Hitouts don’t mean much as a statistical indicator of success unless they work to your team’s advantage, but when a ruckman has 94 in a game it’s probably worth taking notice.
Nick Meese did just that in Williamstown’s stoppage-filled 79-point victory over Footscray at an extremely windy Burbank Oval in Round 15, setting a new VFL record for hitouts won in a match.
While the Seagulls ‘only’ won the clearance battle by 11, their 197cm behemoth topped the previous VFL record of 82 hitouts won by Jake Spencer for the Casey Demons in Round 10 last year. He dominated the stoppages opposed mostly to first-gamer Nick De Steiger (29 hitouts) after Bulldogs teammate Tim English left the game injured in the first half.
De Steiger is far from the only opponent Meese has bodied out of contests with his 105kg frame though. The three-time VFL Team of the Year ruckman (2014-16) has won 804 total hitouts in 2017 – 377 more than the next-highest tally, that of Box Hill’s Marc Pittonet. In 14 matches, that’s an average of 57 hitouts per game – nine more on average than the next best ruckman to have made at least three appearances this year, Werribee’s Braydon Preuss.
Meese is the only ruckman to appear more than once in the list of top-10 hitout-winners for a single VFL game (see below) and he appears eight times in the top 20.
|1||15||2017||Nick Meese (Williamstown)||94|
|2||10||2016||Jake Spencer (Casey Demons)||82|
|3||14||2014||Max Gawn (Casey Demons)||80|
|4||13||2015||Eric Wallace (Werribee)||78|
|5||6||2014||Cameron Wood (Northern Blues)||77|
|6||9||2017||Nick Meese (Williamstown)||74|
|7||2||2015||Shaun Hampson (Richmond)||73|
|8||14||2014||Nick Meese (Williamstown)||72|
|9||4||2017||Braydon Preuss (Werribee)||71|
|10||4||2016||Nick Meese (Williamstown)||71|
But hitting the ball down the throats of star Williamstown midfielders such as Ben Jolley, Adam Marcon, Michael Gibbons and Willie Wheeler isn’t all Meese does: He’s also the fourth-ranked player in the competition for total tackles (104 at an average of seven per game).
Despite their own high standing in the VFL, Jolley and co. are likely thankful they play with and not against the big man.
Round 15 keys to victory:
3: Northern snapped a six-game losing run by matching Geelong in the contests to record a five-point victory. The Cats enjoyed 63 more uncontested possessions than the Blues but the victors won three more contested possessions, with Nick Graham (17 contested possessions) and captain Tom Wilson (16) providing the most steel.
14: Essendon was another team to lose the disposal count (by 52) to a high-possessing Collingwood in 2017, but the Bombers defeated the Magpies by 15 points with the help of some dominant clearance work. They won the clearance count by 14, with Craig Bird and emerging VFL-lister Nick Hind (seven clearances each) leading the way.
17: Werribee’s accuracy in front of goal was crucial in its four-point triumph over Port Melbourne, the Tigers slotting 17.3 (105) from 44 inside-50s to the Borough’s 15.11 (101) from 57 entries. Lindsay Thomas, Cameron Zurhaar and Jed Anderson all kicked majors, but shame on them for also registering their team’s only behinds.
Round 15 stats leaders:
|Nick Graham||Northern Blues||25|
|Andrew Moore||Box Hill Hawks||22|
|Tom Wilson||Northern Blues||22|
|Anthony Brolic||Box Hill Hawks||19|
|Sam Dwyer||Port Melbourne||18|
|Damian Mascitti||Port Melbourne||18|
|Brayden Kilpatrick||Box Hill Hawks||20|
|Toby Pinwill||Port Melbourne||16|
|Coby Perry||North Ballarat||15|
|Luke Russell||Northern Blues||14|
|Anthony Brolic||Box Hill Hawks||12|
|Shaun Lyle||North Ballarat||12|
|Chris Jones||Box Hill Hawks||11|
|Max Warren||Box Hill Hawks||10|
|Luke Tynan||Port Melbourne||9|
|Andrew Moore||Box Hill Hawks||9|
|Sam Weideman||Casey Demons||8|
|Jake Spencer||Casey Demons||43|
|Matt Korcheck||Northern Blues||36|
|Marc Pittonet||Box Hill Hawks||33|
|Nicholas De Steiger||Footscray||29|
|Lachlan Waddell||Port Melbourne||23|
|Daniel Gorringe||Northern Blues||21|
|Mitchell O’Donnell||Box Hill Hawks||16|
|Billy Stretch||Casey Demons||13|
|2017 LEADING GOALKICKERS|
|Jordan Lisle||Port Melbourne||5||31|
|Dylan Conway||Port Melbourne||_||29|
|Ty Vickery||Box Hill Hawks||3||26|
|Bayley Fritsch||Casey Demons||1||25|
|Andrew Hooper||North Ballarat||3||23|
|Development League||Last Rnd||Total|
|Dale Hehir||Box Hill Hawks||5||27|
|Nathan Gardiner||Casey Demons||2||24|
|Samuel De Soysa||Port Melbourne||4||22|
|Will Murphy||Box Hill Hawks||**||18|
|Billy Hogan||Port Melbourne||4||15|
|Jeremy Gleeson||Port Melbourne||2||15|
* AFL / ** Seniors