The Eagle is grounded
JOSH Kennedy can't win the Coleman Medal.
The recipient of the past two medals for the AFL's leading goalkicker is 10 goals behind Sydney Swans' superstar Lance Franklin, with six rounds to play.
The West Coast forward is less chance to make up that ground than Kingston Town was in the 1982 Cox Plate, when racecaller Bill Collins famously wrote the champ off only to watch him win.
Even in such a tightly bunched field I'm prepared to write Kennedy off as he is on track – based on his average goals per game this season of 3.63 – to finish with 57 goals in 2017.
Even if he kicks between 22 and 25 goals in the last six rounds, as he has done in the final six games in the past three seasons, he will reach 62 goals, which would see him fall short.
The Coleman Medal race after 17 rounds
Lance Franklin (Sydney) - 47
Joe Daniher (Essendon) - 45
Eddie Betts (Adelaide) - 41
Ben Brown (North Melbourne) - 41
Jeremy Cameron (GWS) - 41
Taylor Walker (Adelaide) - 41
Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide) - 40
Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) - 40
Josh Kennedy (West Coast) - 37
Tom Lynch (Gold Coast) - 37
Of course, if Kennedy can recover to win the Coleman after missing five games through injury, it will be a Kingston Town-like performance.
He would become the first player to lead the goalkicking in three consecutive seasons since Gary Ablett senior won the medal in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
But the players ahead of him are going to be hard to pass.
Applying the same goals per game logic, Franklin is on track to win the medal with 65 goals, equal with the lowest Coleman Medal winning tally since a 22-round season was introduced in 1970.
He is locked in a battle with Essendon's Joe Daniher, who has kicked 45 goals and a bunch of chasers on 41 goals – Adelaide pair Eddie Betts and Taylor Walker, injured Giant Jeremy Cameron and North Melbourne forward Ben Brown, while the Tigers' Jack Riewoldt and Port Adelaide's Robbie Gray are lurking on 40 goals each.
The tallies are low for this stage of the season.
The last time no player had reached 50 goals after each team had played 16 games was in 2002 when Geelong sharpshooter Kent Kingsley and Melbourne swingman David Neitz had both kicked 49 goals.
That fact has kept Kennedy in the top 10, after he kicked three goals against Fremantle on Sunday.
Franklin, who had kicked 50 by round 10 and 73 after round 16 in 2008 when he kicked a ton, would be further in front this season except that he is just as likely to kick a behind as a goal when he lines up.
The Swans' superstar is a shot-making machine, having had 92 scoring shots already this season, 21 more than the next closest player, the Bombers' Daniher who has kicked scores 71 times in 2017.
Franklin loves having a ping from outside 50. He's the season's leading goalkicker from that range, with only the Crows' Walker having a comparable return from long range, with 12.9.
Richmond's Jack Riewoldt, who has kicked 40 goals in 2017, excels from the 15-30m range and has kicked 7.0 from inside 15m, but has only 2.10 from outside 50.
The keen golfer might be better off laying up and relying on his short game – and that of his teammates – to increase the chances of goals being kicked.
It's that 15-30m range where Buddy is most shaky, having kicked 4.9 from that range in 2017, while the Eagles' Kennedy hardly misses, kicking 15.3 from the same range.
Despite popular perception Daniher is accurate close to goal, having kicked 20.3 from within 30m.
We are in a low-scoring era but the race has become much closer.
Ain't it that sort of season?
It's raining goals after half-time
Scoring is much heavier in the second half of games this season with clubs kicking 124 more goals and 14 fewer behinds in the third and fourth quarters.
Let the theories begin around the effect of reduced rotations and the umpires putting the whistle away. Maybe it's simply desperation to score.
Whatever the answer, the goal umpires' flags are waved more often in the second half of games than in the first.
And it's not just this season either. It's a little-known trend of the game, with scoring higher in the second half in each of the previous six seasons.
This season, it's picked up marginally with 52.1 per cent of goals in the second half, slightly above the 50.4 per cent last season and the 51 per cent average of the previous five seasons.
The 14 regulars yet to trouble the scorers
444 players have kicked at least one goal this season but these 14 players have played every game this season without kicking a goal. They are not likely to ever have a Coleman or Brownlow medal in their cupboard. Such is the life of an AFL defender
|Player||Career games||Career goals||Most recent goal|
|Tom Clurey (Port Adelaide)||34||0|
|Joel Hamling (Fremantle)||39||0|
|Lachie Plowman (Carlton)||55||1||R11 2013 v Geelong|
|Alex Rance (Richmond)||166||8||R21 2013 v Carlton|
|Heath Grundy (Sydney Swans)||229||23||R4 2014 v North Melbourne|
|Tom Jonas (Port Adelaide)||98||1||R14 2014 v Western Bulldogs|
|David Astbury (Richmond)||76||8||R5 2015 v Geelong|
|Marc Baguley (Essendon)||98||3||R9 2016 v St Kilda|
|Daniel Talia (Adelaide)||138||6||R9 2016 v Gold Coast|
|Callum Mills (Sydney Swans)||38||1||R16 2016 v Geelong|
|Sam Mayes (Brisbane Lions)||90||26||R18 2016 v Essendon|
|Sam Gilbert (St Kilda)||195||35||R23 2016 v Brisbane Lions|
|Heath Shaw (GWS)||239||39||PF 2016 v Western Bulldogs|
|Nick Smith (Sydney Swans)||183||10||GF 2016 v Western Bulldogs|