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Rule changes have little influence in VFL

VFL rules trial's monster goalsquare Watch the first kick in from the longer goalsquare in rules trial

THERE was plenty made of the AFL's much-publicised rule trials in Saturday's Coburg-Werribee VFL clash, but for any observer watching it's fair to say the two changes introduced did not have a major bearing on the contest at Piranha Park in Coburg.

Saturday's match was the first time the AFL had tested the proposed rules in an official game, with a 6-6-6 structure enforced from centre bounces and an extended goal square (twice the size of the usual square that measured 18m).

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The AFL was pleased with the trial and saw some subtle shifts in the distribution of players across the ground and will use the data gathered on Saturday to further assess whether there is a need for change in the game.

AFL footy boss Steve Hocking watches on at Piranha Park. Picture: Darrian Traynor, Getty Images

AFL game analysis official James Podsiadly said it was a good opportunity to run a trial in an official match.

The League has previously run trials at training with Hawthorn, St Kilda and Brisbane among those to take part.

"I thought the distribution of players looked a little different, so we'll just analyse that," Podsiadly said.

"From our end, having a look at the goal square and the 6-6-6 the distribution of players did change for a moment in time and then it gets washed out pretty quickly and the strategy happens from there."

Both teams stuck largely to traditional forward structures from centre bounces, with all forwards and defenders maintaining their positions inside forward and defensive 50 and not charging into the centre square.

With a 6-6-6 structure, it allowed both midfields more room to operate and create cleaner exits from centre bounces.

Players line up in the 6-6-6 structure ahead of a centre bounce. Picture: Darrian Traynor, Getty Images

"Individually the 6-6-6 allowed the midfielders a bit more time and space and I think tactically the coaches didn't send the forwards in as hard as what you would see at AFL level," Podsiadly said.

With a strong wind blowing to one end, the difference the extended goal square made was noticeable and there were times where both teams managed to clear the congestion inside defensive 50.

A few torpedoes were also attempted by players from both sides which saw the ball land alongside the centre circles at stages.

The goalsquare was extended to 18m for the trial on Saturday. Picture: Darrian Traynor, Getty Images

"We saw a couple of times where the players played the situation and there was a long kick or at times they actually found gaps in the zone," Podsiadly said.

In general play, Coburg attempted to roll an extra player behind the ball and play a seventh defender which is consistent with their game plan.

Podsiadly said the rule trials still allowed for a team to play within their usual structure and the AFL would not try to change that aspect of things.

"The last thing we want to do is take away the IP of coaches and if that's Coburg's IP today to throw a number back then you've got to allow that strategy to occur," Podsiadly said.

The AFL will conduct a survey of the players from Coburg and Werribee to gain more information about how the rule trials were received and factored into the game.

The League will also assess the data from the GPS monitors the players wore in the game.

"We want to get some subjective data from them and see what they thought of it," Podsiadly said.

"One of the drivers behind these proposals is to see more instinctive players and we want to see the stars shine so if that doesn't occur with these tweaks to the game then there's no point doing it."

Werribee defeated Coburg by 47 points, with the Tigers kicking away to a comfortable victory after being challenged by the Lions at half-time.