The cluster shows no signs of fading away, which means big fantasy numbers for half back flankers.
It may be ugly, it may lead to boring football with reduced scoring, but there’s no denying that the rolling zone is going to be used a lot in 2009. Quite apart from the success Hawthorn had last season, I suspect the Pies v Eagles game in week 1 of the NAB had a bit to do with it. The Magpies set up through the middle and the Eagles set up round the wings. Collingwood did what they liked all night as a result. Since then, every team has tried to own the corridor, like the Hawks did in their first two finals last year.
One major difference, though, is that a lot of the zone players in the NAB this year have tended to drift too far back, leading to old-fashioned flooding. I don’t think the Hawks had as many five-on-one contests in the backline last year as I’ve seen in the NAB. Hawthorn tended to keep their back structures in place and let Luke Hodge or whoever zone off their man to be third up in a contest – mainly because the extra men in the midfield meant that they could run forward after a turnover and hurt on the rebound. I wonder if coaches new to the rolling zone are eventually going to figure that out and drill their players into not devolving the gameplan into the backline flood.
I’m going to break the round review posts up into days from now on, posting them just after matches, and in some cases may do a day and a night one separately. It requires too much brainpower to do it all at the end of the weekend when I’ve forgotten half of what went on!