Jaeger O’Meara was outstanding for the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos
Jaeger O’Meara was outstanding for the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tackle: Robbo’s biggest ‘head scratching’ moments

Take a bow, Jaeger O'Meara!

In the sort of conditions where only the toughest thrive, the star Hawk put on a clinic to lift his side to a vital win against Carlton.

However, he wasn't the only big name to come up trumps, with the likes of Gary Ablett, David Mundy and Heath Shaw featuring in MARK ROBINSON'S likes this week.

 

There were also some serious head scratching moments, featuring the Saints, Bulldogs and Demons.

Check out all Robbo's likes and dislikes after a massive Round 6.

 

 

WHAT I LIKE

1. JAEGER O'MEARA

It's a tough gig in the day-night slogs at Launceston, and only the toughest thrive. On Sunday, it was Jaeger O'Meara, who played arguably his best game for the Hawks.

He has kicked goals in other games, but this was a stunning performance after a gripping midfield contest with Patrick Cripps.

He kept the Hawks in the fight in the first two quarters - they trailed by five goals at the main break - and was the team's mainstay in the second half.

O'Meara finished with career-high disposals (42), career-high contested possessions (23), career-high ground balls (19), a game-high nine clearances and a team-high 10 score involvements, which was the third most of his career. It was a brute of a game.

Jaeger O’Meara dominated for the Hawks against Carlton. Picture: AAP Images
Jaeger O’Meara dominated for the Hawks against Carlton. Picture: AAP Images

2 GAZZA

This game was over at halftime and Gary Ablett was clearly the most influential player during that time.

At halftime he had 19 disposals and four goal assists - and probably a new best friend in Gary Rohan, who must shiver with anticipation every time Gazza gets the ball.

He's truly amazing and is probably the best kick inside 50m in the competition.

What a forward group the Cats have assembled. They have Gazza for genius, Tom Hawkins for strength and selfless leadership, Rohan for speed, Luke Dahlhaus for grit, Esava Ratugolea for muscle, and Gryan Miers for his smarts - and the Cats midfield get them the ball.

Gary Ablett enjoyed a day out for the Cats. Picture: AAP Images
Gary Ablett enjoyed a day out for the Cats. Picture: AAP Images

3 DAVID MUNDY

The evenness of the ladder after six rounds is tantalising and the Dockers in second spot is the surprise of the season to date.

Not a surprise was David Mundy thriving in his 300th game. Some players crawl over the 300-game mark, others glide past it.

Mundy had 28 touches and kicked two goals, one from outside 50m and the other running with his stylish gait through the 50m line. The Dockers have won four, lost to Gold Coast by three points and to the Eagles by 13 points, and importantly have a functioning forward half.

We'll find out where the Dockers sit after they play Adelaide, Richmond and Essendon in the next three weeks.

4 HEATH SHAW

The one-time floating backstop and Supercoach superstar has redefined his role at the Giants.

He has become a formidable shut-down player on opposition small and mid-sized forwards. Shaw conceded four goals last week against Fremantle, but they were the first he has given up this season.

Against Sydney on Saturday night he had mainly Isaac Heeney and Ben Ronke for company and again kept a clean sheet while gathering 25 disposals.

The 33-year-old has shut down Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti/Devon Smith (Round 1), Liam Ryan (Round 2), Jason Castagna/Jack Higgins (Round 3), and Gary Ablett/Gary Rohan (Round 4) before Brandon Matera got hold of him (Round 5).

Heath Shaw and Shane Mumford celebrate after GWS’s win. Picture: Getty Images
Heath Shaw and Shane Mumford celebrate after GWS’s win. Picture: Getty Images

 

5 ALEX KEATH

There is no definitive answer, but what sort of football career would Keath have had if cricket wasn't his first teenage passion? A pretty good one, you'd think.

Keath's game against St Kilda was Jeremy McGovern-like in terms of thwarting the Saints in the air.

He took 14 marks, six of them intercepts, and now leads the league this season for intercept marks. He is also in the top three defenders, alongside Shannon Hurn and James Sicily, for intercept possessions.

At 27 Keath has played just 18 games, which makes him one of the more remarkable stories in football.

The question of who is going to replace the injured Tom Doedee is suddenly easy to answer.

6 DANIEL RICH

I thought Rich, who will be 30 in June, would soon depart the game and I'd be discussing with Lions mates at a barbecue whether Rich had been a good player or a very good player.

That's still to be decided.

What we do know is Rich is in outstanding form and would be in the All-Australian squad after six rounds.

Not a handballer by choice, Rich has had 21, 21, 20, 16 and 19 kicks in his first five games. Against the Suns, it was 23, to go with eight marks and four score involvements launched from the back half.

Mitch Robinson won the Marcus Ashcroft Medal and Lachie Neale might have got the three Brownlow Medal votes. Somewhere in between those two was Rich.

Brad Ebert is having a big impact up forward. Picture: AAP Images
Brad Ebert is having a big impact up forward. Picture: AAP Images

7 OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS

When switched from midfield to the forward flank after 230-odd games, you could be forgiven for thinking your career was on the downswing.

Or, as Brad Ebert has showed, your career might just flourish. He was one of the best two-way mids in the game, and now as a forward he is rated elite for disposals (20), marks (six), contested marks (1.5) and tackles (5.7).

That's a player not sooking about a positional change.

Ebert's never kicked more than 17 goals in a year, but already has 10 goals this season, and with Charlie Dixon missing with injury he has become a general in Port's forward 50.

8 OLD DOG, SAME TRICKS

Bachar Houli is a gem, and one day an opposition club might try something freaky and try to curb his run off a back flank.

They do try to make him accountable, and might even take him deep, but he's one of the smarter running defenders in the game.

A hamstring injury sidelined him for the first three games, but in the three games since his return he is averaging 26 disposals and 541m gained, which is clearly No. 1 at the club, 160m more than any other Richmond defender.

The Giants tried tagger Matt deBoer on Sydney's Jake Lloyd on Saturday night, and a similar shut-down role might be considered for Houli.

Bachar Houli continues to dominate for the Tigers. Picture: AAP Images
Bachar Houli continues to dominate for the Tigers. Picture: AAP Images

9 SHAUN RYAN

Not sure the veteran umpire's visit to the radio boxes on Saturday satisfied disgruntled Essendon supporters - and football fans in general - but it was a proactive move.

Ryan explained how all five decisions in the final term of Anzac Day were correct, the most interesting point he made being the fact players without prior opportunity must only try to get rid of the ball, and not necessarily make correct contact with the ball.

Despite Ryan's explanations, most supporters and former players in the media remained somewhat confused.

 

 

 

WHAT I DISLIKE

1 HEAD SCRATCHER (I)

Of all the questions from the AFL's first six rounds, one stands out: What has happened to Melbourne?

The experts have listed the problems: unaccountable mids, big heads, lack of fitness, disconnect between mids and forwards, disconnect between Max and his mids, injuries to key backs, lack of pace …

But what are the solutions? Jimmy Bartel said on Sunday on 3AW the Demons needed to slow down their ball movement.

Coach Simon Goodwin says his team is still finding its DNA, but to me this is a crisis at a club many believed could win the 2019 flag.

Goodwin needs to find goalkicking small forwards. This year he has tried Jeff Garlett, Alex Neal-Bullen, Charlie Spargo, Tom Sparrow, Jay Lockhart, Jayden Hunt and Corey Wagner alongside the two more permanent fixtures Christian Petracca and Jake Melksham.

Melbourne’s fall from grace has been incredible. Picture: Getty Images
Melbourne’s fall from grace has been incredible. Picture: Getty Images

2 WEST COAST

Time to panic yet?

Outsmarted by Port Adelaide last week and outplayed by Geelong.

It was a softish effort by the premiers. The Eagles were beaten up in contested ball and beaten in tackles, despite having far less possession.

They just couldn't get enough precise ball movement against Geelong's stifling defence. At times it looked like a clinic from Geelong, which was damning for the Eagles. Their lack of work rate against Port was highlighted, and the coaches won't miss the very same issue this week.

Just how the Cats were able to run and swarm in numbers should embarrass a team normally heavy on work ethic.

3 HEAD SCRATCHER (II)

What is it with St Kilda and its finishing in first quarters?

The Saints had nine shots to three against Adelaide on Saturday and led by only six points at the first break.

Jack Steven missed an easy one, and so did Josh Bruce. Jack Lonie missed two difficult snaps, and you could ask if he should have taken them in the first place. Jack Steele missed another.

The Saints have issues in first quarters. Since the start of 2018 they have kicked 65.89 in first quarters. It was 3.6 against the Crows. In Round 2 against Essendon it was 2.7. In Round 19 last year against the Giants it was 1.6. In Round 16 last year against Port it was 0.5.

As well as killing their own morale, it allows opposition teams to stay in the game.

Jack Steven missed a simple set shot for goal against the Crows. Picture: AAP Images
Jack Steven missed a simple set shot for goal against the Crows. Picture: AAP Images

4 THEN IT CHANGED FOR THE SAINTS

Their first quarter was ridiculously good for its pressure.

The Saints went at 223, which was the second-best recorded rating in a quarter this year.

But the Crows made adjustments. They controlled the footy with clever kicks and marks, and the Saints lost control of the contest.

Their average pressure rating for the next three quarters was just 172.

It was smart coaching by Don Pyke to deny the Saints their modus operandi, and the last quarter became a walkover.

5 HEAD SCRATCHER (III)

The Bulldogs' poor goalkicking is also a disease.

Coach Luke Beveridge lamented last week's 7.15 effort against Carlton.

"We needed to be better at it," he said. "It's not like we don't train it."

This week the Dogs kicked 9.15 against the Dockers, with 6.7 from set shots.

This issue has plagued the Bulldogs.

Is it talent? Is it mental? It cannot be bad luck, as no team has luck that bad for two years.

This year the Dogs have kicked 52.65. Last season it was 224.231. The season before it was 260.297.

Whoever can solve this issue will have a job for life.

Luke Beveridge needs to fix his club’s goalkicking woes. Picture: Getty Images
Luke Beveridge needs to fix his club’s goalkicking woes. Picture: Getty Images

6 BEN BROWN

That's 12 goals from six games, and a meagre 0.1 against Port Adelaide on Saturday night.

His lack of defensive pressure can be balanced if he's kicking goals. When neither facet is working well, it is an issue.

Nick Larkey in just his third game booted three goals and laid four tackles.

The suggestion has been that Brown has struggled to be the lone key forward since Jarrad Waite retired.

But no such excuse will be given now that Larkey has every chance to cement a role in the team. It's not a question about whether they can work together, they simply must.

7 MISSED OPPORTUNITY

Difficult to be critical of the Blues in Launceston because they dominated early and didn't put up the white flag at the end.

Their third quarter will be central to the review. The Hawks kicked 5.6 to 1.4 to drag back a five-goal margin.

The Hawks' small forwards got hold of them at the start of the final quarter, and at the end James Sicily was able to mark uncontested in defence.

They are learning moments and not crisis points, and while the Blues leave without the four points they leave with their belief relatively intact.

A poor third quarter came back to haunt the Blues. Picture: AAP Images
A poor third quarter came back to haunt the Blues. Picture: AAP Images

8 WHY NOT SPREAD LAST POSTS?

Once a year in football, the servicemen and women are honoured, peaking with the poignant minute's silence as the Last Post rings out across grounds. And yet some think it's overkill to be paying tributes to the fallen four days after Anzac Day itself.

I'd argue the more times the Last Post is played, the more respect is given.

9 BAD KNEES

Fingers crossed it's only two months on the sidelines for Richmond's Jack Riewoldt and St Kilda's Jack Lonie.

I feel for both, particularly for Lonie who won respect from his coach for his performances in the last six games of 2018 and his first six this season.

News Corp Australia


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