Fighting the flood

Most teams facing Terry Wallace's Bulldogs can expect flooding to be used at some stage of the game.  
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Geelong Advertiser

EVERY coach that comes up against Terry Wallace knows there's a better than 50-50 chance he'll have to contend with flooding at some stage during their match.

It's a tactic that has become part of the modern-day coach's arsenal, but Wallace is one of its pioneers. Few are better at executing the flood than the Bulldogs.

They may not need to call on the tactic this week against the Cats, but Mark Thompson and his assistants will be planning for it just the same.

Negating the dreaded flood is a challenge for every coach from the AFL down to minor leagues. And as long as the rules committee allows it, the challenge will remain.

To beat the flood you must firstly have a well-practised plan.

The Bulldogs are great at getting large numbers behind the footy and pressuring the opposition into using the ball more than usual. That pressure invariably forces a turnover if the opposition cannot move the ball quickly and precisely.

Pitting a flood against a flood is dangerous. Trying it against the Doggies is diabolical. They are the best at it because they have been practising it for a long time.

One form of minimising the effect a flood makes is by having your players follow their opponents down the field. For that to work you must have men that are quick off the break. When your boys force a turnover, they must swarm forward into open space.

For me, the best way of beating the flood is to play in your natural position and move the ball swiftly and accurately.

When you think of the powerful Hawthorn sides of the late '80s, they backed their own blokes to win the contest and made position further up the field.

The message I would give a team coming up against a flood, is don't panic and don't push too many numbers into our backline. Play to your positions so that when they turn the ball over we have a player across every line to move the ball through.

Quick ball movement is essential, and it is no good if our entire half forward line has been sucked down to half-back. You can't afford to follow your men down all the time if you want to beat the flood.

When the Doggies flood, they fully expect the opposition to follow suit. If you're the rival coach, it is only natural to think, `If they've done it, we've got to do it'.

But you don't.

The Doggies are relying on you also flooding because if you don't, the more numbers you keep forward of the ball the better a chance you are of breaking the flood and scoring.

It might sound like Russian roulette, but you have to believe in your team-mates playing in and winning their given positions.

We all know the Cats are coming off three heavy losses. If we are going to be totally honest with our expectations, nobody in the football world would have given them much chance in their past three.

However, the problem for the Cats is they've come on top of each other, so the big wins over Freo and St Kilda at home seem a world away.

The danger is that the three heavy losses could have put some doubts into the minds of a developing young group.

That issue has to be addressed quickly or it could turn into more bad results that the match committee won't want this team to experience.

The important thing for such a young list is to encourage them to continue to take risks and not choke off their natural flair. If the pressure becomes too much - and that happens - things could get ugly.

Wallace did well to keep his young side upbeat after a luckless early start to the season.

The Bulldogs' form is far more impressive than their position on the ladder suggests.

If only their well documented kicking for goal had been better they would be in the top eight.

Their form last week against the Swans is a fair indication of the football ability this team shows, so the Doggies deserve to be favourites this week.