Coach­ing mas­ter­class

Sunday Mail - - SPORT -

The Cats love to at­tack from de­fence and none do it bet­ter than this man. In just his first year at the Cat­tery he has be­come their No. 1 re­bounder from de­fence and ranks 6th in the AFL for re­bounds from the de­fen­sive 50. His beauty is he does not com­pro­mise his de­fen­sive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and knows when to drop back into de­fen­sive mode. Uses the ball well and when he’s on fire the Cats don’t of­ten lose. Some de­fend­ers have at­tack­ing roles, some have shut­down roles, both are vi­tal to the team’s suc­cess. Brown is a shut­down spe­cial­ist. It’s a tough ask in the game to­day when zones are all the rage and one-on-one con­tests are be­com­ing rarer and rarer. Brown is the Crows’ man for the tough job. The Cats have a wide va­ri­ety of for­wards who must be stopped. The job on Daniel Men­zel would not sur­prise.

ISAW it, like we all did, and I’m still not sure I be­lieve it. Gee­long pro­duced one of the great fi­nals per­for­mances to com­pletely dis­man­tle Syd­ney and ad­vance to a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

Not sure we would have thought it was pos­si­ble on Friday but, 48 hours later, it is and the Cats are sud­denly premier­ship con­tenders.

One coach got it per­fectly right and one coach got it hor­ri­bly wrong.

Some­times coaches can in­flu­ence the re­sult of a game. On this oc­ca­sion Chris Scott pro­duced the per­for­mance of his ca­reer.

Even he agreed, call­ing it one of the most sat­is­fy­ing wins of his ca­reer. The clash against the Crows at Ade­laide Oval this Friday night has just be­come one of the most an­tic­i­pated in years.

It will be stand­ing room only as that man Patrick Danger­field re­turns to his one-time home to play hero and vil­lain once again.

He was a true hero against Syd­ney, turn­ing the tra­di­tion­ally calm and cal­cu­lated Swans de­fence into a rab­ble as he did as he pleased against each and every one of them.

No-one was spared. Paddy kicked four goals in the first half but it felt like 10 as he led, jumped, crashed packs, drew free kicks and played de­coy to in­spire his team to an again­st­the-odds vic­tory.

It was as good as it gets, but as good as Danger­field was, this vic­tory was not about him. This was a vic­tory for Scott. With a less-than-flat­ter­ing fi­nals record in re­cent times, de­spite be­ing a premier­ship coach, Scott took con­trol of this game from early in the week.

He re­port­edly sum­moned the team be­hind closed doors to de­liver some old-fash­ioned home truths.

Even the best teams need a shake-up every now and then.

It could not have worked bet­ter.

Dan­ger re­sponded as only he can. Zac Smith played the game of his life in ruck.

Harry Tay­lor and Lachie Hen­der­son were im­pass­able in de­fence de­spite the loss of Tom Lon­er­gan pre-match.

Mitch Dun­can was great, Darcy Lang ex­cel­lent on his re­turn, Sam Mene­gola pow­er­ful and Zach Tuohy fault­less.

Then there was Ste­vie Mot­lop. With all the con­jec­ture about his fu­ture, he pro­duced the per­for­mance of his life but, as good as every player was, Scott was bet­ter than the lot of them.

He de­clared his hand to the me­dia be­fore a ball had been bounced and he kept his end of the bar­gain. No tricks.

Swans coach John Long­mire had no an­swers.

Buddy Franklin was held goal­less, as were Dean Tow­ers, Cal­lum Sin­clair, Gary Ro­han and Isaac Heeney.

They kicked 14 goals be­tween them against Essendon the week be­fore but not one be­tween them seven days later.

A true coach­ing mas­ter­class to get his play­ers into such a fo­cused headspace.

Scott was a good coach be­fore Friday night. He was a premier­ship coach and you must be good to be in that se­lect group, but he has just moved into the great cat­e­gory.

He was largely re­spon­si­ble for the re­sult of this game.

You can’t win with­out the play­ers, of course, but every now and then a team needs some­thing more. Some­thing ex­tra. Some­thing dif­fer­ent.

There were no tricks, no all­out de­fence – just a well-pre­pared plan, de­liv­ered and ex­e­cuted by his play­ers.

Now for the Crows to beat them: Dis­man­tle them.

The Swans proved, to just do what you’ve al­ways done , will not be good enough. Not in Septem­ber.

Crows coach Don Pyke will be re­luc­tant to tag Danger­field but he must. Who with is the big ques­tion.

Ri­ley Knight? Hugh Green­wood?

It should be Rory Sloane for me, when he is on ball. Let the two bulls go at it, head to head.

And Jake Lever when Danger­field is in at­tack – and he will be there for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time.

Pyke must also be wary of Tom Hawkins and Joel Sel­wood. Hawkins was held to just one goal but he’s got six in him and Daniel Talia must be given the job.

Sel­wood may be play­ing hurt but that’s when he is at his most dan­ger­ous. Be­ware the wounded sol­dier, es­pe­cially if his name is Joel Sel­wood.

Pyke and his team must put the en­tire 22 of the Cats un­der the mi­cro­scope and have a clear vi­sion of how this game will play out and how the Crows can win it, mov­ing the ball with speed and depth and not al­low­ing the Cats to dic­tate is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially early.

And they must stay com­posed.

The Swans lost com­po­sure on Friday and their game fell apart. They fum­bled, pan­ic­k­icked, got in each other’s way and im­ploded.

The Crows must stay calm and main­tain their be­lief in each other.

Fi­nals are games won by teams, not in­di­vid­u­als, and start­ing the game well as a team is a must.

Eleven times this sea­son Gee­long has led at quar­ter­time and every time it has won the game. A good start is non­nego­tiable.

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