters AFL Mid Season Report Cards here.

Neale and Macrae smuggling their own footy’s into the Gabba?

Whereas it’s normally fans who smuggle their own Sherrin’s into the ground for a post match kick to kick, it seemed that Lachie Neale and Jackson Macrae decided to do so on Saturday night. Despite matches in 2020 being 20% shorter in length, both produced possession counts more reminiscent of the longer form game we are used to.

On the beaten Bulldogs team, Macrae continued his prolific ball winning and collected 40 touches. This had him on half century pace if the game was played over the traditional duration. For the winners, Neale was best on ground once again. He finished with 36 disposals (18 contested), 12 clearances, seven inside 50s and eight score involvements to once again show why he is considered an unbackable favourite for the Brownlow.

A Draw.

Gold Coast and Essendon couldn’t be separated on Wednesday and both teams had to settle for two premiership points. While many have likened draws to dancing with their sister, we have more of a soft spot for the sport’s third possible result and feel it was fitting in this contest.

There is a beauty and poetry in time slowly becoming the enemy of both sides in their attempts to overcome each other. By the time the final siren sounded at Metricon neither team deserved to lose as equally as neither deserved to win. It was a far more perfect outcome than dancing with your sister.

Ah Chee Flies High.

Not far from where Shaun Smith took the mark many consider to be the greatest of the 20th Century, Callum Ah Chee took one that will be in consideration for Mark of the Year honours this year. As if performing midair acrobatics, Ah Chee used the Bulldogs Ryan Gardiner as a launching pad to send the Gabba crowd into raptures. Perhaps even more importantly given the state of the game at that stage, he went back and kicked the goal too.

Can’t get enough footy? Check out our Pinch Hitters AFL Mid Season Report Cards here.

Can’t get enough footy? Check out our Pinch Hitters AFL Mid Season Report Cards here.

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 bare 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.

A Fine Mess.

We wrote a few weeks ago about the AFL being a slave to outcome when it came to sanctions for on-field incidents. Nowhere is this more evident than in the League’s response to bumps or tackles that go wrong. Rather than penalise the action, they penalise the outcome.

We saw this again in action this round when Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt were both fined for striking after the Tigers loss to Port Adelaide. While this is not new, the League has been soft on striking for some time, we believe that it is the wrong way to treat these kinds of incidents.

You only need to look back to the defence mounted for Andrew Gaff in response to his 2018 incident with Andrew Brayshaw. After leaving Brayshaw with a broken jaw and three dislodged teeth, he told the tribunal he had merely intended to hit him in the chest to get some space.

Why would he think that punching a player in the chest is fine? Because, like they showed this week with Riewoldt and Martin, the AFL only cares about outcomes not actions.

The Crows.

Adelaide’s loss to Collingwood on Tuesday continued the club’s worst start to a season and longest ever losing streak. Now just the fourth team in the 21st century to start a season 0-11 and just the 10th to do so in the last fifty years, there is a ghoulishness over watching the Crows remaining six games.

They are now must watch television for all the wrong reasons. Will they find that elusive victory or will they replace the 1964 Lions as the most recent team to record a winless season?

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