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Season 2021 Breakdown: Game Control vs Scoring Avalanche

123cups

Tiger Superstar
May 1, 2016
2,406
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I decided to break down the score timeline for each of our matches so far in 2021 to search for patterns. Enjoy!

While putting this together, I've defined Game Control as the time spent by a team who is slowly winning an arm-wrestling match by consistently pushing the scoreline in their direction. This looks like a slow trickle of goals in one team's favour over several quarters, and is meant to reflect the big picture battle. I assume 1-2 goals each way is statistical noise.

Game Control aims to answer the question "if we could remove all elements of luck and everything happened as it normally would, which team would be in control?". In some cases I've decided to overlook fast starts, as the opening 10 minutes of a game often seem to look very different to the rest of the game, and the purpose here is to capture a sense of control over the long game, but I've made notes when appropriate.

Here were some of the patterns I was looking for:

- Neutral. An extended period of time (~1 full quarter) where neither team has Game Control and the scores are close to level.

- Neutral Control. The same as Neutral, but one team is in front by enough of a margin to feel in control. This is to account for situations where the leading team would be content in holding the scoreline steady. They're not in Game Control, but the match is on their terms defensively, so I'll define this as Neutral Control.

- Avalanche. An Avalanche is a flurry of goals inside a significantly shorter period of time compared to the rest of the match, and it can cross quarters. On the score timeline, this looks like a sharp and unusual slide. In some cases, one team will have full control of a match while the other team dominates within a small window of time that goes against the norm of the match. Those situations were on my mind when looking for avalanches.

I've tried to subjectively take into account the total goals kicked by each team. For example, if 7 goals were kicked in 1 quarter, but 20 goals were kicked for the match, then you'd expect 5 goals per quarter on average, so 7 goals is not an avalanche. I also checked the length of the quarter, as sometimes a longer quarter gave the false impression of momentum, and whether the opposing team was scoring within and on the fringes of this window of time, including behinds.

Sometimes a flurry of goals is just reflective of luck-based factors, so ultimately I wanted to paint a subjective picture of our ability to control matches this season. Here we go:


Round 1
Carlton

Game Control: Richmond 80%+, mildly
Notes: Following a neutral start, Richmond scored 4 goals before half time, then held our ground. We kicked 3 goals in 5 minutes to close out the game, but we consistently controlled this game as reflected by our ability to quickly answer Carlton's scoring attempts.



Round 2
Hawthorn

Game Control: Richmond 100% dominant
Notes: We started fast then held a ~4 goal lead for the rest of the match.



Round 3
Sydney

Game Control: Sydney 100%, mildly
Notes: Sydney kicked an avalanche in the 15 minutes before half time. Outside this window, Sydney held a very small edge over us for the whole match.



Round 4
Port Adelaide

Game Control: Richmond, subjectively

Notes: A chaotic arm-wrestle characterised by Richmond dominating the overall match while Port Adelaide dominated in several small bursts. Our goals were consistently spread out and included every period where Port were in front, indicating that Port never had Game Control. Port threatened to kick an avalanche in the 15 minutes before half time, but kicked 4 behinds. Near the end of the 3rd quarter, Port succeeded in kicking 3 goals in 5 minutes. That's two avalanches near the end of quarters. Outside those flurries, everything looks to be under Richmond's control amidst a chaotic scoreline that potentially hints at vulnerabilities in the Richmond team defence.



Round 5
St Kilda

Game Control: Richmond 100% dominant
Notes: We dominated from the opening bounce, and started pulling away from about 15 minutes before half time.



Round 6
Melbourne

Game Control: Melbourne 100% on their terms, but not dominant

Notes: Melbourne kicked an avalanche of goals in the 15 minutes before half time. Outside this window, Melbourne held a very small, but steady control over the game, answering every time we kicked a goal after we kicked the opening 2 goals of the game.



Round 7
Footscray

Game Control: Richmond 75% dominant

Notes: Footscray controlled the first quarter, ending in a flurry of goals and behinds. After quarter time, Richmond held dominant, consistent control over the contest. We kicked an avalanche to open the 3rd, which represented close to 50% of our score inside a 15-minute window. Most pleasingly, we controlled the game outside this window as well, excluding the first quarter.



Round 8
Geelong


Game Control: Richmond 50% mild, then Geelong 50% very dominant

Notes: We kicked 3 of our 9 goals in the opening 15 minutes, then held our ground until half time by answering each of Geelong's goals with scoring attempts. We missed several of these responses kicking 6 of our 9 behind in just over 1 quarter. Geelong's dominance began 5 minutes after half time. From that point, we kicked 1 behind and 1 goal for the rest of the match, while Geelong posted a 5-goal avalanche in 10 minutes in the 3rd quarter, then a 4-goal avalanche in 9 minutes in the last quarter, representing 9 of the 10 goals they won by. Our lack of fight in between these 2 avalanches is why I've categorised this as Game Control to Geelong for the second half.


Round 9
GWS

Game Control: GWS 80%

Notes: The pattern in this game suggests GWS was in control for a majority of the match. They quickly answered our goals. They kicked 3 goals in 5 minutes to open the 2nd quarter, then held ground while quickly answering our scoring attempts. In a 13-goal game, we kicked 4 goals in 10 minutes to end the 3rd quarter, but then GWS resumed the previous pattern until the 18-minute mark of the 4th quarter when we kicked 3 goals in 10 minutes.
We had 2 x 10 minute bursts in a game that was otherwise controlled by GWS.

Round 10
Brisbane

Game Control: Brisbane 100% dominant

Notes: We kicked 3 goals in the opening 12 minutes, then Brisbane comprehensively controlled this game, starting with 8 scoring shots in the first quarter after our fast start. Brisbane answered every single scoring attempt until we kicked an unanswered 1.2 in the closing 5 minutes. Brisbane consistently scored across the duration of the game, including on the fringes of their steepest rally at the end of the 3rd quarter, which I did not consider an avalanche because we scored several behinds during this window and they continued to score before and after this patch, indicating it was reflective of their general control over the game. Overall, this match was a concerning 4 quarter loss. Our fast start was not reflective of anything else that happened in this game.

Round 11
Adelaide

Game Control: Richmond 100% dominant

Notes: Almost a classic Richmond pattern. Adelaide had a fast start (4 goals in 9 minutes, and then 50% of their score by quarter time), but we scored within and on the fringes of this window. After quarter time, it was a one-way arm-wrestle dominated by Richmond including an avalanche in the 3rd quarter (4 goals in 7 minutes, plus more further away on the fringes), albeit with a slow, staggered 4-goal patch by Adelaide after the game was dead to open the 4th quarter. Nevertheless, Richmond controlled this game, but did allow the opposition to enjoy 2 x 4 goal patches.


Round 12
Essendon

Game Control: Richmond 100% dominant

Notes: We consistently dominated this scoreline and ended the match in a 7-goal avalanche over 15 minutes. However, we allowed the opposition a 7-minute avalanche of 4 goals to open the last quarter, which followed their 7-minute flurry of behinds late in the 3rd quarter. These quick blips have been a consistent theme for us this season. Outside those windows of fast scoring against the grain, the scoreline was consistently pushing in our direction.


Some general observations:

Subjectively, we have allowed opposition teams to control approximately 13 of 48 quarters of football until Round 12 this year (27%).
We've lost some games that we controlled due to a small window of fast scoring against the grain.
We've started fast in 4 matches (won 2 by large margins, lost 2 by large margins) and the opposition has started fast in 2 matches (we won both).
 
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DavidSSS

Tiger Legend
Dec 11, 2017
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It would be interesting to see if these short bursts of a lot of scoring were happening on previous years as it does seem to be a feature of the game this year.

DS
 

Number8

Tiger Matchwinner
Oct 12, 2010
852
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Melbourne
No doubt, I'm worried about how heavily we're being scored against, and how easily it appears to happen at times. But is that being offset by how easily we're scoring in return, especially in the past few weeks?

Something seems to have changed. I noticed on Saturday night that we were left horribly exposed several times on the defensive side of the contest, with most of our numbers running forward of the pack. Maybe the coaches are playing a game of risk vs reward? It's certainly putting our defence under enormous pressure at times.
 
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TOT70

I'm just a suburban boy
Jul 27, 2004
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Good analysis. There is no doubt that we use game control, as you call it, routinely. Dimma loves nothing better than opening up a comfortable 4 to 5 goal lead early and then exchanging goals with the opposition for the rest of the game.

What is truly amazing is that this team can just step up into overdrive when they are challenged. That last 15 minutes on Saturday night was electrifying. Especially as half the team had been in containment mode for the best part of two quarters.
 
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lamb22

Tiger Legend
Jan 29, 2005
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Great work 123 cups. I like Rds 11 and 12 with the new game style.

I think if we persist supporters need to get used to a few changes. First our inside 50s will drop but our possession count will soar (particularly uncontested and marks)

If we are going to go for higher risk passes rather than long down the line, our clangers will increase and possibly scores from turnovers in forward half.

However control of the ball and hitting up isolated targets or one on ones will lessen the rebound Tsunamis that teams like Melbourne, Swans and Geelong late hit us with.

The Essendon game bombers 4 goal surge was interesting. Goal one was a Broad sloppy pass to Kmac with eventually ended in a turnover. Then Shorty turned over a diagonal short kick into the centre square (when he had time and other options). Goal 3 was the nonsense downfield free against Dusty and goal 4 was the ball going behind the pack for an easy goal ( Very Unrichmond like) so all goals mostly preventable, In retrospect the bombers run was not sustainable ( unless we panicked).

For the rest of the year it is important that (a) we put a premium on good decision makers and users and (b) find the balance between offence and defence in ball use. In previous years it was easy. We were a low risk ball use team and our structures were set up behind territory. When we forced a turnover we went full out punishment mode. While often referred to as Chaos it was the most comforting and familiar chaos to us Richmond supporters because we knew that when a game looked like a Richmond game we invariably won.

Very few games have looked like Richmond games this year. We have enormously skilled players and great one on one players. If we regain control through possession we still have the tools to intimidate most if not all opponents.
 
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TOT70

I'm just a suburban boy
Jul 27, 2004
9,290
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Melbourne
Yeah, makes sense, Lamby. There are clear changes to the way we play. It has been forced on us, the better teams have figured out a way to absorb the pressure and stay in the game for longer. The days of putting a good team to the sword for a couple of quarters and beating them into submission are gone. Melbourne showed they could stand up to it, Brisbane think they can absorb it and give it back in spades and Geelong tooled up after losing the Grand Final. We are going to need new tricks to beat them.

What is worrying is how easily we can be opened up at the back. Grimes, Vlastuin and Astbury are not quite the intimidating group of the last few years. Good teams now separate them way too easily. That is the bit we need to improve. Playing the possession game certainly helps, because it gives them more time to get into position, I guess.
 
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lamb22

Tiger Legend
Jan 29, 2005
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Tell you what Totty. Rance would be handy now.
 
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spook

Tiger Legend
Jun 18, 2007
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"...their effectiveness with the ball was at a level we haven't seen this year." - Ben Rutten.
 
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seven

Super Tiger
Apr 20, 2004
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"...their effectiveness with the ball was at a level we haven't seen this year." - Ben Rutten.
Did everything click together half way through the quarter?
might find out next week
 

123cups

Tiger Superstar
May 1, 2016
2,406
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For those interested, Port’s game against Geelong followed a similar pattern to their game against us.

50% of their score came within 2 surges from a total of 8-10 minutes of gameplay, while Geelong controlled everything else regardless of the overall score.

I’ll leave the interpretation up to others, but thought it looked surprisingly similar to our game.
 

eZyT

Tiger Legend
Jun 28, 2019
15,867
12,322
"...their effectiveness with the ball was at a level we haven't seen this year." - Ben Rutten.

I just hope we go ineffective again in September.

interesting comments from Dimma re: lambo. Declared him Mr.Chaos.
 

DavidSSS

Tiger Legend
Dec 11, 2017
5,525
6,634
Melbourne
For those interested, Port’s game against Geelong followed a similar pattern to their game against us.

50% of their score came within 2 surges from a total of 8-10 minutes of gameplay, while Geelong controlled everything else regardless of the overall score.

I’ll leave the interpretation up to others, but thought it looked surprisingly similar to our game.

I'm sure all the other teams have noticed the same, stop them, or limit the scoring, for their short surges, and you have them on toast.

DS