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HomeUncategorizedInside the Game: Who stands up in clutch time in the AFL?

Inside the Game: Who stands up in clutch time in the AFL?

Probably the most clutch moments of AFL historical past are amongst probably the most memorable. From “Leo Barry, you star” to Barry Breen’s match-winning behind, those that step up within the largest moments are remembered by way of historical past.


Footy is commonly a sport of millimetres regardless of being performed in a glorified paddock.


Whether or not it is the luck of the bouncing oval ball or brilliantly executed talent, the power to tug by way of when the going will get robust is essential for groups with September desires.

Simply take a look at Collingwood this 12 months — their 15 wins this 12 months have been underpinned by 10 wins of their 11 video games determined by lower than two objectives.

A few quarter of all video games are determined by two straight kicks or much less.

Some consider that groups do properly late due to good teaching, on-field management and coaching. Others consider it is slightly extra all the way down to luck.

How do video games change once they warmth up late, and who has stood up probably the most in shut video games not too long ago?

Clock is ticking

Profitable possession is on the core of soccer. This 12 months, for each 100 instances a crew wins the ball in a sport they rating about 71 factors. That rises to 91 factors from 100 received centre clearances, and drops to 30 factors from kick-ins.

The place a crew wins the ball issues quite a bit as properly. Groups rating thrice as many factors from ball received within the entrance half of the bottom in contrast with the defensive half.

Time additionally issues. Groups usually rating extra closely early in quarters — aside from the primary 10 minutes of a sport.

Within the fourth quarter of video games the place the margin is 2 objectives, groups rating at simply 67 factors for each 100 instances they win possession. In time-on within the final quarter, that drops to simply 65 factors per 100.

The potential causes for this are many: Groups with a lead late in shut video games are likely to attempt to shut up store, and attempt to take break day the clock.

Late sport fatigue additionally performs a task, together with the psychological weight of late sport soccer and the load of the footballing world sitting on the shoulders of 44, largely younger, gamers.

Nevertheless, some gamers thrive when their crew wants it probably the most.

Circle of belief

Adelaide AFL star Taylor Walker roars and punches the air in celebration after kicking a last-minute goal.
Taylor Walker’s last-minute sealer in opposition to the Bulldogs was the Crows’ spearhead’s sixth clutch-time aim in two seasons.(Getty Photos: AFL Pictures/Dylan Burns)

Clutch time is difficult to outline. Simply 333 minutes of soccer — shy of two minutes per sport — have been performed this 12 months the place the margin was lower than 12 and the clock had handed the 20-minute mark within the final quarter.

Given the big variety of gamers on the sector, it is usually laborious to face up late, when it counts. No participant has scored greater than three objectives in clutch time throughout both of the previous two seasons. Taylor Walker’s six objectives over the 2 seasons is probably the most of any participant.

A bit extra might be gained from video games the place the margin was lower than 12 factors any time within the final quarter.

One title, at a membership close to the underside of their rebuilding cycle, has shouldered the largest burden in late video games previously two years.

Cameron Zurhaar is an imposing beast of a participant — not fairly the peak of a key ahead, however with velocity and energy to burn. His skill to compete each within the air and on the deck makes him extra harmful because the going will get robust.


North Melbourne might not be in rivalry proper now, but when they proceed to develop, Zurhaar has the potential to be a matchwinner in huge video games.

A North Melbourne AFL player runs away with his arms wide in celebration as Richmond players stand dejected in the background.
Cameron Zurhaar confirmed in opposition to Richmond that he is usually a match-winner for the Kangaroos.(Getty Photos: AFL Pictures/Michael Willson)

To attain, it’s important to have the ball, and sure gamers rise to the event. Extra skilful customers and skilled gamers are likely to shine in late sport conditions as groups look to their most-dangerous gamers.

There seems to be a delicate shift in dynamics in most groups, akin to from Jarryd Lyons to Lachie Neale, or Tom Mitchell to Jaeger O’Meara. In uncooked phrases, Patrick Cripps steps up probably the most for his crew late in video games, signalling his significance for the Blues.

The participant who wins extra stoppages on the demise, in comparison with the remainder of the sport, is a less-heralded title: Liam Baker.

A Richmond player looks inboard and handballs while a Melbourne defender tries to close in.
Liam Baker’s velocity and agility make him a key asset for the Tigers.(Getty Photos: Quinn Rooney)

The younger Tiger is not an imposing participant however he’s fast and agile, discovering momentary creases within the opposition’s defence.


When video games develop into stagnant late it’s usually these with probably the most velocity and initiative who can break by way of them, akin to Baker can.

Zurhaar and Baker, identical to Barry and Breen, aren’t their golf equipment’ largest stars however they’re making a reputation late within the sport, when the nailbiters are received.

Terrified of talent

A number of happy Collingwood AFL players have a group hug in the middle of the MCG after a game.
Collingwood’s run of wins in shut video games has been thrilling for followers. (Getty Photos: Darrian Traynor)

Collingwood’s stand up the ladder from backside to prime two in has been exhilarating to observe.

The Pies’ run is paying homage to Port Adelaide final 12 months. Port rode a 5-Zero file in shut video games to second place on the ladder and snag a Preliminary Closing look.

On the time, the membership, its gamers and supporters put down the success all the way down to the laborious work undertaken to organize for the 12 months.

“We’ve got carried out quite a lot of work throughout quite a lot of classes — watching quite a lot of imaginative and prescient — to place ourselves in the very best positions to win these shut video games,” Butters advised the Port Adelaide membership web site final 12 months.

A Port Adelaide player goes down on his haunches with a hand over his face after the final siren.
Port Adelaide appear to have misplaced the knack of successful the shut video games in 2022.(Getty Photos: Daniel Pockett)

This 12 months, Port have received simply two of their 9 shut video games. It’s the reverse journey taken to that of Collingwood, who received simply one in every of six shut video games final 12 months.

Collingwood have additionally acknowledged that they’ve put quite a lot of work into how one can win in shut video games.

It is doubtless true that every one 18 groups use a disproportionate period of time to work on late sport eventualities — and with good purpose: All wins are value 4 factors, and shut video games are the best to flip over.

There’s undoubtedly some talent and technique to how groups method tight video games. Nevertheless, when how these outcomes shake out over a protracted time period, the sample is more durable to discern.

That is to not say that the laborious work put in at coaching would not assist — it might assist tilt the coin barely in favour of the crew that prepares higher.

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