JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Keeping up appearances

Date

Michael Gleeson

Brilliance by the likes of Joel Selwood has got Geelong over the line in games the Cats should have lost this season.

Brilliance by the likes of Joel Selwood has got Geelong over the line in games the Cats should have lost this season. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

RECOVERY SESSION

WIN the ball, win the game. It all starts and ends with contested possession, for if you can't get the ball you can't win the game.

It was the hairy-chested mantra of clubs for a summer. The premiership models for years demanded big backsided midfielders who bullied the ball and thus the vogue, like the need to learn the press, was for winning the contested ball at all costs.

The Hawks and Cyril Rioli are looking at keeping the ball for as long as possible.

The Hawks and Cyril Rioli are looking at keeping the ball for as long as possible. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

But it isn't enough - all clubs are hairy-chested now. Yes contested possession is important, but when teams are not alone in working maniacally to get the ball it is not enough. It's like the press - when everyone's doing it, it no longer gives you an edge.

''Contested ball everybody has as their No. 1 focus but it's not a point of difference any more,'' a club insider said.

''You can be beaten in it and win but not beaten in it by much. If you get smashed you will lose. So it is still a good measure of effort but it is not the be-all and end-all, it is like clearances - it is about the quality of the clearance not the raw number.''

Ask Chris Scott.

Geelong is yet to win contested possession, uncontested possession or the clearances in any of its four matches. And the Cats have won twice. How does a team win a game losing those stats? Simple answer: it probably shouldn't have.

''Really they should be 0-4 and would be but for some superb individuals like Bartel, Selwood and Enright, Hawkins taking a few marks. Players who just willed them to wins they shouldn't have got,'' another insider said.

After the Richmond game a frustrated Scott agreed his side has a baffling propensity to be beaten in a raft of supposedly critical measures yet win the game.

''It does matter [contested possession]. I think every coach would stand here and say they value those things above most others. The reality is we can't stick our head in the sand. The reality is if that happens to us we'll lose more often than we win. The numbers don't lie. We need to get to the bottom of what it really is,'' he said.

Where many focused on contested possession Hawthorn for instance is now understood to put greater credence in the time-in-possession statistic.

In most games the ball is in dispute 20 per cent of the time so a time-in-possession figure in the 43 per cent and above range is seen by the Hawks as a base indicator of having owned the ball.

That figure obviously presumes a high disposal-efficiency rate - you can't keep the ball in possession if you are sloppy in moving it about - but Hawthorn players are exceptional kicks.

The theory of measuring success by time in possession is that the the chip-and-move style allows not only for patiently setting up attack when the fast break is blocked but, more important, it allows time for defensive support structures to be pushed up and set up during the move into attack. When you control possession you control time and movement right across the ground.

It is one of the reasons the new young sides, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast, will continue to struggle. Young bodies tend to tire and so burn the ball when they get it, then spend time and energy trying to get it back.

The Mark Thompson school of big bum midfielders smashing in and earning possession has lost something of its lustre because all sides are trying to do it. Ross Lyon at the Dockers has moved slightly in the other direction by trying to foster a leaner, faster side. But it is still predicated on winning contested possession first.

''The game has changed and it has become a real balance between contested and uncontested possession. Before you were one or the other - an inside team of hard contested possession winners or an outside team of uncontested players but now you need a much better blend of both,'' a club assistant coach said.

That is where Melbourne is failing. OK, one area it's failing. The Demons have been OK in contested possession - winning it in the first round and losing the game - but are being slaughtered in total possessions, uncontested possessions and clearances.

Melbourne's problem, as Mark Neeld observed post-match, was an inability to run and spread away from packs once they won the ball. They play on from a mark more than any team and are third for handball receives - they are just not very good at it.

1 comment so far

  • The "Elephant in the room" about footy stats that no one seems to acknowledge:

    Quantity versus Quality.

    As an example, 35 "Effective" possessions that may be racked up for one player may be a fraction of the worth to a side that 12 of the same number that a quality footballer can achieve.

    So much footy dogma is driven by near worthless statistics that only those that can see past the drivel can actually get any value out of them - and that automatically disqualifies 85% of the media, 90% of those in the clubs and 98% of the people that "follow" the game via a screen.

    Commenter
    DC
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    April 24, 2012, 4:00PM

    Make a comment

    You are logged in as [Logout]

    All information entered below may be published.

    Error: Please enter your screen name.

    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

    Error: Please enter your comment.

    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

    Post to

    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

    Thank you

    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

    Related Coverage

    AFL 2015

    Round 1
    Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
    CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
    SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
    BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
    WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
    ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
    FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
    Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 2
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
    COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
    GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
    PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
    ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
    NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 3
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
    ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
    SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
    BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
    Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
    GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
    WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 4
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
    ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
    GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
    PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
    FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
    GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
    WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 5
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
    SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
    GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
    NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
    WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
    STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
    ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 6
    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
    COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
    Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
    NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
    WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
    GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
    GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
    MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
    FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
    PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 7
    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
    Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
    ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
    HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
    CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
    SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
    WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
    Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
    WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
    RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
    BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 8
    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
    GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
    Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
    STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
    GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
    GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
    HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
    FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
    ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
    MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
    PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 9
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
    SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
    Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
    HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
    MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
    WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
    RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
    ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
    Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
    BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
    COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
    WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 10
    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
    Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
    GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
    ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
    PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
    Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
    GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
    NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
    STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
    Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
    MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 11
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
    PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
    WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
    NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
    STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 12
    Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
    Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
    GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
    WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
    Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
    GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 13
    Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
    BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
    STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
    Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
    CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 14
    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
    Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
    GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
    WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
    MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
    Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 15
    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
    Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
    ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
    WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
    NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
    WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
    Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
    HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
    BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
    Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
    GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
    GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
    COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
    SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
    FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
    Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
    MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
    PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
    STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 17
    Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
    CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
    Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
    GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
    ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
    RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
    ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
    BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
    Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
    WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
    MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
    WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 18
    Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
    Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
    COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
    SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
    CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
    GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
    Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
    PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
    ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
    FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 19
    Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
    Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
    WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
    BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
    GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
    WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
    Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
    MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
    GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
    STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
    Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
    ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
    NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
    PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
    BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
    Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
    RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
    WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
    FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
    Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
    COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
    GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
    GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
    STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
    ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
    Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
    NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
    CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
    WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 22
    Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
    GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
    HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
    NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
    ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
    GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
    Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
    ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
    STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
    FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
    View All Fixtures
    Round 23
    Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs NTH 19:50ES
    Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
    GEE ($2.75)vs ADE ($1.42) 13:05SS
    BRI ($5.00)vs WBU ($1.15) 13:45G
    PTA ($1.22)vs FRE ($4.00) 15:50Adelaide Oval
    HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($15.00) 16:40MCG
    SYD ($1.05)vs GCF ($8.50) 19:20SCG
    WCE ($1.05)vs STK ($8.50) 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
    MEL vs GWS 13:10ES
    COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
    View All Fixtures
    AFL 2015
    Overall standings
    Team P W L D % Pts
    Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
    West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
    Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
    Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
    Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
    Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
    Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
    North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
    View all
     

    Follow Us on Facebook

    Featured advertisers