The most physical clash of bodies over the first two games occurred in the Essendon-Adelaide game on Friday night.
Early in the game, Zach Merrett, crouched to gather the ball, was cannoned into by Richard Douglas. Just moments before, the two were involved in a push and shove at the other end of the ground, so when the opportunity came to make Merrett pay, Douglas took it.
Well, we won’t know that just yet, but what we do know is that despite wanting to return to the game, Merrett was prevented from playing on by the Essendon medicos.
All is well that ends well for the Bombers, as they overcame Merrett’s absence to record their first win of the year, but the question begs; was it fair? The Mongrel staff are split on the topic.
WAS IT A FAIR HIT?
Stella SS – No, it was not a fair hit. One man was playing the ball, and Douglas picked him off. If he’s bleeding from the mouth, he obviously got hit in the head.
HB Meyers – The ball was in dispute and Douglas used his body to render Merrett ineffective. Did he go slightly past the ball to collect him? Yes he did, and to great effect. The vision does not provide irrefutable proof that there was contact to the head.
Stella SS – Are you kidding? He was bleeding from the mouth. What does that tell you?
Rich Anderson – Looked like a fair hit to me. Great physical clash. Other than the Bombers’ emphatic last quarter comeback, it was one of the highlights of the game.
Stella SS – You two are idiots.
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE COTCHIN HIT LAST YEAR?
Rich Anderson – Nothing, and that’s why he should not have a case to answer. If I am talking percentages, in terms of the contact, I would say that 95% of the contact was the body, and 5% was the head, If there was contact to the head.
Stella SS – There was contact to the head. He was bleeding from the mouth.
HB Meyers – Maybe it was whiplash? Maybe he bit his tongue?
Stella SS – Maybe you should bite yours?
HB Meyers – The argument about Cotchin is irrelevant. New MRP, new bloke in charge, and a new way of looking at it. This will not be judged by what HAS happened. Michael Christian will set the precedent with this – not follow it.
DID DOUGLAS HAVE ANOTHER OPTION OTHER THAN TO BUMP?
Stella SS – He sure did. He could’ve contested the ball. He attacked the body, and when you do that, you accept that you will cop the whack if you get it wrong. He got it wrong.
HB Meyers – That’s to be determined. Did he have another option? Yep, he could’ve allowed Merrett to gain possession, which is entirely against the spirit of the game. Wait for him to get it and then tackle, I suppose, which I’d hate to see – blokes sweating on someone to get the ball so they can tackle them rather than contesting the ball.
Rich Anderson – He could’ve gone head first? He turned his body and made contact – fair enough. He has to wear what comes his way now, if anything does. The head clash option isn’t one I would like to see. There’s a fine line between courage and stupidity.
WHAT PENALTY, IF ANY, DO YOU EXPECT FOR RICHARD DOUGLAS?
HB Meyers – None. Pretty sure it was called play on at the time. The more we water down and over analyse physical contests (and the irony is not lost here) the softer the game gets. This was as good a hit as you’ll see in the modern game. I loved it.
Stella SS – You’re a caveman. The game has been trying to stop this stuff from happening for years now. Players being knocked out is not a good look at all.
Rich Anderson – I feel like you two should just have a punch-on. I like physical football, and I didn’t see much wrong with it. Merrett looked dirty that he wasn’t coming back on. We are very cautious now with head knocks. It may be that the Bombers were being cautious with him, given he’s had a few head knocks recently. I don’t think Douglas should be penalised for Essendon’s caution if that’s the case.
So, whose side are you on? Do you love a bit of the physical stuff, or do you, like the former CEO Andrew Demetriou, believe that the head is ‘sacrosanct’?
It will be very interesting to see how Michael Christian handles this one, as it may set the tone for the entire year.