Analysis Our Best Clearance Midfielders - Season 2022

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Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,294
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Realistically our best midfield probably looks something like this:

Cunnington, LDU, JHF as the main on ballers, with Simpkin and Sleevo on the wings.

Thomas as the fourth mid ideally, but he plays a flank/wing better than guys like Powell and Phillips do. As Powell gets bigger he's going to take that 3rd or 4th mid spot.

LDU with as little CBA time as he's gotten this year is IMO awful.

With Cunners out it's less of a dilemma, but if Phillips and Powell come on we have a bit of a surplus and probably are gonna have to shift one of Thomas or Sleevo to a flank semi-permanently.
 

Masked Avenger

All Australian
Nov 25, 2014
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Stephenson is a hard one to judge. Rick mentions that he gets a bit lost at the centre bounce but he actually has one of the best bounce attendances to clearance ratios of all our players, across the whole season. Small sample size, though, which may be less positive towards him after yesterday. I wouldn't play him there just because he's small and not hard at it, and he can play a flank/wing where some of the others can't, but he actually has a bit of a knack for clearance work when he's in there.

3 from 11 attendances is alright.
Stephenson's ratio didn't surprise me although it's a small sample. Needing to be hard at it with CBA's is a bit of a myth imo. Stoppages sure but not CB clearances. CB clearances are more about twitch muscles, reflexes, anticipation and acceleration. Rare that you see a CB clearance come down to a wrestle. People look at Oliver, Danger, Martin and Petracca and think they're clearance beasts because of their bulk and strength. It's more to do with their athletic traits. We need to get accross this real soon.
 

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Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
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North Melbourne
Stephenson's ratio didn't surprise me although it's a small sample. Needing to be hard at it with CBA's is a bit of a myth imo. Stoppages sure but not CB clearances. CB clearances are more about twitch muscles, reflexes, anticipation and acceleration. Rare that you see a CB clearance come down to a wrestle. People look at Oliver, Danger, Martin and Petracca and think they're clearance beasts because of their bulk and strength. It's more to do with their atletic traits. We need to get accross this real soon.
That's a really good point.

Having said that, if you have 2 out of your 3 getting easily pushed or held out of position at a bounce, it makes it far easier for the opposition to implement their attacking structure. That's pretty hard to quantify though and is just a preference for me. It's hard to argue against Stephenson's ratio.
 

Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
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That's a really good point.

Having said that, if you have 2 out of your 3 getting easily pushed or held out of position at a bounce, it makes it far easier for the opposition to implement their attacking structure. That's pretty hard to quantify though and is just a preference for me. It's hard to argue against Stephenson's ratio.
I should add Masked Avenger that a lot of blokes I speak to say Cunnington is one of, if not the hardest guy they've played on at a centre bounce, simply because you cannot move him. He disrupts everything.
 

gerry101101

Rookie
Jul 24, 2021
38
174
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Say a quality tall defender becomes available end of year, but the trade requires us to give up a mid (realistically that will be the deal given it’s the only area we have stock that might interest another team). Leaving out JHF for obvious reasons, would you be willing to do the trade for any of LDU, Jye, TT, Phillips or Powell - and if so which one?
 

Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,294
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Say a quality tall defender becomes available end of year, but the trade requires us to give up a mid (realistically that will be the deal given it’s the only area we have stock that might interest another team). Leaving out JHF for obvious reasons, would you be willing to do the trade for any of LDU, Jye, TT, Phillips or Powell - and if so which one?
Depends who the defender is, but Powell for mine. And I really, really rate the kid.
 

archereleven

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 7, 2013
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Prompted by the loss to Carlton and the recent discussion about our midfield grouping, I wanted to put a bit of thought to how we might determine our best clearance midfielders.

Carlton seemed to beat us up in there, and while clearances appear to be the best part of our game, we're still a long way off being able to beat the best sides at it.

I have looked at the midfield grouping of:

Simpkin
Greenwood
Horne-Francis
LDU
Thomas
Stephenson
Powell

As of Round 7 2022, I have looked at:
  • centre bounce attendances (CBAs)
  • centre clearances
  • total clearances, and
  • calculated centre bounce attendances per clearance.
This isn't a faultless measure, some players have clearance roles at the stoppage, others have more defensive roles. Some get rotated off the ball after a centre bounce, some get rotated to a stoppage without attending the centre bounce, etc. But it is the best approximation we have for 'midfield time', being one of the 3 main onballers. For some, such as Powell, the sample size is small and may have been against second string mids.

I won't put my spin on it, but just spit out some stats to help facilitate a discussion about who we should be using as our primary midfielders.

Centre clearances = clearances from the midfield. The other clearances that make up the 'total clearances' are stoppage clearances.

So here goes:

Total Centre Bounce Attendances

1.Simpkin: 188
2. Greenwood: 121
3. JHF: 113
4. LDU: 93
5. Thomas: 43
6. Stephenson: 29
7. Powell: 12

Total clearances/centre clearances - descending order based on total clearances
1. Simpkin: 37/18
2. JHF: 31/14
3. Greenwood: 26/11
4. LDU: 21/11
5. Stephenson: 15/4
6. Thomas: 10/7
7. Powell: 7/4

CBA per clearance
1. Powell: 1.71 centre bounces per clearance
2. Stephenson: 1.93 centre bounces per clearance
3. JHF: 3.65 centre bounces per clearance
4. Thomas: 4.3 centre bounces per clearance
5. LDU: 4.43 centre bounces per clearance
6. Greenwood: 4.65 centre bounces per clearance
7. Simpkin: 5.08 centre bounces per clearance

CBA per centre clearance
1. Powell: 3 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
2. Thomas: 6.14 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
3. Stephenson: 7.25 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
4. JHF: 8.07 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
5. LDU: 8.45 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
6. Simpkin: 10.44 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
7. Greenwood: 11 centre bounces attended per centre clearance


The only commentary I will provide is to point out that JHF is already our best clearance mid. He's one of the big 4 but trouncing the rest of the big 4 in his clearance work. Powell's stats look exceptional but beware the very small sample size of 12 CBAs compared to JHF's 113.

Discussion starters - although feel free to pose/answer any question you can come up with
  • Who should be our preferred 3?
  • Who should be our fourth high CBA player?
  • Is it preferred to have 1-2 clearance beasts in at any one point in time with 1-2 more defensive stoppage specialists?
  • What do we do with this grouping if/when we get Cunnington back? (obviously, more important things going on for him at the moment)
  • Will Anderson's return make Greenwood's high CBA role redundant?
  • Is it worth having centre bounce specialists who then roll onto a flank and switch with our stronger around the ground stoppage players?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the defensive output of players in the bounces and stoppages that might help us assess their impact even when they're not winning clearances?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the spread of our midfielders?

Have at it and make what you will of the numbers above.
Once Cunners is back you'll have to add a 'stops time' at cbas stat and clearance handball categories of 5m, 10m, 15m, 20m and 25m lol

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Masked Avenger

All Australian
Nov 25, 2014
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I should add Masked Avenger that a lot of blokes I speak to say Cunnington is one of, if not the hardest guy they've played on at a centre bounce, simply because you cannot move him. He disrupts everything.
He does Themanbun. No doubt. Greenwood and Jy are both strong enough not to be easily moved though. Unfortunately for us (and I have a lot of time for Jy) neither are a patch on Cunners on the reflex and anticipation side of things. I've been around awhile ( again unfortunate) and I haven't seen a better pure inside midfielder at North. Oh we miss him.
 
Last edited:

ferball

Premium Platinum
Jul 24, 2015
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AFL Club
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Say a quality tall defender becomes available end of year, but the trade requires us to give up a mid (realistically that will be the deal given it’s the only area we have stock that might interest another team). Leaving out JHF for obvious reasons, would you be willing to do the trade for any of LDU, Jye, TT, Phillips or Powell - and if so which one?
Phillips but only if its for Grainger-Barass.

Just for the lulz...
 

archereleven

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Apr 7, 2013
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On a serious note

Cunners
Hornet
LDU

are the main group. They all offer something others don't and look to be the best balance also imo. Cunners is immoveable elite vision and hands, Hornet is maniacal both ways and LDU is clean with good burst.

When looking at Melbourne's set up. Oliver and Petracca are in there the most(obviously), both play roughly 100/115odd minutes and have a fairly handy ruck that isn't bad at clearances himself. Viney completes the trio for most cbas.

Powell and Phillips should get plenty of time in there as well.

Jy, TT, Sleevo need wings and flanks.

Greenwood can lead the VFL




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RossHenshaw

Club Legend
Sep 12, 2020
1,718
3,455
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North Melbourne
On a serious note

Cunners
Hornet
LDU

are the main group. They all offer something others don't and look to be the best balance also imo. Cunners is immoveable elite vision and hands, Hornet is maniacal both ways and LDU is clean with good burst.

When looking at Melbourne's set up. Oliver and Petracca are in there the most(obviously), both play roughly 100/115odd minutes and have a fairly handy ruck that isn't bad at clearances himself. Viney completes the trio for most cbas.

Powell and Phillips should get plenty of time in there as well.

Jy, TT, Sleevo need wings and flanks.

Greenwood can lead the VFL




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Sleevo can go & play on the BMX track behind Fern Tree Gully footy ground . GGF
 

Jonnoo

Premiership Player
Sep 23, 2008
4,524
4,332
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Saw Cunners at our last home game and was surprised at his size, he’s so thick through the shoulders and the hips. Low centre of gravity too. Beast.
 

FootySmartSimpson

Club Legend
Jun 18, 2007
1,770
2,056
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
1st rotation: Cunnington, HF, LDU

First wings and flanks:

HB:Thomas Corr Hall
W:Stephenson Simpkin
HF: Powell Comben Phillips

E:Greenwood, Goater, Anderson

2nd rotation:Cunnington LDU Simpkin

HB: Thomas Corr Hall
W:Stephenson Taylor
HF: HF Comben Phillips

3rd Rotation: Simpkin Phillips Powell

HB: LDU Corr Taylor
W: Thomas Stephenson
HF: HF Comben Cunnington

All this hinges on Ben10. And yes, we need to have this many mids n the team.
 

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