Clarkson says rules can fix AFL woes

Roger Vaughan

A few kilometres away from the AFL's rules experiment, Hawthorn and Essendon were showing that the league might want to leave the game alone.

The Hawks' pulsating four-point win over the Bombers on Saturday featured two 100-plus scores.

The MCG clash was a ripping contest befitting one of the AFL's fiercest rivalries.

So far in round 20, the lowest score in the four games is 82 points and the biggest margin is four points.

The collective message to AFL House is don't fix what ain't broke.

Also on Saturday, the league trialled two potential rule changes in the VFL match between Coburg and Werribee in Coburg amid concerns about game congestion.

The initial feedback is the larger goalsquare and the 6-6-6 player positions at centre bounces had little impact.

Certainly, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson has said for a while that no major changes are necessary.

"My view is there is a rule book and there is ample opportunity ... to spread this game and get players to play in positions if we pay the free kicks according to the rule book, particularly around incorrect disposal," Clarkson said.

While Clarkson wants the rules kept as they are, like any coach he struggles at times with how they are applied.

The umpires department can expect a call from him after a crucial decision went against James Worpel during the last quarter.

Advantage was called on Worpel after the Hawks won a free kick and it cost them possession, leading directly to an Essendon goal.

But a few minutes later, Worpel kicked the goal that sealed their win.

Worpel later joked he could hear Clarkson's voice in the back of his head after the advantage call went against him.

"I think he might have heard it from the coaches' box as well," Clarkson said.

"I might have been screaming on that one.

"We were a bit stiff that was called play on.

"I need to get that checked because I might be wrong."

Clarkson felt Hawthorn largely controlled the last quarter but said Essendon were able to work back into the game on the back of a couple of "dubious occurrences".