Analysis Our tackling and the Grand Final

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Premiership Player
Aug 9, 2012
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Throughout the back half of the year I became increasingly aware of our teams ‘careful’ tackling.

We were always incredibly disciplined when laying a tackle not to tackle high even into a shrug or dip, and if a player came at one of our players ‘head down’ we were able to step aside to avoid making high contact.

When tackling from behind we were cautious not to drive the player forward, and in cases where the tackled player would throw themselves forward (which is becoming almost as prolific as the shrug) our players would contort themselves to land either beside or completely over the top of the player.

We would also refrain from overcommitting to a tackle and risk getting caught holding the man and rarely took a player to ground in order to avoid sling or dangerous tackle free kicks.

I believe this was the key reason free kick counts were often in our favour throughout the year (much to the angst of many opposition fans and even some clowns in the media), and this is clearly reflected in the free kick averages where we are mid table for getting free kicks and the best in the comp at not giving them away.

This tackling discipline was incredibly impressive, particularly in high pressure moments when a player could be forgiven for letting the adrenaline get the better of them, HOWEVER I think this careful tackling was a key reason we lost the Grand Final.

From the opening bounce it seemed that Melbourne players had a directive to hold onto the ball when being tackled and avoid the quick release, either looking for a clean disposal or surging the ball forward. They held no fear of being caught holding the ball and to my recollection never were.

The best example of this from the game was when JJ had run down a Melbourne player (possibly Salem) from behind and rather than nailing the tackle he kind of through an arm around and was subsequently shrugged off. There were also numerous times where Oliver and Petracca would hold onto the ball in a tackle and often draw additional tacklers before releasing to a team mate.

It’s possible that what occurred in the GF was just a symptom of the way that the two teams play combined with some nerves or lack of focus on our part, but the amount of times I saw a Melbourne player hold onto the ball during a tackle before finding a team mate felt like something more than just circumstance.

Anyone else notice this?


Senior List
Aug 16, 2009
National Capital
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
Yes there were a number of times especially at centre bounces where they would suck in two tacklers and leave a free man for a handball. I think our lack of burst speed in the centre contributed to this as they were half a yard ahead of us around the ball. We still need to find some pace although we did improve this year with Treloar but it's not enough. Vandermeer and Garcia are important players for us, if they can develop and move onto the ball it means we don't have Dunkley, Libba and McCrae all in the centre at the one time. Share the load, get some fast breaks and be right onto the opposition when they take possession.


Club Legend
Apr 11, 2009
AFL Club
Western Bulldogs
I noticed this as well at the game. I don't think dogs once got a free kick from a tackle in the GF. However Dees seemed to get awarded tackles when there was seemingly 0 prior a couple times in the game.

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