It is as near a 50-50 state of affairs as there may be in Australian soccer.

The umpire holds the ball and the gamers jostle for place. There is a bump right here, a refined seize of the jumper there. Everyone seems to be angling to get into the proper place.

It might probably look chaotic, however there’s exactly practised motion and positioning at play. A maintain or push which will seem defensive at first look would possibly really be an attacking motion to create house.

Stoppages can contain as few as eight contributors or many extra. Congestion on the stoppage is just not new.


To some, stoppages are essentially the most essential side of the sport. To others, they’re quickly dropping significance in comparison with the intercept sport.

Totally different groups worth clearances in numerous methods. Loads can rely upon who’s successful it. Then there’s the the place and when.

A number of groups prefer to win them out of the centre however will place much less emphasis on them across the floor.

And a few win numerous clearances with out them having a lot affect on the scoreboard.

When Collingwood was on the march to the 2018 Grand Closing, it ranked first within the AFL for stoppage clearance differential. In 2020, it’s lifeless final.

The Magpies have a tendency to harm their opponents after they win stoppage clearances. However this 12 months they’re simply not successful sufficient of them.

With its season within the stability, does the artwork of the stoppage maintain the important thing to Collingwood’s fortunes?

The function of the sweeper

An enormous a part of the Magpies’ 2018 stoppage success was positioning and the usage of the sweeper.

Most groups place a sweeper in the back of stoppages when not inside both arc. The function serves two fundamental duties.

First, the sweeper acts as a fail-safe goal for a retreating handball, entrusted to facilitate a defensive-side exit from the stoppage. Second, it has the vantage level to quickly assess the competition and react with both an attacking or defensive motion.

Successful the ball in tight in the back of the competition could make it tough to seek out clear house. Slightly than instantly attacking after successful possession, groups can typically get caught in a handball loop as they give the impression of being to work the ball out.

There’s additionally nuanced positioning within the outer layer of the stoppage. Groups must determine whether or not to man to up the opposing sweeper to make them accountable or gamble on having a spare elsewhere.

Going ahead

As highlighted by The Shinboner web site, Collingwood’s Adam Treloar just lately revealed his facet has shifted its focus to popping out of the entrance of the stoppage this season.

The attraction of shifting rapidly ahead from stoppages is evident: it offers opposing defences much less time to react.

It is the important thing purpose why the clearances that Collingwood does win are so harmful.

Ruckman Brodie Grundy is adept at various his hit-out zones, however regardless of the place the ball lands the Magpies attempt to assault with function. If this have been straightforward, each workforce would do it. It isn’t.

Not all groups should be so aggressive to take pleasure in stoppage success although.

On this play, Giants midfielder Jacob Hopper is aware of the place ruckman Sam Jacobs desires to hit the ball, however is afraid his opponent David Swallow will beat him to it.

The strictest interpretation of the Legal guidelines of the Recreation might decide his maintain on Swallow to be a free kick, however his hold-and-go permits Hopper to guard the ball drop, achieve possession and use it.

It is assault by defence.

Blocking or screening for a teammate has additionally turn into an important a part of stoppage play.

Look right here at how Dom Sheed impedes Gryan Miers, clearing a path for Liam Ryan’s run on the ball.

Defenders must make a fast choice: do they change opponents and attempt to make up floor or do they attempt to combat by the block and lose time on the pursuit?

One other latest instance was seen on this a lot mentioned incident involving Carlton’s Patrick Cripps.


Whereas many of the debate centred on Shaun Higgins making an attempt to dam Cripps, the important thing motion occurs earlier than that, when Matthew Kennedy dives in direction of Cripps’s opponent Jed Anderson to power the mismatch.

Cripps’s working begin and bodily energy enable him to shark the Todd Goldstein faucet, however he’s grabbed by Higgins and the play is neutralised.

Lower than a minute later the Blues repeat the manoeuvre, with Kennedy making an attempt to display screen for Eddie Betts at one other ahead 50 stoppage. It is easy to overlook it on the backside of the display screen close to the 50m arc, as most eyes drift to the ruckmen.

The best and most secure place for a ruckman to faucet the ball is near his physique. However various the goal location is vital as a result of going ahead on a regular basis could make a workforce too predictable. A deliberate hit-out to a chosen facet will be as efficient as exactly choreographed motion.

The hazard of getting burnt

As Collingwood is discovering this season, an aggressive stoppage technique will be dangerous.

Making an attempt to move the ball ahead by site visitors can result in straightforward intercepts, which at instances occurred towards Fremantle final weekend.

Opposition groups have been feasting on the Magpies’ stoppage missteps.

Typically Collingwood has moved a participant out of the stoppage to make use of behind the ball.

This has turn into notably vital because the damage to All-Australian defender Jeremy Howe. Up till Howe was injured, the Magpies had boasted the league’s only backline. It was preserving them in video games whereas their ahead line discovered its groove.

After two straight losses within the West, the Magpies are actually perched outdoors of the highest eight with lower than half the season remaining.

To show round their type they’re going to want to seek out the proper stability between utilizing clearances as a weapon and successful sufficient of them total.