Errant kicking for goal has plagued the greatest of clubs since the inception of our beloved sport. However, over the past decade we have seen a decline in accuracy, which is inevitably costing teams matches.
Travis Cloke is a player who has most certainly been in the media limelight for his wayward shots at goal, particularly for his efforts in Collingwood’s tight game against the Gold Coast Suns when he kicked two goals and four behinds. It’s a facet of his game which has been constantly criticised, especially during the early stages of his career. His unruly kicking for goal has returned this season amassing 45 goals and 40 behinds, and that’s not even taking into account shots that he has missed altogether.
Cloke obviously is not the only inaccurate forward in the competition. Marquee players such as Nick Riewoldt and Lance Franklin are both renowned for their below average kicking for goal. Riewoldt has had trouble with his goal kicking throughout his career, and his inaccurate kicking was on full display against Port Adelaide in round 17, where St Kilda fought hard to only fall short by five points. Riewoldt kicked two goals, three behinds and had two shots missing all together. To blame a loss on one player would be harsh though, as St Kilda may not have even been in the position to win without his huge work rate and ability to keep presenting.
West Coast has been one of the main offenders in terms of bad kicking for goal. In three of their losses this year they have had more shots on goal than the opposition, the worst of those being against Port Adelaide where they went down after being up by as much as 40 points. It’s safe to say if they had taken their opportunities earlier, the Power wouldn’t have been in the position to stage a comeback. If the Eagles were able to address their kicking earlier in the season they could still be vying for a top eight spot.
There is a reason the likes of Lance Franklin, Nick Riewoldt and Travis Cloke are heavily criticised for their shots on goal. They’re stars of the competition, and as stars, they have the opportunity to redeem themselves. Franklin and Riewoldt have their chances against Essendon and Geelong this week, whilst Cloke could kick 1.6 and the Pies would still probably come away with a win against GWS. Cloke will definitely be keen to make up for his lacklustre performance on ANZAC Day next week when Collingwood face Essendon.
The Grand Final is indubitably the biggest game of the year. In the 2012 Hawthorn kicked 11.15 (81), compared to Sydney’s 14.7 (91). Whether Hawthorn’s bad kicking cost them Grand Final is up for debate. However there’s no denying it was a factor. Astoundingly, Hawthorn kicked five behinds in the last term whilst only recording two goals, compared to Sydney’s four. You only have to look as far as Franklin’s missed opportunities or sharp shooter Jack Gunston’s poster late in the last quarter to see the chances Hawthorn had to win the game. They had five more shots in the game yet lost by 10 points, which illustrates the importance of good kicking for goal, especially in a Grand Final.
Robert Harvey is a St Kilda legend. He played for 20 years and accumulated 383 games in an unbelievable career, which included multiple All Australian selections and two Brownlow Medals. However, he was unable to obtain what every player strives for, a premiership. If that shows us anything, it’s that premierships are hard to come by. It would be a shame to waste such a rare opportunity with something that seems as straightforward as kicking for goal.