Friday night’s game was another boring floodfest in the corridor, resembling kick to kick in a suburban park.
On Friday night, we got another ugly game of midfield flooding, which makes me think that maybe the game we saw between Brisbane and St Kilda in round 1 wasn’t all the fault of the Saints. Perhaps Michael Voss is going to commit to the midfield cluster more than other coaches. It makes sense in some respects, because part of the reason the cluster works so well for Hawthorn is that they have two excellent tall forwards to bomb the ball to in one-out contests after a midfield turnover. We haven’t seen what Brisbane can do with the cluster once Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw are both reinstalled in the team, but judging from what Bradshaw did on his own in this game, I think Voss might be onto something.
Down the other end, we finally got a glimpse of what Matthew Knights’ four pillar strategy might look like in practice. At the opening bounce, Scott Lucas lined up in the goalsquare with Jay Neagle nearby in a forward pocket, Scott Gumbleton stood at more or less a regulation centre half forward position on the opposite side to Neagle’s pocket, and Matthew Lloyd ran into the square off a wing. As the game wore on and both half back lines played kick to kick with each other, it became clear that this strategy severely limits the fantasy scoring potential of both Lucas and Neagle, while Gumby will also struggle to get marks if he can’t get free for one-on-one contests.
Hayden Skipworth racked up huge numbers again in this game, though a closer inspection reveals some worrying signs. All six of his marks were uncontested, denoting a continuation of his game style of sitting a kick behind play and redirecting traffic. The problem with this was that his ball usage was not great, with only 68% efficiency and three clangers. If the Bombers had been hoping he would play the same role in the regular season, they might be reconsidering based on those stats. Then again, Courtenay Dempsey had only 50% efficiency from his 14 disposals and Andrew Lovett 75% with four clangers among his 16 possessions, so maybe there’s not much to choose from.