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Do contested possessions really matter?

2018-05-16T14:40+10:00

Contested possessions are spoken about ad nauseum in modern day football.

But what is a contested possession? And how much of a positive impact does one have?

Champion Data describes it as: “A possession which has been won when the ball is in dispute.

“Includes looseball-gets, hardball-gets, contested marks, gathers from a hitout and frees for.”

In Round 8, North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington broke the VFL/AFL record by claiming 32 contested possessions in what was a clinic of hard-bodied footy.

But the Kangaroos were beaten by Richmond.

Similarly, Patrick Cripps had 25 in Round 1 only for Carlton to lose to the reigning premiers and Nat Fyfe (26) and Lachie Neale (18) dominated the Tigers around the footy but were on the end of a 77-point hammering in Round 7.

On the flipside, Tom Mitchell had the ball 27 times in a contested situation as Hawthorn knocked off Collingwood in Round 1.

In Round 4, Magpies trio Steele Sidebottom, Brodie Grundy and Adam Treloar accumulated 68 CPs between them as Nathan Buckley’s side ravaged Adelaide on their home ground.

There are plenty of examples of contested possessions influencing results, both positive and negative, but it all comes down to the value of the contested possession to a particular team or situation.

A team who are brilliant at contested footy may be lacking in the outside element of the game while some sides can move the ball quickly but struggle to get their hands on it in tight surrounds.

Just as with everything in sport and life, it’s about balance.

Here are some contested possessions stats just to help paint a picture:

Contested Possessions ladder (after Round 8):

  1. Melbourne (6th on ladder): 1305
  2. North Melbourne (10th): 1231
  3. Gold Coast Suns (14th): 1225
  4. Adelaide (4th): 1224
  5. Collingwood (11th): 1219
  6. Geelong (3rd): 1199
  7. Sydney (7th): 1195
  8. Richmond (1st): 1195
  9. GWS Giants (9th): 1163
  10. Hawthorn (5th): 1159
  11. Port Adelaide (8th): 1153
  12. West Coast (2nd): 1145
  13. Essendon (15th): 1132
  14. Carlton (17th): 1130
  15. Fremantle (12th): 1112
  16. Western Bulldogs (13th): 1097
  17. St Kilda (16th): 1087
  18. Brisbane (18th): 1086

When you look at the differential, still there is no clear guide:

CP Differential ladder (after Round 8):

  1. Melbourne (6th): +15.9
  2. North Melbourne (10th): +7.3
  3. GWS Giants (9th): +5.9
  4. West Coast (2nd): +5.5
  5. Collingwood (11th): +5.1
  6. Geelong (3rd): +4.5
  7. Adelaide (4th): +4.4
  8. Sydney (7th): +3.9
  9. Fremantle (12th): +2.1
  10. Essendon (15th): -1.2
  11. Western Bulldogs (13th): -3.5
  12. Gold Coast (14th): -5.4
  13. Carlton (17th): -6.1
  14. Port Adelaide (8th): -6.1
  15. Hawthorn (5th): -6.9
  16. Richmond (1st): -7.2
  17. St Kilda (16th): -8.7
  18. Brisbane (18th): -9.2

And simply for interest's sake, the individual ladder after Round 8:

  1. Nat Fyfe (Fremantle): 153
  2. Patrick Cripps (Carlton): 151
  3. Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn): 133
  4. Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne): 132
  5. Clayton Oliver (Melbourne): 132
  6. Lachie Neale (Fremantle): 111
  7. Jackson Macrae (Western Bulldogs): 110
  8. Luke Parker (Sydney): 107
  9. Josh Kennedy (Sydney): 106
  10. Ollie Wines (Port Adelaide): 104
  11. Jarryd Lyons (Gold Coast): 103
  12. Hugh Greenwood (Adelaide): 102
  13. Brodie Grundy (Collingwood): 102
  14. Joel Selwood (Geelong): 102
  15. Adam Treloar (Collingwood): 102
  16. David Swallow (Gold Coast): 99
  17. Elliot Yeo (West Coast): 99
  18. Trent Cotchin (Richmond): 98
  19. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong): 96
  20. Touk Miller (Gold Coast): 92
Adelaide Brisbane Lions Carlton Collingwood Essendon Fremantle Geelong Greater Western Sydney Gold Coast Hawthorn Melbourne North Melbourne Port Adelaide Richmond St Kilda Sydney Swans West Coast Eagles Western Bulldogs

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