Another week of the AFL season has passed us by, and once more fans from all reaches of Australia have found themselves shaking their heads in disbelief at the play these professional players are regularly choosing to undertake.
Football is never going to be mistake free, but we’d like to see some sign of improvement at some stage this year.
Robert Murphy, Western Bulldogs
By his own admission, Murphy’s attempted pass from deep in defence was a risky one. Murphy told Mark Robinson and Gerard Whateley on AFL 360 that it was a ‘tired last quarter kick’, which is certainly understandable given the circumstances and context of the match against Collingwood.
But that’s not why he’s appearing in this list.
When Murphy found himself in possession of the football in front of Collingwood’s goals, he has to recognise that as one of the Bulldogs more experienced players, he has to make the right decision. The game was still in the balance, and the Pies had clearly upped the ante in a bid to secure the four points up for grabs, a mistake would prove to be costly.
As Murphy clearly had a short option in space in front of him, one has no option but to wonder why he didn’t just play it safe and go short with the ball. Instead of playing safe, he tried the risky manoeuvre and attempted to clear man mountain Travis Cloke with a pass that needed to be perfect.
The pass was slightly off, and Cloke marked strongly in front of Murphy’s target and goaled from the resultant kick.
Murphy may have been fatigued, but that is no excuse for what was simply a poor decision.
Mitch Clark, Melbourne
Nobody expected Melbourne to even to remain close to Geelong on Saturday, and after their performance at Skilled Stadium last year, anything under a 100 point margin would be seen as a positive.
Melbourne would have left Geelong happy with their effort, only losing by 43 points and never really allowing Geelong to dominate the contest. On a personal note Clark would have been content with four majors, but that does not excuse him from basic errors.
In the second term, Clark took a strong mark on Melbourne’s attacking 50, and had several team mates streaming past him into an open goalsquare. Aaron Davey was one of these players, and Clark thought he would do the right thing by his team and give the ball off before he had even picked himself off the ground.
You can see why the move makes sense. The ball is moved quickly and stops the Cats from quickly pushing back and defending.
However, Clark’s attempted handball was possibly the biggest clanger of the round. Instead of hitting it with his fist, he completely missed the ball and the Cats were able to clear the danger zone without any concerns at all.
Handballing is a skill which is second nature to most players, it is something that most 14 year old junior footballers are competent at, and whilst we’re not saying Clark cannot handball, maybe he should think a bit harder about what he’s going to attempt before going ahead with it.
Hayden Ballantyne, Fremantle
The key to winning close contest is playing a brand of football which eliminates mistakes and forcing your opponents into making decisions they ordinarily would not make.
After the error Ballantyne committed, Fremantle Football Club would be thankful that they were not playing a side with more experience at AFL level.
With Fremantle leading by five points early in the final quarter, Suns onballer Jared Brennan marked on the boundary line in the Suns’ attack. Seeing as Brennan was faced with a nearly impossible shot at goal, common sense would dictate that the logical option would be for Ballantyne to allow Brennan to take his kick without any interference at all.
Sometimes, logical options play no part in Hayden Ballantyne’s game.
Ballantyne gave Brennan a shove after he marked the ball, sending him sprawling to the ground and leaving the umpire with no choice but to award a 50 metre penalty to the Suns, making what was an incredibly difficult shot into the simplest of conversions and giving Gold Coast the lead.
Luckily for Ballantyne, Fremantle managed to come back and win the contest, but you would expect Ross Lyon would have been livid with Ballantyne for giving away such an obvious penalty.
Hero of the Week.
Often we try to find someone who has achieved something unique and quirky throughout the round to be our hero of the week, but other times we just have to sit back and admire a performance from a young star announcing himself to the competition as the next big thing and anoint them as the hero.
So after amassing 37 possessions and three goals and almost dragging his side to their first victory for the season, Harley Bennell becomes the Hero of the Week.
Bennell was impressive in the first three quarters of the match, but in the last quarter he went up another notch and almost stole the points single handedly. In a contest which included stars such as Matthew Pavlich, Michael Barlow and Jared Brennan amongst others, Bennell was clearly the class player on the ground.
Bennell’s debut year was slightly disappointing for a highly touted recruit, and rumours that he was home sick began to surface as his form was less than inspiring. 2012 has already gone a long way in validating the draft expectations of the number two pick, and based off his past fortnight, he is going to become a superstar for years to come.
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