FOLLOWING a short-lived start to the 2020 AFL season, we'll be taking a look back at the performances of four players who took the field in round one. This week, first-year Gold Coast Sun Hugh Greenwood is analysed through the scope.
It was clearly a disappointing start to the 2020 season for Suns fans, as the young, inexperienced lineup was beaten in almost every category. They seemed to be always trailing their opposition and overall, seemed to be overwhelmed by Port Adelaide.
However, there were a number of promising signs shown by Gold Coast's young core, including multiple impressive possessions by the first two picks of the 2019 AFL Draft, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Suns' new inclusions also comprised dual-premiership star Brandon Ellis and the mature-aged ex-Crow Hugh Greenwood to add to the side's experience. Despite never previously being regarded as a leader of his former club, Greenwood notably displayed a range of glimpses, indicating his potential to develop into a leadership position. He showcased his ability to increase his intensity during key moments, whether it be by winning a contested ball and effecting a clearance, evading opposition pressure to create space, or executing a bump to force a turnover. Although, these patterns did not reflect on the scoreboard in round one, there is no doubt Greenwood will improve his commanding presence in future matches, while his young teammates will certainly improve to assist in creating team momentum.
Some of Greenwood's contested team-lifting moments from round one can be found below.
Second quarter, 1:00 remaining
Port Adelaide's Zak Butters forces a hurried kick into his side's forward 50, before two opposing players compete for a ground ball about 15 metres from the goal square. As Hugh Greenwood makes his way towards the contest, he observes the ball spill in his direction and slows his momentum. This allows him to plant his left foot and shift his centre of gravity right in order to track the ball. Seeing his teammate also prepare to pick-up the ball, Greenwood's commanding mindset causes him to quickly bend down and take the ball below his knees. However, as he gathers, the 52-gamer notices close opposition pressure to his left. Therefore, as he rises from the ground, he fires a quick right-hand handball to teammate Jarrod Witts to try and relieve the pressure. Although, the handball falls slightly short of its intended target, which is likely due to Greenwood's disposal being rushed. Witts then coughs up his possession to the opposition, before Gold Coast's maintained pressure forces a loose arial ball which eventually ricochets in Greenwood's direction. The six-foot-three on-baller receives the ball cleanly in his hands and observes a teammate directly in front with space. Halfway through a kick, Greenwood notices an opponent threateningly close on his left, so he bails on his disposal and decides to evade the player with a spin-move. He lowers his centre of gravity and leans to his right to maintain his space, before rapidly pivoting off his left foot, while raising his arms to ensure they aren't pinned in a tackle. Despite feeling opposition contact, he emerges from the congestion with ball in hand and releases teammate Jack Lukosios with a right-hand handball. This demonstrates his ability to deliver an exceptional second effort after an in-effective first disposal.
Third quarter, 16:00 remaining
Beginning the second half, Greenwood starts side-on to the circle at the centre bounce. It seems he is positioned in anticipation of neither ruckmen gaining a clean hit-out, which would cause a loose ball. As the ball is bounced, Greenwood receives intense physical contact from behind, pressuring him to edge closer to the space in front. However, the former Perth Wildcats basketball player identifies the importance of protecting the ball's potential drop zone, as he bends his knees to lower his centre of gravity. This allows him to somewhat resist collapsing early and maintain positioning. Greenwood also extends his wingspan to prevent his opponent from forcing his way forward. Displaying why he tends to provide a contested presence, the big-bodied Sun observes Port Adelaide's Scott Lycett tap the ball in his direction. Understanding the sustained opposition pressure, Greenwood takes the ball cleanly in hands, before forcing it onto his preferred left foot. Despite being tackled in the process, he manages an effective clearance into his forward 50 which is soon marked by teammate Ben Ainsworth.
These examples both demonstrate the first-year Sun's quick decision making when coming under opposition pressure. In the second play, Greenwood showcased his ability to lift his intensity in crucial stages. His side faced a large half-time deficit, but an early clearance assisted in giving Gold Coast momentum. Although the Suns were unable to capitalise on this, there is no doubt Greenwood's teammates will find more ways to create scoring opportunities, as they build on their young careers.