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The Richmond stat: Number that defines Tigers

Richmond's attacking use of handball is a key part of its game plan - AFL,Richmond Tigers
Richmond's attacking use of handball is a key part of its game plan

IT'S KNOWN as 'the Richmond stat' in the AFL industry.

No football statistic has increased in importance when it comes to winning matches this year than handball metres gained.

As random as that sounds, the team which gains more metreage that way wins 58.8 per cent of matches in 2018 – a 14.4 per cent rise from last season.

STATS FILES Is this the blueprint to beating Richmond?

The Tigers used handball to devastating effect in 2017, gaining a competition-high 392 metres per game and winning that category in 19 of their 25 matches. 

They have doubled down on that tactic this year to again lead the AFL, averaging 471 metres gained from handball, with Geelong the next-best with a meagre 259m. 

Richmond has failed to win that statistic only three times: rounds one (won by 26 points over Carlton), 20 (beat Geelong by three) and 23 (three-point victory over Western Bulldogs).

 

It is part of the Tigers' well-documented intent to move the ball forward at whatever cost, with manic kicks, handball or knock-ons.

The AFL is a copycat competition, like all sports leagues, and the reigning premiers' rivals have clearly adopted their love for handball, in particular how they use it as an attacking weapon. 

The territory battle in general is a huge indicator of success in 2018, including metres gained (85.3 per cent winning rate), kick gain metres (82.8), effective metres gained (81.9), metres gained retained (79.9) and metres gained assisted (73.5). 

Among the other important statistics to be in front in are time in possession (85.8 per cent winning rate), kicks (78.1), disposals per turnover (77), effective kicks (76) and intercepts (74.2).

As AFL.com.au highlighted in June, the three biggest keys to success together are contested possessions, disposal efficiency and pressure factor. 

HOLY TRINITY The three keys to winning games

Each of them on their own helps a side win fewer than 70 per cent of games, but when that team claims all three that record spikes to an extraordinary 97.1 per cent.

Winning disposal efficiency and contested possessions results in an 89.6 per cent success rate, from pressure factor and contested possessions (85.1), and disposal efficiency and pressure factor (73.3).

Average metres gained from handballs per game 

1. Shane Edwards (Rich) - 70.4m
2. Adam Saad (Ess) - 44.6m
3. Kane Lambert (Rich) - 42.0m
4. Mitch Duncan (Geel) - 40.4m
5. Kade Simpson (Carl) - 37.1m

* minimum three games