The Coleman Medal race is as whacky as it ever has been this season, with small forwards all over the shop and one big bag able to put you into contention.
West Coast veteran Josh Kennedy jumped from the middle of the pack to outright second place thanks to one big game, booting seven goals against Collingwood.
But what about the guys up the other end?
Defenders don’t really have their own statistical award in the same way as forwards do.
We give a medal to the player that kicks the most goals in a season, but what about the defender who concedes the fewest goals?
At the end of the day, it is ultimately what most defenders are there to achieve, right? The Reverse Coleman Medal.
Goals conceded is a stat that is counted, but is also hard to judge given rebounding types dominate the top of the rankings. This is ultimately because they play less one-on-one defence and they’re mostly zoning off or taking the least dangerous forwards.
Emphasising this, only one player classed as a defender by Champion Data is yet to concede a goal this year and it’s the Western Bulldogs’ Jason Johanissen. By the strictest definition, he would be the current Reverse Coleman Medal leader.
Beyond him, Liam Baker, Jed Bews, Harry Cunningham, Taylin Duman, Jarryn Geary, Rory Laird, Jamie Macmillan and Nathan Wilson have all conceded two.
Most of those players are either rebounding types or have spent most of the season up the ground in the middle or inside 50.
None of those players rank in the top 30 for contested defensive one-on-ones – a stat that essentially tells you which defenders have been in difficult situations the most.
St Kilda’s Jake Carlisle stands out, having conceded only four goals from seven games this year. He ranks 25th for contested defensive one-on-ones and while Dougal Howard usually takes the number one key forward, Carlisle is still there to play a lockdown role.
Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard has also given up only four and three of those were to a white-hot Toby Greene in Round 4.
Which defender has conceded the most goals this year, you ask?
Inevitably, the more one-on-one defensive situations you find yourself in, the more goals you are going to concede. The bottom of this list isn’t an indication of who’s a poor defender, given a number of circumstances go into conceding a goal – playing in a struggling team or taking the opposition’s best forward regularly.
Hawthorn pair James Sicily and James Frawley lead the Reverse-Reverse Coleman having conceded 16 goals each so far this season. Again, the Hawks have struggled, had a difficult fixture and Frawley in particular is usually tasked with taking the opposition’s primary key forward.
North Melbourne’s Robbie Tarrant has conceded 15, Carlton’s Liam Jones and West Coast’s Tom Barrass 14, Sydney’s Dane Rampe and GWS’ Nick Haynes 13.
Being a key defender is often unrewarding work and none of the players above have necessarily had poor seasons despite the tallies next to their name. Conceding goals is an occupational hazard for most key defenders.
Which is why it is especially impressive to see some of the names further up the list are key defenders.
GWS’ Phil Davis continues to quietly get the job done, having given up only five goals this year, West Coast’s Brad Sheppard and Geelong’s Harry Taylor are also on five – though the latter, like Carlisle, has played seven of eight games.
Some numbers stand out more when you throw in the contested one-on-one rankings. For instance, Carlton’s Jacob Weitering has conceded seven goals, but ranks first for contested one-on-ones with 40.
The players directly below him for contested one-on-ones have all conceded more goals: Rampe (13), Jones (14), Harris Andrews (10), Sam Collins (10), Lachie Plowman (9) and Tom Jonas (9).
So how do we decide who is leading the Reverse Coleman? Does Johannisen hold it at the halfway point of the season for conceding zero goals, despite only having competed in seven contested one-on-ones situations?
Do we pick out a Davis or a Carlisle who have conceded five goals in eight games and four goals in seven games respectively?
Does Weitering get it for being in the most situations to concede a goal and not doing so?
The Reverse Coleman remains a work in progress.
See the full table of goals conceded below:
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