Sport

Ducking and diving on free-kicks

WEST Coast has perfected two things in 2012 - winning games and winning free-kicks.

The Eagles may be perched atop the ladder after six rounds as the only undefeated side, but it's being the clear leader on the 'frees for' table which is drawing more attention.

The umpires have blown their whistles 157 times in West Coast's favour this season - 15 (almost an entire game's worth to most clubs) more than the next best, Port Adelaide.

The Eagles are averaging 26 a game, which, to put it into further perspective, is about four or five more per match than the teams ranked No.1 in that department in recent seasons, and eight more a game than they were awarded in their 2006 premiership year.

Umpires are getting more and more trigger happy by the season as they crack down on this and that, but, still, West Coast is averaging just 16 'frees against', and clearly getting the rub of the green from the men in white.

And a lot of it has to do with the Eagles' ability to implement the 'duck-and-shrug' when being tackled, which involves them dropping to their knees and raising their elbows so as to force the tackler's arms to make high contact, and voila, draw a free - more than a third of their overall frees are for high contact

Geelong star Joel Selwood actually perfected the technique, but must have given his brothers at West Coast, Scott and Adam, a few pointers in the backyard at the family home over the summer holidays.

It's caught on over in the West to the point Eagles Luke Shuey and Ashton Hams, in particular, have gotten it down to a fine art.

Shuey leads the competition for both overall frees (19) - ahead of Joel Selwood (18) and Hams (15) - and high-contact frees (16) - followed by Hams (11) and Joel Selwood (9).

First Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, then North Melbourne's Brad Scott (after his side returned from Perth with a 15-29 free-kick count) questioned West Coast's tactics.

For a lot of general footy fans it is proving as unpopular as the infamous dive and has led to the Eagles being christened the 'West Coast Duckers'.

Of course, coach John Worsfold doesn't know what all the fuss is about: "Our players have an extraordinary appetite to go and win the hard ball."

They do and they do it well even if they are stretching the boundaries of fair play.

While Scott was off discussing the issue with AFL umpires boss Jeff Gieshen during the week, his assistant coach Darren Crocker summed up the situation best: "As much as it was frustrating on our part, our guys need to learn to tackle with the right technique."

Pretty simple. With the AFL not about to intervene, the tactic is most likely here to stay.

 

Hill on the rise

DESPITE some iffy frees in its favour, West Coast should be applauded for being undefeated - two years after collecting the wooden spoon. A lot of it has to do with their recruiting.

Josh Hill is one example. His talent had never been in question just his commitment.

After debuting for the Western Bulldogs in 2007, he showcased his potential in 2009 when he booted 33 goals in 23 games. But after falling out with then coach Rodney Eade, he tried to get to Hawthorn in the 2010, but the Hawks and Dogs couldn't agree on a trade.

Unhappy, he was forced to go through the motions in 2011, resulting in 5 goals in 12 games.

It probably couldn't have worked out any better for him, with the Dogs happy to see the back of him at the end of the 2011 season, and Hill heading back home to WA.

He has been fortunate the Eagles have been hit by injuries to half-forwards Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski to be given an opportunity, and in turn, the Eagles fortunate they have Hill to cover for them.

With 15, he is the club's leading goalkicker and sixth overall in the competition.

Topics:  afl, west coast eagles




Millions to be injected into Warwick's hospital

Warwick Hospital

Major boost for Warwick Hospital

Flood zoning blamed for Warwick couple's land sale woes

BUYERS BUST: David and Pam Hockings are struggling to sell after their property was classed in a flood zone by State Government maps.

Flood zoning has Warwick couple struggling to sell

Another public holiday! But do we really want that?

Businesses may consider closing for the entire period.

Latest deals and offers

Taylor Swift dismissed from jury duty

Taylor Swift was dismissed from jury duty in a sexual assault case

Zumbo's Willy Wonka hat trick trips up Queensland brickie

Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo with Zumbo's floating dessert in a scene from Zumbo's Just Desserts.

NOOSA'S Michael Basset asked to recreate floating chocolate dish.

John Lennon's killer denied parole for 9th time

John Lennon

John Lennon's killer has been denied parole for the ninth time.

Mexican band takes aim at Trump

Disguised as unhinged narcotraficantes, the Mexican-American agitators of BRUJERIA captured the mood of the citys minorities with the bands infamous and widely banned 1993 debut, Matando Geros (Killing White People), quickly becoming the Spanish-language counterparts to early grindcore masters TERRORIZER and NAPALM DEATH.  Photo Contributed

'Satanic drug lord' band challenges Trump

Willy Wonka star, Gene Wilder dead at 83

A still of Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Social media has already lit up with tributes to the late actor.

Gladstone couple's spontaneous Gympie Muster wedding

Craig Oglesby and Brenda Strong celebrate their wedding at the Gympie Muster with punters in front of the Main Stage.

The Gympie Music Muster was the perfect place for a wedding.

Bunnings starts demolition of historic foundry buildings

Demolition works have started at the Toowoomba Foundry.

Lane and footpath closures will take place

Australia's most expensive balcony and it hasn't been built

Viridian Noosa.

How Noosa millionares' squabble could affect body corporates

Palm Lake Resort set to move in to Coast with 276 villas

Palm Lake Group has been given approval by Sunshine Coast Council to build a 276-villa over 50s resort and 120-bed aged care facility at the intersection of Caloundra Rd and Caloundra Mooloolaba Rd in Little Mountain.

New facility planned for Caloundra Rd

Warning for unit investors with price plummet prediction

The warning signs are flashing for one real estate sector in 2017 despite others performing the best they have in years and it's not going to be pretty.

One real estate sector looks set for a rocky 2017

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF