From The Notebook: Round 4

It’s an all-positive edition of the Notebook this week, because there are too many of them to ignore.

Today’s topics include GWS, St Kilda, Port Adelaide and a basic team stats snapshot I find useful that I’d like to share.

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Previously on the Notebook: Round 2 | Round 3

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GWS finding a better balance

Coming off a fortnight where they were unable to get any type of freedom in their ball movement, the Giants took a huge step forward with their efforts against Collingwood until they were two short on the bench. It almost feels contractually obligated at this point for the Giants to regularly finish a match without their full complement.

Nevertheless, playing against Collingwood – arguably the best defensive unit in the league at the moment – provided a litmus test with no room to hide and in a way probably helped the Giants. If they played the exact same way as Friday night against most other sides, the end result would likely have been a comfortable 3-4 goal victory without the type of searching examination needed.

The key point of focus was the Giants’ willingness to actually try something when kicking alongside an increase in general movement. Too often against the Bulldogs they were content to meander wide with static chip kicks without pushing into dangerous places.

Conversely, against Collingwood the corridor was more of a focus and it paid off. Two simple examples here show how there was a focus on moving through areas which test defences but also keeping as much control as possible. It’s the type of line which GWS straddle well when at its best.

St Kilda slicing through transition

It’s strange times when playing Richmond allows a side to get its offensive game going, but such is the 2020 season so far.

In its two games at Marvel Stadium since the restart, St Kilda has looked so impressive in the way it’s been able to move the ball.

Whether in transition or away from a contest, the rockets go on and away are the likes of Brad Hill, Zak Jones and Dan Butler.

Even allowing for Richmond not quite being Richmond at the moment, these two passages of play from the Saints sum up when they’re at their most dangerous and look to be a tough out when playing at Marvel Stadium. It’s where they’re set to be for at least the next three weeks, although that could change eight or nine times in the next couple of days.

Speed kills for Port Adelaide

This could be quite easily be about West Coast’s struggles, but we’ll save them for another time because this is an all-positive post. Positive!

Early in the third quarter, Port Adelaide was challenged for arguably the first time this season. West Coast had kicked three goals in quick time, the game was back to 11 points and it looked for all money there was more coming from the Eagles.

When challenged at this point, most sides go into their shells even if just for a little bit in an attempt to thwart opposition momentum.

Not Port Adelaide though. From that point of concern during the third quarter, the Power kicked 7.4 to 1.1 the rest of the way by taking the game right back at West Coast.

The two responding goals to break the game back open came from Power players decisively moving forward and at speed, which is incredibly tough to commit to in a side without momentum. All it takes is one bad bounce and suddenly you’re stranded watching an opponent – probably your direct one – play the decisive part in another goal.

It’s that type of confidence in style and method which has Port Adelaide at 4-0 heading into its most significant test so far against Brisbane on Saturday night.

A team stats snapshot

I’d like to share what I use as a general guide/hint into teams’ strengths and weaknesses using a handful of publicly available stats.

Obviously this isn’t a one size fits all approach, especially early in the season given there’s plenty of noise and a smaller sample size. There’ll be stats which don’t necessarily match the eye test.

But by (over) simplifying it as contested = inside, uncontested = outside, inside 50s = territory, scores for = offensive efficiency and scores conceded = defensive efficiency, I find it to help as we progress longer into a season and have more data to play with. Hopefully it can be useful to more than just me.

Team stats

* All data inputted manually
** All data from the greatest website of all time, AFL Tables
*** All ranks based on totals unless otherwise stated, at least until there’s more games cancelled mid-round and I’ll switch it to averages

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