Almanac Football – JLT2019: New Rules!

North Melbourne Vs St Kilda
Avalon Airport Oval. 2/3/2019.

New rules! I… don’t know what to make of them yet. I haven’t been able to watch either of the first two games of the JLT yet, thus I have no formulated opinion. I do agree with what Brad Scott said when he stated that he predicted more blowouts but also how more teams trailing by margins that would in previous years be impossible to come back from would be able to win. My Bombers nearly did that against Carlton on Thursday night.


So today provides the first chance I get to watch AFL with the new rules, to see how it will impact the men’s game. Brad’s Kangaroos, loaded with enough talent to possibly make the eight, against the team everyone thought would have and perhaps should have launched into the top eight in 2018. This should be interesting.


I turn on the TV only to realise that the game isn’t being broadcasted on free-to-air TV! What the heck? So much for watching my first game this year to try and get a gage on the new rules. To radio it is.


Dylan Roberton gets an early touch. It’s great to see, or hear, that he is back out there and getting early touches. Ziebell promptly welcomes him back by kicking the first goal of the game on him. The commentators mention that the Saints are bombing long without much “art in it”. They scrape a goal out of it from a miracle kick by Steele. The Saints are surprisingly winning the clearances at this early stage. They’ll be happy with that against a strong North midfield. They are also dominating the inside-50 count. But disposals are costing them. Against the tide of wasteful posessions, McCartin kicks truly to bring up a goal that will surely help his confidence. Good start for the red, white, and black.


North sound a little slow and sloppy. A possible injury to new recruit Aaron Hall doesn’t help. Turner takes an opportunity to show off his flair by tying the scores as it sounds like St Kilda have a serious injury of their own. The Saints then give away a 50-metre penalty that doesn’t result in any significant damage. Kangaroos by a point. Savage levels the scores. The Kangaroos are starting to get on in the vital statistics of stoppages and inside 50s. This slow and gradual build in dominance results in a goal to youngster Larkey. Despite turnovers, the effort is evident by players throwing themselves at the ball. A prime example of this is when Atley bursts through the pack, splitting the “Ordinary” (the commentators are not allowing the fact that it is the first JLT match after the pre-season to be an excuse for bad defence) St Kilda zone defence like Moses and the Sea, kicking North to a 12-point lead. They’re quickly starting to show their superiority in the stats. The new rules seem to benefit stronger midfields like theirs and like the ones from Tigerland. It is also, seemingly, benefiting big forwards, with McCartin taking a textbook mark in the forward line. He misses. His miss doesn’t help the Saints. The Kangaroos continue to improve. Only the siren prevents them adding to their lead.


Term numéro deux. Saints get off to the stronger start thanks to McCartin and Ed Phillips. Two goals from two inside-50s hand the lead back to St Kilda. Thus far, the aim of the new rules, to increase scoring and decrease ugly football, has proven to be achieved, although I firmly believe that a thorough decision should be made on the impact of these rules in around the mid-point of the season. Saints by three, helped by the Kangaroos inability to clear their defensive fifty. McDonald gets the ball, sick and tired of his team being unable to clear the fifty, and clears it, as if to demonstrate how to play footy as a defender. His boldness leads to a former Power, Jasper Pittard, kicking his first goal in the royal blue and white prison strips. Kangaroos by three. Both teams aren’t giving an inch in this quarter, and this game quickly turns into a game of attrition. Each team seemingly waiting for the other to strike first. Atley strikes next as North extends the lead to nine. Saints through Kent stay in it.


The rules continue to show that they benefit the bigger, stronger, and smarter forwards and midfielders, with McCartin and Brown having a field day, Inexperienced defenders or midfielders will struggle this year, as shown by the Saints getting caught out thanks to their, at times, lazy defence. Their forward line, something that caused a lot of angst for Saints fans last year, is functioning perfectly fine thus far however, and they grab the lead again through Steele. Billings extends their lead, as North seems to be going at about 60% effort. In a battle of the giants, Brown takes on Membrey…and loses as Membrey tackles him and wins a free kick. Battle adds to St Kilda’s remarkable second term. McCartin continues adding to his amazing game, hitting a teammate out with a beautiful-sounding kick. This teammate’s name is Parker, and I have to double check to make sure the Swans didn’t secretly give the Saints another one of our guns. They haven’t. His first name is Matthew. I breathe a sigh of relief. Oh, and he nails the goal, too. Lonie kicks another one. Suddenly, St Kilda has their SIXTH GOAL IN A ROW. They are dominating the midfield battle. With the new 6-6-6 rule in place, North can’t throw an extra back there to stem the bleeding. I wonder what Brad is making of the rules at the moment? Eight goals to two in this quarter for the Saints. The siren sounds, and both teams head off the field for an extended break due to the heat-policy, North no doubt would be happy that the siren has answered their prayers for mercy. Saints by 27.


The third chapter of the story of this match begins. The Roos get an early point. According to AFL’s Match Centre, they also get a couple of injured players going off the field early in this quarter too. Another goal to (not-Luke) Parker adds to the remarkable St Kilda streak. This is quickly turning into a very one-sided game. Brad Scott’s prediction of teams being massacred in games due to the threat of being penalised for flooding their defence is so far proving correct in this match, just not in the way I suspected he hoped for. Larkey makes himself, his teammates, and his coach feel better by ending the St Kilda streak. The Roos hang in there. They then go back-to-back through Goldstein. They miss a profusion of chances, however, and the misses stem from the boots of players who one would expect to kick goals, not behinds, such as Polec and Ziebell.


It is evident that the commentators are wishing that the new rules also dealt with maybe being able to review horrible decisions, as one leads to another goal to North through Campbell’s booming kick. The other part of Brad’s predictions, a team coming back from nowhere, is also coming true. It is clear that this match is a game of momentum. Membrey kicks another point to add to his flawless tally of three misses from three shots, proving that the new rules are only going to well and truly benefit forwards if they take full advantage of them. North then takes the ball effortlessly out of defence, as the commentators are stunned that they aren’t taken further forward by what they deem a fifty that should have been. From all of this chaos and confusion emerges only a behind to the royal blue and white. The Saints try and open up the ground by using the Switch tactic. And it nearly works. Nearly. Dumont makes sure it doesn’t end in a goal for the Saints. Instead it ends up on the other side of the boundary-line paint. Point to the Saints a few minutes later, and the game has returned to a stalemate. Siren sounds with the Saints holding onto a thirteen-point lead. A 74-61 score line with a term to go proves that the new rules are continuing to work, for improving over-all scoring I mean.


Last term. Anyone’s game at this stage. And under the hot and oppressive sun, in the 38 degree heat, Billings stands tall and delivers the Saints the perfect start; a goal within 50 seconds. Mason Wood responds… with a point. North in the second half thus far have kicked three goals… and seven points. Yikes. Saints haven’t been much better. A behind from their captain makes it two goals and five behinds thus far in the second half for them. A combined score of five goals, twelve behinds. Double yikes. Membrey makes his tally more respectable by finally kicking a goal. Saints out to a 25 point lead.


Tom Murphy kicks his first to bring the lead back to 19. This reminds me of how great the preseason is, with letting youngsters get experience, gain confidence, and have a run with their teammates without the pressure of the regular season. Membrey gets another goal out the back. Don’t know what Brad Scott would be more disappointed with: the seven goals in a row St Kilda kicked earlier, or, up until this point in the game, North are sitting on only ten goals. Brown kicks their eleventh. As the new rules have shown so far this year, North are still in it at only three goals down. Saints join Carlton as the teams to reach the 100 point-mark this year through Kent. Two of the lowest scoring teams last year are already experiencing the benefits of the new rules. Ok, NOW this might be a gap too great to close for North. Twenty five points down twenty six minutes into the last. A few more scoreless minutes occur with nothing eventful happening. Siren sounds to put the players, runners, coaches, North Melbourne, and each of the 1,500 people in attendance out of their misery.


So, the new rules… while both coaches will probably be focusing on other things this week, both will be happy that they have gotten a competitive hit out with the new rules in play. As for me? I… still don’t know what to make of them. Only time will tell how effective they are in enforcing the change that some view the league needs.


NORTH MELBOURNE     4.1   6.1   9.7   11.11 (77)
ST KILDA          2.2   10.4   11.8   15.12 (102)


North Melbourne: Atley 2, Ziebell, Turner, Larkey, Pittard, Larkey, Goldstein, Campbell, Murphy, Brown
St Kilda: Membrey 3, McCartin 2, Steele 2, Parker 2, Billings 2, Phillips, Kent, Battle, Gresham, Newnes


North Melbourne: Macmillan, Williams, Polec, Dumont, Davies-Uniacke, Tyson
St Kilda: Steele, Ross, Brown, Membrey, Billings, Roberton, Savage, Newnes


North Melbourne: Hall (knee)
St Kilda: Pierce (concussion)


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Haussen, Howarth, Donlon


Official crowd: 1596 at Avalon Airport Oval


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About Caspar McLeod

Third Culture Kid at Heart. Grew up in Asia, discovered footy at age 9. AFL has since been my burning passion. Ask me who were the winners all the grand finals between 1938 and last year's decider, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'm a footy nut with a passion for writing and acting. All though I love writing and acting, during the footy season, AFL is my true passion. Waiting ever so patiently for the day when Essendon Next win the flag.

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