Lazarus season: The comebacks keep coming
GARY Rohan's goal with 12 seconds remaining at the MCG on Saturday sealed the Sydney Swans' win against Richmond.
By Sunday evening, it was clear the straight kick from Rohan that stretched the winning margin to nine points also meant three more things:
• For the first time this season a round had passed without a game being decided by less than a goal.
• For the 31st time this year, the team trailing at half-time had won. That remarkable total exceeds the entire 2016 total of 30 wins by teams behind at the long break, after just 13 rounds.
• For the first time since Melbourne achieved the feat in 1995, a team which lost its first six games (Sydney) is on five wins and just one game out of the final eight after 12 games.
It's that sort of season.
Rohan roars and the Tigers become team No.31. Picture: AFL Photos
Only two games separate fourth and 15th. It's the smallest gap between those rungs of the ladder since the final eight began in 1994.
Fifteen of the 18 clubs have been involved in the 17 games decided by a kick, as the season has hurtled along with an average winning margin of 32.1 points a game, well down on last season's average margin of 39.4 points a game.
Combine that with higher average scores, up to 91.1 points per team per game in the first 13 rounds, and you can see the ingredients for exciting football.
No wonder some coaches carry a post-match gaze that stretches into what once was.
The stark stat that shows why Tiger supporters can never relax
In its five losses so far in 2017, Richmond has kicked 222 points to 190 in the first half.
In second halves, they have managed just 133 points while conceding 260.
Your mid-season stats leaders
It's not only nearly impossible to tip a winner in 2017, it's hard to guess the usual suspects leading the key statistical categories to date.
Who would have had Carlton's Sam Docherty as the leading kick-getter (263) and taker of marks (116) this year?
Or Melbourne's Clayton Oliver as the leading handballer (262) and Hawthorn recruit Tom Mitchell (423) as the leading disposal winner?
Not many, if any.
But those statistics are the obvious indicators, a measure of performance as old as the MCG.
We thought the season demanded we reveal the less obvious statistical leaders:
Handball metres gained
866: Adam Saad (GC)
716: Marley Williams (NM)
698: Shaun Atley (NM)
44: Jeremy Howe (Coll)
40: Jeremy McGovern (WC)
38: Alex Rance (Rich)
17: Nathan Fyfe (Frem)
16: Brad Ebert (PA)
15: Mark Blicavs (Geel), Dion Prestia (Rich), Taylor Adams (Coll)
115: Alex Rance (Rich)
102: Daniel Talia (Adel)
92: Tom Jonas (PA)
Metres per disposal
29.2: Nathan Wilson (GWS)
26.4: Lance Franklin (Syd)
25.3: Jayden Short (Rich)
1418: Adam Tomlinson (GWS)
1417: Tom Lynch (GC)
1416: Alex Rance (Rich)
Bryce Gibbs wasn't worth two round first picks … until Saturday night
Against Gold Coast, Carlton midfielder Gibbs did what no other man has done before.
He became the first player to reach 40 disposals, kick two goals and lay 10 tackles. His coach, Brendon Bolton, highlighted the tackles while everyone else who supported the Blues rejoiced in his goals.
In combination, it was a starring performance though the 43-disposal game was not his highest. He had 45 touches in round 10, 2010.
Bryce Gibbs - worth it. Picture: AFL Photos
The goalkicking 'feat' we haven't seen for 53 years
Brisbane Lions' midfielder Ryan Bastinac would not have been anyone's choice to kick most goals for the round.
Bastinac's three-goal effort against Port Adelaide saw him join Geelong's Rhys Stanley, Gold Coast's Jack Martin, Port Adelaide's Chad Wingard and Melbourne's Jack Watts as the highest goalkicker of round 13.
But it wasn't exactly a tough week to get that honour.
Three goals was the lowest tally for the round's leading goalkicker in 53 seasons. Last time it happened was in round 16, 1964, when eight players kicked three goals apiece.