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Adelaide coach Phil Walsh has denied reports his football department complained to the AFL about the ongoing rough treatment of his star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield.
The issue was raised again after the Crows’ 27-point win over Melbourne after Dangerfield’s former teammate Bernie Vince seemed on a mission to antagonise and rough up him up.
Vince’s tactics are likely to be scrutinised by the match review panel – certainly a head-high attack on Adelaide’s Rory Sloane – but Walsh preferred not to dwell on the issue.
“Vince and Dangerfield … that’s not toughness,” Walsh said. “If you want toughness watch what David Mackay did today; that’s why our team won the game in the end, because we had guys prepared to do that.”
Walsh was referring to Mackay’s gutsy mark while running with his back to the play, a key element of the game that the coach highlighted to his players at three-quarter time, and the fact Mackay had a match-high 13 tackles.
“That’s ultimate toughness in our game of footy for my mind,” Walsh said.
“Vince-Dangerfield? It was no distraction for us; that’s part of footy. Get on with it.”
Walsh also dismissed the theory his players were not protecting Dangerfield from the tagging tactics enough.
“Over my journey, teams have been criticised for not going into support a player when they were getting tagged, but what is happening a little bit is that if you spend a lot of time doing that, you actually forget what the main focus is in a game of footy – and that is win the ball and win on the scoreboard,” Walsh said.
“The umpires are out there to adjudicate if what someone else is doing is illegal. They were there and they did not adjudicate it that way. I was very happy our players stayed focused and we got the result.”
Walsh said the close attention on Dangerfield by Vince was part of the evolution of the game.
“I don’t like referring to when I played in the dark old days, but you’d never think of doing that stuff then because you would have went off the ground on a stretcher,” Walsh said.
“It is a different era that we play in now. Is that physicality? I rather think that we highlight what David Mackay did today myself.”
Walsh thought Melbourne were tougher in the first quarter, and was disappointed with that. “They were harder at the ball; simple as that,” he said. “They came over with a plan. It took us that whole quarter to get ourselves back organised and realise that it was going to be a really hard contest.
“Our guys matched it, they out-worked them, and most importantly they out-tackled them in those conditions.”
Melbourne coach Paul Roos said he was pleased with Vince’s game on Dangerfield. “It was a significant role for us,” he said. “He stuck to his task well all day.”
Roos lamented the fact both sides had 20 scoring shots and rated goalkicking as one of the most underrated stats in the game.
“We talk about contested, uncontested possession and tackles, but goal percentage is massive,” he said. “We get 7.13 and they kick 12.8 and that’s the difference, as well as their bigger bodies and the conditions. I was pleased with our guys … we gave a really good account of ourselves today.
“We are certainly a much better team now that we were three rounds in last year. You get get impatient and frustrated – that’s the balancing act of coaching a young team, but we have certainly improved considerably.
“The players are listening and actioning, but it’s those little drop-off times for two or three minutes when players drop off a contest.”
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