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The statistical barometer

The Fans Ask: Breust Luke Breust answers some fans questions from after the round 4 loss against the Saints.
At least seven ground ball gets in a game for Luke Breust results in a Hawks win almost 90% of the time.  - Luke Breust
At least seven ground ball gets in a game for Luke Breust results in a Hawks win almost 90% of the time.

Watching Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti light up the MCG with seven goals on Saturday afternoon was an Essendon diehard's dream.

That career-best effort at Brisbane's expense followed his four majors the previous week against Melbourne at the same venue.

Not so coincidentally, both of those solo 'Tippa' displays resulted in Bomber triumphs – and it's a trend his coaches might want to become familiar with.

Essendon has won eight of nine matches when McDonald-Tipungwuti kicked three goals or more in his 70-game AFL career, after he started as a defender.

Read: Three Hawks score votes

On the other hand, his goalless opening two rounds this year came in defeats.

The 171cm speedster from the Tiwi Islands first established himself as the Bombers' barometer when they signed off the 2016 season with a victory, including four McDonald-Tipungwuti majors.

However, in a quirk, Essendon's big-name spearhead Joe Daniher can sometimes have the opposite effect on his team's fortunes.

The Bombers won just once from seven contests when Daniher dragged in 10-plus marks.

Further investigation reveals that only twice in those games did he kick more goals than behinds, lowlighted by his 1.6 haul against Melbourne in round six, 2017.

Like McDonald-Tipungwuti, every side has a not-so-obvious player whose performances align with success.

Does that make them the firestarter or a downhill skier? That's for others to decide., with help from Champion Data, has identified the individuals who fit that definition at your club.

Who is your club's not-so-obvious barometer?






Rory Atkins

6+ inside 50s



Rhys Mathieson

4+ clearances



Matthew Kreuzer

5+ tackles

9-12 (2016-19)


Tom Phillips

4+ inside 50s



Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

3+ goals



Nathan Wilson

7+ inside 50s



Rhys Stanley

4+ inside 50s


Gold Coast

Nick Holman

8+ contested possessions


GWS Giants

Tim Taranto

7+ tackles



Luke Breust

7+ groundball-gets

15-2 (2016-19)


Christian Salem

25+ disposals


North Melbourne

Kayne Turner

5+ tackles


Port Adelaide

Ollie Wines

20+ effective disposals

14-7 (2015-19)


Kane Lambert

4+ clearances


St Kilda

Jack Sinclair

22+ disposals



Zak Jones

8+ contested possessions


West Coast

Tom Barrass

9+ marks


Western Bulldogs

Caleb Daniel

20+ uncontested possessions


An emphasis was placed on recency, with nine of the selected players and their associated statistic reflected in round four wins.

Some of the correlations are better than others, with Demon Christian Salem (disposals), West Coast's Tom Barrass (marks) and Bulldog Caleb Daniel (uncontested possessions) among the strongest.

Read: Where it's stat

However, finding a candidate at Brisbane, Carlton and Gold Coast proved tougher, given the last time any of those clubs won more than seven games in one season was the Suns in 2014.

The Lions and Blues options therefore have negative records, although at higher rates than their side's win-loss ratio in recent times.

As for Gold Coast, recycled Carlton discard Nick Holman emerged as the most interesting name in this process.

Holman arrived at Metricon Stadium ahead of the 2018 season and fresh from two years in the SANFL after his delisting.

The Suns have won seven matches since – three of them this year – and the 23-year-old has won at least eight contested possessions in all of them.

Gold Coast's sole loss in 2019 came with the tireless Holman out of the line-up.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs