Speaking after the Round 12 clash with ladder leaders Melbourne in Sydney, when the Lions led by 20 points at halftime only to lose by 22, the coach identified contested possession and clearances as the big statistics.

“It’s interesting, it was like a mirror image,” he said. “The first half we were on top and winning contested ball and clearance and then it flipped on its head in the second half … and they were able to convert better (in the second half) than we were able to convert in the first half.”

04:41 Mins
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Fagan: 'For some reason, we lost our energy'

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Significantly, at halftime the Lions were +21 in contested possessions and +8 in clearances and, as a direct consequence, they were +12 for inside 50s. They led 8-6 to 5-4 on the scoreboard.

In the second half the Lions were -16 in contested possessions, -10 in clearances and -17 for inside 50s. And they were outscored 3-3 to 9-9.

It was confirmation of what Fagan and his coaching team already knew. If they can dominate contested possession and clearances the odds are a win will follow.

Certainly, a review of team stats for the first 12 rounds suggest it is near-perfect pointer.

In the first four rounds, when the Lions struggled to a 1-3 win/loss record, they won contested possessions only once and were -18 overall. They won clearances twice but were -14 overall.

In the seven-game winning streak that followed they dominated contested possessions by an aggregate +113 through the first six games and were up early in this department against GWS in Round 12 when they kicked the first six goals of the game.

It was a similar story in clearances, with the Lions +53 in the first six games of the streak and ahead early against the Giants before cruising to a 64-point win.




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While enjoying a few days off Fagan will have asked himself the question … was the second-half fadeout in the two key areas against GWS a pointer to what was to come last week in Melbourne?

Certainly this will be a key focus heading into the back end of the season, beginning with the Round 14 clash with North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday week.

But it’s no surprise that the top five teams on the ladder at Round 12 are ranked 1-5 in aggregate contested possessions, albeit in a slightly different order. Geelong (+167) and Western Bulldogs (+162) lead from Melbourne (+133), Brisbane (+67) and Port Adelaide (+41).

What else is on your mind at the mid-season mark?


Given the importance of contested possessions and clearances, Jarryd Lyons has been the statistical standout through the first half of the season. He heads the Lions in contested possessions, clearances, total possessions and tackles.

He ranks 4th in the League for contested possessions with 162 – behind only Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver (206), Adelaide’s Rory Laird (179) and the Bulldogs’ Tom Liberatore (171). Lyons is also 7th in the League for clearances with 77, headed only by Liberatore (102), Essendon’s Darcy Parish (96), Oliver (89), West Coast’s Nic Naitanui (84), Melbourne’s Christian Petracca (81) and Laird (80).

Lyons ranks 12th in overall possessions in the League with 333, ahead of Daniel Rich (315) and Hugh McCluggage (300) in the Brisbane camp. And he is 9th overall in tackles with 66, head of Dayne Zorko (62), Lincoln McCarthy (47) and McCluggage (44).

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00:37 Mins
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Lyons spins out of traffic and kicks a goal

Jarryd Lyons snares an important goal for the Lions to keep them in the contest

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There’s one other Lions player who gets his hands dirty at the contest as well as anyone – Oscar McInerney. When it comes to the percentage of his total possessions won in the contest ‘Big O’ is ranked 1st in the League. Of his 114 possessions 94 have been contested. Or 82.46%. Nic Naitanui (82.25%), Port Adelaide’s Charlie Dixon (72.46%) and Sydney’s Tom Hickey (71.52%) are next best.


It’s always one the supporters like to follow … the free kick differential. And although it’s not a stat that is linked directly to ladder positions it’s a topic that generates much debate. So, Brisbane rank equal 12th in net free kick differential at -7. They have received 243 free kicks and conceded 250.

The Bulldogs, second on the ladder, have the best aggregate result at +32 but, interestingly, are the only side in the top eight on the round 12 ladder that ranks top six in free kick differential.

Carlton (+24), GWS (+22), Adelaide (+17), North (+16) and Essendon (+14) are next from Geelong (+12), West Coast (+6), Melbourne (+2) and Sydney (net zero).

In the negative for free kick differential are Collingwood (-6), Brisbane and Fremantle (-7), Gold Coast (-11), Port (-13), StKilda (-15), Hawthorn (-29) and Richmond (-57).

Individually, Jarryd Lyons (+12) heads the Brisbane free-kick differential to rank equal third in the League behind only Geelong skipper Joel Selwood (+18) and North ruckman Todd Goldstein (+13).

Zac Bailey will already know that, with a -13 free kick differential, he is equal third worst in the League behind only Hawthorn’s Sam Frost (-19) and Richmond’s Marlion Pickett (-16).

Lyons, Hugh McCluggage and Oscar McInerney, each with 19 free kicks, rank 10th overall on the free kick ‘for’ list headed by Selwood and Carlton’s Patrick Cripps (31).

Similarly, it will be nothing new for Dayne Zorko to learn that he has conceded more free kicks than anyone else in the competition at 27. Cripps (25), Collingwood’s Brodie Grundy (25) and Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe (25) are next on the list.


Harris Andrews, reinforcing his standing as the game’s premier defender, rank fourth in the League for contested marks with 27. Only the Bulldogs’ Aaron Naughton (34), Melbourne’s Max Gawn (33) and Carlton’s Harry McKay (29) have had more.

00:29 Mins
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Andrews Does Everything On The Mark

Charlie Dixon misses a shocker from close range. Could Harris Andrews' interesting on-mark antics have caused it?

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This time last year the AFL world had pretty much accepted that Lachie Neale would win the Brownlow Medal. And as it turned out they were right. After 12 rounds, albeit in a shortened Covid season, he had 25 votes to lead by 11 from Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and by 12 from Port’s Travis Boak and StKilda’s Jack Steele. He won by 10.

This year? If the weekly votes in the AFL Coach’s Association Player of the Year award are any sort of guide then Hugh McCluggage might be the Lions’ best chance.

If you convert the 5-4-3-2-1 votes awarded by each coach after each game into indicative 3-2-1 Brownlow Medal votes McCluggage has 13 to rank fourth behind the Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli (16.5), Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver (16) and Essendon’s Darcy Parish (15).

Others with 10 or more indicative votes are Richmond’s Dustin Martin (12), Gold Coast’s Touk Miller (12), Fremantle’s David Mundy (11.5), Melbourne’s Max Gawn (11.5), Adelaide’s Taylor Walker (11), Port’s Ollie Wines (10) and Essendon’s Zach Merrett (10).

Jarryd Lyons (8) is second among Brisbane players for indicative votes ahead of Dayne Zorko (5.5), Harris Andrews (4.5), Charlie Cameron (3), Neale (3), Zac Bailey (2.5), Mitch Robinson (2.5) and Eric Hipwood (2.33).

00:45 Mins
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Nice Tap To McCluggage Who Finishes With A Goal

Hugh McCluggage benefits from brilliant tap by Oscar McInerney to kick late-game running goal.

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Sometimes stats don’t provide a true picture. Take Brandon Starcevich. He’s averaged 9.3 possessions (3.7 contested), 1.75 tackles and 2.1 one-percenters (spoils, smothers, shepherds etc) this season and ranks nowhere.

But as a lockdown defender, capable of playing on opponents of all sizes, he’s been a standout. Never beaten. And if there was an award for the League’s most improved player he’d be right in the conversation.


After making his debut in Round 1 last year Deven Robertson had to wait one year and 10 days through a world-wide pandemic to play his second game. But he made every day count and since getting back into the side he’s been a standout, averaging 14.6 possessions and 5.9 tackles to provide valuable midfield support.

Similarly, if you asked a lot of non-hardcore Lions fans about Jaxon Prior at Round 1 this year they might have said “Jaxon who?” Not any more. After making his debut in Round 2 he’s become a similarly valuable role player, averaging 10 possessions and kicking six goals.

From childhood friends to teammates, the Lions could have a new dynamic duo on their hands.

01:41 Mins
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Jaxon Prior Receives his Guernsey

See the special moment our debutant Jaxon Prior received his Guernsey from Jed Adcock, alongside his family and teammates.

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