Against the Sydney Swans two weeks ago Harris Andrews produced a remarkable 23 spoils in wet conditions.  

Despite the performance and obvious tactics employed, critics were quick to point out that a few of those spoils should have been marks.  

On Sunday against Essendon, Andrews continued his rich vein of form by racking up 20 spoils.

This time, however, in perfect conditions, he did mark the ball, grabbing 12 marks in total, six of which were contested. He also won all his defensive one-on-ones and launched three scoring chains.  

Halfway through the season, Andrews is well and truly one of the premier key defenders in the league.

The Lions’ vice-captain is averaging 16 disposals, 6.5 marks, 11.5 spoils and 12.6 one-percenters per match. These numbers are way ahead of Andrews’ career averages.

Andrews was supported well in defence against Essendon by Daniel Rich (29 touches, nine rebound 50s), Alex Witherden (29 touches, 12 marks) and Darcy Gardiner (23 touches, six rebound 50s). 

Considering Essendon had 21 more inside 50s than the Lions, the backline group did extremely well to minimise the impact on the scoreboard. Both teams had 10 marks inside 50, while the Lions enjoyed wins in contested possessions (+2) and hit-outs (+16).

Essendon’s pressure and ball use were superior, applying more tackles (+15) and kicking the ball at 73% efficiency compared to the Lions’ 66%.  

NEAFL can’t overcome slow start

Despite 17 more inside 50s, the Lions NEAFL side went down by 22 points to the Canberra Demons in Round 10.

A turnover-riddled first quarter saw the Lions fall behind by 25-points early, a margin they could never peg back. 

Disposal efficiency was very poor for the Lions at 59%, compared to the Demons at 64%. 

Ryan Bastinac (32 disposals, 21 contested) and Rhys Mathieson (28 disposals, 20 contested) were strong in the midfield, while Mitch Hinge (eight intercept possessions) had a classy game in defence.