Cam O'Shea

STATS CENTRAL: Blues bag three straight

The Northern Blues haven’t made the Peter Jackson VFL finals since changing their name from the Northern Bullants in 2012, but their 2017 season is on track to be different.

After an opening-round loss to Port Melbourne by 29 points, the fourth-placed Blues have reeled off wins against Williamstown by 21 points, Coburg by 62 points and then Collingwood by 13 points.

Josh Fraser’s outfit is doing it in the same fashion as aligned AFL team Carlton, which has claimed impressive victories over Sydney and Collingwood under Brendon Bolton in the last two weeks.

Carlton is the AFL’s top-ranked team for kicks per game and the bottom-ranked team for handballs per game through seven rounds, while Northern has recorded an average kick-to-handball ratio of 1.6 across its three wins compared to a ratio of 1.2 for its vanquished opponents.

Ex-Port Adelaide (AFL) off-season recruit Cam O’Shea has disposed of the ball by foot 53 times in those three games, while Blaine Boekhorst (47 kicks), captain Tom Wilson (35) and David Cuningham (33) have also been prolific.

This style of play means the VFL Blues have conceded the third-fewest total points through four rounds, as they safely control the ball for longer periods of time and make it difficult for the opposition to score quickly if turnovers occur. It’s also a direct way of moving the ball and means Northern is the VFL’s fourth-ranked team for inside-50s per game.

There’s a noticeable style to the AFL and VFL Blues when they don’t have the ball too – they apply manic pressure. Carlton is the AFL’s second-ranked team for tackles per game and Northern has out-tackled its last three opponents by an average of 17 despite winning more of the ball against Williamstown and Coburg.

Boekhorst, Andrew Gallucci, Nick Graham, Sam Kerridge, Wilson and even big man Liam Jones have all recorded seven or more tackles in single games during the VFL team’s winning streak.

It’s a potentially successful formula for the developing Blues: Don’t let the opposition control the ball – and if they do have it, get it back quickly.

 

Round 4 keys to victory:

3: Footscray and Richmond are the top two teams for total points scored in 2017 and they put on a scoring show in Round 4. The Bulldogs won by seven points in a 118-111 result, with AFL-listed key forward Jack Redpath slotting three majors (six for the match) in his team’s eight-goal final quarter to help seal a thrilling victory.

17: Sandringham’s hardened bodies proved the difference in a 14-point win against a developing North Ballarat outfit. The Zebras weathered the Roosters’ intense pressure to top the contested possession count by 17, Jack Lonie winning a round-high 19 and Dylan Weickhardt recording 15 with just three uncontested possessions.

60: Werribee’s defence weathered 60 inside-50s from Casey to defeat the Demons by 13 points. The Tigers conceded a goal from just 16 per cent of opposition inside-50s while scoring a major from 31 per cent of their own (13 goals from 42 inside-50s). Matt Hanson had a game-high seven inside-50s for the victors.

 

Round 4 stats leaders:

KICKS    
Jack Lonie Sandringham 27
Jake Melksham Casey Demons 26
James Cousins Box Hill Hawks 23
Matthew Scharenberg Collingwood 22
Eli Templeton Port Melbourne 22
Shane Savage Sandringham 22
Cam O’Shea Northern Blues 21
Sam Darley Richmond 20
Tom Ruggles Geelong 19
Andrew Moore Box Hill Hawks 18
Nick O’Brien Essendon 18
Ricky Henderson Box Hill Hawks 17
David Mirra Box Hill Hawks 17
Mitch White Casey Demons 17
James Ferry Essendon 17
HANDBALLS    
Scott Selwood Geelong 20
Jarryd Blair Collingwood 19
Ben Jolley Williamstown 17
Thomas Gribble Werribee 17
Tom Atkins Geelong 17
Nick O’Brien Essendon 16
James Tsitas Geelong 16
Shane Biggs Footscray 15
Nick Jamieson Footscray 15
Luke Dunstan Sandringham 15
Craig Bird Essendon 15
Dylan Clarke Essendon 15
Nicholas Buykx Werribee 15
Daniel McKenzie Sandringham 15
Mack Rivett Port Melbourne 15
MARKS    
Sam Dunell Williamstown 13
Matthew Scharenberg Collingwood 13
Jack Redpath Footscray 12
Connor Menadue Richmond 10
Ryan Gardner Geelong 10
David Mirra Box Hill Hawks 10
James Ferry Essendon 10
Bailey Dale Footscray 9
Jordan Lisle Port Melbourne 9
Nick O’Brien Essendon 8
Blaine Boekhorst Northern Blues 8
Alex Hickey Geelong 8
Cam O’Shea Northern Blues 8
Ricky Henderson Box Hill Hawks 8
Tom Ruggles Geelong 8
HITOUTS    
Braydon Preuss Werribee 71
Jason Holmes Sandringham 56
Nick Meese Williamstown 51
Tom Campbell Footscray 35
Jack Fitzpatrick Box Hill Hawks 34
Tom Goodwin Coburg 31
Tom Bellchambers Essendon 29
Mitch King Casey Demons 28
Jesse White Collingwood 26
Andrew Phillips Northern Blues 24
Tim English Footscray 22
Ryan Abbott Geelong 20
Khan Haretuku Port Melbourne 16
Ty Vickery Box Hill Hawks 13
Matt Korcheck Northern Blues 11
TACKLES    
Nick Meese Williamstown 11
James Munro Casey Demons 11
Jake Melksham Casey Demons 10
Jordan Jones Werribee 10
Kade Answerth Sandringham 10
Sam Lloyd Richmond 9
Nick Rippon North Ballarat 9
Brandon White Sandringham 9
Andrew Gallucci Northern Blues 9
Luke Dunstan Sandringham 9
Lachlan Cassidy North Ballarat 9
Declan Keilty Casey Demons 8
Matt Johnston North Ballarat 8
Declan Mountford Werribee 8
Will Hams Box Hill Hawks 8
2017 LEADING GOALKICKERS
VFL   Last Rnd Total
Paddy McCartin Sandringham 2 14
Ben Lennon Richmond 3 12
Sam Lloyd Richmond 2 11
Jack Fitzpatrick Box Hill Hawks 2 10
Jordan Lisle Port Melbourne 1 10
Angus Scott Casey Demons 2 10
Rowan Marshall Sandringham 3 9
Tyson Stengle Richmond 3 9
Ty Vickery Box Hill Hawks 3 9
James Stewart Essendon 3 8
Development League   Last Rnd Total
Will Murphy Box Hill Hawks BYE 9
Thomas Wilkinson Williamstown _ 7
Corey Rich Sandringham 2 7
Julian Dobosz Sandringham 4 7
Jeremy Gleeson Port Melbourne INJ 6
Sam Fowler Northern Blues BYE 6
Samuel De Soysa Port Melbourne 1 6
Nathan Smith Sandringham 2 6
Nicholas Ebinger Williamstown 3 6
Cameron McRorie Coburg _ 5

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