It’s a tough time for AFL clubs heading into finals and flag competition – and most have a number of issues to address and fix before September.
Triple Premiership Lions Jonathan Brown told Fox Footy. On the couch Geelong and Melbourne have separated themselves from the chasing pack, with Melbourne champion Gary Lyon saying the Sydney Swans’ late win “may add to the group”.
So the On the couch Panel, with help Champion dataThey discussed concerns over Monday night’s seven-club final and “keeping the coaches up at night”.
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The Lions have dropped out of the top four – and now face a tough task of getting back there.
They are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 4-4 against top 10 teams so far this season.
St Kilda legend Nick Rialt pointed to several concerns Champion data Levels around the Lions’ defensive profile.
Since round 10, the Lions are ranked 16th in points, 15th in opposition 50, 13th in tackles, 14th in clearances and, most worryingly, 18th in defence.
“We know it’s not their case of late. They’re scoring a lot, especially in the defensive half,” Riewoldt said. On the couch.
“In the past few years, this issue has not been a big issue for them. In a year where we all thought we were going to take the next step because he was strong defensively, this game was not the part of the game that you could sit out of the game.
“It’s not just the defensive half or the back six where the struggles are, it’s all over the ground. So preventing ball movement and not exposing your back six.
Brown called for the Lions’ forwards to be wired to prioritize hitting the scoreboard instead of creating pressure.
“Teams can move the ball from the Lions forward half, so obviously they don’t put enough pressure there,” he said.
“The other thing is five or six strikers at Lions are thinking: ‘In my own mind, I need to score two or three goals today’ – they are thinking about themselves. I’m not sure where the focus is and where the balance is between scoring goals and putting pressure on the defense and playing a role for the team and making my teammates better.
“I’m seeing some small things on the road, so it’s time.”
Like Brisbane, the Dockers have fallen out of the top four and now face an uphill battle to secure the double for September.
Lyon said the Dockers looked “fantastic” and “realistic” in their recent performance against Melbourne. They are now unbeaten since the 17th round.
Brown pointed out that the result had been a “huge problem” for the Dockers, who had finished 16th in that division since Round 10.
“The thing is, you can’t move the football these days,” he said.
“Teams are obviously starting to work on them. They’re pressing, they’re taking the uncontested marks.
“Their ability to move the football is a big threat to me.”
Dual premiership Kangaroo David King has labeled the Blues’ loss to Adelaide as one of the most “arrogant” performances he has seen by an AFL team in years.
The defeat left the Blues somewhat in jeopardy rather than strengthening their position in the top three ahead of the final three weeks. They need one more win to secure a finals spot but face tough competition from Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood.
In the last six weeks, according to Champion dataThe Blues sit 14th on points and 13th on the 50 mark – a ranking that has impressed Rivelt as they face Carlton forwards.
“Their scoring dried up, which is the last thing you expect to happen with this team when you think about who they have in the front half,” he said.
When you come in (Charlie) Curnow and (Harry) McKay, they don’t score and those guys aren’t at the level they were at the start of the season.
Brown added, “They’ve gone out of business and out of competition. Disappointing weekend.
The Saints moved into the top eight at the weekend, surviving a quick comeback from Hawthorn to make it two wins on the trot.
But after the 13th round, they were not the same team, losing 5 of their last 8 games.
And after the bye, the Saints ranked 15th in both point differential and cleanup differential.
“They’ve got two positions here … they know this very well and the way they move their feet will be different,” Lyon said.
“They are now in the top eight and have three games to go, so it is their place to lose.”
After three close defeats and a draw, the Tigers won against the Lions on Sunday to keep their finals hopes alive. It was their second win in six games.
Those past six weeks have seen Richmond’s ability to dive off the ball. They are ranked 17th for contested possession – an area not seen as a strength for the Tigers during their premiership roots – but 18th for pressure – a major strength in their premiership.
“The anxiety is without legs,” Brown said. We say “without legs” because the football they’ve played hasn’t been good, but their pressure has been 18th over the last six weeks.
“The important thing for Richmond is that they are highly rated in the 2017 to 2020 season so they have to do well to be competitive.”
The Dogs felt the full pressure of a ferocious Geelong team last weekend, in a ruthless third term.
They are now 10th in the table, meaning they need to win at least two of their last three games against the Dockers, Giants and Hawks to qualify for September.
Helping their cause is an improvement in defense across the board — an area where they ranked 14th heading into the 2022 season.
“There are defensive concerns,” Riewoldt said.
“Sometimes we’ve talked about being vulnerable when you have a back six you want to prevent ball movement and stop it actually going in there – and that’s not the case at the moment.
“The ball is going from one end of the ground to the other very easily.”
Lyon said finding room for improvement was a “bit of a stretch” for a Magpies side on a 10-match winning streak.
But he says PS can be painted at the coal face, although the part of the game they need to improve is probably clearing – but they can win the ball without being good in that area.