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Where your club excelled in 2015

afl.com.au  January 2, 2016 10:46 AM

Adelaide

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Contested possession differential +9.1 3rd
Points from opposition turnovers 56.3 3rd
Goal per inside 50 26.2% 4th

SUMMARY
The loss of Patrick Dangerfield in October may hurt the Crows' ability to win the hard ball, although they've still got plenty of inside strength in Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch and his brother Brad. The dynamic duo of Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron are masters at applying forward pressure and opposition mistakes in that part of the ground are often punished. They're also capable of swooping on half-chances, so when combined with goalkicking machines Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins, it's little wonder Adelaide is so good at making the most of its inside 50s. – Harry Thring

Brisbane

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Uncontested marks conceded 72.7 2nd
Mark rate from kicks inside 50 23.4% 4th
Clearance efficiency 86.5% 3rd

SUMMARY 
Despite a horrid season, these stats indicate the Lions have the bare bones in place. They were ranked last for inside 50s at just 44 a game, but once they got it in there, they were super effective, marking the ball almost one in four times – good enough for fourth in the league. With more marking targets like Josh Walker and No.2 draft pick Josh Schache to aim at, this number could get even better. Likewise with the clearances, once the Lions won them, they were ranked third for efficiency. If Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams and recruits Ryan Bastinac and Tom Bell can play full seasons, the clearance numbers will go up, and combined with the effiency, should provide the targets downfield more opportunities.  – Michael Whiting

Carlton

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Clearance differential +2.1 5th
First possession win % 44.0% 5th
Win % in defensive one-on-ones 13.1 1st

SUMMARY 
After a dire campaign, it might have been difficult to find many positive stats for the Blues if not for Patrick 'The Extractor' Cripps' stunning second season. The Carlton best and fairest threw his 193cm frame around in the clinches, winning the most clearances for the club and helping to get hands on the ball first. With Andrew Carrazzo (second most clearances per game) and Chris Judd (third) having retired, Carlton will need more support for its rising superstar at the contest in 2016. The Blues might have won the most defensive one-on-one contests last year, but their backline had plenty of practice after conceding the most points on the way to a fourth wooden spoon. – Travis King

Collingwood

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Tackle differential +7.0 3rd
Time in forward half differential +4:41 3rd
Points from forward half turnovers 23.0 3rd

SUMMARY 
Collingwood prides itself on playing a contested brand of football. The Magpies' primary focus is to win the ball at the contest and then fight like crazy to take the ball back off the opposition when they aren't in possession. They aim to squeeze up on the opposition and prevent them from exiting the ball from defence without any fluency. With so much of the footy trapped in their forward line, the Magpies are able to turn defence into their best form of attack.  – Ben Guthrie

Essendon

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Uncontested possession differential +19.8 3rd
Disposal efficiency 73.7% 5th
First possession to clearance rate 78.5% 2nd

SUMMARY 
The Bombers spent a lot of time last year with the ball in their hands, which was reflected in the numbers. They were third in the competition for the uncontested possession differential, showing their willingness to hold onto the ball. The Bombers were also high in disposal efficiency ratings, but that was probably due more to the fact they played it safe with short and precise kicks instead of taking risks, which halted their ball movement. Former coach James Hird lamented this fact several times last year but was unable to get any flow in their style. Essendon also ranked highly for its first possession to clearance rate. – Callum Twomey

Michael Johnson was injury-hit in 2015, but the Dockers' defence still shone. Picture: AFL Media

Fremantle

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Contested possession differential +9.8 1st
Points from stoppages differential +12.9 3rd
Points against 71.6 2nd

SUMMARY
The Dockers' defence has been the cornerstone of their success over the last four seasons and is a trademark of Ross Lyon teams in general. So it's no surprise that they were ranked third for points against last year. There defensive structures stood up even in the face of a heavy injury toll with Michael Johnson and Zac Dawson missing large chunks of the season through injury. The Dockers also have one of the most feared midfields in the game with the size and strength of Nat Fyfe, David Mundy and company monstering opponents in the contested possession counts. The Dockers also dominate the stoppages with Aaron Sandilands' profound influence in the ruck allowing them to take to ball away from stoppages and score easily. - Alex Malcolm

Geelong

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Kicking efficiency 68.3% 2nd
Points from centre bounces 14.0 2nd
Win % in offensive one-ones  32.2% 2nd

SUMMARY 
Playing the run-and-gun style of football the Cats prefer requires precision kicking and fast ball movement. Much of Geelong's scoring chains originate from the back half where it capitalises on turnovers. But the Cats are also proficient at turning centre bounce clearances into points. Having a linchpin in attack like Tom Hawkins, who ranked second in the AFL in contested marks, gives Geelong a definitive target. It is evidence of how the Cats players are more than willing to back their teammates in in one-on-one contests. - Ben Guthrie

Gold Coast

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Clearance winning % 39.7% 7th
Forward half win % in one-on-ones 30.4% 5th

SUMMARY 
Even with their first choice midfield in the grandstand for most of the season, the Suns were still seventh for clearance win percentage. Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia, David Swallow and Jaeger O'Meara played just 20 of a possible 88 games in 2015, and if the dynamic quartet gets a good run at things next season, that clearance rate should skyrocket. Gold Coast was also good in one-on-one contests in the forward half – ranked fifth – but with Charlie Dixon and Harley Bennell both leaving the club, it will be interesting to see how that stat trends next season. – Michael Whiting

GWS

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Tackle differential +7.3 2nd
Disposal efficiency 73.7% 4th
Score per inside 50 48.9% 4th

SUMMARY 
The Giants' defensive philosophy is built on team pressure and coach Leon Cameron bases his game style around all 18 players on the ground having a physical impact with their tackling. When the Giants were flying in the early part of 2015, their intensity when the opposition had the footy was frenetic, and when it cause a turnover they took the ball the length of the ground in a flash. This left the forward 50 open for key forwards Jeremy Cameron and Cam McCarthy, who had a birthday on the end of pin point passing from Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield, Ryan Griffen and Stephen Coniglio. – Adam Curley

Hawthorn

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Points from opposition turnovers 66.8 1st
Points against 70.5 1st
Uncontested possession differential +36.8 1st

SUMMARY 
If you wanted a snapshot of the Hawks machine at its best, this is it. In 2015, scoring from turnovers was king and it is little surprise Hawthorn led the league in pressuring opponents into mistakes, before ruthlessly making them pay with fast and precise ball movement. The Hawks were the highest scoring team last season, but the time-honoured adage of 'defence wins premierships' rang true again. Hawthorn boasted the AFL's stingiest backline and restricted West Coast (ranked second for scoring) to just 61 points in the Grand Final. If you haven't got the ball it's impossible to score and, despite the entire competition understanding the Hawks' modus operandi, stopping their best ball users racking up uncontested possessions – especially across half-back – was beyond most opponents. – Travis King

Jesse Hogan's contested marking was a feature for the Demons. Picture: AFL Media

Melbourne

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Mark win % in one-on-ones +15.8% 3rd
Loss % in defensive one-on-ones 24.7% 3rd
First possession to clearance % 75.8% 5th

SUMMARY 
The Demons are learning to win one-on-one contests, which is a positive for their future aspirations. Up forward, Jesse Hogan's contested marking (47 contested marks, and 52 marks inside 50 in 2015) helped while the tight checking in defence of Tom McDonald, Lynden Dunn and Col Garland helped the team bring the ball to ground. The Demons functioned well at stoppages, too, winning clearances when they won the first touch but they will be looking forward to the development of Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw over time to help them in that area. – Peter Ryan

North Melbourne

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Score per inside 50 39.2% 3nd
Clearance differential +2.6 4th
Contested possession differential +5.4 5th

SUMMARY 
One of North's greatest strengths is its inside midfield division led by Ben Cunnington, Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell, so its impressive clearance and contested possession statistics last season come as no surprise. Cunnington finished third in the competition in 2015 for clearances and fifth for contested possessions, while Swallow and Ziebell were also prolific contested ball-winners around stoppages. Of course, the trio and their fellow midfielders were often the beneficiaries of All Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein's excellent tap work. North has also been remarkably efficient in scoring from inside 50 entries in recent seasons. In 2015, Drew Petrie (fifth in the AFL for marks inside 50), Jarrad Waite (equal ninth) and Ben Brown provided a strong aerial presence in attack, while Shaun Higgins, Brent Harvey, Lindsay Thomas and Robbie Nahas were dangerous at ground level. - Nick Bowen

Port Adelaide

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Points from stoppages 38.3 4th
Tackle differential +6.5 4th
Opposition score per inside 50 43.5% 2nd

SUMMARY 
With Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard, Ollie Wines and Travis Boak patrolling forward line stoppages, opposition sides are hard-pressed to hold their own against the Power. All four often win their own football at stoppages and have proven time and again that they have the skill to finish in traffic. Port's midfielders are also tackling beasts – particularly ruckman Matthew Lobbe, who sets the standard at Alberton. The club's defensive line is so underrated. Jackson Trengove, Alipate Carlile and Jack Hombsch are expert negators, but some credit must remain with the midfield, which applies great pressure to hurt opposition delivery. – Harry Thring

Richmond

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Contested possession differential +6.1 4th
Points from turnovers differential +9.1 3rd
First possession win percentage 44.1% 4th

SUMMARY 
Again, the Tigers were consistent in going in hard when the ball was up for grabs. Led by Trent Cotchin (12th overall in the competition) and Anthony Miles (13th) in contested possessions, they brought a tough edge to the way they played to be ranked fourth in the league in contested possession differential. They were also strong at getting their hands on the ball first, winning it over 44 per cent of the time to be inside the top four in that area, and they often made it count when they turned the ball over to be ranked third in scoring points from turnovers differential. – Jennifer Phelan

St Kilda

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Pressure factor differential +70 4th
Uncontested marks differential +8.0 5th
Pre-clearance tackle differential +5.5 2nd

SUMMARY 
Led by Jack Steven, David Armitage and Mav Weller, the Saints showed strong intent when it came to the in-close stuff. They applied 121 more tackles (5.5 per game) than their opposition around congestion and also applied plenty of pressure across the field. Look for that to be an area they'll be even stronger in next season with Luke Dunstan rediscovering confidence in his physicality over summer after his 2014 shoulder reconstruction. They weren't as consistent in tackling in the open space but they did take a lot of uncontested marks to be ranked fifth in the league, with Nick Riewoldt, Sean Dempster and Sam Fisher finding the space to lead the charge in that area. – Jennifer Phelan

The Swans midfield is one of the best and hardest working in the league. Picture: AFL Media

Sydney Swans

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Disposal differential +28.7 2nd
Tackle differential +12.5 1st
Points against 71.8 3rd

SUMMARY 
The Swans midfield isn't just one of the best in the competition it's also one of the hardest running divisions in the game. Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker, Tom Mitchell and Kieren Jack thrive on contested footy and tackling pressure, while Dan Hannebery and Jarrad McVeigh rack up the stats. The team's game is built on defensive pressure and making it hard for the opposition to win possession, and when they get the footy, to score from it. They were criticised for not kicking big enough scores in 2015 but the defensive side of the Swans' game remains elite. – Adam Curley

West Coast

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Contested possession differential +9.8 2nd
Time in fwd half differential +7:45 1st
Points from stoppages 40.8 1st

SUMMARY 
Before the season the Eagles had arguably the most maligned midfield in the competition. By season's end that same midfield was number one in scoring from stoppages and second in contested possession differential in the AFL. Star ruckman Nic Naitanui and Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis are the key figures behind these stats, but they can't do it all on their own. The speed and skill of Andrew Gaff and Luke Shuey in combination with Naitanui's ruck work is deadly. Elliot Yeo and Dom Sheed are also developing into strong contested ball winners at AFL level. Once the football is in the Eagles' forward line good luck finding a way out. No team in the AFL spends more time forward of centre. The Eagles possess incredible scoring power but the defensive work of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps is an underrated feature of their game. - Alex Malcolm

Western Bulldogs

  KEY STAT LEAGUE RANK
Time in forward half differential +3:47 4th
Points from opposition turnovers 55.4 4th
Opposition score per inside 50 +44.7% 3rd

SUMMARY
Get it in, pressure the opposition and score from turnovers. Obviously the plan is a little more complicated than that but when the Western Bulldogs are humming that is how it appears. They have a strong fleet of mobile goal scorers so opponents should not expect any relief in that area in 2016. To their credit, the Bulldogs were able to develop a defensive system that made it hard for the opposition to score. Unfortunately that system was unpicked by Adelaide in the first quarter of the club's elimination final, which proved very costly. – Peter Ryan