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Legends clash over coaching mistake

The Brisbane Lions will be left to rue what could have been in 2020 after they were comprehensively blown off the park on Saturday night.As the dust began to settle on a season that held so much promise, one coaching decision left several greats of the game scratching their head.Catch Fox Footy’s Grand Final Week…

The Brisbane Lions will be left to rue what could have been in 2020 after they were comprehensively blown off the park on Saturday night.

As the dust began to settle on a season that held so much promise, one coaching decision left several greats of the game scratching their head.

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Daniel Rich has enjoyed a stellar season as the driving force from the backline that fuels the Lions attack. But the call to have him line-up on Geelong superstar Gary Ablett didn’t sit well with Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon and Jonathan Brown.

Ablett, playing the second-last game of his illustrious career, was damaging throughout the contest as he finished with 14 disposals and slotted two crucial goals.

After starting on the bench, Ablett was picked up by Rich and exposed the Lions defender with a hand in multiple Cats scores.

“The main concern for me is Daniel Rich is a ball distributor,” Brown said. “To be a distributor and be influential in the game but have to look after Gary Ablett at the front of stoppages, you can’t multi-task like that.

“That was the wrong match-up, they should’ve been aware of it. Early enough in the game, there were enough danger signs to flick (Brandon) Starcevich onto him and stop these things from happening.”

Brown added: “Gary Ablett’s going to go down as arguably the greatest player that’s played the game. You do not allow him to just float around out the front of a stoppage on his own. I don’t care if he’s 35 or he’s 18.

“Isn’t it the art of coaching identifying dangers early on in the game and taking them out and putting some work into them and identifying your players that are struggling and helping them get into the game? That’s the art of coaching.”

Melbourne great Lyon said the call to put Rich on Ablett is one the Lions are going to have to wear.

“When you’ve been playing the way you have all year, it’s a lot to ask to change the way you play,” Lyon told Fox Footy. “He’s going and playing on his own terms because that’s what he’s done most of the year. And whether it was by design or not, Gary Ablett torched him.”

St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt didn’t agree with Lyon’s statement and said the Lions needed Rich to play his attacking role.

“So is it they got the match-up wrong or did Geelong get the match-up right? Because Daniel Rich, that is his role. He’s the player that comes off the back of the square, gets assertive and dangerous from stoppage,” Riewoldt said.

The two then traded back-and-forth as they argued over who was at fault for the matchup.

Garry Lyon: Who controls the match-up?

Nick Riewoldt: Well, Geelong do …

GL: Brisbane controls the match-up …

NR: … In that sense, Geelong do.

GL: No, no. Brisbane control the match-up …

NR: No, no, no, no …

GL: He’s the defender! He goes to whoever he wants to go to …

NR: I understand that, but defenders don’t play that conventional way anymore.

GL: Well that’s the whole problem …

NR: … and he hasn’t all year.

GL: That’s the whole problem – and they’ve been torched by this side.

NR: It’s the system, not the match-up.

GL: Hey, he’s a defender. You tell him who he goes to.

NR: But that’s not how they play anymore.

GL: Well I’m not saying it’s cost them a preliminary final, but it hasn’t helped.

Geelong coach Chris Scott was asked about the matchup during his post-game press conference and said both players played a key role for their teams on the night.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said the duel was wrong but only for a brief period, not the entire game.

“Well Gary only really cut loose in the third quarter. He wasn’t so much on top prior to that,” he said.

“Wrong? For a little while. Not for the whole game though.

“There are other players in the Geelong side we were concentrating on. They just had too much ball going forward too much supply – and that was overwhelming in the end.”

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