The AFL season has reached its midpoint as some teams prepare for the first round of byes. The break is the time when teams can reflect on their performance to date and address pressing issues. Amongst them is an ever-present one: goal kicking.
The old footballing adage of ‘bad kicking is bad football’ is something which rings true more often than you might realise. Of course this applies to field kicking as much as goal kicking but for my purpose here we will only be considering the final link in the chain.
In the first 10 rounds of the season there have been 15 games which, all things being equal, should have produced different results. That is 1 in every 6 games. This ratio has remained constant for years.
On 12 occasions, the team that controlled enough of the general play to generate the most scoring shots has not won the match. On the remaining three occasions both teams had the same amount of shots but, rather than resulting in a draw, one team has taken the points due to superior accuracy.
Often these results mitigate themselves, with gains in one match offset by losses in another, but that is not always the case.
The following is how the ladder would look had results followed total scoring shots in each match.
The Gold Coast Suns could have kicked themselves off the bottom of the ladder.
Port Adelaide have only remained in contention for finals because of their goal kicking.
Fremantle’s perceived dominance may not be what it seems.
But the biggest mover is Hawthorn. Despite appearing out of form, the reigning premier has not been ‘outscored’ this season. Three of their four losses (to Essendon, Port Adelaide and Sydney) should have been wins, whilst their remaining loss to Greater Western Sydney should have been a draw. By rights they should be on top of the ladder with 38 points from a possible 40, and the best percentage in the league.
The current strength of the interstate teams suggests this is not the year to finish outside the top two. Hawthorn may well have kicked themselves out of a premiership defence, and if that eventuates, they will have no one to blame but themselves.
Here is the current ladder.