Goal kicking… Most of us get taught how to kick our unique football in between the big sticks from an early age.
Set shot kicking should be one of the easiest skills of the game. Thirty seconds to take your kick, no defensive pressure, just the player, the ball and the goals in sight. But professional AFL players, some of whom earn in excess of $500,000 a season, still struggle to execute shots for goal.
Inaccuracy for goals was never more prevalent than this weekend with Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Fremantle all missing goals at crucial times of the game.
On Friday night, Collingwood weren’t expected to beat the reigning premiers but they were right up to their necks into the game during the second half of the second quarter. Coming back from twenty-six points down at the beginning of that quarter, Collingwood were within four points at half time and two points up at the start of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs then scored a barrage of goals during the third quarter to again work out a way to win. Although the Bulldogs’ manic defence and efficiency inside fifty were what lead the team to victory, Collingwood’s set shot kicking certainly helped the Bulldogs cause.
Alex Fasolo with three behinds, Jarryd Blair with two and Mason Cox missing a key shot directly in front of goal were costly. The Bulldogs also weren’t immune to wayward kicking with Jake Stringer missing two relatively easy goals to ice the game late in the last quarter.
The goal kicking fiasco continued onto Saturday night with Hawthorn kicking 12.19.91 in their surprising twenty-five point loss to Essendon. Warm weather with little wind, many would have thought it’d be almost ideal conditions for goal kicking. New highly prized Hawthorn recruit Jaeger O’Meara struggled though kicking three behind for the night and missing a crucial goal in the last quarter to keep the Hawks within touching distance.
New recruits Tom Mitchell and Ty Vickery were also inaccurate, while Essendon’s Joe Daniher kicked three goals and three behinds. Although credit has to be given to Essendon – they won nearly every stat – both sides had the same amount of scoring shots and Hawthorn would be thinking of what could have been after round one.
Sunday’s match between North Melbourne and West Coast at Etihad Stadium showed the stark difference between dominate forwards kicking straight and kicking wayward.
Josh Kennedy, Mark LeCras, Jamie Cripps and Jack Darling combined for sixteen goals and three behinds for West Coast. While North forwards Ben Brown, Jarrad Waite, Lindsay Thomas and Kayne Turner combined for five goals and ten behinds, seven of them from Waite which was arguably the difference over the first three tight quarters.
Lindsay Thomas missed two particularly easy shots, one from fifteen metres out, directly in front to keep the Roos within touching distance going into the last quarter. Jarrad Waite could have easily been best on ground with seventeen disposals, seven marks and four tackles, but his game was blighted by only converting one of his eight chances for goal.
The first half in Adelaide was particularly inaccurate with multiple chances being missed from the River Torrens end of Adelaide Oval. Steve Johnson and Toby Greene missed two each in the first quarter, and Charlie Cameron missed two in the second quarter. The majority of the behinds were missed to the right side of the goals.
Accuracy improved in the second half with Adelaide running out comfortable victors.
Fremantle then had the kicking woes Sunday night in a disappointing defeat against Geelong. New recruit Cam McCarthy from GWS left his kicking boots back in Sydney as he kicked one goal and five behinds – a couple of them relatively easy. Jonathan Griffin and David Mundy also missed multiple goals.
A popular thing for footy fans is to blame losses on poor kicking for goal and then all of the ‘should of’s’, ‘could of’s’ and ‘what if’s’ arise. At the end of the day, bad kicking is bad footy and if your side can’t kick straight then they don’t deserve to win.
THE WORST OF THE KICKING:
Jarrad Waite – 1.7
Cam McCarthy 1.5
Jason Castagna 2.4
Jaeger O’Meara 0.3
Peter Wright 1.3
Jake Stringer 1.3
Alex Neal-Bullen 1.3
Charlie Cameron 2.3
Charlie Dixon 2.3
Josh Jenkins 3.3
Alex Fasolo 3.3
Joe Daniher 3.3