‘Deadset rubbish’: Matt Guelfi checkside set shot miss infuriates AFL as Bombers beaten by Cats

A bizarre opening to Essendon’s final pre-season hit out against Geelong has set commentators on edge after a horror miss from the Bombers’ Matt Guelfi.

The Bombers led for the best part of three quarters before the Cats romped home in the fourth to claim a 11.17 (83) to 10.11 (71) win.

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Although they lost both pre-season matches including a 66-point loss to the Saints last week, the Bombers put in a decent show for the opening three quarters against the Cats in their last hit out before the regular season.

The Bombers got right to it, starting the match with Guelfi taking a good diving mark as a kick overshot the waiting contest.

As he went back from about 15m out, slightly to the right of the goals, commentator Anthony Hudson said “he should kick the opening goal” as it was about as easy as it gets in the AFL.

But instead of going for the drop punt, the 26-year-old 96-gamer tried a checkside punt, shanking it for a behind.

“Wow! That was a checkside from 15 metres out on a slight angle,” Brad Johnson said on Fox Footy.

“Looks like we’re going to have to get used to this throughout the year or they’ve been practicing it throughout the summer. Crikey.”

Hawks goalkicking legend Jason Dunstall added: “You don’t trial it the week before the season unless you’re running with it.”

Dunstall has been an outspoken critic for the kick and there were plenty who were ready to slam Guelfi for the attempt.

Footyology managing director Rohan Connolly tweeted: “Matt Guelfi just kicked at goal checkside with a set shot from no more than 30 metres out on a very, very slight angle. He missed. I don’t care how fashionable it is, that is just garbage.

“That is just deadset rubbish, seriously.”

Gold 104.3 drive host Dave Higgins added: “Surely coaching staff need to step in and say ‘do that s**t again, and you’re out for a week’. Match ‘simulation’ or not, that’s abhorrent.”

Seven News Brisbane reporter Ned Balme posted: “How little confidence can a player have in their kicking ability and/or their clubs kicking coach if they attempt stuff like this?”

3AW presenter Shane McInnes commented: “Matt Guelfi just did a check side kick from 20 meters out on less than a 45 degree angle. What the hell is that?”

Plenty more fans questioned Guelfi’s place in the Bombers’ AFL side for round one as he had two behinds, four marks, two tackles and eight disposals for the match.

Check shots and snaps from set shots have long been a bugbear of commentators as the style has become more popular.

Carlton’s Harry McKay become a leading voice for the pro-snap movement, when in 2021 he said: “As an industry we have to start accepting that’s the new way to do things”.

While it’s become an evolution in the sport, with Code Sports reporting that in 2022 there were 3.7 snapped shots per game, which had more than doubled since 2016, while back in 2010 there were just 0.9 snapped shots per game.

The accuracy has also improved as the snap has become more prevalent.

In 2013, set shot accuracy was 48.3 per cent when five per cent of set shots were a deliberate snap, while it was up to 59.7 per cent in 2022 when 14 per cent of shots were a snap.

It’s seems the snap and the check shot are going nowhere.

Geelong were down by 10 at the final break before kicking five goals to one to claim the 12-point win.

The result was just what the 2022 premiers needed as they plot a bounce back after missing the finals last year, finishing the match without any injury worries.

But the news was not so great for the Bombers, who will be sweating on a potentially serious injury to Jordan Ridley.

A former best-and-fairest winner, Ridley finished the game with ice strapped on his right quad.

It would be a bitter blow for Ridley, whose right quad injury ended his season at round 19 last year.

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