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The stats files: Will round one's fast footy herald a scoring boom?

Travis King  March 30, 2016 10:49 AM

IT WAS the moment players and fans knew for certain the one-time sanctuary of the boundary line had become the AFL's 'no-go zone'.

When Matthew Kreuzer was pinged for deliberate out-of-bounds after throwing the ball onto his left boot while under pressure in a tense final term of Thursday's season-opener against Richmond, there was a seismic shift towards free-flowing footy.

If Kreuzer was stiff, then Port Adelaide's Brad Ebert had rigor mortis when he walked the ball over the line against the Saints on Sunday, a decision that umpires coach Hayden Kennedy conceded to's Whistleblowers the men in yellow got wrong.

But the contentious Kreuzer call – correct in Kennedy's eyes – had already set the tone for what became a thrilling weekend.

• 'Deliberate' free kick against Kreuzer was correct: umps

In round one, Champion Data's statisticians recorded an explosion of deliberate out-of-bounds free kicks (16) - more than triple last year's season average thanks to stricter policing by umpires.

Stoppages were down, slashed interchange rotations came into effect, and players were fatigued with the ball in play more, opening up avenues to attack.

And scoring skyrocketed.

On average, four more goals a game were kicked compared to last year.

Nine teams crashed through the 100-point barrier, five more than in 2015's first round. 

And whether Eagles star Josh Kennedy can boot the ton for the season is already on the agenda.

• Nine things we learned from round one: A ton is there for the taking

The 10m exclusion zone around the mark claimed some victims - three of them in the North Melbourne-Adelaide nailbiter - but the eye-catching benefits were what everyone was talking about. 

Teams looked to use the corridor, played on more often from marks (up 2.4 per cent on round one last year) and, with space to move, daring teams were cashing in.

St Kilda looked slicker than Gary Ablett's haircut, moving the ball from defence to attack.

Last year's 14th-placed side cut Port Adelaide to ribbons by attacking with dash through the corridor, repeatedly getting out the back of the Power's zone defence and finding loose men everywhere.

The Saints probably didn't deserve to lose by 33 points, and their supporters could see that Alan Richardson hadn't wasted the summer. The rebuild is gathering pace.

Tighter policing of the deliberate out-of-bounds rule - long called for by Alastair Clarkson - and the wider 10m-exclusion zone promised to reignite exciting footy.

After just one round, West Coast coach Adam Simpson is hailing "high-octane" shootouts as the game's "new frontier".

Many would agree that footy is already better for it.