Does Alex Rance tunnel his opponents?

Alex Rance wrestles with Matthew Pavlich. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: News Corp Australia

THE tactics of Alex Rance and Richmond defenders against North Melbourne’s key forwards have been put on the finals agenda by Kangaroos goalkicker Drew Petrie.

Petrie said Rance was an expert at using his body to force opponents under the footy without giving away a free kick.

Champion forward Dermott Brereton said the technique bordered on tunnelling — a reportable offence for taking out an opponent’s lower body as they jump for the ball.

“It definitely is an employed technique by the Richmond backmen, it’s not reportable because they don’t go overboard with it but they have a spoiling technique against the tall forwards … they almost tunnel you when you are stretching for the ball on the lead at the highest point, their body comes through the drop line and forces your hips forward and it takes your legs from underneath you,” Brereton said on SEN.

Petrie replied: “Yes — you explained it really well Derm, you’re spot-on.




“It’s a frustrating thing as a forward when you know you’re sitting under it and you’ve got a defender breathing down you’re neck and they’re just edging you under it.

“It’s really hard to stop once they’ve initiated that contact and they’ve run you under the footy.”

Petrie said the tactic wasn’t illegal.

“One of our blokes got paid a free kick … I heard the umpire blow the whistle and call out tunnelling.

Alex Rance flies with Ben Brown. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: News Corp Australia

“I guess it can be slightly dangerous if a player loses his feet and lands flat on his back, but I think it’s good defending and I think our defenders employ similar tactics to try and run their opponents off the line of the footy or underneath the footy.

“Providing it’s done properly it’s a fine tactic for all defenders to use but if it becomes a dangerous movement a free kick’s got to be paid.”

The Tigers and Kangaroos are almost certain to meet again next week in an elimination final and Petrie said he had taken valuable lessons from last night’s game on how Richmond — and Rance — play.

“Going into the game we spoke about (Bachar) Houli coming off half-back and setting them up and (Dustin) Martin … and Rance is probably someone we overlooked. He made me look silly a couple of times.

“Throughout the game you’re taking mental notes. I know he beat me and I know how he beat me … and when we go on the training track this week I’ll train those things and make sure my defensive game is ready to go.”

Originally published as Does Alex Rance tunnel his opponents?


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