Footy fans lashed this 'joke' new rule. One game just showed how it can work

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Footy fans lashed this 'joke' new rule. One game just showed how it can work
Footy fans and pundits' relationship with the new manning the mark rule had a bumpy start. But on Wednesday, we caught a glimpse of how it could benefit the game – and why the AFL was so keen to introduce it.

The Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn on Wednesday kicked off the AFL practice match round with an entertaining, free-flowing and high-scoring contest at Whitten Oval.

Alastair Clarkson's men surged late to win by 15 points, but the result was somewhat overshadowed by how the game was played.

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Yes it was one pre-season clash, but the ball consistently zipped from one end of the ground to the other – and often through the corridor. There was little 'down the line' footy, with few possession chains occurring along the boundary line.

The AFL late last year announced a new rule that would penalise players that laterally move off the mark before 'play on' is called. Essentially, players manning the mark must "stand" still, meaning they can't move from their position or be replaced by a teammate – otherwise a 50m penalty will be given.

Rhylee West was one of the Bulldogs' best against Hawthorn. Picture: Daniel Pockett Source: Getty Images

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking said last year he hoped the ban on lateral movement by the player on the mark would "open up the game" and entice players to use the riskier 45-degree angle pass option more often.

While it was hard to gauge how much impact the rule had on Wednesday, the fact the final score was a healthy 15.7 (97) to 12.10 (82) was…
Ben Waterworth
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