Individual AFL duels dying: Thompson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Individual AFL duels dying: Thompson

By Sam Lienert 10/07/2010 07:01:06 PM Comments (0)

The days of epic head-to-head duels between AFL stars of opposing sides are all but over, according to Geelong coach Mark Thompson.

While the frenetic pace of interchange rotations have led to constantly changing head-to-head midfield battles in recent seasons, Thompson said evolving defensive strategies meant match-long key position duels were also becoming relics of the past.

It meant while arguably the current game's best defender, Geelong's Matthew Scarlett, spent periods of Saturday's MCG clash on Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin, he was never going to stay there all day.

Thompson rotated Scarlett and fellow Cats backman Harry Taylor on Franklin, with all three of the star Hawk's goals coming against Taylor.

But the Cats' coach said the rotations might have helped keep his side's defence fresh enough to help Geelong reel in a deficit, then hold off several Hawthorn attacking surges in the dying minutes of their two-point win.

The crucial final moments included a fine Taylor spoil on Franklin in the goalsquare.

The downside for fans is the absence of the type of long-running duels such as those between former North Melbourne great Wayne Carey and the man he regarded as his toughest opponent, West Coast's Glen Jakovich, in the 1990s.

Even in last year's grand final, Taylor won enormous plaudits for his match-long job on St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt, but Thompson said times were changing fast.

"We give people lots of opportunities to play on different types and gone are the days where you'll see these big contests, these big duels where a centre half-forward plays on a centre halfback," he said.

"We don't care for that, we play Scarlo where we want to play him and lots of defenders are having lots of different opponents.

"The midfield's done that for years, but now it's happening at both ends as well.

"Most teams are doing it - you watch St Kilda, you watch Collingwood, their defenders roll over in general play to different opponents and that's sort of what we do too.

"No one's got an opponent any more."

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