Sporting HQ


The AFL Pressure cooker: Round 4

Jake Lever:
While Simon Goodwin is happy to give Lever “6-8 weeks” to start to step up and perform, we here at Sporting HQ presume that Melbourne fans aren’t willing to be that lenient. While he has only played 3 games at his new club, a disposal efficiency of 67% (down from 81% in 2017), an average of 5.7 intercept possessions (down from 9.5 in 2017) and 13 turnovers at an average of 4.3 a game (up from 2.4 last year), is simply not going to cut it on 800k a year. For a young player at a new club, Lever is earning himself no new fans, and perhaps the only person that would be happy to see Lever’s dramatic drop off in form this year is Tex Walker.

Lever was disappointing on his Melbourne debut against the cats, and hasn’t increased his output since.



While this season did not promise much for Carlton, apart from the reigning premiers in round 1, the Blues have had a relatively easy draw since then with Gold Coast and Collingwood in recent consecutive weeks. After a terrific performance against the Tigers that almost saw them kick their first score of 100 or more under Brendan Bolton, Blues fans would have been optimistic about what the next 2 rounds had in store, however no one was especially surprised when the Blues lost their next 2 games rather easily against 2 sides likely to be lower on the ladder. While we would like to say that getting close to the Roos this week in Tasmania would be a pass mark, Carlton really cannot afford to return to Tullamarine airport without a win, or risk losing all the promise that their pre-season and round 1 match contained.

Patrick Cripps must break the likely Jacobs’ tag this week against North Melbourne if the Blues are to have a chance of returning home victorious.

Tom Hawkins and Joe Daniher:
Richmond showed the competition you can build a premiership around a ‘Mosquito fleet’ of small fowards, but that does not mean the role of the big full foward in modern footy is dead. Hawkins and Daniher have only kicked 4 goals each so far this season in 3 games, a disappointing return at this point in the competition. Both men are real Barometers for their respective teams, and both their failings to fire could have caused the poor losses both teams have recently faced. While some would say that they are doing their jobs, competing hard in the air and bringing the ball to ground, many others would say the best type of pressure is scoreboard pressure, which these 2 are contributing little to.

Both are capable of turning games on their heads when they’re on song, but have had little impact so far in 2018.

Zach Merrett and Aaron Hall:
It seems the role of the tagger in the AFL is well and truly back. While we have mentioned Merrett and Hall here, there are a host of other elite midfielders who are also on notice for their inability to break a tag in recent weeks against teams such as North Melbourne and Fremantle. Merrett is averaging just 55 supercoach points this year from 3 games, down from an average of 109 last year, while Hall had just 5 disposals, while the player assigned to tag him, first year Docker Bailey Banfield accumulated 11 disposals and 4 tackles. Brownlow favourites such as Dangerfield, Fyfe, Martin and Mitchell are so because they are players who can play through a tag, and if others like Merrett and Hall want to take the next step to become elites of the competition they must learn how to take a tag, or likely have a wasted half a season, like Jason Johannisen in 2017.

Many footy fans may not recognise him, but Ben Jacobs has become one of North’s most important players this season, tagging the oppositions best midfielder out of the game each match.

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