Efficiency with the ball in hand is almost make or break in modern football and the Peter Jackson VFL’s most lethal operators in 2017 are the Box Hill Hawks and Richmond.
While Collingwood has recorded a competition-leading disposal efficiency of 73.0 per cent this season and Geelong (72.3 per cent) ranks second, the Hawks (71.8) and Tigers (71.4) have capitalised on their surgical precision better.
Only Box Hill and Richmond are currently in the top eight among that foursome – ranked second and first respectively for disposals per goal while the Magpies and Cats are in the bottom five teams on the same measure. It demonstrates that disposal efficiency on its own can’t be used as a reliable indicator of success if quality ball use doesn’t lead to quality scoring opportunities.
Where Collingwood averages 10 more disposals per game (394) than the next best team, the Tigers average only the 11th-most disposals (346) in the competition.
They move the ball with direction and do it with precision, driven by the likes of Sam Darley (85 per cent disposal efficiency), Steven Morris (84), Hugh Beasley (83), Taylor Hunt (76) and Jake Batchelor (75) coming out of defence.
The Hawks, meanwhile, have been one of the VFL’s most efficient teams for years, reflecting the emphasis on skills at AFL affiliate Hawthorn. The VFL ladder leaders have stood firm in the face of the AFL Hawks’ slide down the ladder in 2017 with a tried-and-true high-possession game style tailor made for good ball users like Teia Miles (81 per cent disposal efficiency), David Mirra (78), Max Warren (78), Brendan Whitecross (78) and Harry Morrison (74).
There seems room for Magpies play-makers such as Lachlan Tardrew (78 per cent disposal efficiency) and Marty Hore (76) to follow the lead of Richmond and Box Hill in using their skills to move the ball daringly as they attempt to break into the finals.
But Geelong’s September hopes are already shot. Players such as Jake Edwards (85 per cent disposal efficiency) and Daniel Capiron (76) will review how the Cats’ efficient ball use only managed to generate the 12th-most inside-50s per game this season before 2018 begins.
Round 16 keys to victory:
30: Footscray’s Will Hayes has been known mostly as a goalkicking forward, but his recent emergence as a ball-winner was evident in the Bulldogs’ 13-point defeat of Northern. Hayes recorded team-highs of 30 disposals and nine marks and game-highs of 10 tackles and seven inside-50s against the Blues.
5: Casey was handball happy during its 10-point win against Sandringham, firing off five more handballs than kicks and 47 more handballs than the Zebras. Four Demons were in the top 10 handballers for the round: Jay Kennedy-Harris (24 handballs), Angus Brayshaw (18), Ben Kennedy (16) and Jack Trengove (16).
29: Collingwood pressured Werribee into submission in its 32-point victory, recording 29 more tackles despite also winning 76 more disposals. James Aish led the way for the Magpies with an equal-round-high 13 tackles, while VFL-listed teammates Gus Borthwick (10 tackles) and Jack Hellier (nine) were close behind.
Round 16 stats leaders:
|Damian Mascitti||Port Melbourne||24|
|Tom Wilson||Northern Blues||22|
|Anthony Brolic||Box Hill Hawks||20|
|Jay Kennedy-Harris||Casey Demons||19|
|Kieran Lovell||Box Hill Hawks||18|
|Jay Kennedy-Harris||Casey Demons||24|
|Ciaran Byrne||Northern Blues||19|
|Angus Brayshaw||Casey Demons||18|
|Luke Russell||Northern Blues||17|
|Kieran Lovell||Box Hill Hawks||16|
|Ben Kennedy||Casey Demons||16|
|Toby Pinwill||Port Melbourne||16|
|Tom O’Sullivan||Port Melbourne||16|
|Jack Trengove||Casey Demons||16|
|Coby Perry||North Ballarat||15|
|Dion Johnstone||Casey Demons||14|
|Tom Wilson||Northern Blues||12|
|Max Warren||Box Hill Hawks||10|
|Oliver Tate||North Ballarat||8|
|Dylan Conway||Port Melbourne||8|
|Ciaran Byrne||Northern Blues||7|
|Marc Pittonet||Box Hill Hawks||38|
|Lloyd Meek||North Ballarat||36|
|Lachlan Waddell||Port Melbourne||26|
|Matt Korcheck||Northern Blues||26|
|Mitch King||Casey Demons||21|
|Nicholas De Steiger||Footscray||17|
|Toby Pinwill||Port Melbourne||13|
|Scott Clarke||Port Melbourne||11|
|Dylan Buckley||Northern Blues||9|
|Jay Kennedy-Harris||Casey Demons||9|
|2017 LEADING GOALKICKERS|
|Dylan Conway||Port Melbourne||3||32|
|Jordan Lisle||Port Melbourne||_||31|
|Bayley Fritsch||Casey Demons||3||28|
|Ty Vickery||Box Hill Hawks||1||27|
|Andrew Hooper||North Ballarat||1||24|
|Development League||Last Rnd||Total|
|Dale Hehir||Box Hill Hawks||**||27|
|Nathan Gardiner||Casey Demons||1||25|
|Samuel De Soysa||Port Melbourne||1||23|
|Jeremy Gleeson||Port Melbourne||3||18|
|Will Murphy||Box Hill Hawks||**||18|
* AFL / ** Seniors