The VFL stats that matter

With just four rounds of the Peter Jackson VFL home-and-away season remaining, the 15 clubs have had plenty of time to settle into their desired style of play in 2016.

vfl.com.au looks at each team’s statistical strengths and areas for improvement compared to the rest of the competition (measured in averages per game), as well as the players who are smashing the stats sheets.


BOX HILL HAWKS

Strengths:
#1 for short kicks
#1 for uncontested marks
#3 for disposal efficiency

Stats smasher: David Mirra
#1 for total marks
#3 for total effective kicks

Areas for improvement:
#15 for hitouts
#15 for contested possessions
#15 for clearances

Box Hill closely mirrors Hawthorn’s possession-based game style at AFL level. Led by captain David Mirra, the Hawks pick their way through opposition teams from defence with pinpoint passing by foot. They haven’t been as effective in overcoming issues in contested situations as the AFL Hawks have this year though.


CASEY SCORPIONS

Strengths:
#1 for hard-ball gets
#1 for handballs
#1 for inside-50s
#1 for tackles
#1 for points against

Stats smasher: Ben Newton
#4 for total hard-ball gets
#15 for total tackles
#17 for total handballs

Areas for improvement:
#10 for uncontested marks

The Scorpions do their best work in close. They win the ball in contested situations, aren’t afraid to handball their way out of traffic and chase hard when they don’t have it, epitomised by AFL-lister Ben Newton. Casey doesn’t often slow down play though, leaving it vulnerable to high-pressuring opposition teams.


COBURG

Strengths:
#4 for tackles
#5 for handball-receives
#6 for clearances

Stats smasher: Ozgur Uysal (pictured, left)
#2 for total handball-receives
#7 for total clearances
#8 for total inside-50s

Areas for improvement:
#15 for uncontested marks
#14 for kicks
#11 for kicking efficiency

For a relatively young team, Coburg does the tough stuff well. The Lions are among the top teams for clearing the ball from contests and running it forward by hand, with Ozgur Uysal one of the prime-movers. They don’t often try to slow the game down with ball movement by foot though, and kicking skills can be an issue when they do.


COLLINGWOOD

Strengths:
#3 for hard-ball gets
#4 for contested possessions
#4 for clearances

Stats smasher: Jordan Kelly
#5 for total rebound-50s
#13 for total marks
#13 for total effective kicks

Areas for improvement:
#13 for kicking efficiency

The Magpies turned around their poor early-season form with toughness in the contest and the poise of Jordan Kelly rebounding out of defence. Kelly’s sure foot has been crucial in a team that has struggled overall with efficiency by foot.


ESSENDON

Strengths:
#3 for uncontested possessions
#3 for marks
#3 for handball-receives

Stats smasher: Dan Coghlan
#11 for total loose-ball gets
#17 for total inside-50s

Areas for improvement:
#14 for tackles
#11 for clearances

Essendon likes to move the ball by foot, waiting for an option to present itself before pulling the trigger. However, the Bombers also have the ability to run the ball forward by handball when the time is right, and captain Dan Coghlan is a key cog through the middle. His teammates’ ability to pressure the opposition could improve though.


FOOTSCRAY

Strengths:
#2 for short kicks
#3 for inside-50s
#4 for uncontested possessions

Stats smasher: Jordan Russell
#2 for total uncontested marks
#3 for total kicks
#5 for total rebound-50s

Areas for improvement:
#15 for contested marks
#15 for scoring accuracy
#13 for goals per inside-50

The Bulldogs generate a heap of scoring opportunities inside 50 through their possession-based style of moving the ball, with captain Jordan Russell orchestrating things from defence. Many of Footscray’s problems seem to occur once in front of goal though, with the lack of effective marking targets particularly noticeable.


FRANKSTON

Strengths:
#1 for free kicks for
#2 for free kicks against (least conceded)
#6 for handball-receives

Stats smasher: Corey Buchan
#2 for total rebound-50s
#5 for total marks
#9 for total effective kicks
#15 for total handball-receives

Areas for improvement:
#15 for inside-50s
#15 for points for

On the positive side, senior coach Patrick Hill’s team is remarkably disciplined in terms of free kicks and has also shown an ability to run hard forward – Corey Buchan being a prime example. The movement of the Dolphins has been easy to shut down though, and they’ve struggled to give themselves enough opportunities to score.


GEELONG

Strengths:
#1 for disposal efficiency
#1 for goals per inside-50
#2 for scoring accuracy

Stats smasher: Tom Atkins
#2 for total tackles
#11 for total hard-ball gets

Areas for improvement:
#14 for clearances
#11 for contested possessions

The Cats may not be the most effective team in stoppage situations – despite the grunt work of emerging youngster Tom Atkins – but they certainly make the most of the chances they earn. Geelong is the competition’s best side for using the ball around the ground and also, most importantly, in front of goal.


NORTH BALLARAT

Strengths:
#3 for free kicks for
#7 for contested marks

Stats smasher: Nick Rippon (pictured, centre)
#1 for total tackles
#4 for total loose-ball gets
#6 for total disposals
#7 for total contested possessions

Areas for improvement:
#15 for disposals
#15 for disposal efficiency
#15 for points against
#14 for points for

Despite the efforts of Nick Rippon and a handful of other senior players, the young Roosters are struggling to win the ball in contests and then hold onto it. Without being able to handle the pressure from opposition teams, North Ballarat has scored less and given away more points than any other outfit.


NORTHERN BLUES

Strengths:
#2 for kicking efficiency
#3 for long kicks
#3 for scores per inside-50

Stats smasher: Matthew Dick
#3 for total rebound-50s
#4 for total effective kicks
#7 for total uncontested marks

Areas for improvement:
#15 for tackles
#15 for hard-ball gets
#14 for points against

Northern’s long, efficient kicking – evident in the skills of defender Matthew Dick – has paid dividends once inside 50; the issue is the Blues don’t win the ball often enough to get it in there. In addition, a lack of tackling pressure on the defensive side has seen opposition teams to score too freely against them.


PORT MELBOURNE

Strengths:
#3 for contested possessions
#3 for clearances
#3 for tackles

Stats smasher: Tom O’Sullivan
#1 for total handballs
#3 for total contested possessions
#5 for total clearances

Areas for improvement:
#15 for scores per inside-50
#15 for kicking efficiency
#12 for long kicks

Port Melbourne on-ball division is hardened and tough. Featuring the likes of Tom O’Sullivan, the Borough’s midfield scraps with the best of them to win the ball in tight or get it back from the opposition. After that point though, skill by foot has often found them out and cruelled their chances of putting big scores on the board.


RICHMOND

Strengths:
#5 for kicking efficiency

Stats smasher: Sam Darley
#1 for total rebound-50s
#2 for total long kicks
#5 for total effective kicks

Areas for improvement:
#15 for loose-ball gets
#13 for scoring accuracy
#12 for goals per inside-50

Richmond’s skill by foot – typified by captain Sam Darley running out of defence – has been a strength in an up-and-down season, but the Tigers struggle to get their hands on the ball, particularly in space. This has likely impacted on their ability to generate easy scoring opportunities once inside 50.


SANDRINGHAM

Strengths:
#1 for scores per inside-50
#1 for free kicks against (least conceded)
#2 for uncontested possessions
#2 for marks

Stats smasher: Eli Templeton
#3 for total inside-50s
#5 for total uncontested possessions
#6 for total handball-receives

Areas for improvement:
#12 for scoring accuracy
#11 for hard-ball gets

The Zebras are disciplined, they run hard to space to provide options for teammates and score with often-ruthless efficiency. AFL-listed player Eli Templeton is an example of how St Kilda’s run-and-gun method of ball movement has worked at its VFL-aligned club. Sandringham could possibly improve its ball-winning ability in contests though.


WERRIBEE

Strengths:
#1 for scoring accuracy
#2 for goals per inside-50
#2 for tackles

Stats smasher: Matt Hanson (pictured, right)
#3 for total hard-ball gets
#6 for total tackles
#7 for total clearances

Areas for improvement:
#13 for handball-receives
#12 for disposals
#12 for uncontested marks

Werribee’s pressure is up with the competition’s best and it converts on the scoreboard when the ball is won back from the opposition, but the problem is the Tigers too often just don’t have it in hand. Following hard-nut Matt Hanson’s work at the coalface, they struggle to move the ball forward fluently and find it in space.


WILLIAMSTOWN

Strengths:
#1 for contested possessions
#1 for clearances
#1 for long kicks
#1 for inside-50s
#1 for contested marks
#1 for points for

Stats smasher: Nick Meese
#1 for total hitouts-to-advantage
#7 for total tackles
#17 for total clearances

Areas for improvement:
#14 for uncontested marks
#11 for uncontested possessions

The Seagulls stick to a pretty simple winning formula. They win the ball in close on the back of Nick Meese’s dominant ruckwork, kick it long to a forward line packed with dangerous options and put score after score on the board. Williamstown doesn’t tend to find a lot of ball in space, but then again, the reigning premiers probably don’t need to.




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VFL 2017 Ladder

Peter Jackson VFL 2017
POS TEAM PTS
1 Williamstown 56
2 Box Hill Hawks 54
3 Port Melbourne 50
4 Casey Demons 48
5 Richmond 44
6 Essendon 40
7 Footscray 40
8 Collingwood 32
9 Northern Blues 32
10 Geelong 32
11 Sandringham 32
12 Werribee 32
13 Coburg 8
14 North Ballarat 4