This year’s top-ranked AFLW team so far, the Kangaroos, are pulling down the marks close to their goal line.
After three rounds of the 2019 AFLW season new team the Kangaroos are the best-performed team, with three wins and a percentage of 250.8. They have won their first three matches by four goals or more, including an impressive 31-point win against reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
It may seem like the Roos are winning out all over the field, and to an extent they are (they’ve kept their opponents to an average of 20 points). However they only rank fourth in terms of getting the ball inside 50 metres – with just one more than Carlton, who they actually lost the inside 50 count to in their first match.
Where the Kangaroos have outranked teams is the rate at which they score once they get the ball inside 50 metres. They have scored 153 points from 86 inside 50 entries, or 1.77 points per inside 50. That rate is better than any men’s team from last season (though the West Coast Eagles when they had Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling playing was kind of an exception).
The Roos’ forward efficiency has been helped by their prowess at taking marks inside 50. They have taken 26 marks inside 50 from their 86 entries, at a ratio of about 30 per cent. The most potent AFL men’s offence in 2018 – Melbourne’s – had a ratio of less than 25 per cent.
What also matters is where the Kangaroos have been getting those marks inside their forward zone. In this year’s Champion Data AFLW Prospectus, Chloe McMillan noted that the two AFLW premiers so far tended to get more of their scores from kicks close to goal (i.e. less than 15 metres out). A kick for goal from 30 to 40 metres out isn’t really ideal for the kicking range of some AFLW players. Watch the highlights from Friday night’s game, and you’ll see that Courteney Munn didn’t have to roam far from the goal square for any of her four goals, nor generally did the other North players.
The AFLW Kangaroos are really doing what every football team hopes to do – mark the ball deep inside 50 and get an easy set shot close to goal. Next week’s match against Melbourne – who despatched the other of last year’s grand finalists, Brisbane, by almost 40 points on the weekend – could be a belter.